Bridge Camp, Waimea Canyon
This canyon had brought me as close to paradise as I would probably
ever get. Just being down here had made it impossible for me to
continue as a Hawaiian tourist. I had planned to go to the big island.
Instead, I would go to the Canadian Rockies. I needed to follow
through on what I had started and could only do that while immersed in the solitude of mountain heights. That was the only place for me now.
Yesterday, I began my hike out of the canyon. When I reached the spot where the river met the trail, I decided to follow the river instead
of the trail. The hiking was beautiful, but the twenty-mile riverbank
hike was more than I had bargained for. The farther down river I got,
the larger the river became. The riverbanks that permitted walking
reversed every time the river made a bend. I was forced into multiple
river crossings, through ever-stronger currents. At one of those
crossings, I lost my footing and twisted my angle. My progress slowed
after that, and by the time I reached an suspension bridge that crossed the river, it stopped altogether.
My ankle, now swollen and extremely sore, could no longer support my weight. I had found a good place for a camp, so I decided to stay off
my foot until I could walk again. I didn’t know how long that would
take, but at least I was connected to a hiking trail in case I needed
help. After dark, I hobbled up to the suspension footbridge and rolled out my sleeping bag. Looking up into quadrillions of tiny points of light, I experienced, as if for the first time, the Milky Way Galaxy—Awesome!
While camped at the bridge I had lots of time to think. For some time,
I had known that “I” was not separate from the canyon. I knew that a
large part of “who I was,” was part of all canyons, rivers, forests
and oceans. But now, I was beginning to see that part of me (maybe for the first time) that wasn’t this canyon. I was beginning to see, see
clearly, that part of me that everybody else knew of as me. This
vision did not come easy. I needed help to see it, and this help
came from the river; it spoke to me.