Posted in Hiking, Photography

Sitting on the dock of the bay…

…wasting time.

Oh but it was hardly a waste. The pier at Sugar Pine Point State Park was in the sun and there was a gentle breeze coming from the north. The majority of the wooden planks were still covered with snow, only leaving a narrow strip on the right side where the snow was already melted. I couldn’t help but see the warning signs at the beach and the beginning of the pier, cautioning people about the extreme cold waters. Still I opted to walk the narrow strip vs. slipping on the wider section that was covered with snow and ice. I managed, but was glad once the snow ended, exposing a wider, more stable path. I noted to myself that I’m getting worse as I am getting older. Vertigo, as well as looking down to where I’m stepping in forward motion, but seeing things pass me in the opposite motion are really becoming something I don’t deal with that well anymore. It makes me dizzy and lightheaded, and I’m always happy once I made it through. Most likely because I don’t trust myself as I used to, knowing that the RA can easily make me roll my ankle and lose balance. Thank goodness for my new, trusty hiking stick which I found the week before and took on it’s maiden voyage and first official outing. It did great, and I’m planning to personalize it in some sort of warrior theme. I think it’s fitting for the journey I have been on and continue to embark upon.

Just before the end of the dock, a L-shaped section (picture) branched off to the right, with steps leading down and luckily no snow. This would be the spot to spend some time, knowing that even though it was perfect, chances were we wouldn’t have it to ourselves. It was too good to pass up and quickly we spread our towels. It was perfect to soak up the rays, to be shielded from the light breeze that can turn chilly when sitting still, and we had found our spot to slow time. The warm sun felt wonderful and warm enough to take off my jacket, and the sound of melting snow trickling into the lake, was enough to relax and put you to sleep.

Several groups came and went, while we had a picnic and took pictures, just enjoying our time on this mild day at the end of January. Few can sit still or stay for long times, and I often think that we are the minority when it comes to that. There is no rush for anything, and the only goal is to be in the moment, to soak it all in, to surrender and forget the hectic of life. To leave your problems for a moment and concentrate on breathing deeply. To ground with Mother Nature and feel the calm replace the stress. It would be too boring for most, but not here with us, and the appreciation of being able to experience a place like this is always something we try to hold on to. Once you have felt it, you know that it is an addictive feelings, making you come back over and over. It’s a way of balancing things, a way to recharge your batteries and making room to deal with more curveballs that might be heading your way already. Maybe things would be different having a different job, but the hectic of retail makes you seek a place of solitude filled with peace and quiet. Who knows….I haven’t worked in almost a year, and such place of tranquility and harmony has never let go of my heart and has me coming back time after time.

In the meantime another huge storm is whipping through the lands, lasting several days, and packing tons of new snow. Luckily no polar freeze here, but you will definitely need to bundle up. It might be awhile until that pier is free of snow. This picture was taken last week, prior to the storms.

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Posted in Friendship, Hiking

Canto Nova

The preludes to this post can be found here and here.

Eventually Kyle returned to let me know what he had come up with as far as a trail-name was concerned. It had proven to be a challenge for obvious reasons mentioned before, trying to name someone you haven’t even met yet. My blog name played a role, as well as other bits and pieces that allowed glimpses of who I was as a person. The amount of time, thoroughness, awareness and attention to detail, blew me away and I was in awe. And still, I don’t think neither one of us could have known how much this name would grow, and what meaning it would take on. A meaning away from the trail as most of these transitions happened in my personal, day to day life. It simply evolved and became more and more fitting as time went on. It was always awesome, from the very beginning, but if I look back to the creation until the current times…by God, it’s quite a ride, and Kyle must have sensed something I didn’t even know the extent of back then.

Kyle chose two words.

Canto: A Italien word that stands for a section, a division of a large poem. Derived from canere which means to sing it can also stand for a song. (Rhapsody Boheme – Bohemian Rhapsody)

The second word was Novus: Which stands for new and bright.

I changed Novus into Nova which is the female version of Novus that can also mean bright star. In astronomy it’s a star that shows a sudden increase in brightness and slowly returns to its original state over a few month. The Native American meaning is “Chases Butterfly”.

