Oregon Coast Trail: Port Orford

September 13, 2019

There are many aspects of this particular journey that are different than my other long walks – the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, and others.

One of those is what piques my interest today. Generally, I have walked each trail once, in a single direction. By contrast, we have now actually traveled the length of the Oregon Coast trail three times! We’re staying in the same Sea Crest Motel in Port Orford where I made my last post a week ago! Let me explain with a brief recounting of our week’s itinerary.

On September 7, we walked out of this motel just at 11:00 a.m. and made a second stop at the Food Co-op where we bought delectables for the next few days – dried mangos and pears especially! We walked another half mile to Ray’s Food Place to wait for the Coastal Express bus for an hour ride south to Gold Beach, arriving at another Ray’s in Gold Beach a little after 2 p.m.

It was just a short walk down 5th Place and past the local airstrip to the beach. Soon, we caught sight of Cape Sebastian where we would leave the beach. I made sure to let my family, and grandson Sebastian, know we’d be hiking there! Clouds hovered over its distant peak, suggesting a lurking dragon, a suitable intrigue for a three-year-old.

There’s a dragon up there for sure!

We reached the base of Cape Sebastian in under three hours, after walking Gold Beach, suitably named for its treasures of tiny agates mixed in with the array of smoothed pebbles. Finding the post marking the trail up the cape presented another treasure hunt. I had pulled out my binoculars to find it almost hidden in the grass.

A beautiful, well-graded trail wound up Cape Sebastian through ancient spruce trees dripping with Spanish moss. Whimsical, handmade signs pointed our way.

Whimsical signs point the way

Just on cue at 1.7 miles we found the “good spot for a bivouac” noted in Bonnie Henderson’s Day Hiking Oregon Coast. It was only 6 p.m. but we didn’t think we’d find a better campsite, so we stopped! The site also included a view with a bench. Watching the setting sun reflecting on the ocean, I reveled in sketching and painting my view of Cape Sebastian. The ground, softened by a spruce needle cushion provided a luxurious resting spot for the night.

Cape Sebastian

Sunday, September 8th offered walks through three habitats. First, we completed the 5-mile traverse of Cape Sebastian, through the majestic spruce-hemlock forest, along the cliffs of convoluted rocks at the base of the cape, then down an eroded ramp, scaled with a rope, to regain the beach. All my senses were nourished, from the carpeted texture of the path, the scents of spruce, the vibrant colors of shrubs, mushrooms, and even the beautiful and threatening poison oak, to the sonorous quiet with muffled surf in the background.

Poison Oak flashes its red color

Next, we did some roadwalking to cross the wide Pistol River on a bridge, then re-entered the forest for our third habitat of the day. A beautiful and thoughtfully preserved stretch of coast called the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor welcomed us hikers with a good 16 miles of trail that followed the ins and outs of the coastline, up and down from road to beach and from road to bluff’s edge.

One spectacular section of the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor was Indian Sands, a dune atop the bluff

We knew we would be camping along the trail that night, even though no official camping is available. We had started looking for a flat spot. The steep, thickly vegetated forest offered none.

Just before dusk, we reached a feature called “Secret Beach”. We had read that it might be a place to camp. Two things negated that for us. First, there was the tide. I didn’t think I would sleep well on the narrow beach listening to the surf, worrying that it would inundate my tent! Secondly, we realized this beach was not secret at all! There was a well-used trail leading away to the road! The first people we had met on the trail all day were here! It was a wedding party taking pictures! The bride was deftly clambering up the bank, gathering folds of her white dress around her arm.

We hiked on, back up the bluff. Our willingness to move on was rewarded with the discovery of a cleared viewpoint, just big enough for our tiny tent, within twenty minutes south. We had a scenic view directly above Secret Beach that was safely distant from the surf. We slept well, even as the first drops of rain started falling during the night.

Just enough clearing for our tiny tent!

On Monday, September 9th we walked through the forest of the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor during our first full day of rain. This would also be our last day of trail walking! In short, it was a fulfilling day of beauty, with rain adding a particular touch of refreshment.

Late in the afternoon, we left the forest, learning on a plaque that Samuel Boardman was the founder of the Oregon State Parks system. What a fitting honor that this wondrous corridor had been dedicated to him on the eve of his retirement from the Parks!

A short road walk led us to Brookings, connecting to a welcome bike path for our last mile to our day’s end at Harris Beach State Park. We easily found the registration kiosk where we paid to stay at the Hiker-Biker site, grateful that the Oregon State Parks provide special sites for campers without cars.

