Hello dear friends!
I’ve abandoned this blog for a long time. It’s hard to write about adventures and traveling without the ability to support my writing with photographs from the trips. It seems discouragement got the best of me, something I’m oh so much more prone to than I care to admit.
Here it is, New Year’s Eve, 2015. Since my last post I’ve been all over Arizona and California from San Francisco to the Oregon border, and back to Richmond. Arizona was an adventure in group dynamics at the bottom of Hualupai Canyon, an offshoot of the Grand Canyon, and land of the Supai people. The reservation is called Havasupai, and the legendary Havasu Falls are down there. We hired a mule to carry our gear (5 of us got all our goods into 4 packs) and we hiked 10 miles down to some of the most stunning landscape I’ve ever seen. One of the village cafes offered fry-bread and rootbeer floats for sale, which we devoured before completing the trek to the campground. Situated along the river banks on both sides and for nearly a mile are tent spots. There are no vehicles down there, just some golf-carts, and I guess they were helicoptered in.
The water is an eerie green. It’s trippy. Literally, the color is something I’ve never seen before and so my brain had a really hard time accepting it. Like the colors of sassafras in Autumn, it induced a hallucinogenic effect. I liked it, but could not stop exclaiming about it, which I’m sure drove my comrades nuts. One day I will get a picture up for you all to see. We spent a few days down there, hiking around, having our minds completely blown at every turn, and my brother sending amusingly maniacal laughter ringing off the caynon walls every time he decided to go for a swim in the opaque glowing grey-green ness of the river.
Spent some time with people I love dearly and didn’t get to see some, which was sad. I had a mind to return to Arizona after my California trip, but that didn’t come through (more on that later). It was an emotional visit to a geographical space I love, with people I love, and memories that make my heart heavy with nostalgia and a feeling of regret that the past can not be revisited. Oh by the way, Flagstaff is an amazing town. Of course I’ve been there multiple times, but this was the first time I felt like I really got to BE in Flag, and with a friend I don’t see much anymore. And when it ended I was confused and sad.
Despite all the goodness I’m sharing here, the Arizona part of my trip was extremely stressful. Coordinating so many people on a 20 mile hiking adventure, renting cars, drinking booze, trying to spend quality time with EVERYone, and the blazing Arizona sun all conspire to frazzle my nerve endings, and leaving, while sad, was relieving to say the least. Sacramento bound on All Saints Day, I looked eagerly forward to some seasonal work and seeing a couple of my closest friends and a town that is oh-so-easy to love. I had planned to be in Gold Country for a few weeks at least, but trusted my gut and took off after 4 days.
Before heading westward, I drew some cards for guidance and preparation,and the overwhelming message was to take the trip moment by moment, not over thinking or over planning it, having courage for whatever I would face and being totally present in each of the moments as they arrived. In several meditations and journeys leading up to the trip I was informed that I needed to visit the big trees…so I determined to end up hiking in Big Sur for a week or so after ‘work.’ I’m grateful that I heeded the advice of my spirit guides because I ended up having an adventure that far exceeded my expectations and led me somewhere I had no plan to see, with a friend I hadn’t thought I’d get to see.
After NC/GV I took a LOOOOOOOOONG bus ride to Humboldt County by way of Martinez (outside of San Fran, a really cool little town that I thoroughly enjoyed for 3 hours). I ended up with a friend I’ve known since middle school in Eureka. It was the most relaxed time I’ve spent with another human being in many years. She and I have a nebulous history predating adulthood, but we have always had an extremely strong and durable bond that I’m sure is primordial. She’s an Aries, and I often seem to have an ease of ebb and flow with these fiery creatures. Something about air and fire…I (air, a Libra) fan their flames and they keep me warm. Sounds weird but I think that’s the energetic relationship between Aries and Libra. It’s even evident in the way we literally build fires together when camping.
She works in Arcata and was in school full time, so I had plenty of space and time to be on my own, checking out the town, hiking, resting, whatever. On one of these journeys I ran into the man who was my boss when I lived in Oregon. That was weird! There was never a neediness between us which was refreshing. We both just were able to do what we needed. Aside from the road trip we took together, my favorite thing was sitting at her kitchen table at night, just talking. Laughing hysterically, sobbing sadly, supportive and sharing and safe. It reminded me of my mom and her friends sitting at the table when I was a teenager. They just talked and cracked up laughing.
So when my friend had a few days off we decided to rent a car and drive to the redwoods. Like I said, I KNEW I needed to get to the big trees…I have a national park pass so I suggested we go to Redwood National Park, and she had a beach in mind that I needed to see. We headed north with food and gear and beer and hearts full to the brim with excitement. Somehow we inadvertently missed our intended turn off. It was destiny though. Because as we kept going North, and missing the beach and the park, it became clear to me that we must have entered a bend in time and space and were about 20 miles away from Crescent City California.