Both words were a fit and Canto Nova was born. I felt much like embarking on a few new chapters (sections, division) of my poem (my life). I was in the process of writing a few new ones. A bright new future perhaps, as it required to go through pain and change. Metamorphosis to change from a caterpillar (what was my current condition) into a butterfly (which was my aspiring state). I had goals and dreams, I was “chasing my butterfly” to change my stars. But how would I explain this in a brief reply if someone asked me what my trail-name meant!

Today, in brief I would tell you that metaphorically my trail name means “Chapters of a new Dawn”. We constantly write our own history. The chapters and divisions we add to our life’s poem are up to us and nobody ever said that it was easy. Just looking at the caterpillars violent struggle, we see that beautiful things can come from adversity and pain. That is if we can see the beauty and the lesson that comes with such experiences, vs letting them define us into bitterness. The choice is always ours, so think about what you want to add to your poem. Will it be dark poetry or will you sing and chase your own butterfly?

Don’t forget to look and support Kyle Rohrig on Amazon. Three books are available for your reading pleasure, and make also a great gift for any nature fanatic and anymore daring to dream big.

Lost on the Appalachian Trail

Hear the Challenge

Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail

Thank you kindly. Enjoy!

Posted in Friendship, Hiking, Life

The quest for a Trail-Name

The prelude to this post can be found here

There is a special lingo amongst hikers and it is tradition that every thru hiker is given a trail-name. It’s a name that is made up of the tendencies, behaviors and character traits for each said individual. At other times it is simply appearance that can do you in, and the process can get quite creative. It’s not always an easy feat when it comes to the choosing, or the introduction of your trail-name, and how you got it.

My friend Kyle’s trail-name for instance is “Mayor” or “The Mayor” because of the care for his friends and people. Setting up campfires on trail, soon to be joined by other hikers, he provides and takes care of his people after a long day on the trail, hopefully much like any mayor would do. In his private life, he inspires and motivates people to just “Go for it”, and to pursue anything that sets their soul on fire. He demonstrates a great example for any aspiring dreamer who is looking to change their stars, by giving them the know how that it can be done, if only they find the courage to take the leap. Making a difference has become a full time job these days. So it is no wonder that his name fits like a glove, with Kyle bestowing great honor onto it, on and off the trail.

Katana, his loyal Shiba Inu trail-mate’s has a hiking name as well. The famous Catfox she is, named after her Fox like appearance. It’s funny to think that some people actually believed that she is a real fox. There is a story or two about it in his book “Lost on the Appalachian Trail” where it was believed that the little Catfox was actually a Russian fox. Good times for sure, and one of my favorite parts and laugh out loud moment.

The time was shortly after Kyle had finished the Appalachian Trail, that he faced a tough time readjusting to conventional life and civilization. It was easy to miss the adventures of the trail, the scenic beauty, the camaraderie and the simplicity of life. Less was more and the trail had always provided, while being the perfect teacher putting into perspective how little we truly need to be happy.

I was motivated more then ever to somehow find a way to hit the trail and to make my own memories, but there were still quite a few logistics to be worked out such as financing it and the question about my health. In my dreams I was chasing a feeling, a lifestyle of slowing down and truly living. I knew too well about the feelings of grounding with Mother Nature, to hear her heartbeat and to sigh in amazement of all wonders big and small. One day like so many others, I was wondering what my trail-name might be. Who would name me, how would and could they name me, based on what. What if I never made it due to my health to hit the trail in a long distance thru hike, and why was it so important for me to have a trail- name, I pondered. The thought of how it would come to pass was quite entertaining, and then the lightbulb moment came. The crazy idea to ask for Kyle’s input was born. I valued his perception and perhaps thinking of a name for me could distract him from the real life blues. It was almost like an impossible request, since we had never met in person, and still I asked him. It was a inquiry for a trail-name prior to even attempting a thru hike, was a bit like jumping the gun, but it held great significance for me. All there was, were snippets on Facebook, Instagram and the blog that entailed glimpses of my life. What a way to get to know someone. Still he agreed, being the person he is, a person unable to say no to a fellow dreamer.