In the morning on September 10th, John made a few calls to locate a nearby car rental place. We had just one more leg to walk to reach the California state line, the official southern terminus of the Oregon Coast Trail. What he came up with was the plan to continue walking 2 miles south into downtown Brookings, catch the northbound bus 100 miles to Coos Bay, rent a car there, drive north to Fort Stevens to retrieve the “Old Gold Van”, drive back to Coos Bay to return the rental car, then drive back south to walk that last bit of the trail. Got it?

Well, that’s what we did! By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, we had taken our hundred-mile bus ride, watching ten days’ walk melt before our eyes and rented a 2019 Chrysler Pacifica van. By 8 p.m. we had retraced another two weeks’ walk and checked into the same campsite where we had slept on our very first night at Fort Stevens, completing two traverses of the trail in 28 days – and 7 hours!

Next morning, on September 11, with somber reverence for the day, we drove around the corner to the protected lot where the Old Gold Van had been parked for a month. We knew we’d have to jump start the battery. Opening the hood revealed that a month had given a couple of mice ample time to get comfortable there. They wouldn’t leave!

In an hour, we were headed south, driving separate vans, John in the mouse van. The next two days were focused on our third traverse of the Oregon Coast Trail! This time, we stopped at certain spots we had missed on foot:
*The Tillamook Creamery
*Back road to Netarts, Sand Lake, and Pacific Beach
*The hike on the Harts Cove Trail on Cascade Head
*Elk Viewing Area in Reedsport
*Seven Devils Beach
*Bullards Beach and the Coquille River Lighthouse

Midway through the day, just before the side trip to Seven Devils Beach, we stopped in Coos Bay to shop for food, fulfill John’s official interview call for his seasonal job at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and return the rental car. No mouse sightings had occurred. Maybe John’s laying of dryer sheets throughout the van had driven them out. Maybe they were now moved into Wax Myrtle Campground where we had stayed the night before.

What impressed me with this part of the journey was how quickly we had covered the trail by car, yet how shallowly we had experienced the true nature of the coast this way! The road rarely gave us views of the beach where we had so deeply connected to the surf, the sand, the rocks, the sky during our walk. By car, each of the stores, trailheads, and road stretches that had been such vital landmarks for us while walking, were insignificant blips along the road!

After a short visit to the Coquille River lighthouse, which we had glimpsed from Bandon Beach on Day 12 of our walk, we hopped into the Old Gold Van together and drove to Port Orford, destined for a second stay at Sea Crest Motel and watching the Democratic Debate. Twelve days of walking evaporated in forty minutes of driving, my mind quickly reviewing the rich details we had relished by walking!

Which brings me to the present day of September 13, a lucky Friday for me, being one of those people lucky to have the 13th as a birthday. We were lucky to get to stay in a hotel with an ocean view and to have that be one night before the full moon! At 4 in the morning today I watched the moonlight shining on the ocean. At 6 a.m. we watched the full orange moon set into the western ocean horizon. Time rolls continuously, like the surf, but I’ll end this post here! Stay tuned for our next, and final episode of our Oregon Coast Trail saga – touching the California State Line at Crissey Field State Recreation Site.

Thanks for reading!

Oregon Coast Trail: High Tide

September 1, 2019

Our hotel rest stop was a welcome break and a sort of new beginning for the rest of the trip. We took an entire day off at the Villa West Hotel, at the crossroads of US101 and 126 in Florence, Oregon. We stayed until checkout time at 11.
John’s willingness to take a taxi out of Florence, skipping a few miles of roadwalking, and even a little forest walking, made today a delightfully easy day! Well, mostly, anyway. The cab driver dropped us off at the Wax Myrtle Trailhead, 3/4 mile from the beach. Yes, there were wax myrtle trees on the route!

We got there right at noon. A half hour later, the trail ended at the beach, beginning our 4-hour beach walk as the tide came in. Incoming tide means that the surf encroaches further up the shore, covering the firmer sand that’s easier to walk on. I decided to walk barefoot, which is fine for an hour or so, then is tiring.We had a little excitement for choosing a driftwood log just surfside to a tidepool that was filling. We had to grab our packs and dodge the water when a high wave crept up to our log!A few miles down the beach we had to cross a river that flowed into the ocean. As an inlander, I rarely have thought about what it really looks like when a river flows into the sea! I’ve gotten familiar with it on this trail, as we’ve seen many – from trickles to wide bays. This one is about twenty feet wide and shallow. We could simply wade across, although I got a little nervous when it crept close to the bottom of my pack.

