“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.”
– Thomas Merton
I consider the hikes that I take- as pilgrimages or sacred walks through the vast Sonoran Desert. Exploring and experiencing the desert is where I consider being most free and alive. It is also on the trails that I’ve met some friendly people (as I’m often not fully alone, being on some of the most traversed trails and all). But on those rare occasions when I am alone on the trails, I always feel a strong sense of spirituality that I really can’t explain; but I’m sure many of you have had a similar sense in an environment of your soul’s choosing. I love the sound of when the wind rustles in between the large saguaros. There’s just an overall sense of peace and serenity.
It is also in the desert that I’ve pushed myself to my limit. I’ve climbed Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, Dixie Mountain, through the Superstitions, and am shooting for summiting Flatiron (once the temps cool down a bit). I never in my life, thought I’d summit a damn mountain- until I moved to Arizona.
I feel like I got my later-in-life “outdoorsy, desert trekker bug” from my Grandpa Howard. I, unfortunately, don’t have a photo of him being on a hike, but I know he did a lot back in the day when he went on trips to Grand Canyon, and the general Southwest region. I knew he had hiking sticks quite similar to the one pictured, but they have been lost in translation over the years. So when I was given this stick from a very generous hiker who could’ve passed for a grandpa figure, it really meant a lot, and will forever hold a special place in my heart. Even though my grandpa is gone, I feel like a part of him lives on through my love of hiking, the desert, and the Southwest. I mean seriously…I hadn’t trained or got into shape before I first reached Camelback’s summit (and I’m sort of afraid of heights)…so it was literally a miracle that I mustered all my strength and willpower…and just did it; even when my body was saying “enough.” I’d like to think I had a little divine help.
(“The Desert is Calling & I Must Go” Tee– Keep It Wild Co., Vintage Desert Scene Vest- Rare Scarf Vintage, Sunglasses- Darylynn Eyewear, Vintage “O’Keeffe” Hat- Coronation Vintage, Vintage Belt- my dad, Denim Cropped Pants- thrifted, Ankle Boots- thrifted)
**All images (minus below) by Leslie of Lucida Studios**
This post is dedicated to my Grandpa Howard- the hiker. I miss you and Grandma EVERY DAY.