Crescent City is a very special place to me. It’s where the Smith River comes to the ocean. It’s home to Jedediah Smith state Redwood Park. It is a place I first visited in 2007, on a trip with an old love. The place is so powerful and so much a part of me that even though I first went with a lover, it isn’t tarnished with memories of her or the relationship we had at 24. The Smith River is green, colored by the Serpentine minerals in the river bed, with Redwoods and Douglas Firs and Spruce reflecting in the mirror of its surface where it is still. In some places the river rushes between a gorge of narrow, craggy rocks, perfect for kayaker bravery, with deep pools for skinny dipping nature lovers who want only to commune with the spirit of this River. Every time I’ve been there The River has spoken to me, and I think every time I’ve left with a rock or some piece that it offered up. This River, surrounded by giant trees, is my Power Spot on the planet. I’ve got a few, all by water…a certain area of the Creek at Camp Alkulana, a very specific place in a Rhododendron forest on the Appalachian Trail, the pier at my dad’s place on the Chickahominy River, and a huge rock on the Mackenzie river in Oregon. They all offer a different communion with and opening of my soul. However the Smith River, The River, is where I reset. I’m sure it might actually be where my soul goes between lives, or where my soul was created, or maybe it’s even part of me. I can’t begin to understand these spiritual mysteries…but when I go there, I feel electrified and alive as a spiritual being more than a human one.
Perhaps by all of that description you can imagine how surprising and miraculous and extraordinary it felt for me to end up there. We set up camp between some giant old trees, and late in the evening sat next to the river on a bed of rocks, watching the constellations move across the sky over us. The next day we visited The River again, receiving messages and offerings from the River Spirit, and then took off. We had a completely full day. After the short hike and communing with the River, we found the park entrance we missed the day before, an hour or 2 south, and did a pretty stellar hike through changing landscapes with ferns, moss, usnea, fairies, creeks. When we got thirsty or hungry or both we headed back, and made our way to Dry Lagoon Beach, where we combed for agates, watched the ocean roll in and out, checked out barnacles and anemones, found incredible stones and even petrified wood, and took a long walk to the other end. My friend wanted to show me some stones she’d seen the time before, but we couldn’t find it. As the sun yawned and rubbed his eyes we took his hint and headed back to the parking lot…finding a giant dead seal. Actually I smelled it from a distance and was a little too weirded out to approach, but my friend is into taxidermy and dead creatures so she got up close. It just felt like the end of a cycle…we kept going.
And then things got really anxious for us both. As we got closer to the parking lot, we stumbled upon a baby seal with labored breath who didn’t really react to our proximity. Needless to say both my friend and I were freaked out. Should we cover it with sand to keep it warm? Should we touch it at all? The baby just looked at us, and we thought for sure she was injured or dying…especially after seeing the other one. I decided to return to the car to charge my phone and call a wildlife rescue while my friend stayed to comfort her as best as a human can comfort a Seal. After some calls to the wrong rescue and getting redirected to Linda, a marine biologist at the Northcoast mammal rescue, we learned that this baby was in fact a female juvenile Elephant seal! Linda’s favorite! She told me all about her, that she was actually taking a rest from the twice annual migration these awesome creatures make. Our faith in humanity was restored when we learned that so many concerned beach goers had called in about the baby Seal. My friend and I never agreed on a name for her but I call her Agatha for the Agate Beach where we met her. Agatha could remain on the shore for up to 3 or 4 weeks, molting and resting. Then she would go back to the ocean and continue her journey to the warm waters near Mexico. Elephant Seals migrate from Alaska to Mexico and then back. How incredible, right? We both felt like she was a sign, an omen for us. Just yesterday we talked about her and wondered where she might be now…and this time we did agree that she signified our own molting, shedding old skins in order to grow into our new ones. I know ever since that trip my life has been kinda…turmoilish…as I’ve let go of so many ideas and relationships that were beginning to feel too tight, like the old skin that needs to be shed. As the new skin comes in it’s definitely not comfortable, but it is at least optimistic, a sign of becoming that which I am meant to be. My friend has experienced something very similar, all the way over there, in California.
My visit ended with me falling and suffering a pretty god-awful back injury. Not gonna lie, that shit SUCKS. I’m still not 100% recovered, maybe never will be. I left California with a clear vision of the work ahead of me, but with a foundation cracked and slipped and in need of razing and rebuilding. It’s been a really difficult reintegration, I must say. But I’m doing it…
This all gets me to the point of my title. As the year ends, in 42 minutes to be precise, I have reflected on all the changes that have occurred within and about me since the last time I found myself on the precipice of a new year. There is so much I’ve had to part ways with, let go of. Ideas about myself and my interactions with the world, ambitions I thought were mine but were actually just the result of inevitable social conditioning. Love. Dependence. Security. As this year ends and I venture into another, I know I must fully molt the tight, itchy, scruffy, blotchy, icky old skin so that I may emerge THE version of myself in Totality. New skin, new eyes, new feet and hands, a regenerated heart, and a new foundation. Without regret or anger or sadness, all the pain and struggle, even the excitement and intense education, all are in the past now, and they must be left there. I am not the same person I was when I started this GRAND adventure in September 2014.
Peacefully, honoring the past but leaving it behind, with the protection of MY OWN SKIN and no one else’s sheltering or molding or shaping me, I now jump into the Ocean and continue the journey that only I can make.
Thank you for being part of it. Happy New Year!