Where we crossed the Tehkenitch River

Twenty minutes later, we reached Access Point 115A and turned off to Three-Mile Lake, our day’s destination! This is when the “mostly” easy qualification came in! To get to the lake, we had to traverse the half mile of dunes between the beach and the lake. That was slow going in the deep, loose sand! I used my Meet the Mountains Technique to make it easy, even though these were not actually mountains! The constantly shifting sand gave shifty resistance to each step, though, so I was glad for my stepping and breathing practice. (You’ve got this, right? If not, I’ll give you the link, so your mountain – and dune – climbing can be easy! https://forgivenesswalks.com/ReginaMeetsMountains)We did not like the looks of the camping around the lake, so turned north on another trail and found a sweet wooded campsite with a perfect distant view of the ocean and sunset! At only 5 p.m. we’re all set up and relaxing. No waiting for six days to summarize the day!

Sunset from Three Mile Lake Campsite

Oregon Coast Trail: Bridge

August 26, 2019

My notes for today tell the story of this pleasantly short day, a good follow-up to yesterday’s long walk!

10:44 After hot breakfast and showers, we’re leaving the Beverly Beach Campground escorted by Jack, a 7-yr old who rode by me on his bike several times while I waited for John to finish his shower. On his second trip past me, Jack proudly announced that he had been given permission to ride around the campground on his own. I celebrate those of us with the courage to meet strangers. I depend on them regularly!

11:00 On the beach. I notice that the pebbles are of different colors than north of here, more golden ones.

Golden Pebbles south of Beverly Beach, Oregon

 

 

11:27 There’s a thin waterfall dropping from the top of the dune here!
11:57 Willets, not just gulls
12:21 End of beach walk


Beach north of Yaquina Head, Oregon. As usual, we must exit the beach here to get around the cape.

1:00 headed up to US101 for a short walk on the road.
1:20 back on beach for four miles! We see lots of people on the beach as we enter Newport. It’s windy. Tailwind.
3:09 end of beach. (we missed Wal-Mart! John thought we would see it from the beach, but we were already past it when he checked Google maps. We needed a new fuel canister!)

4:15 To get over the bay at Newport we had to cross the bridge to South Beach. The bridge was a challenge with keeping my balance in the wind!


Newport, OR Bridge

4:43 shopping at South Beach Grocery and Fish Market. The two businesses collaborate. With a low fuel canister and limited stock at the store, we decide on getting a salmon burger and fries at the fish market for immediate consumption. We buy cheddar cheese, bean dip, vanilla wafers, garlic, banana, tortillas, peaches potato, an onion, garlic, (no oatmeal)
5:44 done at grocery
We cut through behind the Toyota dealer and through the private camp to a trail at the boundary of the state park and the camp. Walk all through the park to registration and Hiker-Biker site. First time in a corral! (The designated sites are surround by timber fencing) Receptacles in charging station, yay!
6:30 all set up at site 4AB

Oregon Coast Trail: Stamina

August 24, 2019

I awoke with gratitude for being in the quiet green spaciousness of the Cascade Head rainforest. Our choice to stop our forced march to the Sea Echo Motel in Lincoln City and sleep in this forest was a good one! This is what we needed! The stop also broke up our road walk on US 101 into two days instead of one very long, arduous one! With my spirit renewed by a night in the woods, I could bolster my courage and tolerance and walk on the road again. We still had 3.7 miles to go to Lincoln City, where we could shop at Safeway and return to the beach for a short walk to Devil’s Lake State Park Campground. We got away from our camp at a leisurely 8:40 a.m. We still had an hour’s walk in the forest. This time, I paid attention to its beauty!

About 9:30 we reached US 101, resuming our walk on the shoulder. An hour later, John noticed Clancy Road, which Bonnie had noted in her Dayhikers Guide as a short cut to the beach. We followed the road about 20 minutes to her cryptic description of a gate, then a trail, but stopped short of walking through private property. We simply weren’t willing to do it! We retraced our steps on Clancy Road, picking a handful of ripe blackberries on our way, and got back on US 101. At least we had tried!

