No matter where I go, There I am.
Somewhere in the red sands of the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument I lost my worldly concerns, re-prioritized that which mattered most to me and oddly found the list was much shorter than it was a day before. It isn't a new experience, the outcome is very familiar to me, but as with my footsteps each one sinking into the fine dust beneath my feet and slipping a half step back for every step forward so are our daily lives. Our desire to move forward, achieve our goals, focus on targets, and create a desired outcome slips and shifts the point of aim, most times altering our course. New muscles are used in this new environment, the stress and after some time the pain also adjust our trajectory. Much like my GPS on the hike, the hike itself, the energy, and the solitude manifest clearly my deeply held feelings. The fog of the world has been lifted, and I feel new, albeit quite thirsty.
After so many miles with the sun in a clear blue sky, glowing down upon me, radiating heat from the pink rock back up onto me, cooking me in my nylon baking bag (hiking attire), my thirst goes beyond what a sip of water can provide. Don't get me wrong, I love my sip of water and my body needs every drop it can get. Far enough into the back country I am pumping from small puddles stained brown at the edges in bends and riverbeds. The water does not smell appetizing and it is warm. Now more than ever I need an excellent filter, a straw or comparable device. The water renews my palate and moisturizes my mouth, it is keeping me alive and my brain from frying. This is not what I desire though, it is a thirst that envelops my entire body and only submersion in the icy cold waters at camp some 20 miles and 4000 feet above me will suffice.
Is there anything better than an icy cold mountain stream under the cool umbrella of a pine and aspen forest after 10 hours of hiking the southern Utah desert? Soaking your feet and eventually resting your whole body and absorbing the moisture and cold. Washing away the dirt and the sand from every crack and crevice, (sorry for that visual). My body seems to assimilate and absorb the energy of the water flowing quickly passed me. Eventually my body turns numb, inflammation fades, and the pain heals. The second best thing may very well be the cool breeze off the water as I string up my hammock from side to side and allow the creek to sing me to sleep. The diversity of terrain is but one of the reasons I love southern Utah.
I sway back and forth gently in the cool mountain breeze, my mind and body both renewed. I think of my family and my friends. I think about friendship and service. My mind wrestles with ways to help, as with all things I also think of Dutch oven to cook for others, and I find a better me after this adventure than I showed up with. My equipment has served me well, my boots are dirty and worn, my reflective laces not quite as reflective, my nylon pants and shirt almost brittle with dried sweat. However, my mind is fresh and my vision is clear and once again I am prepared to trek into everyday life, one step forward, one half step back, and focusing on a more clearly defined outcome.
Be safe, be healthy, and share your adventures.