Once per year, weather permitting, a little gate out in the middle of ‘nowhere’ is unlocked and the public is welcomed in. Passing through this little gate allows a person access to beautiful lakes, rivers, wildlife, forests, meadows, wildflowers, and trails that would otherwise take days to hike to. I am talking about the “Henry Coe Backcountry Weekend”. Did you know that Henry Coe Park is the second largest state park in California? It is! And when you enter into the backcountry you really get a sense of how large this wilderness is.
A couple of months prior to this camping trip, I found myself feeling some anxiety about going. I was going to make the trip ALONE this year. I did not want to go alone, but the Universe seemed determined to send me out solo. I felt my stubborn genes sparking up and I promised myself I would NOT miss this opportunity just because I didn’t want to go alone. So I put my big girl panties on and moved forward.
Closer to the date of my trip, I had two very strong and vivid dreams that I was bit by a Rattlesnake on this trip. So, I went in with my eyes wide open and as prepared as I could be. I knew I could do this!! My plan was to back-pack in and hang my camping hammock somewhere secluded where I would not come across any other campers. Isn’t it interesting how I went out looking for seclusion, but I don’t want to be alone?
I let my intuition guide me to my spot. I found myself walking down a trail surrounded by a sea of Purple Lupine flowers. I crossed Pacheco Creek and continued North along the riverbed and then through a beautiful meadow filled with deer. Before I found my camp spot, I had already come across a WILD BOAR, a BOBCAT, a PEACOCK, a RATTLESNAKE (yep – just like in my dream), BUTTERFLIES, DRAGONFLIES, FROGS, a TURKEY and lots of SONG BIRDS. I was not alone!! I knew I had found my camping spot when I came across a large piece of granite with an interesting vein of quartz running through it, and I thought “X marks the spot!” There were also some nice large pieces of Serpentine all around. One even had a flat top like a table…it felt like home!
Once I had my camp set up, I sat in the quite for a long time. I listened to the sounds of the creek running, the birds singing, the wind blowing through the grass and trees. It was so beautiful and so quiet. Then it started to sink in…… I AM alone. And in that moment it hit me HARD – I don’t want to be alone. I felt very overwhelmed with severe sadness and loneliness. I was overwhelmed with how large the wilderness was – even the sky seemed bigger and overwhelming in that moment. I spiraled from there into a full blown panic attack. I came so close to breaking down camp and coming home. The only thing that stopped me in that moment is that I was aware I did not have enough strength to pack everything back out. But when I settled down after a couple of hours, I felt like I had new eyes to see with. I had stepped into that moment of fear and anxiety, and chose to move forward. I had more clarity in regards to my feelings and fears, and my feelings of sadness and loneliness. I have clarity on what I will work on to continue healing.
As I settled in for sleep that evening. I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. While I bundled up in my hammock and sleeping bag, I imagined myself resting in a cocoon where I would transform and heal during the night. I was sung to sleep by the many Bull Frogs living in the creek, and they were accompanied by the musical hoots of Owls.….such wise, meaningful and beautiful singing!!
I woke up on Saturday morning feeling mentally strong and healthy. I felt almost as if I had released some unknown heavy emotional baggage during that panic attack, and now I was lighter for it. I spent the day feeding my soul with ‘plein air painting’ (painting an outdoor scene in the open air), a meditation by the river, and an ukulele practice session in a meadow filled with all kinds of wild flowers. I attended the community campfire on Saturday evening as an “Ukulele Volunteer”. That is always a fun time! If you want to join our group of ukulele, banjo and guitar players, just let me know and you are in!
Sunday morning started with a hike down a trail I had never explored. I found a large and powerful outcropping of rocks which I sat upon for my morning mediation. As I sat atop of these large rocks, I looked down on the meadow and creek below me and gave thought to the Ohlone Indians who lived here over 10,000 years ago. This place has not changed much over that long length of time. That seems like a treasure to me.
Then I ventured over to the water fall and swimming hole at Pacheco Creek Flats. It’s a beautiful area with lots of healing power. I spent some time exploring the smooth and interesting rock formations that have been shaped over many thousands of years. I just love this spot.
A MAGICAL REALIZATION happened on my final day in the backcountry. I came across a Ranger and I asked him some questions about a large group of snakes I has seen earlier that day. After learning that I had come across a ‘knot’ (a large grouping) of Northwestern Garter Snakes during their lunch time, the Ranger asked some specific questions about where I had set up camp. I explained the route I took and where-abouts I’d hung my hammock. He asked me why I chose that spot. I explained to him that there was one particular rock that caught my attention and how if “felt’ like the right spot – remember the “X marks the spot” moment? Well, here is where the magical, full circle realization happens…. The Ranger explained to me that the location where I camped is where the oldest known remains of the Ohlone Indians were found. The bones that were found in that location date back over 12,000 years. How awesomely cool is that? It turns out I was never alone!
And even MORE full circle magic: Here is a video I made BEFORE I ran into the Ranger and learned about the discovery of the ancient bones on the land where I camped as a grateful guest:
Thank you for your time and your interest. I wanted to leave you with this gift of meditation in the cooling waters of Pacheco Creek. YOU can bring these special waters into your meditation practice with this video I made while traveling along Pacheco Creek. Take a 7 minute break….YOU DESERVE IT. I’ll meet you at the creek-side when you are ready. A’ho — Karen