Saturday, January 13, 2007


I woke up bright and early the next morning - around 5 AM - and realized it was Easter Sunday. I had a connective breath session scheduled later in the afternoon with Debra's husband, Tom, but nothing until then. I decided to get up, get dressed and go out for a hike.

The rock formation I'd found most intriguing from the start was Cathedral Rock. I don't know what it is about it. I drove out towards the rock, not really following any directions to a trailhead, just trying to get as close as I could. I found a parking area a few miles out, but the gate was closed due to the early hour (it was not yet 7 AM). I parked my car on the side of the road and started walking.

I didn't have a map or even a bottle of water (which, in retrospect, was probably pretty stupid) I just wanted to walk. I wanted to get as close to Cathedral Rock as I could.

I wandered through bramble and cacti, and eventually ended up at a bubbling creek. Covering about forty yards of its shore were hundreds of what I later learned were cairns of all shapes and sizes. Although I was unsure about what they represented, to me they meant 'family.' I erected my own made from five stones - representing my parents, two brothers and myself.

A bit further along my journey, I heard rustling in the brush and was confronted by a mangy animal who looked to be half fox, half dog. It froze and stared at me, growling a little. Before I had a chance to panic, a voice from behind it called out, "Easy, boy."

It's owner - an equally mangy looking guy in his early 20's - appeared.
"You don't happen to be heading to the Druids Circle?" he asked.
"Um... no," I replied.
"Huh. Well, have you seen them anywhere? They were supposed to be having a gathering out here this morning."
"No, I don't think I've seen any Druids."

Druids?! I began to feel as if I were wandering around in someone else's acid trip.

"Just out for a hike?" he asked.
"Yeah, pretty much."

I have to admit, at this point I was beginning to get a little nervous. Reality sunk in that I was alone in the desert with this homeless-looking guy and his scary mongrel. My rental car was parked several miles away - on the shoulder of a dirt road - and not one person knew where I was.

This was the scene from a horror movie where you say out loud, "Now what idiot would ever put herself in that situation?" - right before she was hacked to bits by an axe. Yeah.

"I'm David," the guy said, offering me a handshake.
"Jen," I replied. And we walked together through the woods.

I learned that David basically WAS homeless. He'd been passing through towns, trying to figure himself out. He was very new-agey, and I guess that's how he came to find Sedona. We walked together, talking for about a half hour, and then we went our separate ways; him to find his Druids, me to press on towards Cathedral Rock.

I was getting to where I could actually touch the base of the formation, but I was unsure of how to navigate any closer. There were no clear trails, and it seemed as if I'd gotten as close as I could, when all of a sudden, I caught a glimpse of a deer-type of animal a little bit ahead of me.

I say 'deer-type' because it wasn't a like the deer I'm used to seeing out here in NJ. And while I secretly hope it was a gazelle - 'cause really, how weirdly awesome would that be? - I'm not sure. And I want to be truthful here.

The deer started walking up the hill, closer to the formation, and I decided to follow in its path. I made it about another 1/4 mile closer, and found the perfect cliff on which to perch and enjoy the view.

The stillness of the desert wilderness that Easter morning was surreal. And with the sun coming up over the hill, I experienced a sense of spirituality that could never be found inside a church. I felt complete - one with nature. My heart was bursting with an emotion I didn't understand. It's a feeling I have never been able to match, and one I will never forget.

I'm not sure how long I stayed sitting there, soaking it in. Eventually I headed back down and found myself at the creek. I couldn't remember how I'd crossed it the first time. Perhaps I'd been at a narrower part? Now I was looking at a fairly wide expanse - about 15 yards - and I decided to cross it, rock to rock. I stepped carefully out onto the first rock, it's dry peak cresting through the water.

'No problem,' I thought, cockily. I made it about halfway into the creek and realized there wasn't an easy dry rock to get me any further. There were, however, plenty of rocks just below the surface.


[Note to anyone dumber than me: Wet rocks are slippery. Particularly those covered in a fine layer of green slime.]

Down I went, right on my ass, right in the middle of the creek. I sat there in the cold water and had to laugh at my own stupidity. I finally got up and waded the rest of the way to the shore, took off my soaked shoes, rolled up my soggy pantlegs and found my way back to my car.

It's an Easter I'll never forget.

1 comment:

L*I*S*A said...

What a freak thing to meet someone out there, too...