At 11:25 we passed the Neotsu Post Office. Across the street I spied a golf course. “Maybe we could walk along the edge and avoid some of 101,” I suggested. We tried it and boldly started walking along the golf cart road toward the south side of the golf course. No one seemed to mind. A few minutes later, we heard, “What are you doing here?” A man wearing a white hat lettered Chinook Winds Resort pulled up in his golf cart. “Good! Someone who can direct us!” I called cheerfully. “We’re trying to stay off 101 and get over there!” I pointed to the next busy intersection. “Well, you can’t be here! Keep moving! Golfers are coming!” He snapped. We kept moving. Another golfer came along and we asked him for clearer directions. He gave them kindly, and we walked directly through the course on the cart road and out into the neighborhood, freed again from 101 for half a mile. Within ten minutes we reached Safeway, a safe place for us to be. There, we knew we were welcome to shop and eat a tasty lunch of guacamole, red pepper, lettuce, and fresh strawberries. Then, we shopped again for our food for the next 24 hours.

At 1:45 we were back on the road again, looking for the beach access at the Chinook Winds Casino. We found it quickly, along with the noisy rock band and crowd enjoying a car show. We ignored all that and headed to the beach! Two hours later, we ambled through the beach crowds to leave the beach at D River, “The Shortest River”, according to the signs, and walk north for one last bit on US 101 to the entrance to Devil’s Lake State Park Campground. Soon, we were all set up at the Hiker Biker site, with four others.
We had arrived so early, I had time to shower and wash out my clothes!

We were still hiking, undefeated by the challenging roadwalking on US 101!  John made no further mention of his idea to leave the trail. I was glad I had made no response to his frustrated threat yesterday. Tomorrow, we would be on the trail again after a good rest!

Oregon Coast Trail: Roadwalking

August 22/23, 2019

“I’m going to call this Horrible Hill!” says John as we pace up the hill on the shoulder of US101. He must not be using Regina’s Meet the Mountains Technique, I thought. It wasn’t the elevation change bothering him, though, it was the threat of zooming trucks veering over the white line on the narrow shoulder. I agree, roadwalking is not fun, and this stretch bothers me too. It’s 2 p.m. on a Friday between the beach towns of Neskowin and Lincoln City. We were on a 4-mile stretch of the trail where there’s no trail. The official route follows the U.S. highway.

Our memories were still fresh of the 6-mile road walk the prevoius evening. The pang of that four-hour road walk was raw because we had missed our chance at getting a boat ride across the Neskowin River to skip it. Both of us had hoped the other one was asking the boaters for a ride when neither was. We did have the chance to talk about that while we walked along the busy two-lane highway, though.

Today’s walk is similar. Sometimes there’s a shoulder. Often, there’s not. Often the road curves so drivers can’t see us. It’s not safe. We persist. “How can they call this a trail when there’s no place to walk?” I grumble silently, sometimes out loud.

An hour into the walk, we see a mowed hay field we could cut across. Squish! Down in the ditch of tall grass that we must cross, John steps in a creek. I get to miss that. The field is lumpy, but it’s safer than the road. We rejoice that fifteen minutes’ walk takes us safely back out to our road. At dusk, we reach the return to the beach and cap off the day with tenting on the beach, tucked beyond the tide line in the dune grass. The roar of the ocean surf is a welcome respite from the roar of the traffic.

On Friday’s walk between Neskowin and Lincoln City, up Horrible Hill, we got a break a couple of miles in. The official trail turned off into Cascade Head Science Research Area. We started out with 1.5 miles on the Forest Service Road, then turned off on dirt trail through the lush, green rainforest. I’m sad to say, though, that I was so caught up in my grumbling about having to walk 3.7 miles through the forest then another 3.5 on the road to reach our hotel goal for the night, 7.2 more miles and it’s already 4 o’clock, that I pay only slight attention to the forest.

Our Victim Story builds when John, thinking I’m not waiting for him as I’m charging ahead athletically to the goal, catches up and says, “I’m thinking of getting off in Lincoln City and going to get the van. Then, I’ll do car support for you so you can finish the trail.”

I’m stunned! He’s the one who is focused on completing any trail he does! I hold my tongue for a minute, then say, continuing my pace, poking my trekking poles into the ground to dissipate my frustration, “I hear what you say, and I have no response!” My terse remark has wisdom behind it. I know that quitting a long term plan on a bad day is unwise. But, I now know that John is uncharacteristically wavering and I won’t fuel the doubt!

“What if we just stop this march and camp in this forest?” I muse to myself. I start looking for a flat spot. The forest is impenetrable with underbrush and no camping is allowed (Which is another rant about newly formed trails!). Fifteen minutes later, with probably another forest mile to go, I see an opening! Thick moss blankets little patches of flattish ground. “What if we stop here for the night?” I suggest. “I have no plan any more,” John says dispassionately and follows me off the trail.

