Taking a departure from my usual work-from-home routine, I packed a small backpack, filled two water bottles and let the overjoyed hound dog jump into the car. One quick stop to pick up a sandwich and we were headed east. Two and a half hours later, on the other side of the Ochoco Divide, I pulled up to the Blue Basin trailhead in the Sheep Rock section of Fossil Beds National Monument. It was a little before 4pm.
As a precaution, I’d let my life partner, John, and my son know where I was headed and that I’d be back that evening.
The thick mud was nearly as slippery as ice, caking so thick it felt at times as though I was wearing concrete boots (not that I’ve ever really worn concrete boots, but it’s what came to mind). A mile and a half of fairly steep climb and good cardio, and then, amazement. Canyon walls that were in fact blue, interspersed with varying shades of red, mauve and green. The tops of the tall, flat mesas beyond were snow dusted, a band of white matching the leisurely clouds rolling past through deep blue sky.
That late in the day, the low sun reached some of the walls, while others had already slipped to shade adding yet another layer of magnificent stratification and contrast.
Just as I reached the highest point, a voice said, “You have arrived!” I jumped and damn near lost my footing in the slick mud. Then I laughed, pulled the phone out of my backpack and turned off the GPS I’d forgotten about. The only voice I want to hear out in Nature is Mother Earth and Spirit. I sat down on a lichen covered rock to bathe in the beauty before me, and listen to the stillness. Freya nosed me, tail wagging, and then set about exploring the hillside.
After a time, I fished out the phone and snapped a couple of pictures, noticing that my battery was nearly dead. I pledged, as I’d done many times before, to get a real camera and return to that very spot.
On the descent, the canyon wall coloring become even more spectacular and the mud even thicker and slicker. Halfway down, the trail bent left and I stepped into a warm ray of sun just setting on the ridge before us. I opened to it like a solar panel or a worshipper.
Back at the car, left knee aching, hound dog fed and watered, I realized I’d forgotten that the phone charger in my car had stopped working. With the tiny last bit of battery, I shot my son a text to let him know I was safe and headed home.
Three hours later, safely home after a lovely, peaceful drive, and freshly showered, feeling blissful, the plugged-in cell phone starts exploding, somebody’s banging on my front door and Freya goes ballistic with her gigantic bark in response. Good grief!
It turns out the text I’d sent to my son hadn’t gone through and when they hadn’t heard from me, both John and he had panicked. John was half a state away so he called my neighbor to check on me. That’s who was at my front door. I assured him I was fine and dialed up John. Just as he answered with a huge exclamation of relief, “bang, bang” on the front door again, and Freya goes nuts again. The police! What?!
By the time it was all said and done, John had called the police in the county where I’d been hiking. They had gone by to see that my car was at the trailhead and then later to see that it wasn’t. They had sent me several texts but of course my phone was dead. My son had called the local police. They’d both gotten the neighbors involved. John had packed up gear and was heading over toward the trailhead to try to find me. Good heavens!
I spent the next half hour checking in with everyone, apologizing to the various police and neighbors. My embarrassed was greatly outweighed by the feeling of being loved and cared about. I was deeply grateful for the whole, crazy day.
I think it’s kind of funny that I was cruising along, all blissed out, feeling great, having no idea the ruckus I was causing back at home.
The miracles of Mother Earth and the human heart. The gift of being cared about, looked after and loved. And, like so many of our human mishaps and misunderstandings, a lesson learned, memories made and a story to bring a laugh. The next day I bought a functional phone charger.