Approx. read time: 3:10 min.
I have missed my weekly hikes along the McKenzie River trail. Following winter and a long rainy spring, I don’t know what to expect when I arrive at the trailhead.
The bus rounds the curve just beyond the lone intersection that marks the center of this little berg called McKenzie Bridge. We pass two more stops on the quick two-and-a-half mile run up to the Ranger Station.
There is no stop, curiously, at the west trailhead where I deboard. So I make my own stop. “Just beyond that guardrail,” I point out to the driver.
She is happy to oblige. The No. 91 is a city bus that just happens to trek daily up the 90-minute 55-mile route to the west foothills of the Oregon Cascades.
I deboard, cross the highway, and walk a few paces to the trailhead.
A cool river breeze riffles up to greet me. I pause a long moment to adjust to my surroundings, which are tall and ancient, dwarfing me in height and girth.
I am home! I think, as I feel body, mind, and spirit stretch beyond their urban quarters.
I breathe the scent of fresh-washed air filtered through cedar, through pine.
My ears adjust to the pure, uncomplicated sounds of bigleaf maple leaves gently swishing in the morning breeze, the creek … creek of tree branches slowly drawing across each other, the forest viola section playing a lovely slow movement.
As I walk I notice changes in this beloved stretch of forest trail. Winter storms have toppled a few more of the Ancient Ones. The nearly block-long redwood cedar that lay, last summer, along the river side of the trail east of the Ranger Station is starting to lose some structure around the edges.
And my beloved Meditation Log, a two-foot-long segment of redwood cedar trunk, is saturated from the recent rains. Way too wet for me to sit upon and meditate, or to rest while I wash down a handful of trail mix with espresso from my thermos.
As the sun climbs higher beyond the conifer canopy I make my way past the Ranger Station, beyond the private gravel road, and walk a good stretch more now to Paradise Campground. It’s quiet here, save for the rush of the river.
I spread my lunch and some writing materials across the picnic table, and savor my surroundings for an hour or more.
Now I continue east, pressing on to a portion of the trail I have not yet fully explored, and I think about Clear Lake which is the source point for this magnificent river.
As I take the long walk back west, alongside this sparkling river, I see the now west-inclining sun backlight the crest of waves in a patch of rapids. I marvel at the sheer joy of whitewater, on a Thursday afternoon.
A few paces on, the water calms, and I clearly see the volume of translucent water gliding swiftly over large smooth rock in the river bed.
Water, fresh and pure and bone-chilling cold, flowing from a spring, faithfully bubbling up through layers of Earth filtration, high in this magnificent mountain range.
Water that didn’t have to be, mountains that didn’t have to be. Trees, robins, sunlight, pure air, a crystal-blue sky. All of it, achingly beautiful, all of it working perfectly, as one resilient system. All of it, pure gift.
I cannot express how much I have needed to touch Nature, to immerse myself in Creation. One day a week in the mountains, I discover, is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
No work, no project lists, no calls, no email. No meetings, no news, no public interest programs. It’s a sabbath, I think, a holy day of restoration, which happens to come on a Thursday, a Friday.
Today I walk in the most magnificent cathedral, where all Creation rightly gives praise to the Creator. And where the soul is restored.
Where is your soul restored?
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