|slickhorn canyon, utah ~ cottonwoods, i ~ oil on panel ~ 6 x 6 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012|
I awoke here.
....Well, just around that bend... my first night 'on the trail' in over two decades.
I'm a bit incredulous by that realization: that nearly a quarter-century had passed since I'd been backpacking.
I guess I've just been busy doing other things. Some pretty cool things at that, I'd do well to remember.
I was nearly weened on the Appalachian Trail. Some of my most essential memories and moments of divine insight were on wilderness trails with a pack on my back. It's why, despite my infatuation with "abstract" painting, I keep returning to the land, in an attempt to capture the spirit and beauty of a recognizable — and all too quickly diminishing — Nature.
Perhaps it's no surprise then that I've been feeling the call of the midnight trails again. The spirit of Colin Fletcher must be elbowing out some of my more familiar spirits of late....
Whatever the spiritual intervention, all I know is that when friends invited My Good Man and me to join them on a long weekend backpacking trip in Slickhorn Canyon in southeastern Utah, we jumped at the chance.
And what a trip it was....
...Perfect weather — warm days, cool (but not too cool) nights, the bluest of skies that filled with countless stars — many of the them shooting — on those moonless nights.
...Hardly another contemporary human in site for three days. I say 'contemporary' because the presence of Ancients was everywhere. We hiked and slept beneath their abandoned cliff dwellings, their pottery sherds, dried corncobs and painted walls evidence of their long-ago existence.
...Delectable food (Praise Be to Trader Joe's and Backpacker's Pantry.)
...Delightful conversation and companionship.
I can't recall a time in recent memory when I've been so completely "in the moment" as I was those three days in the Canyon.
Hardly a thought of the outside world.
Rather, my mind was completely focused on the trail... the next cairn... the canyon walls... the stars.... the good company of friends ...the incredible blessing of this quiet, soulful land.