“Both the old and new physics were dealing with shadow-symbols, but the new physics was forced to be aware of that fact – forced to be aware that it was dealing with shadows and illusions, not reality.” ~ Ken Wilber
“May I tell you a wonderful truth about your dog? … You have been given stewardship of what you in your faith might call a holy soul.” ~ Dean Koontz
Here was a long place, nearly full with people; I counted over fifty, but there were more. Eight dogs as well, and two bicycles topped with gaudily, tightly clad gentlemen who despite their sartorial good sense had not the good sense to wear helmets. I always wore a helmet when cycling. I would not be telling you these things if I hadn’t, because death silences a writer like nothing else can. And all of this stretched out upon cart and foot trails, three miles long and two hours given, along the west rim of the mysterious and beautiful Rio Grande Gorge. There was almost a party atmosphere out there; congenial and gentle, filled to the brim with smiles.
There is a tradition in the British Isles called ‘hillwalking’. Writer and shamanic practitioner Frank MacEowen wrote of using hillwalking as an oracle. For me, the West Rim trail is just that: hillwalking. I’ve used it as an oracle at times, but I didn’t even think of it yesterday, I just wanted to pump up my heart and clear out my head. That intention was fulfilled, but the oracle just kinda snuck right up on me. My first congenial encounter was with a 40-something couple and an older man. The elder spoke to me excitedly as I approached. “We’ve sighted a Bighorn!”. They walked on while I headed toward where he had pointed, and sure enough there he was, resting on a steep gravel slope, his magnificent spiral horns perched atop his body, relaxed with folded and tucked legs. He was a beauty alright. I ended up getting too close, hoping to get a better photo. He stood up, gave me the stink-eye, and proceeded down along the gorge wall.
Later on, another mile down the trail, I happened upon an older woman (she might well have been my own age) accompanied by a child, a little girl who was likely the granddaughter. The woman and I both stopped to chat. They were headed back toward the trailhead, and I was not. Turns out they had seen Bighorns as well, out across the chasm, on the far side of the river. She pointed me in the right direction and I went that way. Before long I located a cart-trail that headed down along a severe arroyo that emptied out into the gorge, and just beyond that I found a road that headed down to the rim as well. I took that road. The opening photo is the place I stopped to rest.
Down at the end, close by a river
Close to the edge, round by the corner
Close to the end, round by the corner
Down at the edge, close by a river ~ Yes
There was a circle of stones right there at the end of the road, clearly the work of pagans. The place felt sacred, and so it was. I edged up near the rim of the gorge, flashes of visceral fear from my acrophobia screaming through my feet and guts, to take some photos. Satisfied with them I stood up to move back away from the edge. I felt a presence and looked up. There, about 30 yards, meters, whatever, up the slope of the road, stood a little blond one-eyed dog, who looked to be a mix of Pekinese and Yorkie. His curled tail was going a mile a minute, and he looked to be friendly. I saw no human com anions, and I wanted to. I hated to think he was lost. So I walked back up the hill to look for humans. None were there. I stepped toward the little fella but he twirled and ran back a few steps. I tried again and again the same thing. There was no way to catch him so I meandered back down to where’d left my pack and sat down, hoping the dog would be alright. I’d thought of taking him to the animal shelter, which is closed on Sunday’s, but I probably could have gotten them to take the dog, because I still know a couple of workers there, even if they might not call me friend. No worries. We must help our fur babies regardless. So, sitting there in a half-lotus I silenced my mind and vibes in to the place, which had ample energy to wash through me and calm me further. When I set out back toward the trailhead, some three miles distant, there came two women, headed down to where I had meditated. I asked them about the dog but they had not seen the beast. We chatted more then I walked on. An easy half-mile down the trail I heard a distant voice cry out. It was faint, a woman’s voice, but the urgency and fear in the voice was clear as can be. I ‘knew’ she was looking for the dog so I headed back to be of service. About 200 yards between us, she finally asked me if I’d seen a little blond dog. I said I did as I walked on toward her. We talked it out. She seemed strangely calm. I knew her from the supermarket where I worked for so long, and I knew she is a mathematician. Maybe that science kept her close to objectivity. Who knows. She was uncertain as to which way to go in resuming the search. And I was like the Scarecrow of Oz, although I did not allow my arms to played the part but I had entered the Dreamtime through meditating near the rim, and I could ‘see’ the dog’s progress back toward the trailhead, so I suggested she head back, without letting on that I used woo woo stuff in making the recommendation. We took a brisk pace as we both went that way, chatting for a while, then she took off running with her other dog struggling to keep up. Soon, she came upon another hiker and they stopped to talk. I caught up with her as the man was saying that he’d seen the dog, back toward the trailhead. The man was headed out and she was headed back, and I marveled as they exchanged cell numbers in case he saw the dog farther out; 21st century technology out in a primal wilderness. Ironic and lovely at the same time.
Alas, I am out of time, so I will go on to tell you that the tale had a happy ending. I got back to the Visitor Center where the trail begins, and I saw to woman running through the parking lot. Soon enough she came back, little blond dog on a leash at her side. We talked then, celebrating the happy ending. Turns out the dog, shy of adults, loves children. She had found him on his cam getting a belly rub. She then thank me for being such a calming influence out on the trail. Hmmm, that’s why I’m here, right?
Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.