Saturday, January 7, 2017

A South-Northerly Direction

Happy New Year Everyone!!
The final days of 2016 were full of contemplation and review. I text Josh in hopes that one of us had dropped the tug-o-war rope, and by one of us I meant him, but alas we remain at an impasse: He refuses to be friends, and I refuse to be a couple. Maybe one day the timing will be right...maybe one day I'll be able to be in a committed relationship...maybe...or maybe not. 

I woke new years day to realize I still had the on-call phone for my job and tried to contact my staff to take it over so I could go out of cell service to hike. I began texting people at 7:30am, (sorry guys) and after no response I resigned myself to staying local and headed out to Mission Trails for a walk along the river. Eventually someone text me back about taking the phone and I was able to ditch the cluster fuck that was Mission Trails and head up to the shit show that was Mount Laguna. 

If you've ever watched Louis CK stand up then you know what I'm talking about.


Even amidst the chaos I was overcome with gratitude for being there and watched hawks hang on the wind currents and snow blow out of the trees in grand displays of sparkling mist.

Amazingly, I came to a turn-out with no one in it and stopped just long enough to take a photo of the PCT covered in snow as it headed down into Chariot Canyon.

Back on the Sunrise Hwy all traffic came to stand still as fire crews worked to remove the driver from a spun out Tacoma. Everyone looked shaken but ok as I passed by.  I sat in traffic again at the turn off for Julian until I could stand it no more and jumped the curb passing everyone going left so I could make a right and head down Banner grade to Anza Borrego.

I turned off at Scissors Crossing and followed the San Felipe Hills eventually turning down Montezuma Road toward Ranchita. It was beautiful, crisp and cold with a wind driving the clouds over the rocky mountains as I crested the grade and wound my way down to Culp Valley.

Jerry Schad says there is a waterfall here in upper Hell Hole Canyon, and I half heatedly set out to find it. I followed a dirt road thru the camp as it turned west toward Pena Spring. I parked at the turn out and headed down the sandy wash. Schad's instructions say to head toward the spring and then take a northerly direction across the open desert. Once I arrived at the spring I followed a use trail thru the marshy soil and slippery grass only to arrive back to where I started. I followed another use trail and again, ended up back where I started. I laughed at myself but felt annoyed and I abandoned the use trails, being unable to discern what was people trails vs. animals. I headed cross country plowing my way thru creosote and yucca in what I thought was the right direction. 

I dropped into a small valley where I was being pounded by wind and started to feel lost. I couldn't recall Schad's directions beyond 'head north' but didn't want to stop and pull it up on my phone, so I followed some footprints up hill into the on coming wind. I pushed myself hard up to a boulder field and looked head on into the incoming storm. Finally, I looked at my compass and realized I wasn't heading north at all, I had actually been heading west on the most difficult route I could have chosen. What a dummy, I thought to myself and turned back the way I came.

Back in the little valley I found a spot where the wind calmed down and stood there for a bit to take a breath. I took out my compass again, this time keeping it out, and headed in a northerly direction acoss the desert like the book said.

For some reason I kept choosing the hardest paths to my undetermined destination. I'd hike up, then down, then back around, check my compass and then go the wrong way. What the fuck, Mandie?!

I finally realized there was a wash with a million footprints heading down the canyon. I thought to myself, "oh, that would have been a much easier path to take." By this time I'd been wandering around in this small valley, being pounded by the wind, and only going about a half mile point to point in about 2 miles of random up hill circles.

I eventually crested the top of Hell Hole Canyon and found myself too tired to continue. I looked back the way I came and saw dark skies and mist heading toward me. I decided to turn around and head back, hopefully on an easier route.

But still, I ended up making small circles all the way back! Uphill and back down, thinking something was a short cut only to find it lead to a cholla patch and having to backtrack. I felt something switch inside my head and I stopped, looked at the clouds and realized this hike was a metaphor for my life over the last year.
I've been walking fast in uphill circles against a head wind to no defined destination.
I am exhausted by it.
I am over it.

Back in my truck I drove into the storm on my way home and thought about the new year that was upon me. "I need to focus", I thought, "I need a direction." Just then John Graham popped into my head. I don't know this guy, I just follow him on social media and read his blog. I watched him do the 52 Hike Challenge during 2016 and he has gone to some places I never even knew existed in San Diego County. I thought back to my mom who told me recently that perhaps the reason I'm not seeing Spirit in my life is because I'm going to the same places and doing the same things and Spirit has nothing new to say to me.

Maybe it's time to stop doing it my way and start doing it a different way. I need to join a community, join the world, be part of something bigger than myself and make friends...make girlfriends... because hanging out with girls is a challenge for me due to self esteem issues. I realized that if I continue to try to maintain friendships with men, they're just going to keep turning into relationships which are going to lead me to lose the friendship I wanted in the first place. I know this because it has been happening since I was a kid, over and over; me going uphill in circles toward an undetermined destination in a familiar location while pretending it's some place new.

Just as I came to these conclusions a Coyote friend crossed my path and held eye contact with me for a long time as if to say, "Yes ding-dong. You're finally getting it."

So, when I got home I signed up for the 52 Hikes Challenge Explorer Series. No sooner did I share my plan to social media did I get a response from 4 women wanting to hike with me. This is going to be good, challenging, and good. Perhaps 2016 was like the Earth switching poles, energy wobbling back and forth until it finally committed and fliped for good.
I hope so.
I'm ready to flip.


1 comment:

  1. I almost did that Hell Hole Canyon trail to the waterfall last time I was there! I love your photos, they make me homesick.

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