Our spirits are uplifted during that respite of quiet green. The towering trees, dripping with Spanish moss, catching dappled golden patches of evening sunlight soothe my resentment. I rest, running the words of The Thirteen Steps to Radical Forgiveness through my head. Am I willing to see perfection in this situation? Is there an opportunity to learn and grow here? Yes. I let Spirit do the work of providing a suggestion of how.

At 3 a.m. I wake up still thinking. I listen to the tracks from Walk for a Singing Heart. Barbara’s songs and the three exercises shift my perspective to openness to a new way of seeing the roadwalking and of being in the roadwalking. I don’t know exactly what that will look like. I don’t have a clear plan, but I acknowledge that I probably have more choices in this situation than I had realized. I sleep again and wake up, still in awe of this amazing forest and emboldened by our willingness to rest here.

Saturday provides a clean slate!

Oregon Coast Trail: Rain Day

August 21, 2019

7:56 Zach drops us off by boat on the Netarts Spit. We walk the beach, wondering when the forecasted rain would start. It’s overcast and raining oh so slightly. As we walk, the only ones on the beach today, my mind wanders to the rhythm of my feet.

This is our eighth day of hiking and I have noticed some inconveniences – I’m tired from our long days of walking, ready for a rest day; my sandals aren’t working so great because they rub a couple of toes raw. I do have gauze tape which helps; Its windy and starting to rain making walking a little uncomfortable.

As I walk, though, I notice the immense and surprising beauty of this beach – frothing surf, constant waves, soft, smooth sand, forested ridges giving way to grassy dunes where the indigenous Netarts people lived, sand dollars in various pieces inviting me to see if I can make a collage of them into a whole.

All of the inconveniences dissolve in the presence of the captivating beauty!

We walk on.

I notice that the mid-morning sun occasionally pierces the cloud veil to my left while ahead the white mist of rain blankets the beach.

Something tumbles along the sand. A creature? No, a tuft of the grassy-bladed seaweed. Tumbling seaweed? Who would have imagined?

9:12 I spy a smooth, bleached log resting in the deep sand back from the surf and from the firm sand where we walk. Time for a snack. “Look! A rainbow!” John says. How can I feel anything but contentment? It’s a complete rainbow arching above the ocean straight out in front of me!

9:45 We walk on. Now, its rainy and windy. It’s warm, though, so I’m comfortable, realizing that most people probably limit their beach walks to clear days, missing this remarkable sensory experience! We’re getting closer to the end of this beach now. We meet the first other walkers of the morning. They’re holding their shoes, walking barefoot.

10:25 we reach the end of the beach at the base of Lookout Cape which makes a steep, insurmountable wall in our path. We climb up the dune and walk through the campground to find the Hiker Biker site at Lookout Cape State Park. According to our guidebook, this one is the favorite of hikers.

We look at the Hiker Biker site. There are at least 16 sites with tables and small patches for tents, all carved out among small evergreen trees and thick shrubs. There’s the charging station with cubic metal lockers equipped with usb connections. So far, the Oregon State Parks have all had these. What a nice feature!

We waited to check in ’til noon, when the rain started in earnest. We crawled into our tent and napped. In about thirty minutes, water was coming through the tent floor! I laid out the poncho for an extra layer. “Why didn’t we choose the site with the grassy spot?” I lamented. I took a walk around to look at the other sites. As it turned out, our tent was actually on one of the few dry spots in the whole Hiker Biker camp! Even the grassy spots were inundated! The cleared spot at our site where we had first considered putting our tent was now a three-inch puddle!

5:00 p.m. The consistent rain seems to have stopped, although it’s still cloudy and drippy outside. We’ll stay put! It’s nice to have had this rainy day to rest – and do some catching up on journaling!

What If?

January 31, 2018

My Super Blue Blood Moon experience today filled my senses with awe and my soul with awakening! A few days ago I realized that the view I would get from my employee housing here at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park would limit my experience to just the beginning of the totality phase of the eclipse. “That’s not good enough!” I declared. As a creator of fulfillment (in difference to a settler for whatever comes), I asked, “Where can I go to get the fullest eclipse experience? I need to be able to see the horizon!” Where better to see the western horizon than the west coast!

