We went to into the mountains last week. It has been many years since I spent time in the back country.
Roger and I have spent the last ten years traveling the world – South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Last year, we decided to spend a few years exploring North America. We bought a little travel trailer with just enough room for the two of us and our two dogs. Now I am dreaming up road trips. I have enough on my wish list to last at least the next four years.
I used to spend a lot of time camping. Especially when I was having an internal tug-of-war. I learned to love solo trips. I would take my dogs and go. Sometimes it was “car” camping, where I had easy access to my vehicle for extra supplies.
And other times, I shouldered my trekking pack and climbed up to an alpine lake or some high creek. I pitched my tent, hung my food in a tree, and called the spot home for a few days.
Except for the first time I went out alone, I was never really scared. I had complete faith in my dogs and my own abilities. There was something very empowering about being in the wilderness without other human company. I was alone but never lonely.
Those dogs are long passed now, but I remember them often, and even dream about them on occasion. I hope they are running somewhere high in the mountains, nose to the ground, tails swishing with delight.
On those trips, as I sat by my small fire, heating water for camp coffee, my soul always grew still. Concerns over work, life, and relationships all lifted like morning fog. The mountains were my sanctuary.
So, in a way, going back up into the mountains last week was a little like going home. Having a trailer made it very cozy, even when we woke up to snow two mornings in a row. Really, snow in May. It snowed off and on for two days. It was beautiful and brisk, and a little eerie. The best part was that it melted away each afternoon.
This was the first back country trip for Kagan and Khai, our dogs. Oh my. They were in bliss. It took them all of about thirty seconds to land in the small lake. They came out caked in mud and muck. And then rolled in the dirt.
Soon, they were off sniffing out squirrels, sending them chattering angrily up trees. Khai yelping in delight at her prowess, the squirrel cursing her in a fast rat-a-tat-tat.
We spent the better part of a week at that lake, falling into a simple routine: hot coffee in the morning, followed by a vegetable and egg frittata.
I worked for a few hours each day, completing pieces in preparation for the coming markets. Roger and I would go for a walk in the afternoon, or play cards, or just sit and watch the fire as afternoon turned to dusk and the stars winked on one by one.
The mountains are still the same. And they are still my sanctuary.