Friday, June 18, 2010

Learning to Trust on Bertrande's Mesa.


My husband took this shot of me last week on a hike to the top of Little Horse Mesa in Sugarite Canyon State Park here in Raton. It was sort a grueling scramble up there for a girl in less than her best shape, and it was an empowering experience gazing over this vista grande. I recently posted the pic on my Facebook page, which prompted Bertrande, a friend of mine and one tremendously cool person, to email me her life-forming mesa story. I asked her if I could share it here because I loved reading it. It reveals the power behind everyday transformational processes and allows for an understanding that transcendence takes many forms. Anyways. I loved it. And I hope you like it too.




Dan & I met in Dec.'82 at a Health Care conference in San Francisco. (Dan was speaker-I was faculty liaison). He was living in Detroit, working with United Auto Workers as Health & Safety Specialist. Both in our 30's. I went to Detroit for Christmas - our first "date". We were both rather amazed at how much we connected but didn't want to rush things.

Date #2: In February '83 we arranged to meet up in Albuerqurque where he was again speaking, and travel to Santa Fe & Taos, then over to Sedona, AZ. We did some small hikes around Taos, then travelled over to Frijoles Canyon, Bandelier National Monument. Got there about 1pm.

Weather was gorgeous, warm, but there was still snow on higher elevations. We took a "short" walk down to the Rio Grande and found ourselves mired in mud. Rather than retrace our route, we headed out and up onto the mesa. From the [misleading Park Service tourist handout] map it looked like a 20 minute walk back.

However, we kept climbing, left the mud behind only to discover ankle deep snow. Since it was only going to be a short walk, we were TOTALLY unprepared. Cami & chinos & Nikes for me, Dan did have a jeans jacket, but otherwise just tee shirt & levis. No food or water. We hadn't even bothered to sign the Park's hikers' log. Stoopid stoopid stoopid.

By this time, we had been walking over 3 hours. We were on top of the Mesa, the snow was getting deeper, the 'trail' was almost non-existent, and the sun was starting to set. I have always had major trust issues, and tried to micro-manage situations for my safety. All I could do was keep following this man who was calm & steady and persistent in his efforts to get us where we needed to go.

I was a city-girl, born & raised in San Francisco. Dan was raised in Brainard, MN and was pretty comfortable 'in nature'. He got us off that Mesa, cutting across the table top diagonally and somehow finding the edge. We could now see the parking lot & our car far below, but snow was above our knees. He thought he could discern a switch-back pattern, and taking me by the hand, led me down the mountain, sometimes with snow up to our waists. (I'm 5'10" BTW, Dan 6'3").

When we got to the bottom (the sun had now set) we just hugged and laughed and hugged again. 2 days later, we were in Sedona and we admitted we loved each other, and wanted to spend our lives together.

Dan went back to Detroit, put his house on the market, applied to U of Minn for his PhD, and gave notice to UAW. I returned to SF, in a holding pattern, but for once not anxious for the future.

He came out to SF March 30, '83 for a brief vacation, and I left with him April 15th (Date #3!). Married in Malmo, MN on Mille Lacs lake July 3. Will celebrate 27 years next month.

Walking The Mesa has always been a metaphor for us to just keep on keeping on, with mutual trust & respect. Not that we haven't wanted to kill each other at times... But something happened up there for both of us.


(A big Thank You to Bertrande for allowing me to share this story. I'd like to take this time to say that I always welcome stories of transcendence, no matter how big or small. If you have one to share, feel free to send me a Facebook message or email me at kristy.sweetland@gmail.com. I think these stories are inspiring and I believe they empower others to successfully navigate their own life "mesas".)


6 comments:

turquoisemoon said...

Beautiful view from the top and a warm story. Luv'd it. I wrote a hiking story May 31st, on my Daily Om...it's not so warm and cuddly. It was called The Shining-Part 2.
I love hiking. My sister and I are heading for Colorado in September and we're already making plans. The planning is really part of the fun. Anyway...really the best part of hiking is the memories.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Great story! I've been in a tough spot or two in the canyons of Utah, always with memorable and life-affirming results. Love the photo of you on the mesa. I do miss those views.

swamericana said...

Kristy: Good, good story by Bertrande. "Mesa" narratives, a good image for significant events. You just might be on to something here, Kristy, combining your writing and psychology. Course, you always have attention-grabbing stories. I like your photo of looking out on the landscape. I always liked that scene nearby, coming down Raton Pass and seeing the volcanic peaks in the distance. Quite prehistoric, don't you think? Course, what isn't?

I wish you a very happy summer solstice (today, I think).

(Sage to Meadow, Jack Matthews)

jRuthKelly said...

beautiful you and beautiful story...thanks for sharing both. i had to hoof it up some steep hills here in Ga. and it struck me how something difficult is so gloriously fulfilling when nature nurtures every step. of course, i didn't have mud or snow to contend with but my own less than optimal health was plenty mire. well worth it though... our daily processes are ripe with transformational opportunities. love to you...

Mark said...

Thank-you for sharing this wonderful story! I love the pic of you and view also.

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