Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Truth

Photo by Harry Ford


I'm drawn to the true word and those who consistently live by it. 
Human nature dictates that in a storm, seek higher ground.  That same nature 
warns of those who create a storm in our hearts, seek a higher mind..
It's a daily challenge to live an authentic life, a life of truths.  I know, I fail often. 
Easy to be seduced by the ego to be larger than that life and compete for some unknown 
gain. It's a vicious cycle that creates nothing but a weary heart. 
There is no profit in it. 


I hiked in, in the pitch of dark with a friend.  
Miles of very dark, very cold forest with the comforting soft light of the moon 
and stars always following overhead. 
Easy to loose your bearings on a  trail with
limited vision but the pay off would be beautiful morning light on a spectacular Autumn day. 

Every year, I try to be better organized and every year the gear I carry on my back gets
heavier.  I carry a good 1/4 of my body weight on my back. The hike this day would
entail some hiking through knee-to-thigh-high water, so I came prepared. 
The weather called for early morning temps in the 30's and very cold water in the creek. Having hiked this
area often, I know I'm prone to falling on the occasionally slick creek bottom so 
I take that into account as I packed in. I dry bagged my camera gear inside my camera backpack since it's not waterproof and brought extra hiking boots and dry clothes. I had on 2 thermal base shirts and outer shirt, down jacket, thermal pants, outer pants, waterproof knee-high socks over wool socks.  Gloves, hat,wool scarf.
It was all good. 

I separated from my hiking partner as I crossed the first deep pool in the dark. Headlamp was enough to see perfectly in the little canyon area.  I sighed a bit of relief as I passed this point. Up ahead a lesser traversed part of the canyon and still a bit dark, the trail wasn't easy to see.  I crossed the
creek to look further down the canyon and get my bearings. 
 I had to cross over a large dead tree. 
I steadied myself, always conscious of the backpack that can pull my body one way or the other if I'm off center.  I steadied my body weight on one leg, lifted the other to straddle the large log and cross over it. I now shifted my body weight to the leg crossing the over the log and realized there was no ground on the other side of the log. The log was sitting over a deep pool of water and as I lifted my other leg  and attempted to land, I fell in. Completely. My foot is stuck in a crack and my backpack has me pinned down.  I'm now totally soaked from head to toe in a very cold, dark forest, miles from the trailhead.  

The rush of the icy water stunned me for a few moments. I get my gear off and pull everything to the side to assess the situation which has many potential problems now. I haven't even reached my shooting destination.  My dry boots that I carried in are now wet. Some of the interior of my backpack is wet. Gear is safe and dry. I continue on to reach my destination and the momentum of hiking again starts to warm up the body.

As I made my way down the trail, the canyon walls opened up to this magnificent display of autumn colors in a full peak spectacle.  My hiking and photography have yet again taken me to a place beyond words.  

The elements come together, the pre-dawn stillness, muted soft light gently draped on a scene you'd only imagine as a figment of some brilliant painters artistic mind.
I'd completely dismissed myself, my cold wet state didn't exist anymore. 
I was just simply there...
in a moment of perfect time and place. 

Making my way to a spot to photograph and settle but I still need to stand in the cold water and after awhile I can't control the spasms of my body trying to keep warm.  I'm concerned about becoming hyperthermic so far from a trailhead. After about an hour, I have to head back, past the pools to find a dry place and change clothes. I would have liked to have stayed in this area longer but I couldn't  Hiking back was enough to warm me back up and eventually the sun came up and I was back to normal. 
 By the time, I hiked out,  I changed into shorts and flip-flops 
and we headed out in search of french toast and coffee. 

Finally home and unpacked after 3 days. Sifting sand and mud and washing clothes. Cleaning camera gear and assessing the bodily damage, one pretty bruised and swollen ankle, the cuts and scrapes of a wonderful trip. 

There isn't anything I've found on this planet more honest than the natural world.  It's the closest thing to God and religion that I've felt.  No pretense, no ego, wholeheartedly authentic and yet jaw-droppingly spectacular and life-altering.   
Its truths are out there, up front, no obfuscation.  

 In the quest for an authentic life, the trail begins here. 
At least for me it does. 
The personal path or relationship with my photography
 is between me and the landscapes only. 
It's my path. 
That path may be dark at times and not without the pain of a few spills along the way. I expect to stumble while I learn. 
 Guided by the moon and stars alone, not the opinions of others.  Knowing that when I'm in sync with my own truth all the trappings of the ego fall away and I'm left with a scene and a life, 
unparalleled.