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Travelogue - 04/18/04                                                                                                                               Links to all Travelogue pages


04/16/04 - Forest Fast

Hail is falling sluggishly, too wet to bounce, too warm to stick. I could have kept working outside, but it seems like a good time to take a break. It's nearly noon and I've been busy since five this morning. I don't know whether early to bed, early to rise will really make me healthy, wealthy or wise, but it does give me a head start on the day and that's kind of fun. The fact is, there isn't much to do out here in the woods in the evening - read a little and turn in early is about it - and after seven or eight hours sleep I'm ready to get up even if it is four or five o'clock.

This morning I worked on the computer, separating and sorting some of the thousands of scanned photos I have on the hard drive. Shortly before I left Rhode Island, I hired a couple of women to scan every single photographic print I've accumulated in my life, which are legion! Now, a little at a time, I get to work with them on a number of levels, improving many as can only be done digitally. This can include re-cropping, sharpening, repairing, sometimes erasing extraneous objects, adjusting brightness and contrast, color balance, hues & saturation, and more. It's a fun project and I get to revisit all those people and places as I go. Eventually, I may use some of them in stories I hope to write. Meanwhile, I'll email the occasional shot to a friend or family member when I think they'll get a kick out it. 

Once it got light out and warmed up a bit this morning, I set out to prepare a fire pit to heat rocks for the sweat lodge I discovered near my campsite. This Twin Arrows camping area has been picked over for firewood, but along the broad, rock and boulder strewn riverbed are clusters of driftwood ranging from bracken & branches to entire tree trunks. It's a workout collecting and carting bundles of wood over such uneven terrain, but one load at a time I'm gathering the reserves I'll need to super-heat the stones for the sweat.

The sweat is part of a fast I'm undertaking. I have fasted occasionally since my early twenties. I believe it's good for the body, mind and spirit, all of which in my case can use a nudge in the right direction from time to time. Spending time alone in the forest - with no people, few distractions and the uplifting omnipresence of nature - seems like what I crave most at the moment. The fasting is simply taking it a step further. After five years of conducting full-time, hardcore business I feel an urge to mark the end of that life and the beginning of, or reconnection with, a gentler reality. This fast is a cleansing, a shedding of all the stress, aggravation, negativity and sheer brute effort that was so much a part of what I was doing in Rhode Island, an emptying of the vessel so that it can be refilled with something sweeter. Of course, it's likely to clean out my intestinal tract, too, and that's just plain healthy. Won't hurt me to lose a few pounds, either.

There's a method to fasting, at least as I perceive and practice it. I began preparing for this one a few days ago by limiting my diet to vegetarian foods. No animals or animal products, no junk. Today I'm eating only fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, and not much of them. Tomorrow I begin a few of days of just juices - grape and prune juice (organic, not from concentrate). This serves to flush out the intestines. When purple grape juice goes in one end and comes out the other looking much the same, then I'll be ready for the water-fasting stage. 

Fasting is augmented with enemas, at least one a day. This is surely my least favorite part of the whole thing, but I believe it's necessary. If you don't cleanse the colon thoroughly when fasting, you begin digesting and assimilating old, hardened waste matter that's in there cached on the intestinal walls, and that releases toxins that make you feel weak and sick. This internal cleansing is one big difference between fasting and starving.

When the juice is finished I'll water-fast for one to three days, depending on how I feel about it. Then to break the fast I'll essentially reverse the process, easing my body back with juices, then raw fruits and vegetables, then vegan meals and, eventually, back to my normal eating habits. I'm reading a book right now titled, "SuperFoods Rx" by a nutritionist doctor named Steven Pratt. It's persuading me to clean up my eating act in the future and, if not cut out all the "bad" stuff, at least add more health-promoting foods to my diet.

The sweat is supposed to help cleanse the body, the perspiration drawing out residual toxins. Finding that sweat lodge literally at my doorstep was a real treat. I've been visualizing myself doing this fast in this setting for months, long before I quit working. I often pictured this exact spot at Twin Arrows, remembering it from when I lived in Mount Shasta. I imagined I would build a small sweat lodge down on the riverbank. What a thrill it was to see that the universe had managed to provide it for me already constructed, exactly where and when I had seen it in my mind's eye. It was a kind of affirmation that I'm on the right track to living right. All I have to do is supply the firewood, and that's what I'm doing now. In fact, the weather has eased off so I'm going to get back to it.


The other day I rode my mountain bike down to a sprawling patch of forest known locally as Smiling Buddha. Covering maybe a hundred acres, the forest there is a warren of branching dirt tracks with cleared campsites spaced well apart. My route gradually took me downhill to the riverbank, which I paralleled for a while before starting back up again. I spent an hour or more biking all through Smiling Buddha. It was a good workout and fun to do. I saw only two occupied campsites this early in the season (in the summertime many will be in use on any given day). These two were back near the entrance, each with a parked car and a pup tent. It was drizzling on & off at the time and I didn't see anyone about. Deeper into the woods I discovered a sweat lodge frame, larger and better-built than the one near my campsite. No doubt it's waiting for it's builders to return to use it again, and meanwhile could serve anyone else willing to bring out blankets and tarps to cover it.

My sweat lodge at Twin Arrows is humble by comparison, but better suited to one or two people because it's small. Besides, it's already covered, even if only with a couple of plastic tarps and a layer of pine bows. I'll use it soon. What I hope is ample firewood is now stacked and ready by a fire pit I resurrected on the stony riverbank a few yards from the lodge. I've kept the wood covered with a plastic tarp since I collected it, to keep off the sporadic rain.

It is still early spring in the Cascade Mountains. I caught the tail end of some prematurely warm and sunny weather when I arrived in Mount Shasta eight days ago, but since the middle of last week it has been chilly and damp, with intermittent rain and even some hail and snow, even down here at 3,500 feet elevation. I believe it snowed in earnest the other night just a little higher up, at around 4,500 feet. 

I'm really looking forward to full-blown, sunny & mild, flower-blossoming, great-to-be-outside spring, having had only two brief glimpses of it since I left Rhode Island a month ago. Spring will surely come, and when it does I'll head north.

Meanwhile, this is about as fine a place as I can imagine to wait it out. Here is the view outside my camper window at this moment, though I'm afraid the photo doesn't do the place justice. You can't hear the whooshing of the river as it cascades over a million stones, or smell the sweet scent of pine that permeates the clean mountain air. As gloomy as it can get when the clouds lower and thicken and the rain pours, it is still a welcomed and welcoming place to be.

 Next Entry: 04/28/04


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