“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John Muir
Whether I’m with you guys or alone, a walk in the wilderness, for me, is full of conversation that bubbles forth from a sudden sense of societal release, a rejuvenated and elevated awareness of the wilderness because of it, and a welcoming reunion by a forest’s embrace of acceptance that says, “I love you for exactly who you are!”
This “Ned Walk” took me up onto the igneous expanses of Carson Pass (north) where past adventurers chopped a wagon path over the Sierra in 1844, dreamers with sheep carved their initials and dates into lodgepole pines, and the Meiss family built their summer cabin and cattle barn beside the upper Truckee River in 1880. I was alone on this one and it allowed me to reflect.
All adventures begin with a dream fueled by the belief that there’s something better out there just for you to discover. Whether yours is to get away for the weekend, the Meiss’s was to graze their cattle outside their mountain cabin door, or mine was to hike the proposed Pacific Crest Trail in 1974, dreams give us hope to reach for, a purpose to guide us, and a direction in which to go.
“Live believing! Dreams are for weaving. Wonders are waiting to start!” *
I often quote it, yet I can never remember it, but what was that word of caution that Gandalf advised Frodo regarding going for a walk?
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road and, if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Therein lies the contrast to our busy, workaday lives, the treadmill confines, controls, and demands, while the road (or trail, in this case) frees, allowing the mind to dream and the spirit to soar.
“Live your story, faith, hope, and glory. Hold to the truth in your heart!” *
There’s nary a “Ned Walk” where we don’t talk about this very subject, because dreams often lie hidden in the very fabric of who we have to be to get through life, just waiting for a safe environment in which to emerge. In the light of elevation, the vast vacuum of alpine air, and the absence of time, dreams and stuffed truths are finally able to peek out, unrestricted, into the light of day to be heard, considered, and walked with.
For some, their dreams are just to be free enough to imagine adventure. For others, they are to be fit enough to find the trailhead to their adventure and follow it as far as they can, for hiking is not easy. After research and feeble attempts, the reality of adventure brings the discouragements of exposure to the elements, the pains of efforts expended, and the discomforts of rugged living.
“Don’t lose your way, with each passing day. You’ve come so far, don’t throw it away!” *
There may be times along the trail where heat, hunger, steep snow, and dangerous creek-crossings make the dream seem not worth it. There will be times of loneliness, heartache for home, and such distress that you’ll feel like you simply can’t keep going another step. Even this must be anticipated as part of any worthy adventure.
“Souls in the wind, must learn how to bend. Seek out a star – hold on to the end! Valley, mountain…there is a fountain [that] washes our tears all away!” *
As the adventurer faces each challenge and chooses from some small place within themselves to overcome it, the wonders of the dream begin:
– There will be mind-blowing campsites beside peaceful, alpine lakes under glowing, sunset skies where you’ll collapse in bliss.
– There will be soothing meadows with swaying streams just begging to share with you new truths about life.
– There will be distant views from lofty ridges and peaks where you’ll swear that you can see all of Creation at your feet and you’ll know that you’re not alone.
For the dreamer who dares to overcome, there will always be an ever-present companion saying, “If we hold on together, I know our dreams will never die, for dreams see us through to forever, where clouds roll by…for you and I.” *
This Walk was like any that John Muir must have had, for with all of them, he knew and felt that by “going out,” he was really walking into a warm and welcoming embrace!
*Song credit: “If We Hold on Together” is performed by American singer, Diana Ross, in the 1988 film, The Land Before Time, and was written by James Horner and Will Jennings. It spoke to me on this Walk and helped me to write this piece.