“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Raised as a hiker, I know exactly what that wise Scot was talking about. And while, ideally, I’d be scampering across the Sierra Nevada batholith, anywhere Navajo Sandstone is exposed or being in front of the Pacific watching the waves roll in (they are borad areas but those are my happy places), anytime I can retreat into nature, it’s a welcome relief from everything else that may be going on at that moment in my life. For me it’s like running into a church and declaring “saaaanturarrry!” It’s an automatic release, and my stress level usually drops off the chart. I never feel more spiritually connected or at peace than when I’ve got nothing but rocks and/or water surrounding me. Thankfully, my husband shares the same enthusiasm and the same pull from natura. Actually, that was always a requirement for me when choosing the person I’d spend the rest of my life with: he had to be outdoorsy.
When we first met in February of 2005, I was living in Florence, and while we did do some road tripping up the coast to Liguria, we didn’t ever get the opportunity to go camping. So when he came to visit me that summer in California, I had to make sure this guy wasn’t afraid to sleep on the ground or get dirty (not that there is anything wrong with you if you are, but when we’re talking compatibility as a life partner, this is key for me). So I decided to take him camping, but not just any camping, dry camping (aka no running water/electricity available). I love dry camping because a) it usually scares off most people so normally you have most of the place to yourself b) it’s not so hard as long as you’ve got the right equipment c) nothing is more annoying than laying out at night an not being able to see the stars because the campground is lit up like a 80 year-old’s birthday cake (as seems to be the trend on this continent). So this was his test, was this Italian boy going to be able to hang with hauling water and using a pit toilet?! To my extreme joy, within no more than 5 minutes after pulling into Convict Flat campground, a beautiful spot in Kings Canyon National Park, he was shoeless and shirtless running around like a wild man picking up dried, felled wood for a fire. I was like “oookaaaay….this is gonna work!”
He didn’t put his shoes back on for 3 days! He even surpassed all expectations by actually swimming in Roaring River Falls, a healthy stream of glacial melt that cascades into a natural pool. It’s so cold that your body usually goes completely numb within a minute, and while I’m a girl who’d always have to swim in any body of water I happen to be by no matter what (the Pacific in winter, Mono Lake etc. I’m not picky) I know most people aren’t as weird as me. This was a match made in heaven.
Our little family, comprised of my husband, myself and our 4 year old dog, have been/are going through a lot over the past few years, the most life-shattering being the unexpected passing of his mother a little over a year ago. Anyone who’s lost a parent, especially someone as loving as his mother, knows it’s something you never really get over, and things actually get harder a year out. Combine that with leaving our home to start a life over on the other side of the world and it can all get a bit overwhelming, and a sanctuary is needed.
With all this going on, it wasn’t a surprise that one day last week we had to answer that call that is piu forte di noi (stronger than us), the mountains were calling.
We were hoping to come across some porcini mushrooms while we were up here, but it’s still a bit too early yet. But a day spent here is never wasted. We came back recharged.