To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I went to the woods...

I went to the woods because I had to. I had to see if I had sisu or if I was all talk. Turns out I'm not all talk. It also turns out I'm far more than I've allowed myself to believe.
I told you it's been a rough year for me, that I was tired of getting my ass kicked, that it was time for life to be gentle with me. It was also time to clear my head of all the chatter and doubts that have taken up residency, so I went to the woods, to the mountains, actually. Where better to hear what I have to say to myself?
I went to the mountains to be alone. I went there for five days and I walked 35 miles with only myself for company, whether that be good or bad. It turned out to be very good. I'm not sure how to describe my trip. I would like to use adjectives like beautiful, wonderful, awesome, astounding, and all of those would be true, but they would also minimize what happened to me in the woods. I went with only what I could carry in my backpack, and I walked...and walked....and walked. And after awhile, I began to hear myself.
My first day out I had an agenda and I was rushing to get to my destination. I was so, so tired and in a careless moment I fell, hard. It hurt and while I considered crying as I sat there in the dirt, I thought that might be silly so I got back up and continued on, slower this time. With unrecognized wisdom I decided to stop short of my destination and set up camp. I had 5 days, there was truly no rush. I settled into a beautiful campsite next to an icy cold stream in which I scrubbed the dirt and bits of blood from my legs and knees. I slept soundly that night and silence, other than the wind in the trees, was my only companion.
 
I slept late and didn't get on the trail until mid morning. It didn't matter, I had already resigned myself to walking slower, to enjoying the sites around me. Turns out that was difficult to do without stopping because the trails were steep, and hilly, and rocky, and there were roots and logs to be avoided. I broke for lunch on a beautiful escarpment overlooking the Shining Cloud Falls. One of many waterfalls I would see on this trip. I saw very few people and most of those I did see never knew I was there.
 
 At one point I had to cross a river by jumping from rock to rock and as nature would have it, the rocks were slippery and of course I fell in the river. At first I was pissed, then I took a moment to breathe and I laughed. Really? I just fell in the river? Fine, Miss Nature, have it your way. I'll slow down more.
 I made Lake Superior by mid-afternoon and I knew I would go no further for the day. Lake Superior is my home, or at least it always feels that way. I nearly cried with joy when I saw her...truth. My beautiful, beautiful lake. My home. 

I played in the water all afternoon. I looked for agates, waded in the waves and climbed on the rocks. I sat staring out across the water, and I walked up and down the beach. I rested. I just was.
 After dinner I wandered down the beach looking for a good spot to enjoy the sunset. I found it atop what's left of the giant lava flows. Over the millenium the flows have been worn smooth by glaciers and the water, but you can still see where the flows had cooled. At least, that's what I think I was sitting on. I had two hours before sunset and mostly I just sat and stared at the waves washing over the rocks, back and forth, back and forth. I wondered if I would ever get bored with my lake if I lived on it. I didn't think so. I was pretty sure not.
This was the view from just outside my tent.
 
Day three. I needed to make up miles and I didn't know how far I could go. I said, "let's just put one foot in front of the other and we'll just see." Turns out it was 12 miles. A long day of hiking for sure, but I had gotten an early start and the trail, while difficult, was not as difficult as the past two days. But let's face it, 12 miles up and down a mountain are still 12 miles....it was still hard. This is the day that I can't explain what happened to me, when my mind began to connect dots, when things started to really sort themselves out. This is the day I had to dig deep to push through exhaustion, and yet it's the day that I felt like I had the biggest emotional breakthrough. Why is that? Why does that happen when we're under the most pressure? This is the day I had my aha moment. This is the day I cried.
 I spent the late afternoon and evening at Mirror Lake. I swam, took pictures of birds and bugs, sat on a log by the lake eating my dinner and gave my mind the freedom to wander. Apparently my mind likes to wander.
Just at dusk I heard them. I heard the Loons down on the water and I smiled. I don't believe there is a more peaceful sound for me than the Loons calling in the night.
 
 I know he's not a Loon, but he was entertaining and we had a lovely one-sided conversation.

Day four found my mind much quieter, more peaceful. I felt more at peace. I wonder if that's why I found the scenery so much more beautiful or if it really was different than the past few days? I was noticing that sometimes the breeze coming through the woods smelled like snow. It didn't feel like it, but there was a clean, crisp smell of snow in the air. How strange to think that when it's 80 degrees. I didn't fall down today.
I began day 5 slowly. I was tired, but I didn't really want my trip to be over. I needed to climb the escarpment today and it was going to be a tough, tough climb. With two miles to go before I was finished, standing on the escarpment looking out over the valley with Lake of the Clouds below me, I had a moment when I stretched out my arms and said, "I did it," and then I burst into tears. My gosh, 35 miles and I did it. My head was clear, the chatter and doubts were gone, and I had experienced a huge emotional breakthrough. I did it. Sisu indeed...
 
 Indeed.

2 comments:

  1. Simply beautiful. Thank you for taking us on your journey. YOU are an inspiration. AMAZING!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds like a great trip. :-)

    ReplyDelete