The days merge into one another. My biorhythm merges with the days. I wake up an hour before dawn. I go to bed an hour after dusk. I take a break whenever the sun reaches its highest potential. No need to check my watch. No need to take a look at my schedule. There are no rules to follow. I’m merging with the elements. The air I breathe, the earth I stamp my foot upon, the water I drink, the enormous amount of space around me. I just hike, and breathe. Hiking feels so natural to me. The movements I make are of a repetitive kind. It becomes a flow. It brings me in a meditative state, where time doesn’t exist anymore. Where nothing matters anymore. Sometimes, it feels like I’m floating on air. Which is kinda strange, given the enormous weight that I carry. I then feel weightless, and don’t even feel the weight of my pack, or the steepness of the trail. I feel so at peace here in these mountains, being a southbounder in the High Sierras in late Autumn, abandoned from all the summer tourists and other hikers. And I feel so, so happy.
Hiking the canyon leading up to Mather Pass, 12047 ft.
The wind picks up and lets pine needles raining down on me.
An owl flies by, just above my head.
A deer shoots away once it hears me.
A few stubborn flowers are still blooming, in this late and dry season.
This is all I need, this is all I ever need.
The only things on my mind are just four basic ones: water, food, shelter and staying healthy. There is nothing else to worry about. It’s such a simplified version of my daily life back home, where I always worry about how I look, how I do my job, what others might think of me, what I do and don’t eat, about how much money I make, and the list goes on and on. To only care about the basic needs, the things my survival depends upon, gives me space and peace of mind.
Because the mind is more empty, it’s not preoccupied anymore with all the distortions in daily life. Where it is so easy to distract yourself, in order not to feel, numbing yourself with watching television, all different kinds of social media, food, people, sex, drugs, alcohol, whatever works.
Here, I feel whole, not divided. Light, not burdened. Accepted and fully present, not distracted or living in my head.
View from Selden Pass (10877 ft) over stunning Marie Lake.
The vastness of the landscape makes me feel insignificant, so small. Every time the trail leads me up to a mountain top or pass I can look for miles and miles in the distance. Sometimes I ask myself: ‘Am I really here? Is this for real?’ Sometimes I just cannot believe it. It feels like a dream. Maybe that’s just exactly what it is: a dream.
And instead of being scared or worried about what could happen to me, I feel the utmost and deepest trust that I am safe.
I belong here. And nowhere else at this moment.