Weeks went by and Kyle was very thorough. He analyzed from the little he knew and was dedicated to find something that would be fitting. We lost touch during those weeks, but I was hoping that my crazy task/request somehow managed to distract him from the reality check of life. My hope was that it would free his mind, ease what he was dealing with, and put him back in touch with what he loved. The trail…

Please don’t forget to support him on Amazon, Facebook or at Boundlessroamad.com. Kyle has written three books so far and each one is simply astonishing.

Thank you very much and stay tuned for the reveal of a very special trail-name. My very own…♥️

Posted in Adventure, Health, Hiking

Movement for life – Part I

I struggled on Monday, and what started out as a nice break for myself, would quickly turn into a day filled with pain. The RA has become a constant, and reminds me of how it all started some 12 years ago when I was reduced to barely being able to move, as if I was crippled. It seems that I have arrived back at that point and everything takes effort. The lack of exercise, spending most days sitting at Moms bedside doesn’t help, and physically the only thing it has brought me is extra pounds. I’m at a point where you can’t get comfortable, you don’t sleep through the night, and you wake several times from the pain of turning. I haven’t had such a strong flare-up in years, and it is painful, debilitating. frustrating, as well as scary. Imagine yourself losing control, the nagging pain robs your sanity and everything becomes a major chore. You feel the inflammation in your body in the form of sore, tender, swollen joints, and certain parts of your body feel as if they were on fire. There is tightness and you can’t make a fist. There is a burning, a desire to give up and not walk another step, although your feet are not tired and feel fine. It’s hard to endure, but even harder to adjust to your new reality and become friends with it. There is so much left you are planning to do, so many dreams waiting to be executed vs. being dreamt, you have goals and plans, and your body is reminding you that it might not come to pass. Your saving grace is your spirit, who is not defeated yet, there still is hope and you fight on, day after day. You do what you can to keep your mood high and positive. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you are just soooo tired of it. That is pretty much how things have been lately, filled with an unwillingness to accept the new reality although I have completely surrendered to what is. It had happened before and went into remission before, it could happen again and that’s what I choose to believe. But is there something more life is trying to tell me? Already on my knees, was my body in the process of forcing me into a decision, because my mind couldn’t make that choice. I truly think that it is what happened the last time. My body broke down to remove me from a damaging circumstances. Things turned out for the better back then, was it happening again?

Monday was such a day, and it was mostly my upper body, arms, hands and shoulders that were sore. There was pressure in my chest and I didn’t know if it was caused from the RA, taking the steroids and daily pain meds, or because my heart just had enough of enduring the constant strain. I took a few extra aspirin on top of the daily regimen that I’m already on per doctor’s orders. I managed somehow, became very tired but also very restless by the end of the day. I hardly did anything but rest. Was it really what I needed, another day of minimum exercise, mostly sitting and laying around? Something had to give and I knew it.

Tuesday morning came and the wheels were turning. I needed movement, and declared that just sitting day after day at Mom’s wasn’t going to cut it anymore. The temperatures were getting cooler, perfect hiking weather for me and a plan was born. I needed to exercise my heart and decided to walk to Mom’s. I was doubtful and had no idea about what strain I was going to put myself under, but I had to. I thought about resting points along the way if I needed to, while shaking my head at my own self and my incapabilities. What happened, I had walked much further distances in the past, never thinking about places where I might rest, but this was my “NOW” and I didn’t like it. Actually, I had to admit that I was growing to not like a lot of things about my current “NOW”, but so it was. At least for the time being.

