When you go to the woods, the deep woods in the mountains, you come back a different person. For many years now I have been dedicated to developing my life’s work. Originally inspired during a river trip on the Tatshenshini River in Alaska I left the wilderness to give back and be of service. Leaving the mountains, rivers and canyons that I once traveled on a regular basis, I studied massage and energy therapy, became a life coach, and stepped into offering programs with horses, writing books, marketing and teaching others. All of which I enjoy, but it pulled me away from the mountains.
The Ultimate Pack Trip in Jasper, Canada in August brought me right back to the power of the earth and horses to help us go deeply into what is meaningful and how that can transform our lives.
The trip is still fresh in my mind and heart. As I recall the five-day pack trip it is hard to believe so much could have happened in such a short period of time. Every morning I would lay in my tent and listen to the soft wind blowing in the high alpine evergreens creating a continual hollow sound. The nearby stream trickled, softly, before the early morning light touched the top of the trees. Bear bells that were wrapped around the lead horses necks, to keep the herd safe, sounded faraway and distant; the herd had roamed during the night, but I would hear them making their way back. Soft raindrops fell on my synthetic tent, my protection from the elements. In the early morning hours, camp was still quiet.
A few beautiful days of sunshine and warmth provided us time to enjoy the green meadows and mountain views as we sat in our circle for journeying and journaling. Later in the week overcast days brought a cool moist air. A full day ride, filled with downed logs to navigate over or around, brought us to the spectacular Indian Snake River falls. Each day brought something unique and special.
The memory that burns brightly for me at this time was during our trip out of the woods. The temps had dropped severely and it felt more like late fall than summer. Everyone had bundled up well, however, when we hit the open meadow, in five days time, it had transformed. Now, the meadow had the dull yellow straw colors, with rust and reds emerging. The green tones of summer, that were present when we arrived, now were gone for the season. The wind was cold and biting. I was wishing I had my silk scarf that I had forgot at home. My shoulders hugging up near my ears in a feeble attempt to gather warmth.
On both sides of the trail there was evidence of grizzly activity, lots of activity. The spongy mossy tundra surface was turned over, moist deep earth and roots exposed. The grizzly had come down from the mountains during the cold night and was rooting around for food. My eyes roamed the open meadow looking hard for any signs of the bear. I commanded my breath to drop deeply into my body staying centered and collected. My horse’s nostrils opened and flared slightly as he kept steady on. Quietly and softly our group of eight people and nine horses moved through the willow filled meadow. I could feel the focus of the entire group, knowing that we were safe, but also on alert.
Once across the meadow we moved into the wood and then finally crossed through the milky alpine river we had crossed on the first day. Once across the river the tension released and we had lunch.
Truth be known, in some perverse way I felt more alive in that meadow than I have in years. I could smell the deep essence of the earth and grizzly. The vibration of the energy of the grizzly activated all the cells in my body. It brought me back to my days running rivers in Alaska where signs of grizzly were abundant. That morning, even though we were probably only ten miles to the trail head, it felt like we were truly “out there.”
I could not have asked for a better group of ladies for this trip. Each contributing to the trip in ways they probably did not realize. Their bond of shared experience now engraved in a sisterhood forever.
I am left with such deep gratitude for the horses. Living with them for five days expanded into my consciousness another layer of their true nature and way. Deeply herd bound, the 20 horses that supported this trip generously gave us all of their physical energy for all of our needs. Many of them ready to go beyond their own physical wellness in order to serve, demonstrating a level of service that profoundly struck a cord in my heart.
You can’t go into the mountains and not come back changed. I am changed and grateful for it. Through all of the events of the five days, now I find myself even more dedicated in staying strong in my beliefs of what horse is offering humans. I feel renewed in my desire to bring people so close to mother earth and her creatures. My body is exhausted, my emotions drained, my heart filled with such appreciation. Most of all I have been brought back to a piece of myself that I felt I had lost, the piece that is truly one with nature. It is clear to me that more trips like this will come in the future.