At the top of the 1400 foot cliff I backpacked up!
Have you ever spent three full days alone? How about three full days alone with absolutely zero human contact, no cell phone, no book, no watch (or way to know what time it is at all when the sun isn't out) no camera (I used my phone camera on the way there and way back with my coach, but he took my watch, phone, etc... from me when we got to my solo camping ground), no Internet (gasp), no crossword puzzles? I certainly never had, and never thought it would be something I could ever do. But that's exactly what I just did--spent 3 days alone camping in Desolation Wilderness, CA. For the past year, I have been working with a somatic life coach to help me achieve the goals I want in life and grow into the person that I want to be. Our year of working together was coming to a close, and this solo journey was my self-designed "final expedition" to challenge and empower me, and representing a conclusion to everything that I had been working on for myself this year.
Now thinking about being off in the wilderness alone is all very romantic and exciting, but the experience was terrifying, boring, freezing, hot, sad, hilarious, awe-inspiring, amazing and most of all life-changing. In three days alone in the most beautiful and extreme place I have ever been, I had more epiphanies than I can describe, went through every possible emotion, and in the end, came to a peace and stillness of mind that I had never experienced.
My Campsite at the Lake
In a super, super condensed summary of my trip, this is roughly how it went: Day one: backpacked in with all my gear with my coach (he hiked in with me and hiked out with me, but left me for my "solo" part of the trip) for 5 hours in stormy weather, climbing a 1400 foot cliff in the process (see 1st picture). Set up camp and immediately burrow in my tent in my sleeping bag because it was storming and freezing!! It was raining, and overcast, and I couldn't really see where I was. My mind was a whirlwind of activity. I wanted to feel peaceful, and here I was thinking about everything I always think about! I got really down on myself, and started to wonder if any of this was even worth it. That night, it hailed, got down to 22 degrees, and the wind shook my tent all night long, waking me up terrified at various points of the night. At some point the weather was so extreme that I just started to laugh. An adventure and a challenge was what I had asked for, and that is exactly what I got! After that moment, I realized that I was out here for 3 days no matter what, that whatever happened was exactly what was supposed to happen, and I felt a physical release of tension as I finally surrendered into the experience, then passed out and slept like a baby til morning.
Day 2: I woke up at dawn to birds chirping and ice steaming off my tent and sleeping bag from the first rays of morning sun. Everything was calm, and clear, and quiet, including my mind and emotions. This day is the most difficult to describe, and I don't think I'm even going to fully try. I don't want to ruin it with the inadequacy of words. This day I experienced joy, a deep connection to nature, grieved for things I thought I had gotten over a long time ago, and ended my day sitting on the mountain looking out over the sparkling lake with the deepest and most powerful feeling of gratitude for everything in my life.
View from my Camp!
Day 3: Woke up feeling more myself than I had in a long time, no urge to check for texts, emails, or think about what I had to do. Spent my morning in the sun with some very playful ducks, and completed a midday thank you ceremony to the land and the animals that had been with me on this amazing journey. Then I packed up my gear and headed out for the 4 hour hike down the cliff with my coach. I got to the bottom feeling empowered, proud of myself, humble, immensely grateful, and with a new-found addiction to and love of the outdoors in a way I never had before.
My dirty feet after three days running around barefoot in the mountains.
I realize that this is a curt summary of an experience I could write a book about, but I just wanted to share a tiny bit of the amazingness of my experience. I am including a bunch of photos below because I believe that in some way these photos (that I took after I had completed my time alone and on my way up and down) will show you more than I can describe about the feeling and the environment that I was in.