Tag Archives: Indian

The Journey vs. the Destination: Bish Bash Falls

9 Nov

Bish Bash FallsIt’s fun to say, isn’t it? Bish Bash Falls. Go ahead, say it out loud–you know you want to.

This Massachusetts state park is beautiful and the falls are indeed impressive, but the hike itself was actually more compelling for me. And in fact, the hike back to the car, not the anticipatory hike to the falls.

It’s a steep and cumbersome climb down and logic predicts that the return is even more breathless.

On my labored way back up I met an Indian family with a grandmother dressed in magnificent sari and flip flops. She had a hard time maneuvering the log bridge across a moderate gap and trickle of water and she was already out of breath. Her family asked about the rest of the trek and I answered honestly that they had a ways to go and it wasn’t an easy path. Grandma decided to turn around.

My steady pace suddenly slowed and this Grandmother and I were now holding hands. I gave her my hiking pole and we began our journey together. This was unfamiliar territory for her–she didn’t know where to place her feet, to look out for tree roots, how to let others pass on the path. And she didn’t speak English. Or have water. I motioned, guided, and shared my drink.

This isn’t a post to boast of a good deed. But to recognize that what feels like home and adventure for one is scary and difficult for another.

I thought about the guides who helped me learn to hike on high school excursions. I thought about the friends who taught me about gear and pacing.

We reached the summit; in this case, the parking lot. And to her it was beautiful. She smiled, pressed her hands together in Namsate style, and did a head bobble I’ve been told can mean many things and knew in this case meant thank you.

In truth, it was a gift for me to stop and enjoy the hike instead of plow through to the top. To experience my comfort in a place that wasn’t always so for me. And to think about the nameless people who have figuratively and literally lent me a hand.

When has someone given you a metaphorical hiking pole?
When has a stranger walked the path with you until you felt safe?


Land of Trembling Earth: The Okefenokee Swamp

23 Sep

Okefenokee SwampThe Okefenokee Swamp is at the Georgia-Florida border and is an experience not to miss. Unless of course you have swamps of your own with alligators galore, boat trails (vs hiking trails), and glorious mosquitoes (insert sarcastic font here–but only about the mosquitoes).

We’ll pause for a phonetics lesson.
Oh+key+fuh (phonetics)+no+kee

So What Does the Name Mean?
The cypress trees grow on peat, not soil. A simple poke makes them bounce in the water like a buoy. As the Native Americans navigated the land they bobbled along this powerful and trembling earth.

The Tip of the Iceberg
The swamp is impressive in scale and more so in what’s hidden. While we’re exposed to the brutal sun, the world underwater is active.

Bottoms Up!
The swamp is stagnant, yet you can drink from it! Methane gas and tannic acid make the water black, but clean the toxins so it’s potable.

Great Exploration
High school friend Regina and I rented a motorboat and steered our way around gators and lilly pads, through grass, and into narrow alleys. The power of driving our own boat was exhilarating and freeing. There were a few gaffs with flooding the motor, but patience and gracious fishermen served us well.

The Power of a Space
While it’s quiet and has little innate movement, the strength is palpable. The gators are active, the water ominous, and the plant growth rampant. Like hiking, there are blazed trails on the water-ways, yet somehow there’s a greater sense of getting lost. Perhaps because it’s not my natural habitat.

Can you transition your skills from one habitat to another?

Want to see the alligators and the special trees? Stay tuned for future posts (oh the agony of being patient).

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