Monday, September 22, 2014

Up for the Sunrise: The Journey Continues 2014

(The Journey Continues is our 1-week high school aged trip)

After some days in the wilderness, priorities and pleasures will have shifted from normal day-to-day life. That must be part of the explanation for why a group of teenagers and their two leaders would agree to get up at five in the morning and hike through the chill to watch the sunrise from a mountaintop.

It was our last morning together. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone was up for such an adventure after all the uphill hiking we’d just done. But off we went through the slowly brightening dawn up to the summit of Blue Mountain, in the NE Olympics, and found an eastward-looking viewpoint that was sheltered from the bitterly cold wind. It was a clear morning but for some haze hanging in the Puget Basin in front of us. Our timing was perfect. After sitting quietly together for about ten minutes, all of a sudden a brightness emerged through the haze, a startling pink. As it rose and grew, it outlined the ridgeline of the Cascades, previously invisible in the hazy sky. It was one of the most interesting sunrises I’ve seen, and we all sat ooh-ing and ahh-ing for a while before getting up to take some pictures.

As I reflect on this experience, I wonder: what were we saying, with our bodies and souls, when we chose to hike up there to watch the sunrise? The sunrise is yet another thing usually taken for granted, rarely given much consideration. But to all of us it seemed the fitting thing to do. Watching the sunrise gives me a sense of looking into the future, into possibilities. I often have an instinct to see it when some transition or transformation has been afoot, when things feel new and fresh. And even moreso, to see it from the peak of a mountain gives a sense of incredible expansiveness. On our last day together, as we looked ahead to life back home, the sunrise lent us a sense of fullness, completion, and a window into what was coming next.

In a way, it’s reassuring to know that there’s such a rich experience to be had in simply taking in this basic (though from another perspective, miraculous) everyday occurrence. So I suppose that one thing we were saying was that we wanted to show up for the simple but dramatic events woven into our days and really take them in. That we wanted to seize the moment and come away with a unique memory and story to tell. What else is there? 

Submitted by Cameron Withey, guide, The Journey Continues 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Call to Adventure: The Journey Begins!

We had a great adventure walking along the coast. Originally a co-ed trip, we had a roster with 7 boys and no girls. Tara and Matt helped these big kids learn to pack their bags, tie their knots, and push through the pain of adapting to new circumstances with humor and beauty along the way.

Of our many nature encounters, a notable one is a river otter that loped out of the forest and into the ocean right beside us as we arrived on the beach for the first time. We cooked many of our meals over wood fire, which gave the participants plenty experience gathering wood and tending fire. The days were spent hiking and exploring, and gathering and processing the materials from the land we needed to survive. The evenings were spent in telling stories of our experience and hearing some stories of long ago as well. On the way to the boys' three-hour silent vigil in solitude, as we drew a threshold line in the sand, a juvenile bald eagle landed above us on a leaning fir tree, and soon after we saw the circling of the two parent eagles. We walked past the eagle guardians to the our brave explorers' sit sites, where they spent time in ritual reflection on their journeys. 

After the kids were welcomed back, we gathered as much firewood as we could carry and hoofed the miles back to camp with the precious fuel from the trees we relied on, enough for dinner, and even some hot chocolate before bed to celebrate all we'd accomplished this week.

Submitted by Matt McKinney, Guide for Call to Adventure 2014