No presents. No parties. He only wants a camping trip: a no-logistics-on-his-part foray into the wild à la me. Celebrating his birthday each year with blossoming cacti and warming temperatures is easily rising to the top of our favorite memories and adventures.
I have wanted to share our recent camping trip for over a week, but I can't help but question if I can do it in the way I want to share it. Can I tell you what it is I love about each adventure we take? Why they are important? How I thrive every time we are in the wild, connecting with the earth and deeper parts of myself? How it renews me and is like hitting a reset button? When I try, the words fall short. More than any other motive, I'd love for this blog to coax you out the door. I am certain our connections with nature go a long way in improving not only our sense of "environmental responsibility" but our common decencies and everyday interactions as well. I suspect in order for my hazy intentions to come into focus, I need to allow them to develop here; which means just going for it and letting it evolve in the process. This blog is part of the process; and I'm just going to throw myself into it by sharing our adventures in the way they are flowing now.
So...this is Jacks Canyon.
Mornings at camp were pieced together by bits of lulling interspersed between moments of readying and gathering. The rustling of zippers intermingled with the cracking of eggs and crinkling of paper bags. The melodic hum of camp broken up only by a particularly throaty bird call. We topped off our packs with snacks and drinking water while the paper bags dripped peppery bacon fat onto hot coals with a muffled hiss and occasional pop.
By mid-morning, we made our way down into the canyon. The sun was already beating hard against our backs as we approached the first wall. Our palms tingled. Often, we are driven by an intensity to climb everything or peak at a "new best" (grade); but this trip,we allowed ourselves to simply be pulled toward beckoning routes. At one point, I sat quietly for several minutes scanning a beautiful line: a thin crack climbing a shaded corner. It narrowed to only finger width by the second bolt, a somewhat heady sequence, but I was set on trying it. Between the first and second bolts, I hesitated...started shaking...questioned my resolve on doing this particular climb. After several moments of this, I finally took a deep breath, committed to pulling in this tiny crack, and managed a clean lead.
By late afternoon, the tender tips of our fingers and toes led us back to camp. Unfolding the Thailand mat, I sprawled into the layers of sun rays weaving into its fibers. I was drowsy in the sunlight but too content in the moment to sleep. As the sun crept lower, I longed for the blue Mexican blanket folded neatly over my reading chair and the book left on the floor of our bedroom.
When the chill was finally too much and our stomachs grumbled, we struck a match and waited to coax coals out from under the flames. Their steaming glow perfect for roasting hot dogs. Before wrapping them in butter lettuce, we smothered their gently-charred skins in a fennel-spiced sauerkraut and mustard made from scratch. We sat for hours, dodging smoke while flickering flames and twinkling stars hypnotized our heavy eyelids.
This is where I experience living. The pieces of the world dissolve into a clear stream of conscious intentions. Life makes sense. Puzzle pieces of the everyday innately fit or are discarded for their superfluous edges and in-continuity with the big picture. The big picture is obvious here.
Here I breathe and love and expand into this space.
**all photos taken & edited with my iPhone.