Magnetic North - equipping alpine seekers
equipping alpine seekers



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sometimes I am a frothing beast plowing quads-first in new directions. on this particular day, we had just parted seguaro, cholla, and decaying granite with three and two points planted. gaining over 3,000 vert in just under an hour left my internal compass spinning as I set foot in the shelter of the first manzanita groves. the feeling that I was in a sacred tunnel traveling toward the barely-lit core of the land came over me. it tucked itself snug around my shoulders, dampening the desert’s few harsh sounds. climate’s heat eased, the scrub became forest which enveloped me deadening the roar issuing from the mouth of a storm growing on the western horizon. the tunnel closed around my head.

I peered out a clearing of what had become mid-sized trees at the break between deciduous forest and familiar ponderosa and tamarack stands just ahead. I’d be there soon. altitude thinned, though, taking from my once-bawdy pistons some of their verve and Nature kept reeling the pine forest away from me - some cosmic bait on a gigantic hook inciting a return to the violence I do to my bones and organs on these long runs.

the path could just as well require not-movement just as it does no thought and no speech. I could take the freeway route to this altered state of being, and I have in decades past, but the afterglow of chemically-induced states of wisdom feels cheap. 

I perceived a subtle pressure shift from right ear to left, WNW to ESE, and knew the force of the storm had shifted. each step for a space of a mile or more I shaped my toes into proboscis capable of feeding and feeling off the land; I moved away from miosis on the endless beat of legs turning and into our conversation. .though I am barely worth or even capable of forming a question for the desert, I did and asked for its will in the moment. unequivocally it uttered its response. with a tank full of oxygen, a pack flush with water, legs certain of their ability, I chose a diving granite slab as the high-point of the day’s run - 8000 feet above the valley floor where I began.

conversing with a greying ceiling of clouds I thought of how I’ve aged, how ashamed and proud I am of the woman I’ve been and become. hearing the clouds' response I rose and began the long float back down. not five minutes after beginning my descent the rains began (an aside: this storm was not forecast. it turned epic: flooding LA and bringing heavy snows to the slabs on which I’d just lounged.). feeling gradients of raindrops begin and cease as I passed through diminishing manzanita tunnels, I found my power.

my power belongs wholly to the Earth, she spurs every moment of genius I’ve ever had - including this one. my power lies not with achievement, ticking some meaningless goal off a list; my power lives with vulnerability, with giving up hope, with trust in the media with whom I dance. my power is in the acceptance of my constant defeat in the hands of my broader body, in nature. my power is found by tuning in to a sacred landscape, animate with cacti, mice with big round ears, ravens, and the cougars hiding in the brush. power is trusting our tiny voice. my power makes my endurance perpetual; I am ferocious.