Road: This Might Hurt

Art Journal, Self Reflection, The Road

Somewhere along the road in the last weeks the heaviness of depression slipped off my shoulders and I began trying to live (again)(mental health is a lifetime fight). I had tried on good days to go through the motions… but I don’t know. I guess those who do will know what I’m trying to describe. You try in starts and stops.
Where did this latest latest depression come crawling out of the shadows from? I call this one the Pandemic depression. It slipped on like a comfortable shirt during a stressful time. Then my beloved cat died. Then my new kitten was murdered by my dog. Then I rescued a sick cat and stressed over if he’d live. So I wore my comfortable worn flannel of depression wrapped around my shoulders while I tried to wade through the days at a moderate level of numbness.
Then I told Kurt to lie to me in Montana.

The notions crept up my subconscious and bubbled to the surface. I was tired.I was tired of being tired. I missed being strong. I was disappointed when Kurt took off, leaving me in the camper while he adventured.
He said I wouldn’t of liked the last one, all snow and ice. I told Kurt to lie to me. I might hate it but I’ll be happy in the end.
In the morning Kurt lied to me very well. Told me it was an “easy” trail. Only 500ft of elevation, just 1.4 miles to the end. The whole way back would be downhill. Yes.

(I’m an idiot)

At least this time I pulled out my winter boots. Donned my wonderful joyously clean socks. And was decked out in pants (see previous thigh chaffing, rock scrambling post in a skirt). We even remembered my walking stick. I felt like this was going to feel good. I was even thinking I was inspired enough to do a sun salutation at the top (I read Every Body Yoga the night before and spoiler this didn’t happen).

Fresh Montana mountain air. Buttercups on the sunny side. Birds. Deer. Chippies. Life. Breath.

Then we started hitting snowy patches on the trail. Kurt hit a patch on a slope and assumed a ski jumpers squat, only facing the wrong way, and slid slowly backwards until I gently reached out and stopped him with my hand.
The snow patches switched to pure snow covered trail hell-scape. Honestly, by my eyeballs it did not look that hard! And we blazed onward. Engaging desperate thigh muscles trying to maintain balance on the slick surface. It was nearly seventy degrees, all iced surfaces now had a snot layer.

According to Kurt’s map we had a football field to go when I decided I had to take a break. I sat on an ancient downed log. Relaxed into it, then slipped off onto the trail on my bottom. I sat there for a moment, tired, long enough for science (heat and friction) to happen underneath me. I started sliding off the narrow trail and down the (now I noticed, steep) side of the mountain, Kurt catching me by the hand just as I thought THIS IS IT. With jello legs and a sense of self preservation I tried to continue on. I had to bail. I realized I was out of my depth. I needed solid ground under my feet. I didn’t feel as bad when Kurt also had to quit shortly after.
We got back on the road heading south. Slipped quietly back into Idaho, barely noticing the difference. The road followed the frisky green-blue Salmon River through mountains and canyons. We stopped at a campground for one night alongside it. Waking to the sound of cows and sandhill cranes. Baby moos freshly born. We began south again, until we were distracted by the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Never heard of it before. Another landscape created by the fierce power of the earth. Flowing lava fields, spatter volcanos (you can look down inside), and tree molds.

What is a two mile hike on pre-exhausted newborn calf legs a mile above sea level? Actually it was fine. I was making it big in my mind because that’s what anxious people do and that’s why I want Kurt to lie to me. Unfortunately near the end the trail was snow covered and I was unable to see the tree molds made in the lava, but you can because Kurt took photos.

Before I end the writing on this particular entry I wanted to add a few random bits of thoughts that are incongruous with the rest of the text. On sharing my mental health status. I didn’t want to. I’ve been thinking about it back and forth. I still think it’s important to be open about these things, though, it is just sometimes scary especially when it’s happening in real time. In other news I saw some things in Montana I didn’t fit into my narrative. And they’re random. I saw a wildlife bridge. I loved it. I want to see more. I want them everywhere. Grassy knolls rolling over highway bridges. There was an area that had normal names for rivers and stuff and what I’m guessing was the Native American name from the local tribe for the same features. Was it a reservation? I don’t know? I think the duality of naming was a wonderful way to respect the First Nations. We drove through the homeland (birthplace) of Sacajawea: Salmon, Idaho. Just another random experience from being on the road▪️


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Road: Dry Falls, Grunge Music and the Kootenay River

Art Journal

Kurt and I began executing the drive home aimlessly, and that’s sometimes an interesting travel strategy, but not this time. It only led to dead-end would-be adventures. We took a northern route across the Olympic Peninsula then saddled the west side of Puget Sound heading south, never once seeing a glimpse of Seattle through the deep green hemlocks or across the open water. So much for playing grunge music to set the mood.
On a whim we drove towards Mt Rainier, because it was a destination we could see. Just to watch it get eaten by storm clouds. Kurt found a spot in a National Forest to park for the night. We were now facing seven inches of snow starting late the next morning and the pass through the mountains from that road, 410, was closed. So we backtracked to take US 90 over the mountains, early, before the snow started.
Silver lining here: the US 90 rest stop had a dump station and water. These things are wonderful when you carry your plumbing self contained. (Shower anyone?)

The last night we slept in Washington was between the Caraboo Trail and the Dry Falls by Blue Lake. We stopped early that night to hunker down for a wind storm and a bit of rain. The Caraboo Trail was historically a Native Trail and later used by cattlemen. The Dry Falls are the geological remnant of what was once a Niagara Falls like feature from the end of the last ice age, but is now… dry.

The next morning we started again. Taking a turn north to avoid winter weather conditions in the mountain passes through the Rockies.
I’m sorry I have nothing to show for passing through Idaho. Not one photograph. We crossed the Idaho Panhandle: Coniferous trees, mountains, rivers…

Montana looked the same. Kurt pulled over at a little roadside stop. Kurt said it wasn’t a long hike. Kurt wanted to see a suspension bridge made for people that crossed the Kootenay River. Let’s go over this. I was wearing tennis shoes with no socks (for days), a skirt and not dressed for the weather because we really needed to do laundry (probably a week ago, but who’s keeping track). Sure. Let’s go hiking near dusk, under dressed in 40 degree weather. This won’t be uncomfortable at all.
It was not a long hike, but it was down, down, down to the river. Scrambling over rocks. Wondering if those plants my ankles brushed were poison oak. Trying not to fall into mud (or river) in the last clean-ish clothes I had. But the river was deep blue-green. And the sunlight caught gently on the deep green mountainside as it slipped away for the day. And I got to practice my photography skills with waterfalls.▪️


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