Setting the new norm.
My first steps onto the trail attempting a recent solo 14er summit, I felt as though roots grew from my soul through the bottom of my LOWAs and reached deep into the soil holding me steady. Peace didn’t gently wash over me, it hit me hard on the head.
My senses were sharp and I haven’t felt that grounded since the pandemic started.
I think I can safely say, we feel as though the cloak of life has been yanked out from underneath us leaving us feeling lost, fearful and isolated.
If this is the new norm, I’m happy to physically distance from people, but I won’t distance myself from Mother Nature. We just need to adventure differently, more safely, by wearing masks, avoid crowded trails and trailheads, no hugging (the hardest part for me) and forego sharing phones and gear. That’s a good start.
I created weekly adventure goals for myself. When I put adventure on my calendar, it gives me something to look ward to. Big or small, try it in your calendar.
I figured out during that 14er summit, I’d rather be experiencing this moment with my friends. I’m not a great solo overnight camper - yet. So, the next weekend I invited three friends to camp in the Eastern Sierras; Lake Sabrina, (pronounced with a long “I”) near Bishop, CA. We all drove separately, convoy style and it was a first for all of us to explore these lakes.
The campsite was beside an easy flowing, crystal clear stream. As soon as our tents were in place, we threw chairs in the water, engaged in conversation and decompressed from the drive. We were at 9,000 feet, new trails to explore and I couldn’t wait to get started.
We agreed to hike to Blue Lake. The trail meandered alongside Lake Sabrina, her colors were an emerald green, that changed from deep to light tones with the passing of the clouds.
This is a good place to say, I LOVE WATER!
Waterfalls, beaches, streams, springs are all included. I grew up swimming in the crystal springs of Florida, so that might have had something to do with this alpine lake adventure.
This was medicine for my soul.
We found a nice place to get into the water when we reached Blue Lake. A ledge of rock just a few feet under the water, gave us easy access. We warned each other there was a Sasquatch-Loch Ness monster lurking nearby, but we faced our fear.
At 10,000 feet elevation, a lake can be quite chilly. You move with purpose forward in the shallow water, tell yourself “do it”, “don’t stop”, you leap up, head down, you know it’s going to be freezing but your body is already in motion, it’s happening, then you are submerged in another world for a second. Every cell is ignited with positive stimulation. I personally respond by giggling. Maybe it’s the shock or the nervous risk of playing in the backcountry, but I still won’t distance myself from her.
The next day we started at North Lake and hiked over Piute Pass. The climb over any pass is a challenge and this was no different.
Half of our team set up the hammock and took in the beauty while the other half forged on.
After getting down the other side of the pass, the clouds got darker, we respected Mother Nature and turned back early, scooping up our hammock friends along the way.
The evening produced lightning and a downpour. We retreated to our tents where even though there was solitude, there was also peace and happiness. I listened to the rain and counted the distance between lightning and the thunder, the way I was taught to as a child. The last day of any adventure has a somber vibe, quiet thoughts of reflection and gratefulness for nature, friends and our health. My energy shifted to the possibility of hiking one last alpine lake trail. Lake George.
We were so glad we did it! The switchbacks led above Lake Sabrina, to a rooftop-style beach and lake! We had the lake to ourselves, enjoyed a picnic before descending down the switchbacks with the most beautiful view below.
We can make this “new norm” work, because you should… never physically distance yourself from Mother Nature. Be well.
Peace and Strength in Mother Nature ~ Cyndi
Note: I wore my LOWA Innox Pro Lo’s on these trips.
Photos © Erick Gustafson