Escape to Webber Falls and the Gift of Failure
The theory of "threes" and how I learned that every adventure is important, no matter how small.
It seems that every time I have this intense desire - or "the bug" - to take off on some long adventure around the world, I always find a better reason to stay home. They're not what I would call "excuses" – although I've proven myself more than capable of those as well – but recently there has been a stronger calling to stay close to home for a stint. Now, staying put is never something I've done well, but ever since I moved to Tahoe my once frequent urges to escape have been reduced in mileage radius to my surrounding area. And sure, it helps to live in one of the most popular outdoor adventuring destinations in the world; but even as the road calls, it's obvious that there is a story here that's still not finished. Every day a new chapter seems to appear out of nowhere and just like that it makes an incredibly valuable dent in my present.
Tuesday was one of the first days since summer began that the whole house hold had the day off. Jim and Melinda were free from the Pizza Hole, it was Ramsay's Sunday, and it was the day before I lost my job due to "lack of work" aka character complications. So, having the tendency to rig our unspoken election as the decider of shit, I got the group to head about fifteen miles North of Truckee to a little waterfall I'd heard of. Leaving Truckee – after a quick local dive's rum punch stop and an interview I was supposed to conduct weeks ago – we headed North! Well, sort of.
I asked my co-pilot to direct me to the 89 North and somehow we ended up on the South. Considering it's a whole other highway, it was a little more complicated than simply turning around.The navigational freak that I am, I pulled us over and memorized the directions up in till the turn off toward Independence Lake; leaving only four miles of unmemorized directions for my co-pilot to redeem himself with. After an extra mile down yet another wrong turn, we finally made it to the trail head.
Now, my decision to venture on a trail a little further away from home on this day was due to that bug I spoke of earlier. Before you go leafing through what you've already read, I'm referring to that wanderlust "bug". The one that tells us it's time to go now; not because of a threat against our existence but rather because of the threat of non-existence. It warns us that if we don't go out to explore and find a purpose in the world now than our eyes will have been wasted and our lives would be of no use to our kind. This is self-preservation of another form; not fight or flight but now or never. If we don't do it now we maybe never will, and then who are we really?
Anyways, this bug was making me itch all over and I told Ramsay that if I didn't get out of town today he would have to listen to me mope and make wistful threats of motorcycle adventure for the entirety of next week. So, because of my fidgety sense of self-worth and what I believe now can be looked at as my sub-conscious realization that I was probably losing my job soon, I was a little on edge and not too thrilled with the obvious slack in adventure organization going on. When we finally reached the infamous trail head around mid-afternoon, my expectations for the outing had been nearly entirely demolished. Having turned twenty-five recently, I discovered that it's not cute for a grown ass woman to let emotions get the best of her; so rather than throwing a temper-tantrum I sucked in my opinions and went on a damn hike. And what a hike.
It wasn't far. It wasn't hard. Physically speaking it wasn't a hike at all; but I call it this because like a hike, it was a mind boggling experience of total discovery.
While discussing some sort of herbal remedy debate – an ongoing battle in our household between the sexes, the males of which mistake us for witches rather than desperate bodies with serious ailments clearly turning to the more natural paths of medicine for healing and totally not for potions...anyways – we found our way on top of a hidden canyon. Slip sliding and catching ourselves on down the canyon walls, insignificant explorers in a way too relevant time, we had discovered for ourselves a secret playground for the day.
Seeing that there were no signs leading anyone to this place, there was no one else to enjoy our company but this beautiful creek; falling from extensive heights just to impress us. We lit some sage (no that's not a euphemism), took ridiculous photos that showed each other how sincerely we valued these moments, and held onto rocks that were first thought to be much too high. As we clamored back out of the canyon in the direction of the car, we decided that we would BBQ and enjoy our evening under the stars by our cabin in the woods when we returned. That's when the “incidents in threes” began. There was a moments pause between flicking the wasp away and the sharp pain on my calf that ensued. Less than a second later I was creatively cursing while hobbling comically in a tight circle.
“Mother-! Fuckity! Grooming cockroaches! Cunts, cabin boys! Uuuuggghhh Jesus of the Union!”
I've always said it's when I get stung or bit that my inner eighteenth century swashbuckler comes out. Right on the calf muscle too. Ramsay was helping me up the last little hill when breathing started to get harder.
Things started to go dark and I pointed to rock I could see close by. Ramsay set me down and was saying something that I couldn't hear when I began to think of how I just fucked up everyone's day. If this really was an allergic reaction, then their poor asses were going to have to deal with me. Now all I could think about was how I would hate being in their shoes, and as everything was starting to fade out and I felt what I imagined to be my last breath, suddenly I began to take note of someones voice right next to me.
“Slow breaths, Natalie. Slow Breaths.”
Without any conscious decision, a big deep breath came out of me. As my breathing returned, so did my pride. With a blush and a gracious apology, I hopped on one leg to the passenger door and let Ramsay take us home.
We stopped by the store on our way home. With me in the shopping cart and my friends running through the store all around me, planning a delicious banquet; I felt like a kid again. Nothing could tear our mood down, not even the UTI that decided to announce itself to me later that evening. Melinda told me to come at it with a clove of garlic and too much surprise, another win in our herbal remedies debate was made. But I mentioned there were three incidents, no?
The next day, with a swollen leg and a healing urethra, I walked into work only to be turned around and sent away for good; away from the job security I thought had been promised. Entirely too exhausted over worrying about the future as most of my generation constantly is, I drove myself home in order to somehow engage in beating myself up over it. Once home and in search of a bottle to crawl into, a few simple words sent to another phone I had a friend at my side in a heart beat. Sensing my need for adventure but knowing my current inability to walk far, Casey made me hobble into his car and took us out on a drive up to the highest point available by car: Barker Pass. The views of Desolation Wilderness from this point are seriously inspiring, and was just what I needed to gain some critical perspective.
Your challenges are your strength, the more you have the more they bind you to this world. And that, makes you more relevant than running away ever could.