Another one of my first’s was experienced last week. It left me sore and wanting more. Can you guess what I did? 

I went on a pilgrimage of sorts. It ended up being more of a walking metaphor as my programs and patterns became more clear with every step. The 35 miles hiked in three days, in a lush jungle known as the Hoh Rainforest, showed myself more to me. The way I responded to challenging situations, my thought processes in response to those I interacted with, and the choices I made were all a metaphor for the bigger constructs that still, at times, govern my life.

I have always wanted to go backpacking, to commune with nature for an extended period of time, and to get down and dirty with myself in a new way. On Monday, August 17th I did just that. This experience came about very spontaneously even though I had been thinking about such a trip for years. I began planning just a few short days before I left when I decided to make the opportunity present itself. Being reasonably fit and having mostly what I needed via the help of friends allowed me to proceed forward. 

When I went online I was stunned to quickly find a gently used hiking backpack that appeared to be the right size. What I didn’t realize at the time was that since Jan of Jansport made this backpack technology has improved greatly. This pack served me well and got me to where I wanted to go, with all my necessities intact, but it sure didn’t treat my shoulders well. 

Me and my pack, quickly dubbed my new boyfriend, loaded the ferry at 9:30pm allowing me to stay at my friend’s house, which was a great kick off point to the peninsula. I feel asleep easily, dreaming of the cute boy sleeping downstairs and my adventure that lay ahead. Setting off early in the morning had me on the trail by 10am. While sipping on filtered water flavored with AN ALL ORGANIC PLANT_BASED SPORTS DRINK I was delightfully surprised by how energetic I felt. I passed not only the first camp site but the second as well. I decided to set up my base at the third, a mere 10 miles from the start of the trail. The first day was epic. My body felt good, I was present to my beautiful surroundings, and I set up my sleeping arrangements without a hitch. I decided to be close to the river so that the sound of the rocks cascading over the water worn rocks would lull me to sleep and so they did. 

My somewhat sleepless nights were not as cozy and warm as I had hoped. I elected to sleep in a nylon hammock as to lighten my load and found that I was cold despite my attempts to layer with thick warm clothing. I also found that the hammock material caused me to slip and slide without warning and my feet ended up being higher than my head. Not a recipe for a comfortable night’s sleep for sure. Nevertheless I didn’t feel deterred and arose early and set out to meet the magnificent glacier. Passing several water beds that were dry and finally arriving to a top layered mountain with minimal snowpack once again reminded me of my commitment to environmental preservation and the impact we humans have on nature. 

Being a diligent hiker and coming from a long line of people who are determined to cross the finish line I hiked much farther than I planned, putting me on the trail late at night and after dark. Having a head light made it doable and I actually enjoyed the solitude for much of the exquisite walk. It forced me to rely on other senses whose muscles I don’t get to flex much. I hiked the ten miles back to camp almost without a hitch until I started second guessing where my site was located. Having come to a clearing where I could see the same alluring view that I had witnessed the night before from my hammock made me question where I was. After walking back and forth a few times in a confused state I DID WHAT I WOULD TELL MY CLIENTS TO DO. I sat down, took a few belly breaths and asked my heart for guidance. What came to me was “look for a familiar trail marker.” Low and behold, shortly thereafter, I came across a stump that was covered with furry moss that I wanted to photograph on the way up. With the help of this trail marker I was able to find my way back and successfully complete my second day. 

My third day is where it gets interesting. More shoulder pain and foot cramps = less awareness and presence to the awesomeness that surrounded me but I will save this part of the story for Part II. 

The beauty of this experience, regardless of my aches and pains, was connecting more fully. Being immersed in the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of nature allows one to blend into the landscape creating a clearer picture of who we really are. And indeed, the essence of who I am was revealed with each step allowing me to reclaim the beautify of my true self if even for minutes at a time. 

Beyond myself what I noticed most were the seductive sounds, the lush environment, and how the trees were dripping with moss. The woods are alive I declared and so am I. Not a small feat since three years ago I didn’t want to be alive and I could barely walk a block without having a panic attack. I realized how far I had come and what I still need to “work on” through my daily practices.  A triumph nevertheless and a spectacular one at that. 

To learn more about my experience and how this relates to conscious living tune in for Part II/Day 3: An Old Man Tried to Grope Me

 mikedodge hohrainforest connectiontonature releaseprogramming beingchallenged trueselfrevealed myfirsttime

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