Today I drove into Rocky Mountain National Park for a day of retreat, re-balance, observation, and reflection. This weekend was anticipated to be near-peak for many Aspen groves as they underwent their brilliant color changes for Fall. I had no expectations. No particular balance session in mind. Just me, my pack, the mountain and a few random hikers along the 12 mile round-trip hike. My intended destination was an alpine lake just below the timberline. The hike was incredibly strenuous as I was slightly out of shape for such a long, constant uphill trek. After a few hours, I finally reached my intended destination. Out of breath, exhausted, sweating; however, the views of the lake and peaks, were well worth the struggle. The silence was therapeutic as I sat next to the water in meditative observation. Listening. Being. Occasionally imagining what it might be like to live in such a place. Peace of mind flooded my senses. City life became a distant memory as I quietly traded thoughts with the mountain, reflecting for quite some time. I ended the session by balancing a large rock as a gesture of appreciation for the experience. The challenge then became leaving the lake to begin the 2 hour hike back down to the trailhead. Daylight fading. Unsure if darkness would overtake my descent. Unsure if various predators would spot me alone in the wilderness. Perhaps it would be better to think in terms of oneness as opposed to separate and alone.
There was a strange enchantment that befriended my descent, as if countless spirits watched me shuffle quickly down the mountain. Unavoidably delayed by Fall colors, views of aspen groves, rocks to balance, and twilight brilliance, I could sense darkness closing in faster than I could walk. I had not seen another hiker in hours and wondered how much farther the descent might be. The solitude and growing darkness made for quite a primal experience. Adrenaline was high as I looked out for possible mountain lions scoping me for dinner. Not to mention bear territory. Eventually I caught up with other hikers in the last half mile of the descent, relieved to feel somewhat safe again… I felt strange upon my return to the familiarity of cars and roads, but also quite relaxed and fulfilled with the day’s experience.