Pumalin, Chile: A Hike in Solitude
A few days ago I embarked on a hike through the wilderness of Pumalin National Park near Chaiten, Chile. Every morning we stepped out of our tents into the remnants of a cloud. The area is a temperate rainforest and the land is alive.
My intention for the hike was reach Mirador Michimahuida - an overlook to one of the many volcanoes in the area. I set out around 2:00pm with a bottle of water, an apple, some nuts, and a trusty hiking stick. (Quick side note about the hiking stick: there is a silent community of hikers that will find a good hiking stick, use it for the duration of their adventures in an area, and then leave it at the trailhead or campsite for someone else down the line. The past few I've used in my travels have been found and left in this way. A playful representation of the brotherhood that exists among people in the mountains.)
I bounded through the dense wilderness with the playful energy of a child, enamored by the immensity of it. My breaths were deep and frequent; my heartbeat hammered through my chest with every step. Nature is both a vicious beast and a loving mother.
After a steep and precarious hike up to the Mirador I decided to keep going. I'd made pretty good time. The trail continued on to a secluded campsite perched on the edge of a lake and I figured it'd be a nice place to sit and reflect.
Most of the trail consisted of wooden ladders and pathways that were poorly maintained; or rather, the rainforest had a way of breaking them down into itself again. The boulders (and most of the forest components) that I found along the trail were all covered by a dense green ecosystem of life. It would take a lifetime to understand the extent of the web of life that found its home on these stones. It's so dense, intricate, and colorful.
It got me thinking about ancient civilizations of the past and how quickly the earth has a way of digesting their structures and memories back into itself, recycling the energy for the evolution of future generations. Of all the puzzle pieces we've found about our history, there is a vastness to our past that we'll never touch again. That vastness lives on in our hidden memories and the depths of our planet.
I reached the lake and took a seat on the shore. Gazing over the water I felt an immense serenity come over me. I don't know what to call it, but it's something I've only touched out in the depths of the natural world. There was a tangible power to the calmness.
I didn't see a single person on the trail the whole day. Just me, the birds, the trees, and the tranquil buzz of the forest; an extended meditation through the woods. It's in these times of solitude that I open the doors of reflection within myself.