(How I Got Lost, Drenched and Found in the Mountains) On Tuesday, I jumped in my truck and drove north to marinate my soul in nature. So much family and business action this year has been exhilarating and also left me in need of recharge.
When I reached the red hills of Sedona, I stopped for a new pair of hiking shoes. I chit chatted with a master guide there about how we both chose to be business owners for the freedom, but we don’t take enough time off to enjoy it. (Though, he leaves 4 months a year just to hike, so he might be doing okay
“Well, this very day, I am making progress,” I declared, as I scooped up my new kicks off the counter.
He responded, “Sedona is a great place to manifest change” and stared at me square in the eyes.
The words hit me hard. Like in the center of my chest hard, and I carried them with me on the highway as I drove.
I pulled into a hiking area in Coconino National Forrest and started my way up West Fork Trail and was immediately surrounded by colossal red rock that engulfed me like an ant. Green trees towered all around– juniper, pine and aspen.
The air smelled like happiness.
I was in instant ecstasy as I trekked alone up the trail, passing people here and there, exchanging friendly hellos.
While I hiked, I thought of something I read in the gift shop back in town.
“Learn the lesson and let it go.”
This year had given me incredible perspective from deep experiences that had been miraculous, and sometimes painful.
I knew to leave everything in the past & take only two things:
GRATITUDE and WHAT I HAD LEARNED.
If you want to move at a rapid pace, there’s no other option but to travel light (mentally, emotionally.) But I hadn’t let everything go — I carried some worries, a few regrets and a tiny swatches of dense emotions.
As my feet pounded up the hill, I wanted each step to stamp clear any residue hiding in the inner parts. I stepped with intention to have ALL OF ME CLEAR and clean in the present.
I crossed the stream that wove itself all throughout the trail, and hopped on my toes from rock to rock. On the other side of the fresh water, I found new trails, more birds– so much life.
The mountainous stood stalwart and hadn’t moved in thousands of years.
The rain or scorching sun could beat down– or a fire burn the surface (and it has) — and they’d just go with it.
They were built to recover. They would use whatever came and grow life again.
A silent monument of acceptance — acceptance of what comes and a reminder to treat life like a process, not an amusement park, teaching travelers how to live and how to die.
About three miles into the hike, it began to rain. I adored it (at first.) I stood under the shelter of a tree and watched water polka dot the dirt around my shoes, waiting for it to pass. After twenty minutes or so, it became obvious it wasn’t going to clear, and I headed back the way I came.
Soon, the sky grew darker and in 2 minutes, I was soaked. Desert monsoons, aka summer rain storms, can be fierce and nothing to mess with. It’s Arizona’s only claim to actual “weather,” and it’s a good one.
As the downpour increased, I sped back quickly to the entrance. The once semi-populated trail was now barren and I hadn’t seen a single soul for at least 30 minutes.
Still, I felt safe and peaceful, and was thoroughly enjoying my adventure until I was about half way back, and the trail I was following appeared to be swallowed up by the rising stream. (Let me jump in here to say that David is not happy at this point in my story, and in case you’re concerned, know that he’s done due diligence to warn me about hiking alone.)
No trail. Now what?
The sky had dumped the entire belly of it’s contents on my head and I was so wet, I might as well have walked right out of a swimming pool. My back pack was soaked all the way through and my once protected cell phone has seized during it’s warm July bath.
And have I mentioned that I am geographically challenged?
I pulled out a plastic orange “I’m lost in the woods whistle” that I bought at the sporting goods store with a chuckle the night before, thinking I would never EVER use such a thing. I laughed at myself as I blew it but, the sound didn’t carry far through the wall of water in the sky, plus there was no one around to hear me anyway. It was useless and I felt ridiculous so I put it away.
No trail, no phone, no people. Hmmm…What to do?
Pray, of course. (Always phone home when you’re in trouble.)
Soon, I had a gentle inclination — “stay here, people are coming.”
So, I waited.
I waited for 5 minutes.
Then 10 minutes.
The sky grew angrier and flashed with lightning.
My mind had the thought “it might be time to worry.”
It had now been 45 minutes since I had seen another human being.
“They are coming, wait by the stream…” I felt the simple instruction again and chose, very purposefully, to do what I was told — wait — and keep a clear head.
(screw you, fear, you hear me?)
In another 5 or 6 minutes, they popped out of the brush and emerged at the edge of the stream.
Four. Glorious. Beings. (imagine heavenly music playing) A silver-haired couple, about 60 years old with walking sticks; a beautiful black woman in her 20’s and a shirtless, energetic man with curly hair and athletic build.
I shouted at them from across the stream and they invited me to come over and hike back with them.
You would have thought we were long lost friends at a planned reunion. The wild and wonderful circumstances in which we found each other had wiped out the walls we usually have with people we just met.
Micheal, was an actor (no joke) on his way to Hollywood. He had been on Blacklist, many national commercials, and on the CMT series, Sun Records, to name a few. Heidi told us about her cancer and I could see how strong (and stubborn) she had been about her choice to fight for her life and win. Chelsea was an opera singer in grad school in Oklahoma, contemplating her future path. She and Micheal swapped stories about breaking into the music business (his life before acting.)
We took a group selfie on the bridge and shared a cup of hot tea on a couch at a nearby cafe that had a stunning resemblance to a grandmother’s cabin. There were books, board games, a piano, an old record player with a gramaphone and two fireplaces.
But no inside bathroom.
So I changed into dry clothes in the “employees only” room at the back entrance (door locked) and I’m pretty sure I was the first person to be naked in there next to the pots and pans.
Turns out Micheal had escaped for a few days to the mountains because he had been working too much, felt he was out of balance and was taking some time to get back to himself.
As I listened to another person put words to the exact thing I was experiencing, I realized the long string of spontaneous gifts this day had rolled out for me in eloquent sequence.
I came here by myself because I needed some time to rejuvinate, but I wasn’t alone. The hiking guide clued me in that changes were coming. The mountains taught me to let go and live a cleaner, simpler life. Inspiration taught me how to wait when I think I’m in trouble and watch for the answer on it’s way.
And new friends reminded me that connection is everywhere. The world is kind, people are loving, and life has my back.
Stay open, say yes, and steer hard into what matters most.
I felt smarter than I did in the morning,
and lovelier as a human overall.
Here’s a picture of the area. It wasn’t taken by me.
My pictures (and past) were washed by the rain
PS. If you’ve been texting me, I’ll have a new phone on Tuesday.