Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

I’m not done yet

“I’m not done yet. In fact I’m just getting started. I had goals, I had ideas, I had so many plans for my life, and they all changed, over and over again. Sometimes that’s difficult and sometimes that’s a challenge, but most of the time it’s a gift, because sometimes the place you really needed to go in life was somewhere you would have never planned on your own.”

~Topher

How many of you relate? How many agree and can say “my story isn’t over yet?” Boy it takes hard work to get here doesn’t it, and even harder work to keep going. Chance accompanies us along the way and in fact changes us. We constantly reinvent ourselves, shedding old beliefs and values while adapting to new ones. Life is no picnic that’s for sure, but it is a journey and then again, everything worthwhile requires effort and a traveler willing of not arriving at a set destination.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

Getting lost

I remember the first time “getting lost” came up in a conversation. My words were taken literally, as if a horrible fate had happened to me. As if sympathy and understanding was called for. Yet for me it was merely a way of describing “to get away from it all.” Over the years “getting lost” has become an essential part of my life. I have come to enjoy my own company while leaving the noise behind. For me “getting lost” doesn’t always mean that I have to be myself and it’s wonderful if you can share the experience with a like minded soul, but I do enjoy my solace, no matter how compatible someone is. It packs a powerful meaning and I believe that sometimes we have to get lost in order to find what we are really seeking. To allow ourselves a chance to become completely still, without interruptions. Consciously or not.

Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are seeking, that something is missing, that something needs to be filled and replenished. But you will definitely feel it inside when you find it. When you are away from it all, and when you engage in activities that fuel your soul. You might feel a deep sigh, a tickle in your belly and lightness flooding through your veins. It’s like a coming home, a relief, something that has lifted the heaviness we often feel from day to day life.

Getting lost is a way of detoxing, of taking a break, a breather, a time out, a much needed rest from it all. You can find it in numerous ways, each unique to you and your own preferences. Perhaps you are getting lost in reading a book, taking a bath, a stroll in nature, watching a movie, in music, the performing arts and the creation process. It doesn’t require a full day commitment and even small doses per day, as much you can set aside for yourself will show significant benefits in your mood and overall well being.

Getting lost requires self love, awareness, commitment and prioritization, knowing and believing that you are worth it to take that time out from your hectic day. That it is essential for your well being, and that it is a priority. Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves. At least it was the case for me. It makes me smile now and sometimes all it takes is a couple of minutes, chilling in the hammock, watching the clouds go by and taking a deep breath of appreciation and gratitude. I am addicted to the feeling as if it was a potent drug that keeps calling me back for another high. Here is another perspective from Jay Woodman on the topic of getting lost.

“Life is a repeated cycle of getting lost and then finding yourself again. There are smaller cycles within that cycle where you get lost to a smaller degree and then remember yourself again. Sometimes you do it to yourself on purpose, consciously or unconsciously. Every time you get lost, it is so that you can learn something or experience something from a different perspective.”

And by doing so your life is enriched, setting yourself up with the tools and trades, the knowledge, wisdom and understanding, recognizing you have to stay flexible and sway with the ever changing challenges of life. Only then can you become unbreakable and bend in the storms. So see, in my book, “getting lost” voluntarily or involuntarily is an essential part of life and not that bad at all, even if it sounds a bit scary. Trust and have faith that all will be well and that it is a lesson you need to learn in your journey as a lifelong learner.

Posted in Adventure, Hiking, Mother nature

Natural Stone Arch

Just a little picture for you today from my recent get away trip with the Cinnamon Girl. While I have been to this area numerous times in the past, it was during this trip that we discovered something new, a natural stone arch we never saw before. Just goes to show you that you can visit a place a number of times, and are still likely to see something new each time you go. Also different times a year, different seasons and cloudy days vs sunny days, all can pose an impact and might provide the feeling of seeing something for the very times, even though you’ve been here before.

Here is a picture of us en-route to have a closer look to the arch and to take some additional pictures. It wasn’t long after finding the arch that we discovered the little dome shaped cave that provided a good resting spot and escape from the sun. It’s times like these that turn into precious memories and have us look back remembering with a smile on our face.

Posted in Adventure, Mother nature, My story

Cliff dwelling practice

I finally made it and got away for a few days. It wasn’t as if it was planned, and it just so happened. During the elimination of backyard weeds, it was decided to better remove Cinnamon for a few days to keep her safe. I felt guilty and downright panicky, thinking of the deadline ahead and that I couldn’t really afford to take a break. I still still think I couldn’t, but I ran myself right into the ground. Life and the current situation was taken a toll, rightfully and understandably so. Eventually my body weighed in and like so many times before, it told me differently. It made me aware that on a physical and emotional level, I needed this break perhaps more than I realized. It was downright essential and although I know this, a few shreds of guilt and concerns still remain.

