Thoughts on Solo Wandering.

In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to been able to travel and explore my country. I’ve been up and down the coast. Driven across the the country a couple of times. Swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Been to the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Alaska. I’ve drank the water from a melting glacier and tasted the salt of a desert from a dry lake bed. It’s been an incredible journey. Filled with amazing moments and sights. Memories that I will always remember. The kind that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

But, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, no. There are times, I admit, when the solitude felt too much. I’d sit there in my camp, looking up at the stars and the silence becomes too strong. The deafening silence, so strong that I could hear my own heartbeat, and it hit me. “I’m alone…” truly alone. No one around, no cars passing by, no planes, no cell service of any kind. Just me…and I’d wish that someone was there with me. A friend, a lover, anyone. Just someone, so I know that the world didn’t end while I was away.
20141112_172136
Often times I feel like entering a new town was a bit challenging. I would come in, by plane, bus, car, or even walk in, and I wouldn’t really know where to start. Should I find food first, or should I try to find someplace to sleep? Striking up a conversation with a stranger can be challenging too. I hear it helps if your very attractive, but unfortunately I’m not gifted in that department. I am, however, funny, and approachable, so that helps a lot. Once people can get a good vibe from you, there more friendly and will point you out in the right direction, or give recommendations on where the best pizza is, or a good place to camp. If your lucky enough you may even find someone willing to have a pint and share stories with.

I think most of my favorite encounters with strangers has taken place in a bar. I’d go in alone, and usually end up making a friend for the night, but it’s not always so. There have been plenty of times where I entered and could not strike up a conversation with anyone. I don’t know why either. Was it because I was a stranger with a backpack? Or did I just catch them at a wrong time, when they didn’t feel like having a companion? I know sometimes that even I just want to be alone with my thoughts. So I don’t blame them, not at all. So I’d drink my drink in peace, and then be on my way. Sometimes it felt like no one even noticed I was there.
wpid-20150703_000734_lls.jpg
That is a thought that can haunt you, once you realize how real that can be. Imagine going somewhere, anywhere and no one really noticed you. How would you feel? Maybe you don’t think about it much, but I do. I could go missing for one reason or another, and imagine if no one even noticed I was there in the first place? It makes me want to stand out in a crowd. Not because I want the attention. I just want someone to realize I’m there. I just want someone to remember me.

Sometimes that is easy too. There have been times when I have just been wandering, and I’ll end up coming along someone who needed help. So I’d help them, in any way I could. It didn’t matter if it was giving a fellow hiker some much needed water, or helping someone who had gotten into a car accident. I would do what I could. Those are the ones that I know will remember me. Even if it’s only the thing I did for them that they remember. It’s more than enough. Because I think I want them to remember the act of kindness more than the man who did it. Maybe, just maybe, if we act a little more kinder to people, they will pay it forward? If they pay it forward, then maybe those people will do the same. Maybe a tiny ripple can change the tide. Maybe a lone wanderer can change the world.  038

To the Next Unknown!

I feel tired. I slept somewhat good, and yet I’m still tired. The insomnia isn’t getting better. If anything it’s way out of balance. Days go by and I can barely get in a couple of hours and then I’ll have a day where I can’t stay awake as my body desperately tries to catch up on some much needed rest. It’s safe to say that despite everything my head feels like a mess. An all too common state for me. So common I actually feel weird without it. It’s practically the norm, and that’s what scares me.

If you’ve been a follower you know that I have had bouts of depression before, as well as thoughts of suicide. I can safely say I don’t feel suicidal now. A slip near the ledge of a mountain trail the other day, confirmed how much I really do want to live. Still with this resurgence of depression, I know it can only be a matter of time before the darkness totally takes a hold of me. Which is why I’m doing this now, well maybe not so much the blogging. Actually that’s not true. I find blogging very therapeutic. There is just something so liberating with sharing your world with total strangers470336_3663690064846_1134808599_o

Anyways, back on topic. I guess this is me announcing that I’m going to be starting anti depressants, or at least I hope I will be. I’m currently getting ready to see my doctor, and we’ll go through everything. I’ll tell my doctor that exercising is not working. I’m loosing weight, which is nice, but I don’t feel better afterwards anymore. I started reading more, but I find myself loosing interest no matter the genre, and I don’t finish the book. Socializing has been difficult, to say the least. I don’t really make plans. I just text a bunch of my friends to see who is free to do something, and that doesn’t always work. I don’t blame them if there busy doing something else. They have lives after all, it’s just hard for me to  make plans because I never know how bad it’s going to be on certain days. The good thing is more often that not, I still have the will to get up and do something. Even if I have to do it by myself I still go out for a walk, or grab a bite to eat, or even a pint.170759_1862045229793_621927_o

