Gratitude is the over riding wave that moves us through these days. To be here in these mountains again can only be received as a gift of spirit. My first visit in November of 2015 brought me in contact with a world of magic and wonder, the subtle remembrance of things long past yet still present when you are allowed entry. On my first icy night in this regia while laying quietly on the bare ground as a fire warmed us, in love with each other and all that surrounded us. It was then that I heard the soft sounds of the old people who came to this sacred stream to wash and fill clay jugs of water, their murmurs were a song in harmony with the creek running over rocks. This creek is born within a great cave once home to a mammoth bear, pristine and crystalline it sings.
Creek running in front of our tent.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon to find hundreds of city people milling about, their cars parked on the soft meadow grass and the charred remains of fire pits seen every few meters. Although feeling a sense of disappointment we decided to set our tent and wait for them to leave. We choose a spot across the creek as far away as possible, the ground was of thick grass and the forest close at our backs. Cristian felt a nervous awareness for many bears roam these woods, we later found out that it was indeed a designated bear sanctuary. It was then we were visited by a local gendarme whose friendly advice was for us to move our camp back across the creek, he didn’t insist but let us know that there was a mama bear and four cubs who had run some other campers out. We decided to move for it is foolish to ignore the promptings of sound advice.
It was while we were setting our camp again that Cristian noticed a large sheep dog laying a short distance from us, never able to resist greeting a creature he went over for a friendly pet only to discover that this large noble animal was missing his back left leg, the wound still raw and seeping so he called me over to see if we could do something for him. On inspection of his wound it was apparent that leaving it alone was best and that all we could do was love this amazing dog which we did, we fell deeply in love with his spirit for in spite of his trauma he rolled over for tummy rubs trusting us in a totality that is rarely met.
River our noble friend.
As the sun set the night turned cold and the city folk left in caravans of cars and vans, leaving as if a clock ticked somewhere that they all obeyed. It is a sad note that when people come from urban realms they bring the city with them preferring to play loud music, talk incessantly and not venture further than the group. They don’t seem to know silence and so sadly miss the magical beauty of the natural world.
Our nightly fire is now blazing along with it the returning peace of the undisturbed world. Our new friend makes his way to the warmth and with big paws embraces Cristian from behind, the sweetness of this dog is unlike any other I have ever encountered. We decide to name him River and a sharp longing to keep him runs through us both, yet we knew that we would have to say goodbye for River belongs to the mountains.
We didn’t sleep that night. It was only in the morning sitting alone at dawn with a fire lit that I comprehended that we were plagued by psyche contamination, random disharmonious thoughts left behind by those who have no contact with the truth of their inner landscape. And worse they left behind their trash, piles of discarded plastic plates, bottles, beer cans and cigarette butts. Such an absolute state of unaware consciousness to leave your garbage not only on the ground but tossed into the pristine stream. I spent part of the morning cleaning the stream for to do otherwise would be equally ignorant.
When I write I know it is necessary to speak not only of the magic but of what is wrong for to not do so is to ignore the all, to walk in ignorance. Somehow we need to embrace all of it to transmute the stupidity that is a plague on our Earth. Perhaps this is why we didn’t sleep, called as we were to work all night. The rains had also come into the valley during the night with great peals of thunder and lightening flashing in the sky overhead so later that morning we decided to seek comfort and moved to a Cabana room for the night.
The next day we knew that we would need to make our climb to the sphinx for the weather forecast lots of rain throughout the rest of the week.
She is always listening and inside the gentle spirit voice lets her know that we would not only make the climb but would be blessed with sun.
I shake my head in wonder, accepting this message yet there remained the lingering doubt that what was intuited was nothing more than wishful thinking. So we set off, traveling light as the climb would take us more than 2,000 feet in a steep ascent. If there were any shadows of doubt following us they were soon dispersed by meeting this fox who not only showed himself but allowed us time to take these photos.
Fox watches from the bush.
He allows us a few minutes to capture his beauty.
Uplifted we walked on, I had not been physically able to make the full climb back in 2015 yet knew that this time would be different. We choose the longer route that would take us through a deep forest until we reached the higher plains above the tree line. For most of the trail we spoke little stopping to take some photos and only the briefest of rests. The trail we were on was imprinted by the various animals that used it; wild boar, deer, fox, wolf and bear.
Stairway to heaven, we climb.
Magic mushrooms sprout up everywhere in the forest.
The majesty of pines with the golden Autumn grass.