This would be Cinnamon’s second overnight trip and I remember being in a great deal of pain during the first one, which in turn made it tough for me. I was happy that despite of everything, this trip turned out better and it provided that much needed break. Cinnamon had a blast and activities were kept minimal to give myself a chance to heal. Keeping stress and agitations at bay, the pain also minimized and I handled things better than expected. As always the time flew and before I knew it, it was time to return. My heart grew heavier knowing and anticipating what was awaiting me, but that’s for another day, let alone it being my confirmation and validation that the old life was killing me.

In the meantime and to describe the above picture, we went to one of my favorite places. If you’ve seen Iron Man than you know the backdrop and the area called the Alabama Hills. It was cool as always but it getting warm and Cinnamon struggles with the heat. I was on the lookout for a shady spot to give her a break (me too) as I spotted two little caves in the rock formations. The first was too small and onward to the second one which was slightly behind the first, it was. This one was like a little dome tent, enough for a few people, gear and a dog. It was clean and without any creepy crawlers, such as snakes or spiders. It was big enough to sit upright or to lay down and take a nap which we all did. Shielded from the sun and later the wind, this was our view as we watched a storm roll in over the Sierra mountains and Mount Whitney. It was very serene and peaceful, exactly what I needed and I will definitely go and revisited this beautiful cliff dwelling home again and again, over and over. I’m sure others have seen it, but it looked untouched and without disturbance. Always a bonus when restoring nature’s beauty and leaving it exactly how it was meant to be.

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Health

Cinnamon’s first big adventure

It was the middle of February and Cinnamon’s first big adventure. It included two overnighters and her first time being away from home. Many surprises would be in store. For her, as well as me, and neither one of us knew how this would go down.

It turned out that Cinnamon is a born adventure pup and loved every minute of it. She took over the small cabin and was instantly at home. She even had her own twin size bed that she made use out of it occasionally, lounging and restring, just not at night. At night she he to be curled up and close to Mom, leaving me to fight for space and covers.

Overall she did great. Patiently sleeping in the car from destination to destination, exploring to her hearts content and you could tell that she enjoyed every minute of it. It was heart warming to see and my heart was full although the trip for me was a struggle. I wasn’t well on the health front and lingering storms didn’t help matters. You could sum it up in the sense that I was in one of my most favorite and scenic places, but I was fighting through every step. Regardless of how much I love her and wanted to share this time with her, it wasn’t a time to relax for me.

It’s like having a child I imagine. A little one that requires attention and supervision around the clock. Mornings were a big struggle, and where I usually throw on my robe at home, able to let her escape into a fenced yard, this was in no way possible here. I had to hurry and get fully dressed to enter a winter wonderland so she could do her business. One of the problems is the morning stiffness, and I found myself working through the pain of forcing non functioning, non cooperative limbs because of being afraid the toddler couldn’t hold it until I was in full gear. It was difficult, but there was no doubt about how much she loved being out there. How much she relates to Mother Nature and taking time to smell the roses. How much she fits in with us and loves the things we do. She is nearly 40 lbs now and stronger than ever. We are still monitoring her Allergies and hair loss and things have gotten much better. Now it’s my turn to get better and stronger once more. Fingers crossed because this little bundle of joy has a ton of energy and demands quite a bit while bringing a joy like no other.

Posted in Adventure, Hiking, Mother nature

The Descent from Cathedral Lakes

It was time to tackle the descent from Cathedral Lakes to allow plenty of time without having to rush. It’s crazy how much quicker it goes going downhill, but I still find the constant pounding on the knees and putting the brakes on just, if not more strenuous as climbing.

Nearby thunder was still in the air and could be heard off and on. It was time to go and I enjoyed the play of watching the clouds make way to bright sunshine, only to cast shadows on the peaks a few seconds later. I surely gotten my fix watching the “Puffies” dance that day.

This picture was taken on the way down and you can see Tenaya Lake in the distance. The non-existing trail continues over the even steeper drop off in the middle of the picture. Yeah it’s so steep it literally vanishes and looks like there is nothing more but cliff. Most of it had to be tackled in switchback motion, a zigzag pattern to ease the incline or drop off. My trusty hiking stick always by my side and often bracing myself.

In the end I made it of course. I’m here to tell the story. It was surely an adventure that left me feeling accomplished and grateful to have finally seen this place. It would become one of those hikes throughout the summer, strenuous and in high elevation, but ultimately conditioning me into better shape. I earned it and I am grateful for the memories.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

Mad Max – Desert style

Mad Max – desert style, or life, adventure, and it’s meaning.

When was your last adventure?

