Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Journey Continues: We Spiraled In

We spiraled in:

Into the labyrinth at base camp in Bothell and across the Sound on the ferry,
Into the mountains, looking out across Olympic ranges from Deer Ridge, then down
Into the valley of the Greywolf River at its three forks,
Got into some wild berries, intimate councils, and giggly games of psychiatrist,
Hiking through old-growth forests, the river our constant companion, and up
Into subalpine meadows of lupine and indian paintbrush and waddling marmots,
And finally into the basin of Cedar Lake,
Into solo time.

And there we sat in the still mountain air
The silence broken by the occasional piercing whistle of a marmot.

The three participants sat on their own in quiet reflection
Perhaps soaking up the life of the place around them
Perhaps learning how to rest more deeply in themselves
And the fog rolled in thick. It mad a sort of visual silence, a cool unknown
And then rolled through as clouds swirled above the rocky ridge towering over us,
Letting the sun break out here and there in bursts of glorious warmth.

Hours passed and we brought our brave journeyers back together around a little fire
And they added a little glow as they spoke their first words emanating out of their quiet solitude.

And then we began spiraling back out:

First bites of post-quest food, almond butter noodles,
Hiking down, more games and laughter,
Hiking up (oh how we beasted that hill),
And down again out of the mountains and across the Sound
We sang our song to family and friends, and walked
Out of the labyrinth and back into our lives, refreshed, re-inspired, ready. 

By Cameron Whithey
Photos by Emily Pease

Coming of Age for Boys 2012

In the summer of 2012, our group of eight boys set out on a three-week backpacking trip through Olympic National Park. Our objective was to begin to fill the shoes of young men and step out of our childhood neediness. We began our journey as complete strangers, yet grew to become close friends. Along the way we faced many obstacles; such as strenuous hiking, learning how to work together, and getting adjusted to the new routine. We overcame these obstacles only with the help of our friendship and guides.

One of our biggest challenges was becoming mature enough for our guides to step back and let us take control of the trip. Pulled together by the great leaders in our midst, we did a good job beginning to take on the responsibilities setting and breaking camp. Breaking camp was difficult for us, and this resulted in the opportunity to do community service trash pick-ups and a lot of exasperation. Fortunately, we learned from our mistakes and improved our clean-up skills.

The physical element of the trip was yet another challenge we faced, and took a great deal of courage to surmount. We hiked a full mile (over 5000 feet!) of vertical and crossed raging rivers, babbling brooks, lush meadows of wildflowers, and flitted across vast fields of glowing snow, then we traveled to the beach and traversed b beaches and scaled sandy bluffs. To culminate this adventure we spent 24 hours of solo time on the beach while fasting and partook in a sweat lodge ritual.

This journey taught us about nature, ourselves, and being a young man in today's society.  It helped us let go of our childhood neediness and dependency, find out about our strengths and weaknesses, and use this enlightenment to step into the role of a young man and start giving back to the people who raised us and cared for us through childhood.

--written by Isaac Zinda and Rowan Gallagher