I proposed to my partner, John, “How about if we camp on Tuesday night at one of our State Beaches? That way, we could get to see the most of the eclipse!” To my surprise, at least to the surprise of my Old Story that “John never wants to do my ideas” he said “Sure. That sounds good!”

The timing was perfect because Tuesday and Wednesday are our days off. I complicated things, however, by agreeing to do programs at the Visitor Center on both Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening. (Would someone please remind me next time I schedule my month that even though I love doing programs, skipping days off is a great way to burn out!) Anyway, we arrived at our campsite at San Elijo State Beach, about two hours from home, just after dark, with the almost full moon beaming down on us. We took a walk on the beach in the bright moonlight and set the alarm for 3:30 a.m.

To my delight, I could see the beginning of the partial eclipse through the van window! I could take my time getting up out of the warm covers and heading back out to the beach. At 4:00 a.m. we grabbed our lawn chairs and returned to the beach. That’s when the feeling that this, indeed, could be a moment of completion and new beginning, stirred for me. As we walked in the soft red dark of the total eclipse, I stretched into boldly communicating my sense that this moment could provide a “new light” on our relationship.

You might recall that last week I wrote of our 10th anniversary of completing the Appalachian Trail and how it was marked by John declaring that he thought breaking up was our best strategy for going forward. All week, in true Satori fashion, I noticed the beliefs that were coming up. I played a Satori Game that invited me to stop feeding my Old Story of fear of closeness, being invisible, and keeping my light to myself.

“John,” I said, as we picked our way across the smooth stones in the sand, “I want to start being more open with you about how I’m really feeling and what I’m thinking and doing. I want to let you in on what I’m doing in my business and to put energy into creating a summer occupation that really does fulfill both of us!” You see, earlier that morning we had a strained conversation about what John wants to do this summer. The result was a brand new Visioning Brainstorm Map of all the ideas that we had. He has some pretty exciting ideas! I realized that there really are several alternatives to my idea of returning to Virginia for another season of Ridgerunning, which John isn’t thrilled about.

As the moonlight returned, I had a palpable feeling that my new beginning could truly start now! My boldness, openness, and authentic sharing actually felt pretty good. The “cleansed and resurfaced” moon was a metaphor for my own overshadowing and refreshing of behaviors and beliefs.

I would like to report that everything has gone smoothly and we are both now talking freely, creatively, and joyfully about bold, fresh choices and that would be false. We did keep talking most of the day, with one bout of tenseness when he accused me of stifling his expression of feelings. I was able to sincerely listen, affirming my commitment to visioning a mutually fulfilling summer.

My celebration of this amazing moon event climaxed with a lighthearted program with 57 visitors for the purpose of watching the magnificent moon rise! The moon’s confident, fresh countenace illuminated my soul with my clear purpose of enticing others to come outside and feel their connection with Earth and Spirit. Many participants thanked me for a fun and informative event. “I loved listening to you!” one woman said.

I’m up late, still buzzing from the inner stirring from this dance with the Moon!

What I’m taking into my sleep – if I can get to sleep – is

“What if this boldness, clarity, and fresh illumination can light up a thrilling adventure? What if this summer can truly be the summer that I magnify the dream I conceived ten years ago when I finished not just the Appalachian Trail but the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as well? What if my declaration to earn my living hiking that spurred me on at the northern terminus of the PCT is ready to take on a fresh glow this summer?”

One of John’s ideas is to return to the Pacific Crest Trail and walk the northern half. What if I co-created that with him? What if everything I’ve done in the past nine years to build Forgiveness Walks could be unleashed and offered to generate the funds and the community to support this walk? What if it’s time to fulfill a new version of “hiking for my living?” That thought thrills me, like the returning light of the Moon. What if I let this light shine?

High Country Week

Notice and Wonder
August 3, 2017

 

My Ridgerunning walk this week focused on what’s called the High Country of the Mt Rogers Recreation Area in Virginia.  My first night out on Thursday, I camped at a spot I’ve had my eye on while I walked through there other weeks. It’s on Stone Mountain, just south of “The Scales”, an open, grassy field where cattle ranchers would weigh and sell their cattle before driving them down the mountain. The story goes that they realized that the cattle weighed more before they made the descent to town! Now, The Scales is a favorite car camping spot.  I prefer to walk a mile south on the Appalachian Trail, up Stone Mountain, to camp.  There, the grassy, and bushy bald stretches for a mile with expansive views. The low vegetation is broken by groups of short trees, bonsai-like stands of beech trees, just 5″ in diameter and fifteen feet tall. They create inviting rooms of shade, where the wild ponies can cool off.  I walked away from the trail a couple hundred yards and set up my tarp under a sprawling oak tree in a patch of grass.  In the morning, the view across The Scales and the valley below inspired me to take time to do a quick watercolor sketch of  the distant Wilburn Ridge, where the trail would wind its way south.

