Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recent fortunes

A few recent fortunes from a Chinese lunch.

"Adapt to circumstances in order to make progress. "

"Actions speak louder than talks."

"Greet the world every morning with curiosity and hope."

"Do not demand for someone's soul if you already got his heart."

Great pholisophy for the day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer solstice celebrations

Summer in the mountains is finally making an appearance. Although my daughter and I had to wear winter caps as we played outside yesterday, we only had to wear a sweatshirt and light jacket instead of a heavy coat- summer is here! Since the days are longer from extended hours of sunlight, we are assured of the summer season; and the calendar tells us the solstice has passed and we are indeed in summer.

Summer brings many special memories to my mind.

Summer- always the season of freedom and exploration; my sister and I would ride our bikes for miles to hiking trailheads and then hike for many miles more, accomplishing so much with the extended hours of sunlight. We spent countless hours in our forts we built in the woods, dreaming up adventures to take part in. The whole summer was a celebration and we did not need to narrow down the celebration to one day. However, there are two specific occasions that come to mind of celebrating the summer solstice.

The first celebration of the summer solstice takes place in Alaska.

When I arrived in Alaska, which was the beginning of summer, people were certainly enjoying the fact that the sun was up for such a long time. The day of the summer solstice was no exception. A group of people I was working with headed to Hope to join in the celebrations, and I was lucky enough to join in the experience of the solstice in Alaska.

We arrived in Hope late, but since it was the solstice and Alaska, I felt as though it was only dusk. There were a lot of people celebrating! A whole meadow was filled with tents, camping sites, and groups of people gathered together under the dusky sky. Some groups had someone with a guitar and were singing around a campfire, people were walking around joining groups, and music from the band at the bar drifted around the celebration site. Each group of people were friendly and talked with our group as we walked by. I don't recall what time we left, I just remember the wonderful time we had celebrating the solstice.

My other experience with the solstice takes place when I was younger.

Our friends from North Carolina were out and we were sitting around a campfire having a good time listening to one of the guys play the guitar. He played bluegrass songs and some Jimmy Buffett. When he played the Volcano song by Jimmy, he had us all get up and do the Volcano Dance. He told us there was nothing to the dance. All you had to do was stand up, move and dance around the campfire however we felt like moving, and sing the song. We had a good laugh after dancing around the campfire.

I'm sure the other campers in the area thought we were all crazy.

I won't soon forget either of these experiences. They make me smile and look forward to the day when I can start my own celebrations of the seasons with my kids. Why not have them look forward to the summer solstice like they would for Christmas?

I'm glad the season gives us extra time to spend outdoors- either in our yard or along the river until late hours of the night. Being able to stay outside and see the stars appear makes for a peaceful way to end the day. I think I'll do the Volcano dance tonight.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sunshine makes me happy

A little bit of sunshine makes a huge difference. Life in Wyoming is usually dry and sunny. Lately, rainy and cloudy has been the outcome. Starting a fire in the fireplace in the morning is not my idea of a summer day. We finally have extended hours of sunlight; only the sun has been covered up by the clouds and rainstorms all through the day. Being inside, when we are at a time of year when we should be able to go outside, makes for an extended season of cabin fever.

Today was sunny though, and a very welcome day of sunshine. Hopefully, cabin fever season will be pushed out the door. I'm ready for it to be over and so are others in the area. People around are friendlier and spending extended time outside to soak up the sun and vitamin D. Amazing how a little change in the weather can make such a difference.

Rainy days are sometimes nice to relax and catch up on things that must be done indoors. Watching a storm roll in over the mountains is an incredible sight. Right now, I am ready for the sunny days.

Enjoying being on Douglas Creek

Each spring, once the mountains begin to open up from the winter snow, I enjoy getting out and seeing the places I had said good-bye to in the fall. Driving the mountain roads and hiking the trails, is like greeting those fond places as a friend I have not seen for awhile. The greeting is a happy one, and fills my soul with the nourishment needed to get through every day life. Everyone's soul is nourished in some way, mine is nourished by being in the mountains in the quiet wilderness.

Hiking along Douglas Creek in the Platte River Wilderness is one of those places I enjoy returning to over and over. Driving the road leading to the Platte River and Douglas Creek is one I have taken on numerous occasions. Bluegrass music or Jimmy Buffet can always be heard. With each turn of the road worries disappear and problems are worked out.

On this occasion, the whole family is together. Our little girl loves to look out the window and tell us what she sees. As we suit up to hit the trail, both kids are ready to go and our little girl is all about hiking and doesn't want to ride in the pack on dad's back quite yet. She even walks for quite a ways inspecting the surrounding plants and giggling when a lady bug lands on her.

Our little boy is strapped my back. He would much rather be hiking, if he could walk, but enjoys being outside and kicking mom to keep her going. His pack on my back is red, which attracts the attention of the humming birds. At first he was worried when a humming bird came buzzing up right to his face. On the second occasion of a buzzing humming bird flying right to his face, he just tried to catch the bird and waited for the next one to come to try and catch.

Following Douglas creek and hearing the roaring water flow, beckons me to sit and enjoy the sond of the rushing water. There are storm clouds on the horizon and so we know we must keep on going. Hiking with kids is slower going, but they learn so much along the way, and really the pack at this point is much lighter than a 40+ lb. pack used for backpacking.

Traveling from forest and boulders to open sage brush country is a nice change in scenery. Eventually we do get back into the forest. We are lucky because we do not run into any of the rain.