For me it was during a little road trip in the desert, with no schedules and no particular destination. Dirty and sweaty, windows rolled down, cruising the endless road stretched out in front of me for as far as the eye could see. Mile after mile passing by with no other vehicle in sight. Mountains, painted rock on both sides, wild horses, tumbleweeds, canyons, and a whole lot of open land, a whole lot of nothing. For sure no water or at the best very scarce. A gas station, well hidden that I never found or needed, where I was instructed beforehand in case it’d be closed. “Just go across the road to the bar, they can call the owner of the gas station to come and open it if you need gas.” Welcome to the wildest of the Wild West.

Luckily I had a tank full of gas and enough water to last. Drinking was a whole other adventure and it was so hot you didn’t actually mind spilling a little water down your throat, feeling it run down your chest, mixing with the dust. I couldn’t help myself feeling like I was straight out of a Mad Max movie conquering the “barren wasteland”, I mean the desert of my home state Nevada. And it was in that moment that I smiled and envisioned a Mohawk skull as a hood ornament for the Jeep. If a car did come and was visible way up on the horizon, it was like gripping the wheel and driving into battle on fury road.

Last stop before heading back to civilization, climbing a steep canyon wall, meeting a cool stripped tail lizard on the way up, and an awesome view and shadow reflection of myself, on top of the world. Bottom screen – middle.

I share this story wondering if you ever noticed how many of us rush around in dizzying speeds? Serious, unable to play, straight faced, meaning business all the time. Unable to sit still for a moment as if afraid to miss something. And in doing so we miss the whole meaning of life and what it’s all about. We forget that success is not measured by our possessions and achievements, but that it is about our experiences and moments like these.

Every day a new chase begins, rushing to catch a little more of the same old. Is it our social conditioning, to make ends meet, because our workload is too much that we’ve forgotten how to relax, how to be still and just be, or perhaps is it that we are frantically chasing the meaning and the purpose of our life? I think sooner or later you might have to answer that question for yourself. What do you think, do you chase? If you are, then please consider this.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

-Alan W. Watts

You don’t need a desert adventure to feel alive, but for me it was one of those moments and a reminder to put this quote into perspective.

Posted in Adventure, Human spirit, Life

Stairway to heaven – PT 2

PT 1

One false summit after another, the non existing trail was rising relentlessly and without mercy once the climb had started. The first mile took us through a meadow, along the giant granite Dome, and the occasional but manageable incline. This was behind us now and the remainder to the lake would be steep, steep, and even steeper. Is that a word? Anyhow, it was a smooth and slippery incline that wasn’t going to let up. The terrain got rockier as we passed bolder fields and moonlike landscapes. Desert varnish streaks, indicating where seasonal waterfalls had run over the smooth granite, polishing it to it’s smooth surface.

Boulders were a natural part of the landscape. At times it was a single rock making it’s path down the mountain until the final resting place. Other times they came in clusters, even a field. Glacial erratics, once buried under thick ice, now revealed due to giant glaciers long gone. Leaving behind a new picture, a new landscape carved over time. It was incredible to imagine what this landscape must have looked like. Surely only the highest tips of the mountains were visible while the rest slumbered under the ice.

At one point, I was huffing and puffing across the steep incline in a sideways motion as if maneuvering invisible switchbacks. It was simply too steep to go straight up. Ankles were twisted, trying to find a good grip, and it was there that the question raised whether we should turn around. It was hot and I was struggling. Air was hard to come by and I had an elevation headache. I could feel my pulse pounding in the back of my neck, and lost track of many times I’d already overcame the desire to quit. “No, not now, look how far you have come, you’re not a quitter, where is your warrior spirit, you know you will never forgive yourself for turning around now, it’s now or never, what are you made of – this your time to show it, you just have to go slow and believe that you can do it, no pain no gain – remember?” These were some of the thoughts that went through my mind as if cheering me on and making quitting an impossible choice to consider. And with it I carried on.

Over 73 flight of stairs climbed in 1.5 miles, 16,663 steps and a round trip of 6.7 miles.

Posted in Adventure, Hiking, Inspiration

Stairway to heaven – PT 1

Only a title like this could have motivated me to keep going, although I didn’t really think of it at the time. It was more like a theme of “are we there yet” that played out in my mind. But what was awaiting me was a stairway to heaven, but also a great reward that would eventually show itself after one of these “false summits.”

How many times had I pushed myself this year? Pushing beyond limitations, beyond beliefs, and beyond what I thought capable. Whether it was in the physical form or mentally, each time required overcoming the inner resistance that urged me to quit. To give in and just call it a day. Something kept me going this year, something was different from prior times. I found a new willpower and it was thriving. A new desire that wasn’t clouded by pain, to not give up and to propel myself forward and keep going. Physically I was able to do so on most occasions. I knew it had to be a mental thing and steadily I pushed on. In the process of it, I leaned a thing or two about myself, and with it came the reminder that takes me back to old values that still hold truth. I’m talking about the belief that everything worthwhile requires hard work and this was a constant, something that wasn’t outdated. It rang true and required a dedication and commitment that often drives us to the brink of our limits. My stairway to heaven was going to take my precious lessons to the next level, perhaps beyond my preconceived self, my own set limits, and I would have to work for it because the reward would not come easy.

