Here is my writing from a trip i took in September. The memory of it inspires me everytime! Enjoy!
We are backpacking, carrying all that we will need for 5 days, along the trail from Usal, named for ‘United States of America Lumber’ company, as they were trying to clear cut this area for decades to continue highway 1 along the coast, to Anderson creek, where there is a secluded little black sand beach. Thank goodness the land, again and again, held out and said, ”no” to those who would blow up these rocky outcrops and clearcut these thickly wooded inserts of forest to lay down pavement. The unadulterated natural beauty here, only accessible by foot, is worth the work to visit.
It is a very rugged up and down trail we are on. At some points it disappears into trees, bushes, and poison oak. We even encounter a landslide where rope has since been tied by caring volunteer tenders of this obscure trail, between two fallen trees still clutching the sideways earth with stubborn roots. I work to get purchase with my sneakered feet into the loose, sandy, gravely hillside. I am hanging onto the rope for dear life as my beloved Jess works to give tension to the other end and make it easier for me. I am still holding on to the rope as I hear a scrambling of rocks and a shuddering of the bushes high above. I look back to see where I just nervously crossed. From way up the mountain, rocks as big as my head come bounding down. I see a cavalcade of potentially lethal strikes to my fragile human form. I see where I could have been pummeled and thrown down the steep slope by this movement of the earth which did not seem to be propelled by my actions. I guess that we were warned by the aesthetics of the place, but I had truly not realized until this moment how actually at risk my life is here. I had been afraid of sliding down the hill, but honestly had not considered that the hill might yet be falling down on me!
We are far above the sea in many spots, on arid hillsides with wide views of the Pacific Ocean, wider views than my little mind knew were possible. At other turns in the trail we descend through ferngully-like, lush landscapes and dive through underbrush down to trickling streams making their way to the ocean. The rises and falls here are dramatic. I am grateful for my daily yoga practice that keeps my body in tune for this kind of push - the many pushes really, that we are having to make to navigate this landscape with heavy packs on our back. Returning upwards from one of these low lying ravines, breathing heavily, scrambling up the sketchy little trail, the path ahead looks to be evening out which is a relief to my burning thighs and the heart beat pounding in my ears. My breath is ragged and my head full of commentary that I am too breathless to speak as we reach the high point of the trail here. We are back out in the bright hot sun now, with one last burst up the hill before a reprieve.
Ahead of us is the welcoming density of a shady forest. As we approach though, it actually feels foreboding, like the forbidden woods in a fairy tale that you know you shouldn’t enter because this is where bad things happen, where the evil witch lives, or some such thing… The branches of the trees are old and scrambled all together, there is a bit of an archway over the path but it is a scraggly, ominous reaching of creepy dark fingers of ancient, failing, falling limbs that both beckon and threaten overhead. I make jokes about the deep dark forest of the mind, horror movies and such… We are casually chatting and dancing with our imaginations now that we have more breath. The path turns to the right, back towards the ocean, it’s scent comes in wisps upon the air, though it cannot be seen as now we are in the thick of trees. The earth to the right of us on this part of the path begins to drop away down into a deep dark gulch.
Suddenly, we are hushed. My love pauses me, and I am caught mid-sentence as we stand on the edge of this dark chasm of redwoods, moss, ferns, and ..absolute.. silence….
The silence has stunned us into silence. We cannot even comment about it. The feeling arising in me is spiritual, it is emotional, it is full body awe and wonder. I cannot remember ..ever… feeling.. so .. much.. silence…have we shushed the birds?
Oh, far away.. one. little. sweet tweet,.. birds do live here in this deep, damp, musty and majestic redwood silence.
There are no power lines overhead, no airplanes, the sky is barely peeking through the dense overstory. There are no far away leaf blowers, there is no incessant beeping, barking, no whir of generators, motors, voices…nothing.
Stillness overwhelms me. We stand, planted in reverence to this massive, passive, powerful
force of nature.
Creepingly, I feel sick with the sickness that we live in back home, the constant noise of construction, destruction, vehicles, beeping, humming of power transformers, buzzing of modems, the noise of everyones phones and conversations, alarms, sirens, signals, radio waves, EMF’s, and noisy white noise machines to drown out the noise of everyones noise living so close to each other, trying to find privacy and feigned silence in the city of Oakland. We are plagued by noise from all points around us and all points within us. We are on constant alert. No wonder meditation is so especially difficult for the city dweller. We have forgotten what silence and stillness actually feel like… Have I ever actually known?
I cannot remember feeling this much profound silence and stillness in my whole life. I have momentarily sensed it in meditation, tasted in in part, in relatively quite places, between the scramble and flow of thoughts and “shoulds”… but this… this, in an instant is the spacious blissful state sought by those who sit.
I let this expansive, beautiful dark silence drop deep into my being. I sense the softness of my body, softening, held gently in this resplendent redwood womb. I surrender to the open wonder of my heart. Nothing in me is gripping. I melt into the quiet, sublime radiance of the natural world.
I just am…
This just is.
This is how I am meant to be. In harmony with great mother, this blessing of a planet…
I feel so nourished, so complete.
I am at ease.
I will take this with me for life…