This morning, after my first mineral soak immersion of the day in Lava Hot Springs, I decided to attempt one more climb. Of the hill directly across the street from my hotel, starting with a few stone steps that marked the beginning of “Centennial Trail,” leading up to the old mines. “At first, it’s very steep,” the hotel clerk had warned me. I dismissed his concern.
Unlike on my failed attempt to climb Snow King, this time I did take water.
And oh my, was it steep! More like straight up.
Even in the beginning I began to wonder about my knees. How would they do on the way down? Especially since this was my second extreme climb in two days? But of course I kept going.
Finally, first pause.
I climb again, and look around a bit more. Notice the train in the distance. The first of four trains I counted during my walk. Not all of them pull the same type of cars.
As I climbed up one at least 45° pitch after another, some were not rocky, but slippery dirt, slightly damp. And the edges didn’t give much room for footholds. I actually began to worry. How would my knees do on the way down?
I did manage to get up parallel to a certain rock formation that looks like it might have been mined. I didn’t edge over to it — by this time my legs were shaky — but I wondered. You can see it here, from part way down. Go through the gate and keep on just about straight up.
I took the above photo on the way down, after I had traversed a faded old horizontal road looking for an easier path. But this was not until I had gone through some pretty hairy descents on those slippery slopes with knees bent, scooting down little by little with my butt nearly scraping the dirt.
I admit, I was already feeling strange twinges from my knees. Solution? Slow down even further. Hold on to the plants along the path, and thank each one profusely. Which I did.
Most of all, pay very close attention. Which I did.
The lower hillsides were filled with my favorite plant in the whole world, sagebrush.
How grateful I was, growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho, when each time it rained the delicious aroma of sage sent me into ecstasy. My delight over the smell of sage rivaled my thrill to the color of the sky — blue, blue! my favorite color! SO GRATEFUL was I as a child for the sensual pleasures of the natural world.
And so grateful, too, for my own tendency, now that I am an adult, to have gained the capacity to view my own life as a tiny pinpoint in a vast spaciousness. Climbing hills helps me to remember that. Looking back at my car from Snow King in Jackson, or down at the hotel in Lava Hot Springs, both minuscule compared to when I am down there, next to them! And when I’m down below, recalling my trek above, and how tiny my figure would appear to someone below!
This business of gaining perspective on events, of placing my focused attention within a widening context, this need I have to continuously open to new horizons without getting stuck in any of them; this need to remain centered and grounded no matter how vast the expansion, was fed early on by a Big Dream, back in my 20s when I was writing my PhD dissertation. The dream was of Nietzsche’s eye, as a camera lens, opening, closing, opening. . .
And I’m reminded of my usual advice to myopic clients during the three decades when I worked as a professional astrologer: See yourself from the top of a mountain, or from a cloud. Notice how tiny your concerns inside the vast spaciousness of reality.
Well, the upshot of the morning’s uphill hike is that my knees did survive, albeit with tiny twinges, which mostly dissolved after immersion in the public pools at Lava in the afternoon.
Each pool is a different temperature, depending on how much hot and cold water swirls through. (The heat under the earth here is estimated at about 400° Farenheit.) The long pool is the hottest one.
Okay, time for one more sudden change in perspective. See these rock formations, on the hillside at the Lava public pools?
They remind me of the many-breasted goddess, Artemis Ephesia, which I came across on the island of Crete. Wow! That was nearly 25 years ago! How time flies! Not only does space expands and contract depending on my “point of view,” but so does time. Seeing those breast rocks zoomed my attention right back there, to that museum.