The first night camping was a night of adjusting to sleeping on the ground. In other words it was not the most comfortable night I ever had. It was a night filled with tossing and turning and daylight could not come quick enough so I could get up. I felt mummified in anticipation for a cold night that had me in too much clothing. In the end I was too warm which disrupted my sleep, yet I was unable to remedy the situation. You know the feeling of waking because you are too warm, but you are not that awake, or conscious enough to do something about it. The same applies if you’re too cold and that’s what kind of night it was. Uggghhh.

Daylight came eventually and would give way to the uncomfortable, sleep deprived night. After stretching the old sore bones and a modest campsite breakfast, we jumped into the Jeep and off to Yosemite we were. There was a previous conversation about doing a hike up to Cathedral Lakes. It was a new hike for me and also one that was a bit daunting. We had agreed that if we did attempt it, it would be on a day when there was no chance of thunderstorms. Much of the hike would go over exposed, smooth granite, which is not the greatest place to be when lightening strikes or the surface gets wet. With puffy white clouds in the sky and a chance for thunderstorms, I didn’t think that today was going to be “that day” but on a last moments decision, it was. It was probably a good thing since it left little time to stress myself out about the difficulty of the hike.

Off we were, along the way, passing the massive granite dome you can find here. We took a different route and a non existing trail that is as good as not travelled at all. It took us away from the crowds and the congestion this area often sees. It was a shorter route that also packed the elevation change into a much shorter distance, having me climb 73 floors mostly all in 1.5- 2.0 miles, at high elevation. The breathing and air into the lungs was a different challenge all together. It as so steep at times that I feared slipping on the smooth granite, only to face my nightmare and fear of falling to death. Leaning my upper body forward to compensate for the intense ascend, I could only hope for my shoes to have a good grip and prevent this fear from happening. “Why did I decided to bring the old shoes that nearly had no thread left on the bottom?” Brilliant decision making at it’s finest. Especially for someone that still doesn’t trust their footing a 100% and never knows when the RA decides to strike, leaving you uncoordinated and more vulnerable. By the way, that’s the rational common sense side of me talking right now, but the rebel and warrior inside of me just went for it that day. There wasn’t too much inner dialogue going on at the time and the warrior emerged in an effort to push myself to new heights and experiences. I was still going to be careful and not reckless after all.

To be continued….

Posted in Adventure, Books, Life

No naps on this trip

The time had come and I was getting ready for a four nights, five days camping trip. It would be the longest in years and a few doubts snug into my mind. Isn’t it crazy how often our thoughts are trying to sabotage us and turn a situation into something that never comes to fruition? I was having such a moment and was wondering how I would handle sleeping on the ground that many days in a row.

Packing my stuff, it was a last minute decision to bring a book along. I finally decided on one, and though an avid reader, this would be a first. Usually after hiking to a special spot, I’d just enjoy the area, take pictures, embrace it’s beauty and scenery, have a picnic, and finally take a nap. Everything was still going to happen the same, minus the nap. My goal was to tire myself to the point that I would sleep better at night. After hiking and spending the day in fresh air, it seemed like a perfect master plan. Daylight was fading quicker these days, and the nights were getting cooler. There was only so long someone could hang out in the cooling evening breeze once the sun had set. Especially if the winds kicked up. It would get chilly fast and I knew that the nights in the tent be long. Long enough to allow muscles to get sore, and to interrupt sleep. I was planning on being tired for the best chance to miss some of it.

After several hours of driving this campsite was found and would serve as our basecamp. It was already mid afternoon by the time everything was set up and it was too late to go for a longer hike. We took it easy for the rest of the day and hung out at the campsite for most of it. It had the most amazing reading rock, elevated like a little throne and shaped like a stone recliner. And it was in that moment, on our first day that I pulled out my book, gave up a comfortable hammock and settled on my reading rock.

This book had found it’s way into my life several years ago and I believe it came to me as a recommendation from someone. I don’t remember but I even started to read a few chapters at some point after getting it. All I remembered was that it didn’t capture me at the time, and that it was hard to read. Reluctantly I removed the bookmark that indicated my previous stopping point and pondered why I choose to bring this book. I could have take others, so why this one?

I started to read a few chapters and it was a different experience this time around, as if the book was speaking to me. The capture was there and I knew there was a message waiting for me. I got very attentive, feeling that this was not an ordinary moment. I knew there was a reason why this book came into my life and why I choose it NOW to bring with me. Perhaps the timing was right now. Little did I know about the chapters ahead of me and how important this book would become to me.

-to be continued