Friday, September 14, 2012

The Lost Coast of Northern California

Punta Gorda Lighthouse, Lost Coast
 A person couldn't be blamed for looking at the last few blog posts and deciding this is a blog of high-toned excuses for procrastinating art projects.  And this one is no exception.

It's like this: in recent years, to eradicate the shy hermit self that has limited my experience of life I've had a policy of not saying NO if at all possible to any chance to dip my toes into life's adventures.

After all the uprooting of moving this summer, and then travel, the Outsidelands music festival in Golden Gate Park, and even an unexpected Vegas trip that was anything but "Fear and Loathing" I was given an opportunity to backpack Northern California's "Lost Coast" with friends. . .a stretch of coast so rugged and remote that the coastal highway was built around it.

Campsite Zen Rock Garden
 It had been a long time since I'd done any real back packing, and being the oldest person in the group by nearly 20 years, there was some real concern about my ability to keep up.  And it is NOT an easy hike.  High winds for one thing.  And then significant parts of the trail are on the beach, either in sand, or hopping along round wet rocks (while carrying 35+ pounds on your back along with a "bear vault" for the food.)  And then, there's the tides, which you have to time, so that you don't get stuck between point A and point B with sheer bluff's on one side of you and encroaching waves on the other.

Fear and worry are useless, and almost always unfounded.  I had a great time, managed to keep up with my younger, vibrant companions.  And there were opportunities for creativity and art.  First we made a "Zen rock garden" composed of many elements, including a bird skull one of my companions found, and a driftwood "Imunu" that I placed on top of a stone cairn in front of my tent.  I found it the first morning, and it had an implicit "happy face" on one side and a "sad face" on the other that I enhanced with my little Swiss Army knife, and spoke to the shadow work I've been doing recently.  Mostly, I just hoped it would keep the damn bears away!

Driftwood Imunu guarding my tent

The most enjoyable creative experience of the trip was the foraged food.  "We" (mostly they) discovered a bay tree and snipped some bay leaves, found watercress in a spring, caught a trout, and made an amazing trail soup with these ingredients, plus some carrots and a lump of spam for seasoning.  The soup may not have been a thumbs up in a restaurant--I don't know--but on the trail it was heaven, lighting up the cool windy evening.

I'm so thankful that I was invited on this trip.  The week it happened I had originally set aside to stay home and work on several partially complete felting projects.  Art projects aren't going anywhere, but experiences are only available once.  It was a special time, bonding with extraordinary people, and getting back to nature in a way that I know will fuel me creatively for a long time.  It reminded me so much of my trip to Chilean Patagonia, a trip that was a foundational experience for all my explorations in wool and textile art.

The summer hasn't been completely "slackers paradise" for PJ.  I did complete a spirit Lizard inspired by Huichol yarn painting, which is a jumping off point for a series of spirit animals I will do in this style.  It was actually quite difficult, but the end result is something I'm really pleased with.  If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: PLAY is as important as WORK.  More important, really.

Lizard inspired by Huichol yarn painting.

"Climb to the top of the mountain, and then fly." (me on far right)

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