Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Coming of Age for Girls 2012

We just returned home from an amazing three week trip in the Olympics with four wonderful young women and three magnificent mentors.

By day, we challenged our bodies, pushing ourselves to keep going even when we felt like we could not make it up one more switchback. By night, we pushed our hearts and minds to open, sharing our deepest selves in council.

We climbed from sea level to almost 5000 feet, all the way up to Anderson glacier, where the vista opened up in every direction, our eyes feasting upon peak after peak, up into the wide blue sky, and down into tree covered valleys.

At the top, near Anderson Glacier, we took a break for sledding in a snow bowl.

We spent a week exploring the beach, climbing beach ladders and giant rocks, watching otters and seals play in the surf, discovering crabs, starfish, and anemone in the tidepools, and relaxing in the warm sand.

After hiking almost 50 miles, singing, laughing and supporting each other the whole way, we got to rejuvenate and celebrate at magical Sacred Groves.

Here is a song the young women wrote on the Journey (First verse by Cameron Withey).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Call To Adventure 2012

As Stan Crow (founder of Journeys) says "The Call To Adventure is a call to release the daredevil in each of us, to reach out for the next stage of our lives.  The call is the mysterious and intoxicating voice that calls us from the sleep of our routine lives - a charismatic call from within to risk and discover what comes next".  

Well, it just so happens 9 intrepid adventure's and 3 brave mentors heard this call, what followed was a trip along the Olympic Coast that will remain in their hearts forever.  This trip tested us on many levels, conjured up deep belly laughter, and allowed us all to connect to ourselves, each other, and the natural world around us in meaningful lasting ways.

Long arduous walks through old growth forest covered with mighty giant Sitka Spruce's, Doug Fir's, Cedars and Hemlocks.  Beaches with hundreds of tide pools to explore, Bald Eagles flying overhead, juveniles swooping down gracing us with their presence, jagged rocky shorelines, the ebb and flow of the tides, and one solid group merging together as a cohesive unit to marvel at all the wonders the coast had to offer us.

Starting at Lake Ozette our tribe headed out with our heavy packs carrying everything needed for our week long adventure.  Bear cans filled, water bottles topped, and 12 people trying to defy the law of gravity and rise towards the sky as our packs pulled us towards the ground.

Our first night was spent at Cape Alava, the quintessential campground along the route, a campground and area that was once inhabited by the coastal Indians who flourished there with the bounty and beauty of the sea.  What filled our nights?  Cooking simple (now stretch your imagination and shrink your taste buds) .......and delicious back country meals!  What's more...... campfires, songs, stories, games, laughter, fun, and camp chores filled our evenings.

Cape Alava
As the week progressed our incredible group of  9 daring adventurers continued to trek along the coast, carrying their lives on their backs and believe it or not having fun without the use of electronics or other modern conveniences!  Most of our days were spent moving along the coast with many breaks along the way for exploring, resting, and playing games. 

 Our week was filled with all kinds of sunshine and all kinds of rain.....in fact we made up a verse to a song we sang "Rain Rain Rain Rain, when I dream I dream of rain,  drizzling, misting, downpouring sideways let the rain come" and come it did!  Our culminating experience was marked with massive amounts of persistent rain which forced us to befriend the rain, become comfortable with being wet AND plan an early departure out of the park to a front country campground where we would spend our last evening as a tribe.  So, 13 wet soakateers  headed back to Lake Ozette.  The only thing between their current location and the van at Lake Ozette was a 5.5 mile walk, sandy beaches, lush forest, and animals camouflaged along the way.

With tired thighs, sore backs, wet clothes, grumbling tummies and ecstatic smiles for real bathrooms we made it back to the Lake and headed to a nearby campground.  

We did it!!

Our last evening together before going back to Songaia was filled with sharing memorable moments from our trip, appreciating one another, laughs around the fire, and two Barred owls talking to us for a good portion of the evening.  Back at Songaia the participants met their families with open arms, smiles, stories, and a poignant song,"Fly Like an Eagle" that kept our spirits lifted as we lived for a week as a unified tribe in the back country and along the coast of the Olympic Peninsula!

Back at Songaia

Friday, August 10, 2012

Solo Crossing 2012: The Way of the Hummingbird

Over the course of three weeks, in our tribe of twelve, we were kept company by Hummingbird. Incredibly, this magical little bird visited us almost everyday! It had something to tell us about our time together, and we listened...

First Leg: The Challenge of Rugged North Fork

Our first leg, five days on the rugged North Fork trail, was certainly the most physically challenging of our trip. Our second day on the trail, we hiked almost 10 miles, much of it uphill. While it was challenging for everyone, it certainly helped get our mountain legs on in a flash! The highlights of this trip for everyone was our day hike to Low Divide. We had our lunch on a huge boulder in the midst of a verdant valley, surrounded by waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. We watched a bear as it played on the snow, eventually plopping down and taking a nap. We sat in a group sit-spot, meditating on and deeply feeling the beauty around us. Those few hours in the gorgeous surrounding continued to affect the group for the remainder of the trip, with many citing it as their favorite moment of the trip.

Second Leg: The Splendor of Enchanted Valley

We spent our next leg in the lush beauty of Enchanted Valley. The trail felt easy as pie compared to North Fork, and we zoomed through most of the hiking. Enchanted Valley was exquisitely beautiful. We sat enthralled by the many waterfalls, moss-covered trees, and elk grazing across the creek. Some of us were fortunate enough to come close to a doe and her fawn. We got a tour of the historic ranger station by the kind Wes Gaston, and learned about the history of the area. During our last night, we held a men's and a women's council separately. We spoke of the difficulties of growing into men and women and how to act with integrity during that process.

Third Leg: Fun and Solos on the Beach

Before we embarked on our last leg, we were able to shower. What a pleasure after two weeks of grittiness! We all noticed how much more we appreciated the simple things, like fresh food and warm water, after our time in the wilderness. 

The first day of our last leg was pure fun. We hiked a short 1.5 miles to the beach and immediately kicked off our shoes. The sun was out, the sand warm, the water perfect for wading. We spent many hours just playing together. From there we moved into preparation for the 48-hour solos. The majestic Olympic coast was an apt place to be doing such deep soul work. Coming back from the solos we transitioned back into play, enjoying many rounds of "Mafia" together.

The Wisdom of the Hummingbird

Hummingbird is a joyous bird that revels in the beauty of the natural world. It flits from flower to flower, spreading its love of life to others. Hummingbird is also impossible to cage. It must be free in the wild, otherwise it dies. 

As we explored outer and inner wilderness together, we embodied the spirit of Hummingbird. We experienced awe and appreciation for the natural world together and alone. Our days on the beach, at Low Divide, and in Enchanted Valley will stay with us forever. Just as we felt closer to the wilderness outside, we also felt closer to our inner wilderness. We felt our own wild selves, the parts of ourselves that must be free to flourish, that cannot be caged. Each of us found something on this trip that we could stand up for and take a stance on, something that we cared about deeply. Hummingbird provided us with so much wisdom, and we are grateful to it for blessing our trip.