for those who wander, wonder & define life on their own terms

Trails & Undying Love (A to Z Challenge “T” and “U”)

Digital StillCameraI’ve spent a lot of my life on trails, paths…finding my way, both literally and figuratively.  Maybe that’s why Robert Frost’s “Two Roads” Poem has been one of my favorites.  Robert Frost

Some of the literal paths I’ve traversed have taken me to the most beautiful, austere, awe-inspiring, lonely, crowded, secret, soul touching, gut-wrenching, love-filled places you could even begin to imagine.  Those literal trails have been a metaphor for my life during those times.

Back in March of 2006, I was on the trail you see in the first photo above.  On this same day, I took the picture below with my son.  At the time, I was a few years out of an abusive second marriage.  My ex-husband had been battling demons that he could not control when we split.  Now, my son walking ahead of me, was heading out on his own journey of discovery.  He was deciding then that he was not into education and was indeed into partying, drugs, and living like a thug.  I was always there behind him.  A ghost walker, I never left him alone.  Just like in this picture. This is a clear example of path and life merging.

Digital StillCamera

In Summer 2011, I was on another path.  This time I was in the midst of a new relationship with a wonderful man.  We were in San Francisco, part work, part play.  The most enduring thing about this trip was how much we learned about one another and our quirks.  Interestingly enough, our city tour was mostly based on a book about hidden stairways and trails…secret paths: finding them, enjoying their beauty.  Coincidence?  Here is a pic of one of our staircases:

IMG_1785

That exact same summer about a month later found me in arguably one of the world’s most beautiful places.  I drove across the desert with my teenaged daughter, through Death Valley, a short stay in Vegas, into Fresno where we met my sweet boyfriend, and on into the Sierra Nevada.  Yosemite Park.  I was terrified.  My daughter was at a precarious age of attitude and adventure.  My boyfriend is a man.  They scare the shit out of me.  I had just foreclosed on my home, and I was on the verge of changing jobs.  We drove into the mountains, up and up and it just didn’t stop.  I had to pull over and let my love drive.  I’m terrified of heights.  I thought I had seen mountains before, being from Virginia, but “mountain” means something different in the Sierra.  It’s beauty mixed with power, mixed with danger, mixed with elation, mixed with sadness, mixed with complete and utter brilliance.  It’s flower and rock.  Snow and waterfall.  It is the good, the bad, and the undescribable.  A man, George Penca, disappeared on our same trail.  We were the last to come off for the evening and his brother was waiting at the bottom.  “Have you seen my brother?  He is heavier and was wearing jogging pants.”  We had not.  He still hasn’t been found.  But, at the top of that trail was a girl hanging from a tightrope above a 1500 foot waterfall.  She was alive.  Really alive.  Yosemite haunts me.  It is my fear and my life.  I took many pictures.  Some of them I’ve posted here for you, but really, go see it for yourself.

IMG_0952 IMG_0993 IMG_1187 IMG_1056 (478x640) IMG_1101 (383x640) IMG_1169 (640x478) IMG_1246 (478x640) IMG_1285 (640x478)And that brings me to this point.  This point where I type.  I just read a book called Wild! by Cheryl Strayed, about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT).  It’s a  2,663 mile trail ranging from Baja to British Columbia.  Cheryl Strayed has become my muse.  Her life is fascinating and heartbreaking.  Her story is sometimes my own, but more often it’s just uniquely hers.  Her writing was brilliant and I am spurred now to actually hike this mammoth trail.  I cannot put it out of my mind. All those moments I beat myself up about not taking the easy path, well, my friend Greg reminded me recently that we’re not meant to take the easy path.  That is following someone elses lead, even if they’re right.  We’re supposed to blaze our own trails, make our own mistakes even if others’ made the same ones first, because that means we’re questioning everything and finding our own truths.

WildI have been to Baja and have pics on trails there.  I have also been (almost) to British Columbia.  At Yosemite I was somewhere near the middle of the PCT.  I have bumped up against the PCT a few times, but I really want to dig my feet into it.  I know it will be difficult, almost impossible some days.  There might be moments I have to stray from the path or skip a part I can’t get through, but I know that at some point it will just lead me back home.  Wherever home might be.  And that is where the undying love comes in.  All of these trails eventually lead back to the people you can’t leave behind, the places you can’t forget and the moments that matter most.  The common denominator is not the trail…it’s you.

14 Comments

    • stellanuova stellanuova

      Who knows when I’ll do it. I probably won’t attempt it alone. My boyfriend is up for it though. Maybe we could start a small group of PCT hikers and you could come too!

  • You are a wonderful writer and a strong woman!! I enjoyed reading about your journey and sharing your beautiful pictures.
    Yosemite is my favorite place! We camp there every year for 2 weeks. It’s breath taking!!
    Thank you for stopping by my blog today!
    Connie
    A to Z-ing to the end
    Peanut Butter and Whine

  • What an amazing post, you took me with you from the get go, you are a beautiful writer and an amazing woman, your friend is quite correct, it is up to us to trail blaze, to follow our own leads and go down the path less travelled. You have a lot of guts/moxie and I wish you well on your journey, I’ll be keeping an eye out to see how you have fared. Well done and happy trails.

    • stellanuova stellanuova

      I’m so glad you’ll be stopping by more often! I love that you used the word “moxie” instead of stubbornness. It makes me sound girly and strong instead of bull-headed. Lol. I think I’m going to make moxie my nickname.

  • I like the way you write and how you’ve set up your web pages – I resonate with much that you say and might wander back after A to Zed (as we say in Canada) to see what else you’re up to. Haven’t read Wild yet but mean to as I lived in that part of the world for a bit (I was a logger). Scary paths beckon me – both real and figurative. I sign up for things that I later wonder at but I think I have a wiser self that just goes ahead and does that. Now back to pricking out my seedlings and putting them in bigger pots – the earth outside isn’t warm enough yet for them. I’m dreaming tomatoes.

  • Mike Fray

    Very nice post. I too have been on many tough “trails” throughout my life (most of us have, of course) and very much identified with your story. Regarding WILD, I saw the movie on Dec. 26th and started reading the book (which I’d ordered online a week before) the next day. For the past few years I’ve been feeling the need to make some kind of major change in my life and after seeing the movie (and reading the book) that feeling has intensified. I live in Southern CA, so perhaps one day I’ll be able to hike the PCT. Anyway, thank you for this post and have a good weekend.

    • stellanuova stellanuova

      Hi Mike, thanks a lot for reading the blog. I appreciate your comments. Let me know if you hike the PCT. It’s still in my plans too. As small as this world is, we’ll probably be there at the same time.

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