Monday, July 28, 2014

Slogging Mindfully

     The sound of rushing streams, pine scented breezes and the smell of campfire smoke are settled in my head jostling with the reality of being home again.    

      Art crossed my path back in California at a log cafe as he came off of the Pacific Crest Trail.  He was looking for shelter from sleet, snow and a wickedly strong wind.  I was looking for a breakfast knowing that my camp stove would not light in this wind.  We cheerfully conversed as we tried to ignore the awful bacon and egg breakfast.  The sad meal was served on Styrofoam plates with flimsy plastic silverware. The substantial log booths in the old cafe begged for something more fitting than poorly done food served shoddily. 

      I have read enough accounts of hikers.  Those circling the English coastline, crossing France, tracing the Continental Divide or hiking the classic Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trails.  Art’s experiences on the trail so far were intriguing.  He had walked about fifty miles and already had had an opportunity to assist a fellow hiker who had to be airlifted off of the mountain and then Art had to take a break for a wound received during the rescue operation.  The physical capacity to walk ten or more miles a day seems daunting enough, but keeping oneself going step-by-step mentally would seem harder to me.  It is the slogging that daunts me.

     This past week Art visited me in Washington and we had the opportunity to hike.  Not ten miles a day, but at least a few of miles a day.  So here is my observation.  Art notices details and keeps curiosity alive step-by-step.  This is not to say that he does not prepare well with good equipment and training.  He does.  But it is the mindfulness that he has developed over a lifetime that seems to have prepared him for the long hikes.  Here is an example.  On the last day we were a bit rushed getting back down from the mountains, having lunch and trying to arrive at the Pasco airport for his flight out on time.  As we sat to eat with Art having lox and bagels and me a chicken salad sandwich, he caught himself rushing.  He stopped a moment and said, “Wait, I’m not taking the time to enjoy the stream and this food.  I’m going to slow down.”  Mindfulness.

     I take a lot of photos, but the ones following I might have missed had not Art noticed these images along the trails and called them to my attention.      

     Notice the ring of flowers on this teasel at Bennington Lake.  Art noticed that each flower had rings in different places.

     Mating butterflies, one inside the other’s wings along the trail at Palouse Falls,

     An iridescence blue wasp.  A cuckoo wasp, the likes of which I had never seen before.

     The looming quality of the buttes around the backside of Palouse Falls.

A wispy golden weed along the Hunters’ Falls Trail off the Lostine Canyon.

And the bright orange leaves out of place among the shades of green.

    Mindfulness.  Thanks, Art, now I get how to do the long hikes.  The slogging still might at times seem daunting, but the details keep the mind from slogging. 



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