I’m home. Gear unpacked, cleaned, put away for future use. There’s still the matter of sorting out thoughts and photographs; it was a peculiarly eventful trip out to the trees, but there’s little I can do about the matter of finding the words for it, at least for now.

The trail at Saddle Mountain bested me utterly, and by that I mean I didn’t make it to the top. 🙂 I’m okay with that, still counting it among life’s successes – it’s often more about showing up than whatever the outcome may be. I managed a half mile up the trail, and back down, and learned more about how having a clear-seeming destination can alter the characteristics of a journey. I enjoyed a day out among the trees, and returned home with only 17 mosquito bites. 😀

When I arrived with the sun there was just one site available.

When I arrived with the sun there was just one site available.

I secured my camp site early in the morning on Friday with the intention of staying the weekend, and I was surprised that the camping was basically full. I quickly learned it generally is so full that incoming travelers quickly grab every vacancy as departing campers make their exit. (The posted rules are ‘check out by 1 pm, check in begins at 4 pm’, but there is no actual gap between 1:00 pm-4:00 pm during which tent sites are actually vacant.)

Heading up the trail.

Heading up the trail.

I hadn’t planned to attempt the trail the first day, but the enticing coolness of the forest drew me in, and I found myself walking. The brochure describes the trail as a ‘continuous incline’ (it is) that is very steep in places (not an exaggeration) and recommends it only for fit, sure-footed hikers, in proper footwear (wise). I went anyway – great footwear, at least, and feeling prepared, if not ‘sure-footed’. lol

...Just keep walking...

…Just keep walking…

I took very few pictures on the trail. Many that I took didn’t turn out. I was amused to find one reminder of the trail difficulties turned out only too well…

The obstacle that stopped me reaching the Humbug Mountain view point.

The obstacle that stopped me reaching the Humbug Mountain viewpoint.

Life’s journey has obstacles and detours. Part of finding my way is making wise decisions regarding which to overcome, and which to walk away from. I was finding this small side trail enticing and lovely – and relatively easy, until I reached this point. It was clear that hikers had been scrambling around this (tree trunk? branch? snag? fallen-down-something-or-other-that-once-was-tree); in doing so, over time, the path itself had crumbled away. Looking things over, I couldn’t determine with the needed certainty that the bit of tree clinging there to the hillside would truly support my weight sufficiently well to swing over the gap to the other side… and honestly didn’t come prepared to splint a broken leg and drag myself to help from the forest floor below, so I turned back, reminding myself it hadn’t been my intention to hike the entire trail today, anyway.  🙂

I returned to camp after hiking further up the main trail. It took me almost an hour to reach the 1/2 mile marker, and I contentedly headed back to camp. I’d taken some lovely trail pictures – many of which I didn’t yet know hadn’t turned out at all. I’d find that out after I returned home. lol But it isn’t about the pictures, is it? Life, I mean? It’s more about the living of each moment with exquisite awareness…and that doesn’t require a camera, at all. 😀

There are small things of great beauty surrounding us; we only need to look for them.

There are small things of great beauty surrounding us; we only need to look for them.

Moments to be savored don’t really need a camera. “Pictures or it didn’t happen”? That’s no real concern of mine. I don’t need to prove I live; I am living. 🙂

Perspective comes in all shapes and sizes.

Perspective comes in all shapes and sizes.

I had come hoping to see the meteor shower, figuring the remote location and high elevation would work in my favor. I hadn’t counted on the dense forest. I found two likely locations for good viewing, though, the parking lot, and the mostly dis-used ‘day use area’ on the other side.

The best view of the sky I could find near camp.

The best view of the sky I could find near camp.

I contentedly checked out the somewhat haunted seeming “picnic area” that had fallen into disrepair. It was a rare bit of quiet off the beaten path, at least in those moments that I was fortunate to explore it all to myself. Searching for a specific picture, of a specific moment, I happily discovered that I’d paused syncing on my Dropbox, and ‘found’ quite a few pictures I thought hadn’t turned out. Nice moment. I smile, sip my coffee, and enjoy it.

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time…

I had found what seemed a likely place to watch the meteor shower, and a reasonably easy & safe walk in the dark (even with a headlamp or flashlight, anything up the trail would be too risky in the dark). I spent much of the afternoon in this strangely forgotten timeless place, content with the stillness and solitude, beyond the sounds of voices and automobiles.

Beautiful day for a picnic.

Beautiful day for a picnic.

I spent the day whiling away hours in meditation, wandering, breathing in the scents of summertime, and naming all the shades of green; it was a day well-spent.

How many shades of green are there?

How many shades of green are there?

The night passed less comfortably, and my astonishment at how discourteous and inconsiderate people can be was quickly exhausted. Weary travelers arriving past midnight, disappointed to find no obvious vacancies didn’t just turn around and drive on, instead they illuminated the night forest with high beams, certain that if only they had the light of day to work with, they’d surely see the tent site they need… The regular interruption of the darkness was accompanied by a soundtrack, too, the cacophony of loud voices, strident, frustrated, insistent – tired people wanting rest who did not plan to arrive “early enough” to secure a tent site didn’t generally put the onus of their failure on their own shoulders, and seemed to seek silent validation from the rest of us, by shouting their tale of woe to each other across the dark parking lot and into the trees. Quiet hours after 10 pm? The park was actually noisiest from 11 pm to well past 1 am.

On the one hand, I didn’t sleep. On the other hand, the periodic interruptions that woke me also ensured I was indeed awake between 1 am and 4 am, and enjoyed a decent view of the starry night sky, and got to observe the meteor shower for some little while, although the experience suffered for the regular arrival and departure of visitors seeking a place to lay their heads for the night (see my earlier remarks on discourtesy and inconsiderate decision-making).

Even a day later, I am more than a little bit irked by hike/camp travelers who arrive on site past darkness, unprepared, and making a crap ton of noise. Surely planning is a small investment to arrive at a destination in a timely fashion so as not to intrude on the pleasant experience of others? I’m pretty sure most people approach that from a ‘fuck you, your experience doesn’t matter to me’ position these days… that sure seemed to be the case from the perspective I had from site #9 at Saddle Mountain. That’s a trivial matter, and it’s behind me now… seeping into my awareness of other circumstances and experiences, and I hope that I will take it to heart, myself, and act such that while I am out in the world enjoying my experience, I’m not wrecking the pleasant experience others are having around me. A small amount of consideration goes a long way. 🙂

I woke early yesterday, and dithered through my morning coffee… stay or go? Stay? Go. Stay. Go? One cup of coffee. Stay. Stay? No… go. Another cup of coffee. I’ll stay. It’s cooler up here. I’m not sleeping, though… I’ll go. Back and forth. I started heating water for oatmeal… and noticed I’d packed most of my gear in the car without really planning to in any specific way. (Trip to the rest room; take a bag to the car… Trip to get more water for coffee; take my hydration pack to the car…) Apparently, I had decided to return home – and the decision felt comfortable, natural, and relaxed. No pressure. No stress. I was ready to go home and didn’t need any other reason.

It was a lovely bit of time away, and I returned home with plenty to think over. Today is a good day for thinking thoughts, and preparing for the week ahead. 🙂