One of the programs I do during my winters at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is called Notice and Wonder.  It’s based on the three prompts that naturalist, John Muir Laws teaches. He encourages teachers to take their students outside and practice journaling in Nature, making notes and drawings of what they notice, what they wonder, and what their object reminds them of.  This past winter, I used my weekly program to motivate my own regular journaling. On Friday morning, this week, that Wilburn Ridge scene caught my attention for a session of Notice and Wonder!  Here’s what I came up with:20170804_075955

Notice and Wonder is not so much about making a beautiful picture but about spending time with a scene to integrate the shapes, colors, and details of something I observe in Nature!  I noticed that the coniferous trees stood out individually on the skyline. I noticed the various shades of green. I noticed the unique and specific shape of the ridgeline. Recording it would help me remember and internalize the shape of that mountain!  I wondered if I would be able to recognize each of the points I observed when I walked there later that day.

Paying attention to the mountain in that way did, indeed, make it become a more deeply experienced and memorable relationship! Now, in my mind’s eye, I can see the Wilburn Ridge, even after I’ve left it!

Crew Work
August 5, 2017

Today, I joined the volunteer trail crew from the Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail Club to build a fence. Stephen, from the Forest Service, the partner agency for this section, had brought the needed supplies and tools up in a truck. In three hours our crew of nine, with no boss, just cooperation – and luck – tore down the dilapidated fence and replaced it with a new wooden fence and metal gate. I had a fun and satisfying time of volunteerism and cooperation. That’s how the Appalachian Trail works!20170805_131944

Resonance on the Trail
August 7, 2017

On Monday, my last day of the week on trail left me a few hours to walk alone – in the rain! I reveled in the beauty of the trail and let my thoughts drift to imagining a fully developed and full-time Forgiveness Walks fantasy.

The business is thriving, with a team of assistants to help with online marketing, program implementation, and logistics. Women come regularly for custom coaching throughout the year, and on-trail programs, including a walk of the Appalachian Trail, uniquely focusing on creating fulfilling walks for each client. What’s unique and wonderful about Forgiveness Walks is that our focus on fulfillment in deference to accomplishment provides the creative space for each woman to delve deeply into her own heart’s singing. This listening shapes her relationship with Nature, the Appalachian Trail, and whatever venue provides the best canvas for her personal creation.

I walked for a couple of hours in this revery, reaching Old Orchard Shelter just as the rain let loose in perfect time to take a break in the dry shelter. Two women were there as well. One greeted me with “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” And she was serious!

Over the next hour the three of us chatted, getting to know each other – easily like hikers do! Amy’s story resonated with mine as soul sisters choosing fulfillment over expectation, letting go of unfulfilling relationships during the course of our thru-hikes. April, too, has divorced and teaches young children to recognize, acknowledge, and move through their feelings. These women understand Forgiveness Walks! Amy, too, knows her walking and breathing rhythm that makes climbing mountains easy! April talks about giving children space to “have their feelings” without rancor, special attention, or admonition.

The rain abates, we exchange contacts, and I walk on to my car parked a mile and a half away, my week’s walk complete. Affirmation that Forgiveness Walks resonates in the world lightens my steps. Its timing is guided by the Universe, allowing me to hold it gently with trust in its unfolding.

 

 

Solo Time Wanes
August 8, 2017

Next week marks my last solo week at the Ridgerunning job. John, having completed his project of climbing four state high points out west, bagging him all 48 of the lower-48 state high points, is on his way back. The ones he did between July 11 and August 7 were Mt. Hood in Oregon, Ganett Peak in Wyoming, Mt. Rainier in Washington, and Granite Peak in Montana.  It was a major accomplishment and scheduling surprise for him to get to do all four of them during the month!  I am very excited for him, knowing that he really wanted to complete this project.  I have mixed feelings about getting back together, though!  I’ve realized over the past year, now that we’re actually living together and not just hiking, that I tend to discount my personal preferences, defer my passions, and take a back seat to his choices when we are together. Being solo this month gave me unfettered opportunity and space to pay attention to my own choices without interference from someone else. For the month, anyway, I really enjoyed it!

