Hiking is Heaven!
The beginning, somewhat at odds with the rest of the day, is a concrete parking structure, third floor on the left.
We all assemble with excited anticipation.
A few known to each other but mostly all strangers, newly assembled with the goal of enjoying a hike.
For me, I have joined other Meetup hikes, but not so many to feel entirely comfortable.
Plus the hiking locations are new to me.
Can I make it?
Will I be able to integrate with the group?
Mmmm . . . I will be okay I tell myself.
The morning air is cool.
We divide up and, into our cars, we head out.
The first stop is Micky D’s for reliably clean bathrooms and then on to the 26 and then to the 6.
Our destination: a trailhead on the Wilson River.
Sun infuses the air and the cloudless blue sky creates a backdrop for the reflective light from every tree.
Easy breath connects self and soul in the peace of the morning.
Now out of the cars to check gear and slide arms through backpack straps, tighten, adjust, kick the dirt.
Sweet anticipation softly filling the air and we are off.
My foot hits the trail and the touch sends a thrill through my whole body.
A breath in and I feel myself quickly soak into the motion forward.
Rocky at first, the trail settles out quickly and our group of nine floats into the joint motion through the forest floor.
Brilliant morning light infusing the forest and sound is everywhere.
The birds singing in the canopy overhead.
Hikers beginning the spoken exchange of self and experience.
The hike leader pushing through spider web and vine both reaching out to say hello.
There is a longing in my soul which drinks up this elixir sweetened now by the musical call of the river making its way to the ocean some 30 miles away.
Thinking back I realize that in the moment I feel touched by all around me.
The leaves on the plants, the soft ground under my feet, the cool breeze, the murmur of the river — all reaching out and filling me with the soft caress of element touching element touching me.
Through my awareness, I may be at the center yet in the connection I am one of many points of touch within the One.
Deep breath as my foot touches again the Earth.
We take a side trail down to the river.
I want to dive in and feel the water on my skin.
Light dances across the water.
Breath-in is sweet and moist, filling soul with the peace of the morning.
We stop every now and then to discuss flower and plant.
Cameras recording light, noses recording fragrance, fingers and eyes recording feeling and soft touch.
Our halfway point is a waterfall reached by a jog across a highway and a quick scramble up a steep, narrow path.
And the payoff is worth every step.
A narrow basalt face provides the background for the water pushed to the cliff edge to fall hitting a basalt bowl before making its way down the mountain to the river and the ocean beyond.
There is a shimmer emerging from the entire scene which draws me in.
I want to sit, put my fingers in the water, breathe in the moist cool air kissed by the lighted water falling to our feet.
The perfect scenic spot for lunch and we all dig in.
Hiking Moves from Forest to Ocean
Pulling into a frenetic beach parking lot with the promised sand dune peaking out on the right.
Now the Cape appears, jutting with confidence into the ocean, a haystack rock at a distance guarding the shore.
Four of us, literally me and the guys, set out across the beach.
The mammoth sand dune rises straight up before us, little kids scampering up, ragged parents puffing up behind.
But our destination is to the left of the dune where it joins the sandstone of the Cape.
Pushing through sand in a slow upward escalation, I feel myself joining the dune, wind whipping my hair.
As we ascend, the view shifts from beach to sky.
I feel an exhilaration fill me.
My body is drinking the exertion, the sun, the wind, the joy of every little movement, and the sounds around me from fellow hikers, seagulls, excited children, and the music of the wind.
I’m not sure where I leave off and Other begins.
I do know that there was a time in my life when I would not have had the strength or endurance to make the climb.
And now . . . . I can!
I can now go where I would not have dared before.
I feel safe in the exertion, in the reaching in, the going forward.
And now I stand up, surveying the coast in both directions, drinking in the tumble of the surf and the magical palette of ocean blue, turquoise and Amazon green.
And before I know it, I find myself scrambling up a steep channel to the tippy top.
If I jump I might just fly off the wind is so intent.
I feel myself standing on the edge of the world, the divide between here and there.
Windy fingers in front keep me from pushing past that barrier.
I want to dance with joy, hug everyone in sight, and sit/dance in that spot forever.
What a wonderful, perfect day!
But we go on, down a bit and over.
Before I even realize I am scampering across the edge of dune and cliff with a long, dizzy drop to the ocean churning below.
My heart in my throat, I hear a gentle voice behind, Don’t worry, Cheryl!
Take your time.
And I do and I am across, going higher up the dune and collapsing to sit and gaze at the southward view of water, earth, air and fire.
We run down the dune, back to the beach floor.
And I can’t wait.
I roll up my pants and dash into the chilly, icy Pacific Ocean, daring the small waves to chase me as I splash and scream.
Life is full, complete, in the joy of this wet, freezing, lively, wonderful moment.
At dinner, we all re-group, no longer complete strangers, each filled with special moments from the day.
We laugh and talk and share pictures.
I order a salad with steak.
I am famished and a bit chilled.
My dinner is served, I dig in and feel the whole day come together.
Each bite is a little ecstasy, tasting so good.
Each bite fills me with renewed eagerness and joy.
I lose myself in the rare goodness of beef and shared company.
The hike leader, across the table, playfully smirks and asks me if I am having a Sally moment.
I realize I must have been making my joy audible.
And I know immediately his reference and blush with pleasure, knowing I have been seen.
My cup runneth over.
Hiking Heaven Continues …
Not ready to return to town through going-home traffic, we take the coast drive to Bayocean Spit.
And back to the beach.
Halfway up the dune, I take my shoes off and run through the trails and down to the water barefoot.
The wind blows firmly, taking my hair into the evening sky and the icy water fills me with joy.
I can’t stop myself — I kick my feet, splashing water here and there like a little girl in her rain boots in the rain.
Here the sand begins to lightly coast my skin and the seawater blows across my face.
I am so happy I feel the emotion of this connected moment surge up my spine into my heart and tears evaporate on my face.
Later on when I thought about why I could stand the freezing water on my feet, I come to a deep realization.
I feel touched, embraced by all when I stand in the water and the wind.
The elements play across my skin and sizzle in my heart.
I feel held within the motion of all which surrounds me and I cannot help but step fully into the amazing experience of deep connection, love and joy of me with me with All.
How deep the touch.
I am me.
Thank you fellow hikers!
The journey with you all was wonderful!
May your road this week be clear and all your travels full of lively, joyful adventure.
A lot of my writing just comes in the moment. I feel an urge rise to put pen to paper. No outline. Not much forethought. Out the words come, all on their own. For me its always an act of mindfulness. A mindful moment.
Hiking is Heaven is one of these mindful moments. Read more on mindfulness and my mindful moments.