I am sad when the hike is over. The solitide and sounds of the wilderness are cravings for me, needed for my own sanity. I feel fully alive out in the open in nature. Because of the pull I feel for being out in the open, I know I will return here again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Moments with nature: Young calf elk

Finding wildlife while out in nature helps to remind us we are out in the wilderness. Fortunately, there have been many moments I have been able to see wildlife out in their natural habitat. On trails I have stumbled upon moose in the willows, a bear heading for the hills, a baby fawn in the brush, and millions of antelope along the highways in Colorado and Wyoming. Seeing young wildlife is an amazing look into the life of the natural world around us.

Cow elk crossing the road. Photo by M. Bredehoft

There has been a lot of rain lately, which has limited time out hiking. My family and I were driving along a bumpy mountain trail, listening to bluegrass music, when a cow elk bounded across the road. My husband, being the trained observer that he is, quickly noted that there was movement in the sagebrush several yards behind the cow elk. Pretty soon the elk calf was visible. The little calf must have been born fairly recently as it was so small! (I am always amazed at how they can run so quickly after they are born.) Mamma had seen us and moved on quickly without her calf, she was agitated that the calf was not closer and made sure we were not going to bother her baby. We didn't, and pretty soon the elk calf caught up with his mamma.

Stumbling upon seldom seen moments in nature, such as viewing the cow elk and her calf, are special and remind us we are visitors in their home. Of course, these types of moments keep me coming back to the outdoors- to learn and draw closer to nature.

Young elk calf crossing the road, looking for mamma. Photo by M. Bredehoft

Monday, June 8, 2009

My solitary moments at the Pawnee Buttes

Whenever you are sincerely pleased, you are
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

My hike around the Pawnee Buttes was a welcome time, as I try to return to the Buttes at least once a year. Funny, I grew up in the area, but never visited the Buttes until I was in high school. The area is so rich in history that I can't help but think of early settlers and others who passed by the Buttes, or visited, as I did for the solitude and a few peaceful moments.

The Buttes are a funny landmark, as you almost don't even know they are out on the prairie until you come up on them. Seeing them on the prairie is startling and causes the viewer to pause and catch their breath to take in the scene. Even though I have seen them many times, I still gaze in wonder at their beauty.

The meadow larks, larks bunting, and other singing prairie birds seem to welcome everyone close by (and there are not many people there). Prairie dogs pop up to see who is intruding and occassionaly a snake might slither by and give me a startle. Hiking on the prairie and enjoying the greeen spring grass and the blooming flowers causes my mind and my inside voice to quiet. I think that's why this hike, and so many others, are so peaceful- they allow for us to find peace with ourselves and our surroundings.

Aren't we all in a constant search for finding peace with ourselves? I know once I am out in the open, I can release all of the anxieties of my life and let them float away with the wind. I also know that finding that peace makes hiking and being in the outdoors something I crave, so I can continually find that inner peace.

Each time I go to the Pawnee Buttes I find the peace I need to return to my normal life. I can't wait to go back again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


When I think of barefoot hiking, I think of Adam off of Northern Exposure. He's the crazy guy that lives in the woods- that nobody has really seen, but everybody has a story about him and how crazy he is. When you do finally meet him on the show, he is walking around barefoot and the camera makes sure everyone gets a good look at his feet. His feet are a large and prominate part of his character. He feels very comfortable walking around barefoot letting the world see his exposed feet. I bet he could tell a lot of stories about where he has walked barefoot. Of all things strange about Adam, he is very much at ease going barefoot.

I have never really considered hiking barefoot. Ok, I have NEVER considered hiking barefoot and I have been hiking for years. The thought has never crossed my mind- until now. I have spent plenty of time wondering what hiking footwear I should wear and over the years have bought plenty. Do I need a trail runner? A hiking boot? Something sturdy and warm but not too warm? How much does this cost? And lots of times I have returned home from the store, headed out hiking, and found the shoes pinching my feet or my toes touching the end. How aggrivating! - (so, I sold them on ebay).

From a young age, the moment warm weather started, I would go barefoot all of the time. Even now I go barefoot the majority of the time, just not hiking - or walking - or running - or too far down the road, really. I can see where hiking barefoot leads to a whole new experince and sensation while hiking. I have to admit that little rocks and cold springtime weather scare me.

Warm grass, fresh rain, and a cool stream can help me to reconsider hiking barefoot. So, thanks to all who have gone barefoot hiking before and inspire those who haven't, to give it a try.

Some inspiring quotes about our feet-

"If I had my life to live over... I would climb more mountains and swim more
rivers... If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the
spring and stay that way later in the fall."
~Nadine Stair

"Until thy feet have trod the Road, Advise not wayside folk, Nor till thy
back has borne the Load, Break in upon the broke." ~Rudyard Kipling, The

"Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out
your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no
knowing where you might be swept off to." -J.R.R.

"Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along
the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the
lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more
lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our
ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch." ~Chief

Monday, June 1, 2009


Storm rolling in over the mountains.

Storms, on the prairie or in the mountains, remain to be a favorite and yet stirring time for me. All of nature seems to pause as the refreshing rain falls. The earth seems to stop and listen when the thunder booms.

How relaxing listening to the rain and watching the desent of the drops from the sky. The earth pauses to soak in the moisture and I can pause and let my own mind wander or rest and enjoy the storm.

Clouds serve as an indication of the storm to come. Clouds on the horizon swell and begin to band together- sometimes socking in and area and staying for a long duration, and sometimes coming quickly depositing their contents in full force.

Quickly passing storms allow the earth to awaken- birds begin to sing, the sun begins to appear, and we can all resume our lives where we paused to let the storm pass. Long lasting storms keep our lives slowed down for longer and allow healing, rest, and refreshment to take place.

Storms are stirring and yet calming. The thunder calls and we can take part in the storm or we can try to get away. If you miss the storm, however, you miss the re-awakening taking place after the storm.