I don’t even feel bad doing stuff by myself. I’ve been very independent throughout my life. I’m actually quite use to doing things by myself. So that doesn’t bother me at all. Just sometimes I wish I had another human to talk to, just so I don’t have to think about the things in my head. It’s kind of strange how things change. I’ve been very content at being alone, I travel by myself. I use to prefer it that way. Just me and nature. Discovering each other. Being pushed to my edge and coming back home victorious from a desert or a mountain. It was great, but now it’s not the same. Now I feel the solitude. The defining quiet when you are in the middle of nowhere and you can hear your own heartbeat. It’s maddening. Now I’m eager to have a companion come along with me. So much so if someone can’t come, I now delay the trip, just so I won’t be alone. I know that brings comfort to my family and friends, but I don’t like it. I miss being comfortable in my own solitude.

So wish me luck, as I start a new adventure.IMG_20160418_083541 I have no idea what is going to happen once
I change my brain chemistry. I don’t know if I’ll even change or not. Everyone reacts different, and it’s a little scary when you think about it. I’m stepping into a new unknown. A trail that has never been treaded on. A trail that I can only hope will take me to a better place. I guess it is a lot like exploring. You set your sights for the horizon, and you not only hope to see something new and beautiful, but you also hope it’s better than where you are currently at. So don’t fret for me, instead let’s raise a glass to new horizons.

The Moment You Give Up, and the Silver Lining in Defeat

I can’t slow my breathing. My hands are shaking as I rest my palm on the weathered granite slope. My feet shuffle for position as I try to find an area to launch to. Ten feet is all that separates me from where and my path down. My friend and companion waits on the other side, two more are watching from the bottom. I only have one shot at this, there is no room for error. Under jump and I tumble down, and if I’m lucky a sharp thorn bush breaks my fall. Over jump and risk hitting a boulder and having a similar ending. The small landing zone is right there I can see it, but I don’t think I can do this. I take a step and instantly freeze in terror. Fear grips me like a long lost lover and I realize that I have finally lost.20141223_111912

I waken to the sound of a zipper opening up a sleeping bag and the rustling of my friend getting up. Light is beginning to fill the tent. I know it’s later than usual because today is the winter solstice, and a quick look at my phone confirms my belief. As I exit the tent and make my way to the nearby picnic table to get a drink of water I admire the view in front of me. Indian Cove in Joshua Tree is remarkable. The way the morning light hits the rock and fills the small valley, it’s like the mountains are singing to you. I can’t wait to get going, because today I go bouldering on the nearby rock. The greatest thing about this campsite is that there are places to boulder right next to your tent.20141223_104636

After a quick bite, and packing up camp, we set out to a tall outcrop. The nearest face is sheer and tall. There are climbers at the base gearing up for a climb. I mentioned that I don’t know how to climb, and that I always wanted to try it. My friend then exclaims how fun it was and that we should check out Hangar 18, a local rock climbing gym. I agree, and tell him that I almost went a month ago on my own, but something came up and I hadn’t attempted to go since. We then decide to try walking to the other side of the outcrop to see if there was a better place to try and climb up.

On the other side we found a great place to head on up. Two of my friends stayed at the bottom where a couple of small boulders lay, and by small I mean about as high as a one story house. My other friend and I begin our ascent. I head right he goes left. I end up on top of one rock not to far from the bottom but with no way to advance further up, while my friend is getting closer to the top. When I see where my friend is I decide to head that way. Now one thing about bouldering that I have noticed is this, it’s always easy going up. Going down is a whole other story. You look down at how you got up and think to yourself, where did I put my feet? So after heading down a tricky slope I start heading to the top.

I’m almost to the top when I spot my friend on a ledge about ten feet above me. I asked him how he got up and he pointed at a sloping rock and said “You see that rock that is sloping up on your left?”     20141223_111835    I look to my left and reply “This one?”
“Yeah, that one. Just take that and it will go around the corner” He says.
“Alright.” I say still confused on what he was explaining.
I don’t think he and I were looking at the same rock. This looked kind of sketchy but oh well. I thought to myself if you don’t risk anything, you won’t gain anything, so up I went. The first few feet where not bad, but then it narrowed significantly. It seemed to narrow at the worst part too. This is where it curves around and there is only an inch of ledge to place your toes on to support yourself. Luckily the boulder above me had a grove to provide a hand hold. I faced the cliff, held on with my right hand and stretched with my left hand until it found the other side where I couldn’t grip but palm enough to give me something to sort of hold onto.I then proceeded to shimmy across until I was on the other side. I felt a sigh of relief as I reached the other side and then started to hike up to the top.

