Prologue. Earth Day 2014. Dr. Bill Wulsin and I left Seattle intent on following up on our acupuncture response efforts at the Oso Fire Station which we had coordinated since the epic disaster of March 22, 2014. (My previous blog post regarding the utility of acupuncture at alleviating traumatic stress and bringing hope to the world can be found here.) In the corner of our minds, each of us entertained the fantasy of offering an acupuncture treatment to President Obama on his visit to Oso. With the many global conflicts, economic challenges, and human rights conflicts happening on his watch, how could he not be a little bit stressed? We figured our chances of getting onto his agenda was about 1 in a million, and probably more than a bit selfish. His visit was for the people directly affected by the tragedy. In any case, we had a plan B which was to hike the Boulder River Wilderness.
We arrived at the station at 8:00 a.m. and preparations for the President were in full swing. We shook hands with the fire chief, Willie Harper, and thanked him for the opportunity to serve the community and then departed to Darrington. Full disclosure is in order here in that Highway 530 East is closed to the public until further notice, requiring a ninety minute detour to Darrington via Highway 20. However, based on our having coordinated a daily medical response offering over 300 free acupuncture treatments to the residents and responders, we were able to obtain a pass to drive through the slide area via a bypass road guarded by state troopers at each end.
Blue holes began to open up almost as soon as we started up the trail, the roar of the river to our right, and occasional glimpses of snow covered ridges in the distance.
After an hour and twenty minutes, Bill decided to turn back; I negotiated a solo trip to the end point of the hike, agreeing to turn back by 1:45pm, with 4:00 p.m. as my overdue time limit at which point he would start searching for me.
The hike had been easy thus far, although there were several areas requiring careful detours around giant trees blocking the path and raging creeks flowing over the path requiring passage over slippery logs. I carried most of the 10 essentials – namely extra food, water, rain gear, and a whistle.
Quickly, I entered a meditative state, absorbed in the sensual beauty of one of the last low land virgin forests in western Washington – if not the world. Sometimes the trail descended next to the river, at other times, rising high above it’s steep sided gorge walls.
Shafts of sunlight shifted winter into spring in the space of a few breaths, the chill wintery air alternating with the warm musty aroma of skunk cabbage and moss heaven.
At the end, the trail faded to animal tracks entering a trackless wilderness beneath the slopes of White Horse Mountain and Three
Fingers. Rested and reenergized by the primeval wilderness energy infusion of such a magnificent place, with a deep sense of connectedness in my heart, I turned back to meet Bill and plan our next adventure in healing.