Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

I Finally Did It!

They say my Santa Ana Canyon, early Californio ancestors were “Born to the Saddle.” Before I left Orange County, I was determined to touch the horizon that dominants the skyline: Saddleback Mountain. My ancestors and this land have lived in me as a River Beneath the River, always guiding and affecting my life. It is my destiny to record their story in the grandest novel I could conceive.

I planned the hike for Spring Equinox, the day my youngest son turned 18. It was a day to claim freedom and stability. When I heard the NFS was dynamiting historic dams and prohibiting access via Holy Jim Falls, I found another way. We hiked out of Blue Jay Campground – a 28 mile roundtrip with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, vs 16 miles from Holy Jim and a 4,000 ft vertical climb. I made myself forget how far that distance actually was.

Two miles of climbing later, I pulled out my phone, looked at the map and had a truly spectacular hissy fit. It was too far. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we go the other way? Joey tried to help which made things worse. Slowly I pulled myself together and we started to walk again.

We passed through a pine forest and the scent lifted my spirits, along with the vibrant yellow primrose flowers and the shiny brick-colored manzanita bark with white flowers that look like tiny beads when they fall on the decomposed granite path. The blooming white sage and  century plants infused me with endurance. And then around a bend, I saw Santiago Peak. Tears came to my eyes. I was filled with such a fervent desire to stand on that mountain. The wind blew in the bucolic ranchero era that lives in me so deeply, so passionately. The ancestors and this land gave me the strength to push onward. I couldn’t think. I was like an animal, simply aware of being aware, walking mile after mile: 11 miles the first day, 17 miles the following day.

I told Joey the story of the young boy who cut a hole in a cocoon to help a butterfly that was struggling to free itself. The child did not know the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly had a swollen body with shriveled wings and would never, ever fly.

I have long struggled living on a land that does not coincide with the freedom and natural beauty that I see when I close my eyes and look inward through the memories of my ancestors. Though I love this land so very deeply the struggle is over and I see things as they are. In three months, I am moving where wildflowers grow, rivers run and stars speak and I will write a tale of family and land inextricably woven together.

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Valentines in the Mountains

img_1759The adventure begins on the back of a sled attached to a snowmobile. I step on the grate and grip the bar as Brendan, an employee of Rock Creek Lodge, takes off into the woods. We wind through snow-covered Lodgepole Pine and over a running creek as a flurry of snowflakes drift down upon us. I look over to Joey and he’s got his mouth open to catch the snow.  The ride is over too soon. But our rustic cabin is perfect. It’s only 11am. Dinner is at 6.

The day unfolds before us: hikes through the woods, snacks of cold cuts and cheeses from Claros Italian Market, out loud reading Of Mice and Men, romantic sensual fun, a delicious nap, happy hour with red wine.

image1Early evening we walk hand in hand in a winter wonderland to the main lodge. We chat with other guests in the cozy den. Brendan uncorks and pours our wine without a service charge (although they do serve wine and beer). We adjournimg_1770 to the next room, sit down on long wooden tables and eat family style. The rosemary focaccia bread is divine dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The creamy red bell pepper soup that follows is only marginally beat by the honey sesame salad. (We’ll be recreating that dressing!) It’s all so damn good. Quinoa and pork loin with a reduced pinot and blueberry sauce rounds out the main course. Chocolate mousse with Kahlua ice cream follows. I’m served a dairy free coconut ice cream that reminds me how much I do miss this treat.

The other guests who are celebrating their 50th birthdays invite us to their cabin for a little party. This group of guys grew up on the same street in Eugene, Oregon since they were five. The camaraderie is infectious. Mike breaks out a guitar and passes out percussion instruments. We fall into a jam session illuminated by ambient light. As the night closes Joey and I stroll under the stars to our cabin in the woods.

fullsizerender1 Breakfast the next morning is yummy. Brendan offers to take our gear down on the sled and rents us cross country skis. We trek uphill a mile on groomed trail then overland through a foot of powder to Rock Creek Lake. The sun is warm on this bluebird day. Then it’s three miles downhill to the Sno Park on corduroy snow that img_1797sparkles, reflecting tiny rainbows. Snow coats drooping branches of the looming, bone straight pine trees like big white mittens. Wind lifts a fine layer of snow from the treetops and sends it swirling down in a mist of glitter. It’s only my second time on cross country skis so I’m not exactly graceful, but I am full of joy and childlike wonder at the beauty of this world.img_1774

Room to be Wild Part I

Homework Assignment from Deep Storytelling and Archetypal Activism: Sketch out the issue to be addressed, describe how it has spoken to you imaginally, outline the response this calls for, and mention how such a project could transform you and the issue.