Sitting on the top of this large formation of rock overlooking the valley in the morning was spectacular. My friend and I gave each other the obligatory high five and began making fun of our other friend who decided not to go as high as we did. It really didn’t matter to either one of us that he didn’t, but we just wanted to give him crap for it anyways, and so we did. After several moments and a couple of jokes later we decided to head back down, and join the others.20141223_112040

On the way down we passed where I had to shimmy across to get around the rock and my friend said  “Dude I wasn’t talking about that! That is way to dangerous! I meant this path.” He points.
I look and several feet below that is a nice flat rock that goes around the corner. I must have worn a shocked look on my face because my friend started laughing.
“You went the hard way.” He laughed.
“Oh well, if you don’t challenge yourself you’ll never exceed your limits.” I replied.
We continued down and at some point we ended up going down a different path. We ended up coming to a point where the only way down would be to jump down ten feet. We thought about attempting it but after thinking about it, and knowing there is another way we headed back.

I went over another rock and saw what looked like an easier way down. We started climbing down and we came to another ledge. Our friend who was spotting us from the bottom said if we go to our left we could make our way down. I recognized the rock from earlier and I knew we could go back. My friend was closer to the part on the left and I watched him make his approach and leap to the other side. He made it look easy. I tried to follow in his footsteps. I stood where he stood, I crouched and ready myself to pounce to the other side. Then something happened I started thinking about what if I don’t stick my landing. I imagined myself slipping and falling back, cracking my head open on the rock and falling to my doom. Once that thought crept into my mind, I couldn’t shake it. I lost my confidence and with it the will to try.

20141223_110854I turned and headed back up to find a new path. Leaving my friends behind. I went to another part where I found another place to drop down to was. I wanted to move closer to the edge to take a look, and that is where I slipped. I lost my footing and began to slide towards the edge. I reached out in desperation and caught a crack in the rock just before my feet went over the ledge. My heart was racing like never before and I thanked my lucky stars that I caught myself. I found my feet and climbed back up. Where I found my friend, he had come back for me. I didn’t want to tell him what just happened, so I didn’t mention  it.  We found an easy path after reuniting and made our way to our friends. Where I proceeded to hugged each and every one of them like never before. I was happy to be there with them. I was happy to be alive.

While I may be disappointed in myself for not being able to overcome my fear. For not trying to make that jump, that I know I could have made. I’m a little happy at what came out of this experience. You see it wasn’t long ago that I lost my will to live. Where I wanted to die, and it seemed like there was nothing anyone could say or do to make me think otherwise. Luckily I found my strength, my inner light to illuminate the darkness around me and I overcame it. Since then I wondered if I still had a slight death wish with some of the things I do. I think me not being able to attempt a jump for fear of death, leads me to believe that I don’t. I can truly say that I am happy to be alive.

A Short Hike with a Friend

I become restless when being indoors for too long. Especially after going camping out in the middle of nowhere. That being said I called up one of my best friends to go on a short hike. She is going to be leaving soon, and when she get’s back I’ll be heading to Alaska, so I figured why not spend some time with a good friend while I can.

IMG_20140109_123046_608We decided to do a short trail close to home. Thankfully when you live in Southern California, a decent trail is only a stone throw away. We set off at mid-day to hit our trail as it only took us minutes to drive to the location. The hike itself was short and sweet. It had a big incline in the beginning that took you to the top of the hill. From there you can see the valley that we live in below, as well as views of the majestic 210 and 57 freeways. Or at least partially as the weather was hazy and cloudy. It wasn’t really smoggy, we just had a lot of overcast that hadn’t burnt off yet. Still the view was fantastic.

IMG_20140109_125249_863

As we set off on another trail to take us down we traveled through some trees in the valley of the hills. This part was definitely my favorite. There were red tail hawks soaring above, screeching as the circled about. The trees grew on the sides of the path, creating some shade with their canopies. In some parts of the trail rock outcrops could be seen, giving a hint to the geologic make up of the land. I love looking at the rocks, they always have a story tell.

Soon the trail ended and we found ourselves among some horse stables. If felt as if we were being greeted by friendly horses as they picked up their heads to look at us with wonder. It reminded us both of times when we had horses and we shared stories of our horses. We shared a lot of stories that day.

Looking back it seems bitter sweet to me. All this time I’ve been planing and preparing to leave everyone behind and go on a big adventure, only to have a good friend to be accepted to go off on one for herself. I am very joyous for her and her opportunity. I just thought I was going to have these last few months with my closest group of friends before I left on my adventure. At least another of my best friends isn’t leaving, even though his internship takes up a lot of time, we always find a way to hang out. Whether we are just hanging out and having a beer or we are out on a short camping adventure we always have a blast.

Well come what may, these next few months is all I have until I return. It’s sort of strange really. A big part of me cannot wait for that day in May when I fly to the last frontier, and a small part of me is sad for the ones I’m leaving behind. I’m going to miss these friends, as they have become my family. I don’t see them as friends, I see them as family, the family I chose.