It's been awhile since I have posted anything. It isn't as if I had nothing to share. Quite the contrary...
So, as some of you know, I began backpacking again this summer after having a new hip surgery last year. I had planned my first trip as sort of a small, get-to-know-your-new-gear-and-hip sort of trip. I planned on this trip early June- before going to see Amma. And then I got a bad summer cold, and cancelled that trip.
I saw Amma, and that was fabulous, of course. And then came the next planned backpacking trip. I planned on going with a friend- hiking for four days along the Colorado Trail- all above tree line. And then my friend cancelled; so I decided to solo it.
I got a ride up to my trailhead- south of Lake City. I was nervous for many reasons,- new hip, new gear, etc. But underneath all of those reasons was an inexplicable dread. Like a part of me knew there was something I needed to go through- by myself. Colorado was in a drought, with a big wildfire south of us, and I was a bit concerned about water sources, as some of the streams looked to be seasonal on the map. Also the little satellite communicator that I had ordered still hadn't shipped, and so I would be alone without communication. But all these things were what I was accustomed to- so where was this dread coming from?
The night before my hike was real cold. I camped at the trailhead, and didn't sleep well. I got up early to get a good start- carrying with me three liters of water. The day warmed up quickly, and soon became windy. I was still feeling a bit sick, but good enough to hike. I think the underlying nervousness had kicked in some adrenaline, which helped fuel me for a bit.
As I hiked, it soon became apparent that the seasonal streams were all dried up. The high county that I was walking through had a parched feel to it, and because I was breathing hard, my mouth took on the same feel. As the day progressed, I found myself with my last liter of water, knowing that the only water I might find was at the end of that day's hike.
I reached a place where an emergency yurt was constructed- a place for thru-hikers on the Colorado Trail. I hadn't seen a soul all day so I decided to check out the yurt. It felt good to get out of the wind. And inside the yurt was about 5 liters of water in some pots! There had been a race through there a few days before, and the aid station had left the excess. (There was an entry in the log book explaining all this). Before I laid claim to all this water, I checked out the water source in the meadow below. It was a spring, but it looked green and slimy, and so I figured the water left in the yurt was meant for me.
As soon as I got back to the yurt I began to feel sick. Dizzy and headachy. I had planned on camping in some trees across the valley from the yurt. But it was so windy, and I began to feel so crappy, that I laid out my pad on the floor of the yurt and tried to rest. As soon as I did this however, the dread/fear showed up in a big way. All the fear of hiking alone, on a trail I didn't know, above tree-line the whole way, without any reliable sources of water- it all hit me hard. I began doubting myself. I felt I was in way over my head. And of course, this was all ego. But the way it showed up gripped my being in a very strange way. I felt like I was in some altered state, and I was never going to get out. My mind couldn't see me going forward with this hike- the ego was too afraid. And I couldn't turn around and go back- my ride was long gone. There was nothing I could do but lay down in this gripped state.
Of course, everything was fine. There was clean water for me to drink that night, and enough for the next day. I had shelter out of the wind. No-one was around, so that I could be in this weird state. I lay down for about two hours, but I was unable to rest. The altered state encompassed my entire reality. I tried to eat some food, but I had no appetite and ended up burying my dinner outside.
It was so beautiful where I was, yet I was totally unable to appreciate it. I might as well have been on Mars- it all felt so odd. I couldn't cry, or meditate, or transcend my experience. There was absolutely nothing I could do to manage what was happening to me and I felt like I would never, ever return to normal.
As night fell, I went to sleep. And I slept solid and deep. I awoke early with the first light. The first thing I noticed was how clear I felt. I felt light and good! I made my coffee, and then had a nice meditation. I knew that I wanted to continue the hike, and even though there was some nervousness in the body about water, and my capacity, I felt much more supported by Life. The gift of the water last night, and the restful night was validation that all was well.
As soon as I began to hike, the new lightness flooded my being, and I felt extremely joyful as I saw how beautiful everything was. There was a new awareness of Life everywhere- with each step. And even though the hike became more strenuous, I could feel a new inspiration fueling me. A new excitement to see where I was going. The dread had left my being, and where it had resided was a new spaciousness- a new light. I felt so grateful- for the water, for what I had gone through, and for the Love that I felt for all that IS. And this stayed with me for the duration of my hike.