After a five hour hike through various Lava fields from naked Pahoehoe to withered trees strewn across splintered rock, Lipoa and I walked along the jagged coast till we approached the steaming cliff. Just as we passed a stark neighborhood built on the highly affordable sulfurous land adjacent the Volcano, rather aggressive rainfall began, luckily rain in Hawaii is never too cold. The Lava looked like scarlet ribbons running down the black rock into the ocean where steam plumed along the beach. It reminded me of birth, seeing the earth give out such a powerful yet somehow seemingly vulnerable part of it’s self into the crashing sea. It was mesmerizing. We found a shorter trail on the way back and ended up on a small, remote road somewhat far from our vehicle. We hitched a ride on the tailgate of a truck pilled with Noni fruit, which for those who don’t know, do not have the most pleasant odor, but it was a ride and the friendly driver took us all the way to the Kava Bar where we had started our hike. With the sun high overhead, it was nice to end our volcanic experience at a place with fresh Acai and cold water.
These roots do this to me.
Wound in the ground like the the veins near my heart.
Keep us breathing.
The twists are as tangled as teenage love. Without the naiveté.
They write names in your skin
thinking it promises some kind of permanence.
Years after we are gone, your branches will keep shape.
You are the mother.
near this river where the saplings want to know your grace.
You are the outside peace.
Most Summers my brother and I visit my father, and the three of us take a hike at Olympic National Park in Western Washington. This year we hiked the OP trail. Obstruction point is one of the less visited areas with a stunning view of Mt. Olympus because it is 8m up a steep dirt road off the paved and popular Hurricane Ridge. Obstruction point is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been, even with mountain half covered in clouds, otherwise we’d have been able to see the ocean expanding past Port Angeles towards Victoria, BC.
While in Yosemite I was utterly alone, but at the same time, in the arms of nature, and often the company of goodnatured strangers, a few I came to know briefly. I thought about taking the trip with a friend, but when all was said and done, and all of my belongings wedged into my car, I began my solo trip. Befitting to the setting, I read a bit of Joh Muir while in the Valley and came across this quote:
“Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.”
It inspired this journal entry that is somewhere between an informal, personal essay, and a poem. Read it if you like, if not, the pictures are probably more effective anyway.
Where will the shallow places go when the depths take over,
when the mind grasps and finally holds wisdom in its palm.
The mind has not forgotten that it is inseparable from the soul.
It often forgets this is untrue of the body.
My body requires virtue, just like my mind.
My soul divides the virtue it experiences between the two.
They are the younger brother and the sister,
they are the lover and the best friend.
The mind thins and expands with time, as does the body.
The soul is shapeless, weightless, and unlike the others – is not self aware.
It knows only togetherness, only meaning,
and only the innate parts of each of us that we work hard to learn,
when these virtues: forgiveness, kindness, openness, respect, trust –
are simply waiting to be remembered.
They are in my soul, and my mind is distracted, moving fast,
moving with neither clarity nor purpose, and my body learns these ways.
And then the mind sees something naturally beautiful, hears something profound in the vastness,
touches someone who knows this already,
and the mind remembers where virtue is, where it always was.
And for the first time in a long time,
I am one.
One with every person on this earth, one with the wind, the sea, and the stars,
the light and the darkness, the crows beside me, the Sequoias above me,
and the hard earth beneath my tired body.
Then my body is gone, my mind quiet, and my soul
exhales in relief.