Hike Nine – Oak Mountain State Park

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for…..Carver will be hiking this week.

After being sidelined by a rather unfortunate box jumping incident at CrossFit, Carver has received medical clearance to join me on a hike. This is good news since we’re doing the Grand Canyon together and she hasn’t been able to do any training since the decision was made over a glass of wine several months ago.

I begin searching for a more appropriate hike than the one I had planned. Something not too strenuous…. don’t want to risk reinjury…I come across a yoga/hiking/fire dance event at Oak Mountain State Park. It looks a little woo-woo, and I’m not super woo-woo. I would describe myself as woo-curious though.

What better way to satisfy that curiosity? Clicking on the “going” button, I share the info with Carver and we make plans to meet and ride together.

Carver seems excited as we head towards Oak Mountain State Park; anxious to begin training for our Grand Canyon adventure.

Pulling into the park we locate the group from Yoga Trekking International. Our fears of being late are immediately assuaged. It looks like yogis are on the same time system as us. I’d call it the “ish” system, as in 4ish. We check in and it’s a good thirty minutes before things get started. Introductions are made, hugs are exchanged, woo-woo fills the air. We’re instructed to meet a new friend. We meet Penny.

Yoga Hike, Oak Mountain State Park
Checking in. That’s not me.

Penny is cool. She helps out with Yoga Trekking International and is an avid hiker. In fact, she has hiked Machu Picchu and Mount Kilimanjaro. Seriously, she looks like a professional hiker. We share our plans for Grand Canyon, and now she looks like a skeptical hiker. To be fair, Carver is walking very gingerly and I’m toting a pack that looks like something a third grader carries their school lunch in.

Our fearless leader and yoga instructor, Leisha, announces that we’re ready to go.

We head up a small hill on the side of a dam. There’s a lovely waterfall and we catch the trail that circles the lake as we pass. Penny is bringing up the rear, AKA she’s hiking with us. It’s pretty as we circle the smallish Tranquility Lake.  Very flat but a little rooty, and at only two miles it’s easily doable for a first-timer. About halfway around the lake, we stop in an open field and do some standing yoga poses. A group of senior citizens looks on dubiously from the porch of their cabin, as twenty plus women (and two guys) strike a Warrior Two pose.

Yoga Pose, Tranquility Lake, Oak Mountain State Park
Warriors!

 

We make our way back to the pavilion where we began. A fire is going and we place our yoga mats in a circle around it. Some people have items at the top of their mats to throw in the fire, clearly, I missed the memo on this. A beautiful girl comes around and offers us a flower to toss in when it’s time.

The flower and the fire represent negativity that will be released from our lives. Yeah…..we’re probably gonna need a bigger fire.

The practice begins. Leisha explains that we will be participating in an ancient yogic ritual around the fire that will spark Spanda (creative energy) and will ultimately rise into dance.  The fire dance. This seems like the opposite of the safety dance. Flaming props are not allowed in the park but are typically used. I feel a vague sense of disappointment that I won’t be able to dance with a flaming baton, but it’s probably for the best. I mean really, what could possibly go wrong? Eye roll.

Darkness is falling and we contort into various poses. Outdoor yoga is incredible! Such an amazing perspective looking up through the trees, smelling the fire and pine, watching the stars poke out from behind the clouds. I’m swept up in the practice and the ritual.

We circle the fire going from mat to mat, asking for peace in our minds, peace in our words, and peace in our community. Culminating in a seated meditation we toss our flowers, our fears, negativity, and all the other shit straight into the flames. OMG, I am so woo-woo.

Or not. Some lively Sitar music starts up and everyone rises. Yep, it’s time for the Fire Dance.

I’m not really sure what to do. The others have run into the pavilion only to return with LED hula hoops and props. They begin dancing around the fire, Carver and I are walking around the fire, albeit with a little hip action, but the others are like a professional Bollywood dance troupe. Leisha falls in beside us, smiling encouragingly, but it’s not going well. At least not for me.

After a few more awkward turns around the fire we throw in the towel. Saying our goodbyes to our new friends we head towards the car. Hike one for Carver has been a success and we make plans for future trips on the car ride home.

Oak Mountain State Park
Success!

I look forward to being in nature more and more each week. I’ve never thought of myself as outdoorsy, but when I look back to the things I loved growing up, it’s obvious. In my So Cal childhood home, we were thirty minutes from the beach, thirty from the mountains, and thirty from the desert. Lots of time spent in the great outdoors.

It’s strange to now live in a place where no one has the same point of reference. No one knew me before age thirty or so. Odd. A co-worker once joked that he thought I was in the Witness Protection Program. It feels that way sometimes.

We can lose ourselves as we get older, especially women. So many changes along the way that we start to forget who we once were. I’m being reminded slowly, but surely, week by week.

I look forward to going down this road. I look forward to rediscovering who I am.

Damn it. Just like that, I’m back to woo-woo.

 

Read about Hike One by clicking here.

Read how it all began here.