Freemont Trail, Wind River Range, WY


Wind River Range, WY Part 2

Camp.  Rain on the tent fly.  It’s early afternoon.  I’ve only hiked a little over 5 miles today, but this spot was just too pretty to pass up.  And besides, I’m in the mood for a lazy day.  The last backpacking trip was a bit ambitious.  Left me longing for more downtime.  And downtime is what I have.  My camp is situated on a lake peninsula with water all around me, yet there are plenty of trees for shelter from the wind and rain.  Wildlife is everywhere.  Grey Jays (otherwise known as Camp Robbers), chipmunks, squirrels, dragonflies, butterflies, and ducks (with baby ducks in tow) all play in my private lagoon.

Thunder in the distance.  A constant rumble.  The rain comes in waves. Large drops.  It’s a peculiar thing to be in a tent while it’s raining.  The rain is all-encompassing, yet you are completely dry and warm.  The feeling makes you giddy.  Like a child.  Hiding out in my play fort. Safe and protected.  I think of all the “tents” of my childhood.  Blankets over chairs, tables, lamps. Anchored to the dresser with toys, TV sets, boomboxes, vases, typewriters.  It’s amazing we made it out alive from these structures.  But we were protected.  Protected from the adults, chores, homework, the “real world” outside.  We would spend hours in these blanket tents.  As happy as can be.  Not much has changed, I guess.  Just a bigger playground.

And just like that, the rain has ended.  The sun is out.  Turning my tent into a sauna.  A welcome feeling at the moment, but soon it will force me out and into the world once more.

After a long, lazy afternoon including a lakeside siesta, I packed up camp and moved on.  The lake was starting to feel crowded.  This was a daytime place, not an evening place.  More solitude was preferred and the evening sun was magnificent, beckoning for a stroll through the mountains of light and shadow.  After hiking by another lake, along meandering streams, and through a lush narrow valley, I came upon a massive basin with sprawling views in all directions.  Here I could easily wander off trail to any number of grass carpeted slopes for a private camp with grand views and an immense night sky for star-gazing.

In the glowing light of sunset, I prepared a stir fry of brown rice, zucchini, and cashews.  A meal so flavourful and fulfilling, I was beside myself with feelings of joy and abundance.  How lucky am I!  To have this mountain cathedral, this kaleidoscopic wonderland, all to myself. Everything I could possibly need within arm’s reach.  A weeks worth of delightful food in this small portable bag.  A stove.  Fuel.  My portable house, so strong and resilient to weather and storms, yet able to be packed up on a whim and moved on to distant horizons.  And best of all my cozy bed, made of the finest goose down feathers, which keeps me warm at night when temperatures are below freezing.

For those who consider this “roughing it’, I beg to argue.  This is lavish decadence!  To be free from the demands of city life with endless days to wander at will.  Or to just sit and ponder the magnificence of creation! The days become as long and full of possibility as the summer days of childhood.  No, this is not roughing it.  This is smoothing it.  I’ll take a day in the mountains to a day in the world of obligations, details, commitments, and deadlines any day.

Morning.  I sip my green tea as the sun warms the east side of my face. Birds sing.  Chipmunks make their silly sounds.  Puffy white clouds pass by.  And I’m startled, as the loud whoosh of wings of a hawk pass over my head.  The sound quality of this mountain air is crystalline. Every delicate sound can be heard in extreme high-definition.  The footsteps of a grasshopper.  The wings of a dragonfly.  The trickle of a stream, a mile away.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as waking up in the mountains, to watch a day of pure possibility unfold. To witness this is an experience so decadent, so majestic, that the mind settles to a place of absolute awe as all thoughts of past and future completely subside.

I hesitate to call this experience meditation.  Meditation is something one tends to do and this experience is quite the opposite. There is no trying. No doing.  Nothing but sitting. Observing. Stillness. And splendor.  I drift on the soft warm waves of a mountain breeze.  The floating clouds. The sounds in the air.  The wings of a hawk.  Pure life energy buzzes through every cell of my weightless body.  Yes.  I HAVE arrived.

Meditation.  One word.  So hard to define.  So hard to describe.  Is it to do?  Or not to do?  To let go or to grab on.  To ride the wave, or create something new, completely original, magical.  I’d like to propose that meditation is simply doing something, anything, COMPLETELY.  With all of your attention.  All of your awareness.  All of your heart.  ”And what should I DO completely?” you ask.  The answer to that is simple, but you must be completely truthful with yourself. . .

Is is necessary to sit still, in full lotus position, in order to meditate?  Is it necessary to do Yoga, Tai Chi, or to go to Church in order to meditate? To connect with God?  Source?  Allah?  All that is?  Perhaps.  If you enjoy these things, you will get much fulfillment from these activities. You will find it quite easy to engage in these practices completely and fully.  If you enjoy fishing, you will get much fulfillment out of that as well. Or golf.  Or swimming.  Or baking.  If you truly enjoy baking, do you bake for the purpose of baking the most muffins you possibly can, as fast as you possibly can?  Must you out-bake your neighbor?  Or do you bake because you love taking the raw ingredients, mixing them together with love and care, and experiencing the magic that comes from the delicious art form that you have created?  An expression of yourself.  If you bake for the latter reason, you’ll probably find it quite easy to fully and completely bake!

So can you find God through meditation?  Through church?  Through backpacking, mountain biking, surfing, fishing, or baking?  If you do it fully and completely, simply for the love of doing it, then I would say absolutely! SIMPLY FOR THE LOVE.  This is the key.  Not out of obligation.  Or to be the fastest.  Or to win a prize.  But simply for the love of doing it.  And only you can truly know what you love, and there you will find God.

This is the key to meditation.  You could also say this is the key to life. How many people are trying to love what they don’t love?  Once you find what you truly love, the “trying” disappears.  Only beauty remains.

I look out over the mountains, clouds, trees, and meadows in the distance.  Everything glowing in dazzling morning light. . .


If you’d like to follow me on the rest of this amazing and spiritual journey, please SUBSCRIBE to my blog.  You can easily do so in the upper right hand corner of this page.  The plan is to post one entry onto the blog each week from the trip.  Any feedback or comments would really be appreciated.  Also if you could let me know which posts are best for submitting as editorials too.  Enjoy the ride!

~Scott Stillman


Freemont Trail, Wind River Range, WY — 2 Comments

  1. I find that it is easy for me to meditate when I am free from outside distractions like in a meadow or high on a ridge. My challenge, is fully engaging in each moment and activity in “normal” life. It is possible in theory but take consciousness and awareness. Are we equipped for that?

    • Alan Watts said. . .

      “I feel the way I feel and there’s really not much I can do about it”

      It took me a while to get the brilliance of that statement.

      When we are in a meadow or high on a ridge, we are ecstatic. Beauty surrounds us and we are “happy” with THE MOMENT. Our world is perfect and we have no judgement around it.

      However, when we are engaged in a “normal” activity such as working, doing the dishes, or shopping at the grocery, we often wish to be somewhere else. We are “bored” with the task at hand. When we realize that we are bored, we then become dissatisfied with THE MOMENT.

      What Alan Watts is saying is that if we can observe our boredom, our dissatisfaction with the task at hand, and not try to judge it or change it in any way. Just observe it. There is freedom in this as well. We can be completely in the moment of boredom, sadness, or anxiety and not try to change it. Not try to judge ourselves for feeling the way we feel. However we feel.

      Now we are engaging completely in our “normal life”, without trying to change anything or trying to feel any differently than we do.

      We are simply becoming AWARE.

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