Disaster.

Grounding during disaster and chaos….my god it’s hard.

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In 2015, while on my thru hike of the John Muir Trail, I passed through Kings Canyon just as the Rough Fire was ripping through the land. I remember sitting at the nearest trail junction for several hours deciding whether to continue on to Whitney or bail out due to the disastrous fire conditions and painfully low air quality…

Albeit a little precarious, I carried on to Whitney (it was the right decision for me at the time, but definitely not for everyone).

11924198_10203359654350349_4115889468539071376_nOver the next few days the walking was tough to say the least, the sun became a blazing sphere of neon orange that felt more like a smothering heat lamp rather than a giver of life, the air was thick and visibility unbearably low at times, wildlife congregated on hillsides and staggered along the trails. There were no ‘views’, no beautiful mountains to appreciate, it was just one foot in front of the other – hours of slow labored walking. We listened to Bob Dylan until my iPhone died, I think I’d hoped he would keep my spirit high or at the very least distract me from the tormenting fatigue. I’ll never forget the way the hot orange sun cast its reflection on the surrounding rock walls that made waterfalls look like red hot lava flow, it’s an image seared into my memory bank.

 

The only clarity came from the reality that soon I’d come out on the other side of Kings Canyon, and hopefully past all the smoke.

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A few months ago I returned to Kings Canyon for the first time in two years, and took this picture…

It was nothing like the place I remembered. I stood and looked out at this beautiful Canyon feeling humbled, amazed, and utterly hopeful. Mama nature had licked her wounds and dug deep into herself for her own healing and rejuvenation.  I remember thinking to myself, “I hope I always remember this. I hope I always remember that healing is always possible, and that destruction, disaster, and chaos are a part of life and oh so temporary..”

Staying present and strong for all the plant, animal and human lives forced to persevere through the wildfires up in Northern California these past two weeks.  Praying for the land, and grounding in the belief that beauty, life, growth, and rejuvenation are unwavering – even in the midst of disaster.

Stay present friends.  Disaster is an unexpected visitor, not a resident.

Take good care of yourself, take good care of others.

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