It seems fitting that we publish our newest Campsite Correspondent Shona Marie’s post today. She’s from the beautiful USA, and will surely be celebrating July 4th today. Welcome Shona! We’re grateful to have you here, and really love your first post! We look forward to more Inner Journeys & exploration in our Outdoor World!
Outside In ~ by Shona Marie
I had been longing for Arizona for months. But responsibility and monetary consciousness held me back. So when my life completely and drastically changed in the blink of an eye, I booked a ticket before I could change my mind. I knew I needed…. something. Magic. Mystery. Views. Laughs. Healing.
For the first time in my life I traveled alone. I’ve been on plenty of flights solo, but I have never done an entire journey on my own. No safety blanket. No familiar faces or voices. No expectations. Just me, my sneakers and my sense of adventure. Guard down, head up, feet planted strongly into the red earth. That was the plan.
Never did I realize just how transformative and eye opening that plan would be. I knew that sometimes to go into yourself, you have to go out. In order to heal the inner turmoil, you have to surround yourself by the calm of the outdoors.
I made the commitment to do a sunrise hike every morning to start the day. Day one was lovely overall, and as I sat with heavy eyelids figuring out what to do on day two, I kept being called back to Cathedral Rock. I stared at my computer screen, blinking. Extreme 600 foot incline over half a mile it read. I gulped a little. I came to hike, not rock climb. Do not attempt without a good pair of hiking boots was the next line. I glanced over at my dusty Nike Free shoes. They weren’t even close to representing a pair of hiking boots, let alone a good pair.
Thoughts flooded my head as I set my alarm for 4:30 and closed my computer. Maybe I shouldn’t go. It sounds dangerous. No, you want to go. Go. If it gets too difficult just turn around, but at least try.
At least try.
You can always quit….
The next dusky morning I stood in the parking lot, staring up. The birds were singing, encouraging the sun to peek thru the dark clouds looming overhead. So much for an early morning sunrise. It started out easy enough, the lower trail isn’t steep and there was so much beauty to take in. There was only one other hiker out, and he quickly passed me and disappeared, not to be seen again.
But, the elevation quickly got steeper. I had to stop, a lot. I couldn’t wait to get to the top. I also couldn’t help but dread the potential danger. There is nobody here. If I fall, how long will I be there before somebody finds me? I shouldn’t have come alone. But I knew I needed to be alone, to do this completely by myself. So I kept trekking upwards and onward.
I stopped on a sharp ledge to sit back and take in the beauty, and catch my breath. My heart was pounding. Not from strenuous exertion, but from fear. I was so comfortable on my ledge, and so proud of how far I had come, and so apprehensive about the last little portion before the top. All around me the cliff just went straight up. After gathering my courage and adjusting my bag, I turned the corner.
My stomach dropped to the floor. I was looking up a sharp crevice with no real trail and just a few white marks letting me know where I should and shouldn’t walk. I mean climb. I mean levitate. Because how else am I gonna get up this thing? And when I do, how am I gonna get down? I’m for sure gonna die. I can’t do this. There is no way. I have come far enough. The view is great from here, you tried. That itself is enough.
I sat down again. Rationalizing all the reasons why I didn’t need to continue.
What? Where did the voice saying but come from? I turned around and looked up again. There was nobody there.
But the view up there is even better. And it’s a short distance, this steep climb. And you are ssssooooo close to the top. Don’t stop now.
And that’s when it hit me. Why I felt so called to be here, at this spot, of all places in the world. This hike was representative of my life. I work so hard, fight and climb and breath and cry, and then give up. I almost finish. So. Many. Things. Then it gets hard.
My inner voice got more excited.
Don’t stop now. If you turn around you’re gonna have to do all this work all over again, and you still won’t have made it to the top! Twice the work minus the reward.
Don’t worry about how you’re gonna get down. Don’t worry about how steep it is. Don’t focus on the whole path. Just focus on the next step.
What is that saying?
You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.
One step at a time.
Just focus on where your hand goes. And then your foot. And then your other hand.
One step at a time.
And before I knew it I was stepping onto a beautiful flat plateau. The view was phenomenal. I felt so at peace. I wasn’t at the top but the rest from there on out was so easy after my mental struggle and breakthrough. I smiled and twirled and laughed. Just then, the sun burst thru the clouds.
I hiked the rest of the way to the top and sat for an hour, taking in the sights and sounds. I took my shoes off and put my feet in the earth, wiggling my toes and feeling the energy from the ground. No wonder it was called Cathedral Rock. Something major had shifted in me and I wanted to sit and bask in it. I wanted to soak up the red dirt and sunshine and birds and trees. I wanted it all to mesh with my soul and take it with me.
I did the next best thing. I hiked all the way back down. Barefoot. Humans were around thousands of years before shoes! God had to know what he was doing when he made our feet. Just try. If it gets hard you can stop and put your shoes on.
You see, I was worried about that steep decline. But you know what? It was easier getting down! Even barefoot! I made it all the way down to the car with my shoes tied together and flung over my shoulders. I paid attention to where I stepped, I noticed everything. On a particularly soft patch of finely sifted earth I stopped and wrote a love note to everyone going up.
I laughed at all the people with their gear and hiking boots and poles. Everyone stopped to inquire about my barefeet.
The earth feels good.
I take it one step at a time.
I grip the earth.
Some people took their shoes off too. Others scoffed. But I made it back to the car with a smile on my face and my very own custom pair of Red Bottoms.
No more giving up.