I decided to rake up the pears in front of the house before leaving, and it would be a good indicator of how the joints performed, before risking the final journey. Although the small stretch of property in front of the house is the towns property, somehow it was still everybody’s responsibility to clean up the mess, and “The village people” knew who did and who didn’t. It was obvious, but also fuel for future conversations and a few looks. The previous storm had shook the tree hard, and the bottom around it was covered with fallen pears. I raked up five large buckets full and had to leave another pile that didn’t fit into the waste container. The pain was tolerable and actually felt as if the movement was helping. It was decided, and I got my pack ready. With water, lunch sandwiches, Fruit roll ups, jacket, I pad and phones, cables, sunglasses, PAIN MEDS, and wallet in tow, I was soon to be on my way. If I could only combine walking to Mom with a hike, an adventure to explore and see things, things usually missed by driving by quickly, if I could enjoy my time being out, to slow it down a bit while getting my exercise and step goal in, perhaps it would be a win win situation in many ways. I would also take advantage of the milder temps before the weather turned completely and winter arrived. It seemed like a winning combination and I was hyped up and pumped. My mind had performed it’s own little motivation speech

and off I was, walking each step to get closer to Mom. This didn’t come with the occasional moments of disbelief that I was actually doing it. I didn’t feel the greatest and while the pain in my legs were manageable, I still felt the tightness in my chest like a warning that this might not be the smartest idea. I knew that I had to keep pushing and promised myself to take it easy if there was ever a need. To listen to my body, but also make changes that my body needed to adapt to. I had reached the end of town as the neighbor chased by me per car. She was driving into the same direction I was walking in, but I was invisible and small. There was no time for a waive hello, heaven forbid for a offer or a lift, perhaps I wasn’t even noticed or seen. For a moment I was reminded that I would be completely on my own. Wasn’t it what I wanted…to slow things down and take time to breath? Wasn’t the rushing car that symbolized hectic and stress exactly what I was trying to get away from? Of course it was, but did the neighbor knew? It was more the principle of it, and realizing how wrapped up everybody was that had me bothered. I was reminded of the rat race I myself had belonged to not too long ago, the madness I was caught up in, with days that passed me by leaving nothing more but meaningless memories behind. Phew another day was in the books, did I manage to complete all my chores was my theme song. It was confirmation that I didn’t want to return, that I wanted the time to notice and that a different path would have to be taken.

It was a beautiful day for walking. The temperatures were in the upper 50’s, partly cloudy with beautiful “Puffies” (clouds) and a light breeze. The next thing I noticed was a playful red squirrel, a first since my arrival. I smiled knowing that surely I would have missed it, had I just driven by. My second message for the day was to have more fun and to take life a little less serious. Thank you Mr. Squirrel, indeed I needed that reminder. My senses were keen and I was in tune with what messages Mother Nature had for me. Just a short while later, a fuzzy caterpillar was near the side of the path, nestled safely in between the grass. Immediately I thought of it’s transformation to become a butterfly and how it related to myself. This entire journey had been transformative, I was getting my answers as well as insights of where I had been and where I wanted to go. Mrs. Caterpillar was no exception and another confirmation and reminder that I was following the correct path.

“Caterpillar holds the grand dream of becoming all that it can be, with no limitations, it reaches out to become it’s greatest expression of self. Putting everything aside, it follows the drive to evolve. Caterpillar teaches us to do the same, to find our power to transform in deep meditation, to go into the cocoon and emerge as a greater aspect of self…believing in the possibilities that with faith all things great and small are possible, and to remember that the grand and beautiful things have very humble beginnings”.

~Presley Love

…to be continued

Posted in Hiking, Journey

The return to “self”

Today marked my second train ride to Mittenwald. It is fairly inexpensive and I will be here until Friday afternoon when I make my return trip.

Mittenwald has become a special little place in my beloved mountains. It has it all except the huge tourist crowds, which makes it perfect for me. Sometimes I think retail has ruined me for all times, and large crowds and noise are mostly a turn off. With my mind so full, solitude and quiet help me reconnect. You could say I almost doubled my step goal today and I went back to the rock garden I called the Bavarian Stone Henge. I loved it there the first time and got to spent more time his time around. It was beautiful and peaceful, a true gem. From there I made the hike to Lautersee and couldn’t have had a better view for dinner. (Stay tuned for pictures). Afternoon thunderstorms added to the ambience and made for pretty pictures and a tad bit cooler temperatures that were welcome. Weather lightening rounded off the day with a spectacular light show over the Karwendel Mountains. Tomorrow’s adventure will take me up those mountains, and I’m crossing my fingers that the weather holds. It should be spectacular.