Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wyoming Dispatch: Devils Tower

Yesterday, we Jentel residents decided to take a road trip to Devils Tower. It's a two-hour drive from here, perfect for a day trip. As we were leaving, the sun was shining, rays catching the ice that had covered the trees, blinding us with a glittering display.
Devils Tower really is a surreal formation. As shown above, it rises out of nowhere. Jentel, I believe, has a higher elevation, so we passed from its blue-gray landscape into one of straw colored grass and rock formations thickly striated with red.

We arrived at the base, ate a chilly picnic lunch, and started walking the trail that circles the base of the Tower. As we walked, I realized we were going counter-clockwise from east to west, a circumnabulation much like a walking mediation. A repeated theme to our conversations was comparing the Tower to a human body part: a toe, a penis, a nipple (those last two were Dan). Despite our humor at this, I couldn't help but think that that such discussions were reflective of how we could see ourselves in this formation. Maybe it's just some form of egotistical humancentrification, but maybe it was also a reflection of how humans can see reflections in nature, and the potential therein.

The picture above doesn't communicate how many colors were in the rock, yellows, oranges, greens, pinks, all completely unexpected. As we navigated the trail, we came first to its sunny side, which offered a vista through the remains of a previous forest fire.

Proceeding, we made our way to the shady, cooler side of the Tower, where winter seemed much more evident. If this was a walking meditation, I thought, then we had descended from sun/life to a contemplation of winter/death/slumber.

We emerged back at the beginning of the circular trail. I had been continuing my thoughts on finding healing in the landscape, and even noticed a quote in the visitors' center about how certain Native Americans find renewal and rehabilitation in the Black Hills, just east of the Tower. (The Tower is also a sacred site to many of the original inhabitants of this area, and as we walked we saw the remains of offerings tied to trees).

Our good weather ran out as we neared home; we were hit with fog and snow but managed to make it back to Jentel safely. All my thoughts on healing fled that evening as I called Robert and found out he had a pretty painful day, returning me to worry, shame and confusion, and all my conflictions about being here in Wyoming. There is little over a week till I return, and whatever that might bring.

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