I noticed that I’ve been making up a S.T.O.R.Y. (my acronym from Radical Forgiveness for a Sustained Tale of Repressed Yearning) about my assumptions about how my relationship with John has to be!  What’s really bothering me is that I see some of the same characteristics that I developed in my marriage with John Reiter!  First of all, this makes me see clearly that I am the one who is creating this as my reality, so I’m the one who needs to change it. In fact, what I now know about relationships is that none of this has much to do with him. The troubles originate with me!  That means that it’s my responsibility and my opportunity to choose a different way of being!  But what options do I have???

Satori Means Awakening

That’s the quandary that woke me up this morning!  I decided to start my day off with a game of Satori, the Radical Forgiveness board game, to give me new vocabulary and ideas to address that question.  As always, the game was a perfect fit for the story I was acting out!

Before I drew any of the cards to start the game, I wrote out the S.T.O.R.Y. that I was bringing to this game.  Here are the basics:

My story is that I fear John’s return. I have thoroughly enjoyed my solo time, being at Konnarock Trail Camp and on the trail solo. I have enjoyed doing my choices of activities – resting, watching the political scene, writing posts, working on forgivenesswalks, playing Satori. I believe that when John is with  me I must choose to do those things solo or drop my interests and do his choices. So, then I wonder what partnering provides except an inconvenient unpleasant choice! What do we have to do together that outweighs or includes my personal choices? Can I have both?  Can I feel ok with separate interests?  I assume that partnering means relinquishing my interests and choosing his. Is there another way?

Here’s what the game brought!

First, the Event card I picked read Someone betrayed you big time.
“How 
perfect for the story I was telling!” I thought.

Second, the Context card I picked read: Career!
“Perfect, again! I want to choose my career with my partner!”
I laughed.

The game unfolded, as usual, with cards and moves that helped give language and possibilities to a different view of the situation that I could choose if I wanted.  Here are the cards I picked as I moved my piece through the transformational spiral:

Beliefs:

  •  I am invisible and hardly ever noticed.
  • I am not worthy of money.
  • I just don’t look good.
  • I simply cannot trust myself.

These beliefs certainly fed my S.T.O.R.Y.  Then, the turns took me to the New Story gateway.

My New Stories:

  • I have everything I want now.  I am a powerful manifester.
  • I am the luckiest person alive. I am so grateful.

I could certainly see, as I reached Satori, the place of Awakening to a New Story, that there could be other ways of seeing my situation. I affirmed in the Gateway to Surrender that I have released my attachment to my Old Story and I refuse to put any more energy into it.  The game helped me get words for new possibilities that I can focus on if I choose!


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Solo Success

May 11, 2017

Tonight I took a solo adventure! I rode the bike to Borrego Palm Canyon trailhead at dusk. I noticed the upper theatre light on and rode up to turn it off. While sitting quietly on the table there I heard a sound. “A bullfrog?” I wondered. That didn’t seem right. 

Just then, I heard another sound – rocks falling. That could only mean bighorn sheep on the mountainside. Yes! There was a sheep moving across the slope. A second one moved behind it! The croaking sound came again. It was the sheep grunting!

I watched til I could only hear and not see the sheep as the light faded. I resolved to stay out until the moon rose, another thirty minutes longer.

And there it was, a red moon just above the horizon! I rode back home in the dark, cool air sweeping my bare arms. “I’m just getting the rhythm of being solo, and now I only have five more days!” I thought. 

This is a good place for me! I enjoy choosing my activities freely. I like having my stuff spread out on the kit hen table! I choose partnership that feels as free as solo, and even better than solo! 

It’s Not Him

May 11, 2017

Feeling unfulfilled has nothing to do with him. Being solo has shown me that. It’s clear that my disappointments, low energy, scattered focus and distraction are not caused by him. I’ve done it to myself!

In my solo month, I’ve hardly accomplished any of the things I thought were so important – doing touch for health, painting, journaling. Tiredness has pervaded me. Attraction to the political drama playing out in the country saps my time and dominates my attention.

On the other hand, I have been delightfully focused on my schedule of evening programs, spending quality time with a handful of visitors in the evenings. That, at least, has been an admirable focus. I have done my job well. 

I’m willing to love and accept myself and honor what I HAVE done, accepting that my list of desired activities just may exceed the capabilities of my current schedule.

And I do have a quandary about Life energy. It’s been good to be solo to sort out what’s my responsibility to myself in contrast to my responsibility to another.