~ Barry Lopez ~
This winter camping experience allowed me to challenge my notions of fear, that held me back before. Fear of the cold, wet socks, freezing frostbite, sleeping on cold hard ground, frozen snot inside my nose. Fear of not being enough, fear of judgment while camping with people I had only met, moments before the trip, fear of losing control. Stuck in the past worried about my future.
In among the forest stood a lodge pole pine. It was spindly but standing tall, like a wise giant, “that had been through stuff”. The stories it could tell you if it could speak. A tree surviving climate change, and I thought about that as, my guide, shared with us, it’s uniqueness. She told us about how all the trees were different. It changed the way I looked at them.
We took some snowshoe treks through a forest of trees in the shape of alters, and sleeping elves with snow caps as pointed tuques. So many beautiful things to see and take in. Creeks and rivers that had pushed and shifted rocks and mountains. I just wanted to paint all the different shades of green, all the shapes, and lines in the rock. There in front of me was the truth I needed. A beautiful wintery gift. The gift of wonder, of letting go, to explore. We followed a creek to a cave and waterfall.
I usually dip my hands or feet in every stream I pass that leads to the ocean. It’s just a usual part of my hiking experience, it’s something I’m drawn towards, like drawing or making music. We found a sleepy river, and as my hands touched the freezing water, I let the fear go. I felt connected to something far larger than myself. Water still runs underneath the ice, with a force that could pull you under, as it pushes and cuts through rocks. Perseverance can shape and mold your fear into strength, with a little hope and some courage. The longer you keep at something, the more you lose the fear. All of this happens in my heart, and I didn’t have words yet to describe it, because I was having so much fun.
Somehow in all the laughter and exploration, my worries melted away with the snow. We were inchworms in mummy sleeping bags and waterfall cave explorers. We were three women getting outside! We were all healers of humans, all shared adoration for nature and we survived camping in a tent, despite the wintery challenges. I will keep my lessons together with my memories of a weekend outside, us three brave women connecting to the interconnected beauty of the wild Canadian Rockies ❤️