Derby Playhouse production of  A Midsummer Nights Dream.   ©Keith Pattison 5 Swinburne Place Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6EA tel/fax 0191 2610884 mobile 07703 560871 vat no 605 6235 59 e mail:  mail@keithpattison.com

Derby Playhouse production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. ©Keith Pattison

PART 1

Our culture has lost its wildness. On the whole, we have lost the ability to feel the unfettered freedom and sense of belonging of a well-loved child. We have made nature dirty and a fearful place to be. And in doing so, we have squashed the most free-spirited aspects of our innate feral nature and in the same fell swoop cast ourselves outside of this veritable Garden of Eden. Without our wildness, it is difficult to access emotional honesty because such rawness must be contained as a rule of a dignified society. We cannot allow for the impulsive, unpredictable puckish

behavior inside, nor without. We condemn those who would take to wanderlust or spend days just being in naturally wild places. We have desecrated wild lands by covering them with asphalt and shopping malls and squeezed out the coyotes and rattlesnakes to make room for another subdivision. This sterile, linear civilization has become the mirror to our own taming and created a fear-based, trivial existence.

Comfort Creates Apathy

Millais_-_OpheliaWhen we strive for personal comfort and convenience in favor of connection and community we develop an apathetic indifference to the downstream effect of our actions. We pretend that we can cut the cords to our collective soul both from our ancestors and descendants. Even though this separation is imagined and not real, it is powerful enough to make it so that we cannot hear the voice in the wind or see the wisdom of the changing seasons as metaphors for spiritual awakening. We forget that the world is in constant communication with us and seek only to control and contain the mystery. We no longer know the phases of the moon or signs of impending rain or grow our own food. We no longer remember the power of one person or one act of positive thinking or connect to the value of tribe. The loss of our inner knowing that we belong to a loving, connected web of conscious souls in various forms whose lone purpose is to adamantly live the light of an individual spirit has plunged our society into a collective madness.

A Long Walk Home

20150723_100417I’m climbing to the top of that mountain,” my daughter Ali said, her bright blue eyes staring fixedly at the peak. Inwardly I groaned, knowing that I would be hiking alongside her if that hike is what she wanted.

This specific peak would give us a breathtaking view of the Sierra Crest and a panorama of total wilderness without human habitation anywhere in sight.

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But I had been part way up that mountain and I knew it was daunting. Plus, I am in the process of deciding whether or not I like climbing mountains. I tend to find the thrill of talking about it afterwards with a beer at camp, more exciting than ascending or appreciating the view. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but in my defense…. we did have a bitchen camp spot.

Since we had driven fourteen miles into the back country and not backpacked, we had luxuries such as a hammock, an EZ Up, coolers with ice, a solar powered shower.. it felt like frills of a high end hotel that we had all to ourselves surrounded by trees and wild open spaces.Ali and I flowers

But as I don’t see my girl often enough and must cram all my loving into a very short time, I led the way to Funnel Lake along a flat dirt road, easy and peaceful. 20150722_181129Beginning at 10,300 feet elevation, the uphill trek starts with a steep incline just passed the lake through a forest of piñon pines. So although your lungs begin to burn within five minutes, at least there is shade. Then comes the fully exposed slog through the talus field, where rocks that you thought were stable give way and you slip, like a cartoon character running in place and have to catch yourself, sometimes grabbing a black sagebrush or tiny juniper for stability.

“We can do this!” Ali said with the determination of a marathoner. About this time I started calculating how much older I was than her and making excuses for lagging behind.

I was carrying the backpack when Ali’s water bottle dropped. I watched it tumble down the 20 feet I had just climbed, “No!” I cried pitifully. I scooted down the rocks to retrieve the bottle and ripped open the pocket of my pants. As we scaled the bigger rocks, I gained on Ali and the poor girl had a view of my tush for the remainder of the climb. Not the day to gIMG_0038o commando.IMG_0034

Finally, after a 1,400 ft climb in about three-quarters of mile, we bagged Crystal Peak. We then admitted how often we had thought about giving up but didn’t want to let the other one down and laughed. Both of us were determined the sign the little piece of paper Skyler had signed last month. With big smiles we headed downhill for our beers.Ali

Twenty-four years ago, I opted to move to Chicago with Ali’s dad after college graduation rather than travel solo to Europe. Ali had been born three days prior to our first date. I always attributed this decision to a strong desire to heal the karma circle of an absentee father – I wanted to make sure her daddy stuck around, unlike my own. But since my assessment was off, I always felt deep regret for not crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 1991.

As Ali and I toasted each other back at camp, I realized with the awareness of a thunderclap that I skipped out on Europe for a totally different reason. I was meant to have this daughter, this beautiful young woman in my life forever. We were fated for each other. It was her all along. Now we’re planning a trip to Spain.. not sure how many peaks we’ll bag, but we will find the perfect tapas bar. Maybe we’ll even get some writing in.

Ali & I MaskedAli and I sitting