Once, I went on a six-month rock climbing and hiking trip throughout America. One of my favorite places to rock climb is Owens River Gorge in central California- off of the 395. There, if you turn east off of SR395 onto Benton Crossing Road in Long Vallery and ramble off dirt roads through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, you can find hot springs that are made from PVC pipes people have plugged into volcanically-produced hot spring vents that erupt in creeks. They have created man-made hot pools with rocks and cement blocks. There is a famous one that rock climbers and hikers venture to off of the 395 south of Mammoth Mountain. The directions to it are, “across from Tom’s cabin area, turn off 395 and you will find a dirt road. Follow the dirt road past the green church. After the green church, the road branches off to the left. Follow that and you will find the Hot Springs.” Great directions, eh?
Anyway, after spending a very cold night in an emergency bivey on a 10-ft wide ledge a thousand feet up on a rock dome in Tuolumne Meadows, my climbing partner and I ventured over the pass to Owens Valley for some R&R (Rest and Recuperation!). We pulled up to the hot springs and found it occupied by an older man and a woman, both buck naked except for cowboy hats. No car, truck or horses were in the area. I have no idea how this seasoned couple got there. Anyway, after dropping our clothes – as is custom when others are sans clothes in a natural spring – we climbed in and related the story of our harrowing night on the cliff. The woman, tanned skin and light wrinkles of a 60 plus year old woman, slowly drawed, “You look none worse for the wear honey,” and then the couple bid us adieu, got out of the hot tub, pulled on boots and denims and walked away. Note, we were way, way, WAY away from the closest camp.
This surreal event populates my brain every time I am faced with a huge challenge. In times when I am licking my wounds and realizing I survived. And, I AM a survivor. And I know with each challenge, success or failure, I am gaining the wisdom of this wry couple.
“You look none worse for the wear honey.” Do you have any mantras or stories you repeat in times of reflection? Please share!
Any comments you would care to share?
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