May 6, 2019
AZT Mile: 352.6
Miles hiked: 7.3
Campsite Elevation: 3,081
So much has happened energetically for me in this past week. Its been 10 days since I left the trail at Roosevelt Lake. Ten days away from this trail and today, on the eleventh day, I have returned. I can’t possibly get into the details of what these past ten days have held for me, but I think I can sum it up in the following words:
clarifying. nourishing. inspiring. grounding. heart expanding.
I can also re-affirm the theme of whose wave I’ve been riding for the past few months of something I call “Definite Uncertainty” is still fully flowing.
I got off trail ten days ago for a job interview. A job I’d been applying for over quite a long time, and I thought this may finally be happening. I had a teleconference interview the next day using the wifi at a Starbuck’s in Payson.
Talk about a mental 180 from trail to teleconference! But I pulled it off, hopefully not coming across as to much hiker trash and at the conclusion, I was informed there would be a 2nd interview. This would need to be an in person meeting, and soon. So, naturally, I figured my hike may truly be over.
I got off trail officially and took three days to make the drive hack home to Tahoe. I made it fun, by stopping at the Grand Canyon, driving through Death Valley and camping in the Alabama Hills under the watch of Mt. Whitney.
I figured if my AZT hike was over, well, it is what it is. But I needed time to shift my energy and be ready for what lay ahead. In Tahoe, I re-united with some dear friends, connected with the sacred land and my special tree friends- the Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines- and just enjoyed being home.
On the second day home, I was informed there actually wouldnt be another interview, so that was their way of telling me I didnt get the job. I was definitely disappointed, frustrated, confused. If they could have just told me that right away I would have never left the trail…well…thats’ if. There’s always going to be if’s.
There was only one thing to do.
Go back to the Arizona trail.
I spent a total of three nights sleeping in my own bed, and then on the fourth day I set off to return to Arizona. This was by no means a difficult choice.
On the drive back to the trailhead, my Mom and I chatted and caught up on life. We stopped at the Tonto Basin National Monument to take in and experience the Cliff Dwellings there which were created by the Salado peole some ~700 years ago.
The Salado people were farmers, and they hunted and gathered too. They primarily inhabited the Salt River basin, which is now filled in by Roosevelt Lake. Some of the people moved out of the river valley and created habitation in the upper hillsides, or the cliffs.
These particular cliff dwellings were preserved and commemorated by President Roosevelt and are thought to have been occupied during 14th century and housed a community of approximately 60-70 people.
It was a very wortwhile side trip, very easy to get to, and only a small handful of visitors were there. A woman employed by the NPS stood at the dwellings to answer questions and act as the protector of these fragile walls and the stories they tell.
It was quite beautiful, having climbed 350 feet above the parking lot, the views are more astounding than you might think, for only walking a half mile paved trail.
I love that this place, it’s history, it’s significance, it’s memories embedded in clay walls, are preserved and protected- and made accessible- at the same time (even if the rest of their dwellings are now under the reservoir).
We have so much to learn from knowing the ways indigenous people lived in harmony with their environments and with each other. These keepers of Earth Wisdom.
By 5pm my Mom and I were hugging goodbye, again, and remarking on how much nicer the weather was now, compared to 10 days ago. Today it is 16 degrees cooler and there’s a patchwork of cumulus clouds across the sky.
It is perfect hiking weather.
I set off on the trail, looking back for one last “I love you” and then turned to face uphill. There would be a lot of climbing this evening, but I was ready to feel my body pressing up toward the sky and my feet pushing down onto the Earth. Ready to feel my lungs and my heart communicating, finding that unique rhythm that only climbing gets you into. Ready for my mind to mirror the silence of the trail once more.
From the first moments I set foot back on trail, I felt at ease, I felt happy, I felt like I was exactly where I belonged. This was, indeed, the right decision. I thanked my Spirit Guides and the Universe for their support and love in guiding me back. I prayed to them for a safe journey, for a new perspective and to be guided according to the highest design through my heart being open and my mind being present in each moment.
The air felt soft on my skin. The silence enveloped me like a light blanket made of silk. Saguaros stood tall, towering over everything like guardians of the land. Grasses four feet tall whispered to me as they bent in the breeze, gently brushing my face.
I climbed and climbed, on rocks, on gravel, sometimes quite steeply, and the views of Roosevelt Lake opened up more with every step. There’s nothing like getting back on trail when you’d thought it had been taken away.
My heart melted a little with every step.
The golden light of afternoon came in a burst through the clouds, bathing the mountains to the East in warm streaming rays.
I smile big. I am so glad to be here.
I vigilanly watched out for snakes for the first three miles. When I left the trail 10 days ago, I had a lot of fear after all those snakes. Now, I have decided to not feed the fear and exercise trust. I am paying attention and I trust that I will know if danger lurks. There are ways of knowing, not with the eyes, but with the heart.
I was not planning to night hike, but wound up doing it anyway. This week, I ditched my wristwatch and replaced it with a gorgeous and very special bracelet made from Arizona turquoise stones shaped in flat plates. This is a piece of Navajo jewelry and was a gift from a dear friend many moons ago.
I wanted to move away from always checking my progress in linear time. I mean, how many times a day does one need to look at their watch out here, really? I’ve decided to just be, enjoy timelessness, practice really tuning into the light and the shades of sun and shadow that each hour of the day brings, observing as it changes; and from this observation, know the internal, spiraling time of the world around me. That would be all I need.
The day soon shifted to night, I got my head lamp out and very naturally kept walking without any logical thought.
I walked slowly, deliberately, and paid attention to my foot placement. There were a lot of rocks, and a lot of overgrown grasses. I felt a sense of peace in hiking in the dark that I have not yet experienced on this trail, on this particular journey.
I feel the fear leaving my system. I am replacing it with love and trust. I am ready to absorb the vibration of this desert once again. I have pushed the energetic re-set button, and it’s almost as if I am starting on this journey Anew.I am now inside my paper thin single walled tent, pitched quite loosely because I am in a sand wash and there was quite limited space for it to fit. There are a ton of those mosquito eater bugs in here, bashing into my face and my cell phone light as I type.
Go toward the light...
It is utterly silent here.
The stars above glance down upon me and I sense this place, she knows I am back. The desert knows I have returned to her and she is truly embracing me. A slight breeze picks up and tossels the flappy walls of my tent, I hear the whoosh from the nearby Saguaro’s as the wind slips sleekly around their thick needles.
These giants are studding the hillsides here and towering over me with their funky silhouettes, posing as if suddenly frozen in motion, as if trying to make me laugh, and they do. My heart laughs aloud, reverberating my joy back to them. Its good to be back.
So damn good.