“ I start tomorrow for the great hot river I’ve been wanting so long to see and alone as usual...”
I’m reading “John Muir’s Last Journey” right now and though I’ve only reached page 29 it has inspired me. Mr. Muir took his final 8-month journey to South America, Africa, Egypt and back through the Mediterranean at the age of 73 years and he did it alone. I’ve been ruminating on this aloneness in my own travels. I thrive on solo adventures, hiking, and seeing new places I’ve never been.
The first time I drove to Northampton, MA I was intrigued by a white dot on top of a mountain in the far distance. Perched high it must have a fantastic view, so I did a little research and found out that it is an old hotel from 1851 and now part of Skinner State Park.This week I finally took a quick hour hike to the Summit House. Just as I guessed, the views were breathtaking. I took a crunchy icy, assent up the road, as I didn’t have enough time to find my way through the snowy trails. I had a show to perform in the evening and I didn’t want to risk calling in late from the backside of some mountain lost in the dark. I’ll come back when I have more time.
I had a friend ask me after the trip, “did you go alone?” My response a resounding YES! Am I a loner, lonely, or somehow avoiding society? No, anyone who knows this gal, will tell you that I enjoy people, parties, playing and being the center of attention. A birthday crown? You bet! No shyness when it comes to talking to strangers and inhabiting social moments. In fact, on this quick hike I met a guy and his $8000 dog. While cooing and petting the small dog he told me this cute bit of white fluff was paralyzed recently and he spent $8000 in vet bills to revive him. I gulped being more careful not to damage the precious goods. I digress…
My point is that my nature time is best explored alone. Why? My first adventure in the great outdoors was in high school climbing Half Dome in Yosemite with a group (see blog post…One Touch of Nature) and it was life-changing. So I’ve participated and grown from hiking with others, but it is different from going solo. When I’m alone there’s only my thoughts and impressions. Yes, I would miss out on having my teacher point out the trickling water down the bank as being the little rivers that elves and sprites bathe in, and maybe I am missing a whole lot of camaraderie and insight that hiking with others would bring. But for now it is MY time, without distraction, without having to impress another, without expectations and I love it.
How about you? Do you find adventure alone or with others more satisfying? I come across many people who never go anywhere alone. Especially women. Even going to a movie is a challenge for some without company. I think it is important to find out what it’s like to be in the world alone, to be empowered by only yourself.
I know that my hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (Cinderella goes to the Canyon) would have been a completely different experience if I had gone with anyone. Changing it up is good! I grew in ways that I did not know were possible. I challenge you to spend some time outside as far away from your normal world as possible and go alone. See what happens. My challenge to myself is to continue to walk well into my 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and be like John Muir…
“…oftentimes our loneliest wanderings are most fruitful of all.”
(John Muir’s Last Journey)