A Chance Introduction

A slight chill still clings to everything around me, my pack and shell have a thin layer of frost coating them but this will soon change. After all summer was in full swing, and the first mile was yet to begin and the several stream crossings were quite in fact just in front of me. Weighing my pack on my fresh shoulders, I step away from the trailhead and walk the short distance to the first stream crossing and luckily the water level is low enough to leapfrog exposed stone across the stream.  A short bout of bush wacking and one more stream crossing and the adventure was finally away.

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After a short hike through narrow trails we ascend a rise and receive a view of the valley in front of me, a valley my imagination was never prepared to witness. A breath of a breeze drifts through the waist high shrubs and blueberries before cascading to the stream below. The air is electric and I anticipated anything of surprise to come as I slowly hiked the very well defined trail deeper into the valley and even deeper into a world I never knew would greet me. The trees across the valley diminished and a barren arctic landscape took it place but the energy of this place continued to rise. Dahl Sheep traverse the slopes across the valley, possibly hopeful to be replenished by the stream that separates us but too timid to come any closer.

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A short six miles and marshy lands, weaving through bogs of mush and moving away from a visible trail to wander higher up the hills slopes to avoid the wetter areas I arrived at the valley bowl that I would call home for a couple days and it is spectacular. Barren but amazing, beautiful in its simplicity this place has an energy all its own and I can feel it with every step. One of my favorite time during a trip is setting up camp, throwing the pack to the ground, scoping out the best place to put up the tent, unloading the necessary gear that will be needed around camp and what will be used for the hike up on the ridgeline. A small stream trickles through the middle of my valley simple, subtle and beautiful but the ground is very soft as arctic tundra can be.

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Ascending the ridgeline to the north of the valley, I am able to view the rest of the world around me and my breath is sucked from my lungs from the onslaught of spectacular beauty I was witnessing all around me. Wandering along the steep ridge is amazing in all that is that I perceive reality to be, and just short of actually continuing on to ascend the mountain I choose to just walk about the granite tors that line the ridge like fins on some long dead dinosaur. Travelling through, around these monoliths is nothing less than an awakening of everything that created me and I am not lost on the moment. I seek out route lines, imagining climbs up each wall, each tor, and every face of granite. Then I finally see the valley below and away from this world I am still coming to grips with and my mind and spirit are spinning out of control.

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Every ridgeline, every valley that seemingly forms at every turn is like a movie that constantly changes and is so subtle and unique. An afternoon away traversing this ridgeline has left me emotionally exhausted by what I have been witness to, returning to camp is unusually light of step bordering on bouncy, a sense of euphoria envelopes me. Back at camp I meditate on a large boulder on the creek in the late afternoon sun, everything around me is felt within me. Dahl sheep drop down on the  valley in their travel to get to the small creek that I am meditating. The trickle of water creates the perfect sound to relax to and the landscape projects me beyond any physical understanding I have ever known.

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That evening wandering around the valley with the summer sun still high in the sky and a full cup of wine accompanied with a laxadaisel mentality, the valley becomes a playground to seek out submerged streams buried beneath boulder fields. By morning I never wanted to leave this place, sipping coffee and stepping about the valley floor, the world, this plain of existence is perfect. After breaking camp and packing everything up I suddenly feel like the jilted lover being left behind. This place begs me to not to leave its wonder but leave it I must, the other world waits for me. Hiking out was wonderful and beautiful but at the same time terrible. It was a walk of loss, losing the feelings that this place had given birth inside me. A relationship that had begun the second I stepped on the trail was slowly fading the further I got from the valley and the closer I got to the car. This place guided me to a new life and an understanding of what special truly is. I am spoiled by this wonder and slowly allow my spirit to fall with the slopes of the hillsides that have settled on the valley floor, where the essence of what it means to be who I am now resides.

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