The wind moved through the trees causing an eerie creaking of some dead trees rubbing against each other. I knew then just how stories of haunted forests had caught the human imagination. Almost simultaneously I started to sing some old nursery rhymes for I sensed that a bear was very near us recalling that it is best not to come upon one and startle it. Cristian’s brief look back let me know that he felt the bear’s presence too.
Bear paw print on the trail.
We stopped as we cleared the tree line watching brewing black clouds rolling in. This caused us to reconsider continuing as the threat of rain was accompanied by a sharp cold wind.
Storm clouds brewing in the distance.
Spirit speaks to her now letting her know that the clouds would not chase them.
We continue on with the wind gusting in our faces. I feel it’s cold seep through my clothing. My body is working full furnace as this wind starts to sap my energy, I walk on with slower more labored steps though not daring to stop for the cold. We walk like this for an hour to reach our destination, at times we dip behind a rise blocking the wind or turn a bend in the trail that takes us out of her grip. We are blessed by the mystical views around us walking as we are in low lying clouds that wisp across the mountain peaks.
Mountain sheep emerge from the clouds.
The last part of the ascent was the most difficult as I recall that the first time up Cristian had to pull me the final steps to the refuge of a hostel’s warm restaurant. This time felt the same with fog whipping around our faces and buildings appearing and disappearing in the wet clouds. I so looked forward to opening the door of the restaurant and its welcome warmth, it was not to be for we found a hand written note pinned in the window, “closed” it announced. Something about us is that we are able to take what is given without complaint, we found shelter in the vestibule outside the hostel’s locked door where we made our lunch of rye bread, cheese, and hard boiled eggs. Washed down by a dark beer, I only dared a few sips knowing I was at my physical limits.
The rain was splashing on the tin roof over our heads and the wind was whipping thick clouds around us so we were unable to see but a few feet ahead. Here we pondered the route down, Cristian was nervous to take the shorter but steeper descent as we weren’t sure if the blue cross trail markers would be visible in the dense fog and if it rained heavily the trail would be dangerously slippery. Letting spirit guide has been with us the whole of our travels and here we weren’t let down.
She hears the inner voice assure her that the promised sun would soon shine.
We were also still a hundred or so meters from the Sphinx which was totally occluded by the clouds, wrapped in a shroud of mystery. As we packed our bags we knew we needed to move on quickly as the cold was felt creeping in beneath our somewhat inadequate clothing.
She hears the voice again, “get ready for the sun will allow you to take a photo of the Sphinx.”
And then it happens, the clouds part momentarily and the rock formations are viewed. I jump up clumsily reaching for my phone in a deep pocket of my jacket and run down the steps to try and grab the brief glimpses of the Sphinx. “Sun, sun, sun here it comes” is playing in my head as a welcomed refrain. Cristian joins me just as the misty clouds sweep in again along with our lingering doubt on which way to take off the mountain. After a few seconds pause he announces “We are going this way I have a very good feeling.” So off we go down the steep rocky side of the mountain. Within meters we are greeted by the sun and blue sky, the rays warming us instantly and the breadth of our smiles a return greeting of gratitude. I look back in a momentary regret of not reaching the Sphinx and know it wasn’t meant to be.
One can’t be greedy for visions they are gifts of spirit and come when unexpected.
This rock guard of the Sphinx was all I had time to photograph.
The clouds on the distant mountain peaks with the sun at our backs on the descent.
Our downward path takes us through some loose rock, this is a challenge for my knees so I go very slowly not wanting to risk a sideways twist and then without even knowing how it happen my left knee feels the stab of a sharp pain. We stop so I can do some energy work feeling the heat of inflammation when it occurs to me to make a temporary knee brace with the long over-the-knee socks I am wearing. This helps and I am able to walk with Cristian carrying me over the worst of the uneven terrain, I am loving this being carried laughing like a little girl.
The valley below … enthralled by the view.
Cristian revels in the beloved mountains.
While I walk I experiment with something I learned on the Danube river trip, I send my awareness to my knees knowing them as energy versus muscle, bone and sinew. I feel the space around them expand and re-accommodate, loosening the tension that pain provokes. We stop a few times to take my weight off the knees, this rest helps for when I walk again the pain is nearly gone. By the time we hit the asphalt road I can walk almost normally as it is a flat surface, inwardly I glow musing that it really isn’t mind over matter as much as spirit speaking with Spirit that had helped so much. Mind over matter indicates a confront, what I have discovered is more a merging with the spirit in all things.
The rain held off until well into the night when we were roused by the thunder and sound of rain pouring off the roof. It was a most blessed day, may our joy transmit the all to all.
The next day on page two …