All posts in the Hiking category


Published May 28, 2013 by ireneglasse

It is in the very air you breathe here, thickening the prana as it fills your lungs, coating every inch of flesh, seeping down into your pores, your blood, your bones. It is everywhere you look, shining out from leaves that give new meaning to the word ‘green,’ slipping through the riotous tangle of vines to earth long grown dark and porous with moisture. It emanates from the treetops far above, from the roots spreading out beneath you, from the abundance of life filling all spaces above, below and between.

It is gentle. I floated on the surface of the ocean, the swell of each passing wave lifting me toward the sky, then lowering me toward the sand, the Great Mother rocking her child with the tenderest touch. I slept to the sound of rain on leaves, mingling with the song of the night orchestra. I reveled in the long, low rolls of thunder in the distance. I watched the mist rising from the mountains in the morning.

It is fierce. I stood amazed, breathless, as it crashed down as a waterfall from over two hundred feet above, carving its relentless path into the stone. The roar filled my ears till all other voices had to shout to be heard. I strained to reach the point where cascade transformed into pool and was stopped dead in my tracks, every muscle fighting against the power of the outward-spiraling current, still yards away from my desired destination. Such power is not meant to be touched by these hands.

It is more. I stood chest-deep in a grotto pool warmed by the deep veins of magma within the earth as the skies opened above me. I felt the heat of the water rising from the darkness beneath me. I felt the cool of the rain as it poured down from above me, running in rivulets over my body to meet itself at the center. I watched the rising steam mingle with the falling rain, with the splashing surface of the spring, until above and below lost their distinction, all boundaries melting, running together.

It is me. In the fruits I so eagerly reach for every morning, in the sweet rush of every bite, it fills me, becomes me. My heart the waterfall, my blood the relentless current, my breath the rocking of the ocean, my spirit the rising warmth from Center. I hear the crashing waves inside me, I watch the world from the green pools of my eyes, I touch with skin soft from moisture, and the song rings through my mind:

River is flowing
Flowing and growing
River is flowing down to the sea
I am River
Flowing to eternity
I am River flowing down to the sea

Redstone Reflections

Published April 4, 2012 by ireneglasse

My best friend, her daughter (my Goddess-daughter) and mother (also a good friend) live in Arizona.  I live in Maryland.  This could be a real curse, but I’m lucky enough to see them once or twice a year.  Sometimes we decide to travel when we’re together.  This past visit was one of those times–we went to St. George, Utah, to spend a week hiking in the mountains.

I’m still trying to find the right words to in which to pour the experience from my travels.  As we drove, the low desert of Yuma gave way to ever-higher craggy mountains.  The colors shifted–a slow roll from browns and grays to burnt umber and rust red, and then again to the vibrant, bonfire colors of Southern Utah.

My mountains, the Appalachians, are soft.  They are ancient–the oldest range in the world.  The millennia have softened their edges and in those smooth hollows the cycles of organic life have turned countless times.  Earth now covers them, a host to an infinite bevy of trees, shrubs and other greenings.  Their bones only show in a few places now where their slopes and shapes were too sharp or too steep for the mantle of earth to take hold.  But mostly you see softness.  Curves.  And the rolling green cloak the earth supports.

To travel where I did is to spend a week with the spirit of Stone.  Raw and red, the sharp edges soar high above to scrape the sky.  Towers and twisting spires stretch dizzyingly upward, carved into soaring pinnacles by the unending flow of water and scouring wind.  The tiger striping of eons long passed show vivid on the flanks of those jagged peaks.  Voices echo in the narrow valleys, rebounding a sound or sigh upward into the desert sky.

This is Stone unblemished and given voice.  An unchained spirit, the bared bones of Gaia thrust upward in ecstatic dance.

Raw.  Naked somehow, and breathtaking in unfinished, unveiled reality.  The cloak of earth and green struggles to find places to settle–the dance of the mountains still shakes off the entropic shroud.

What did I feel?

Wonder.  The immensity of time and scale and distance.  The shock of color–red, orange, gold–and the perfect blue of the desert sky.

I marveled at the beauty, at the ferocity of those peaks.  I gazed in silence on sun-drenched valleys flanked by immense vermillion guards.

And words failed me.

They fail me still.  How can the bright blaze of those places find a home in language?  How can I capture what it is to feel gentle mist on my face as I stand behind a waterfall’s plunge over a blood red precipice into the pool below me?  These simple symbols cannot hold firm under the weight of red mountains dancing.

So many places sang that deep resonance of the sacred.  So many spaces called out for offerings, yet all I carried was my gratitude.  And my wonder.

During my stay, a snippet of poetry by Leonard Cohen appeared in my inbox:

“Ring the bells that still can ring.  Forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”

Apropos for such a place.  The splendid beauty of the region is the product of cracks, of weakness in the face of wind and water.

And so I write, words rising from the inner stillness like so much smoke.  An offering of language, imperfect reflection of the gift of Place; of Stone and Sky.

That’s how the light got in.