Thursday, August 30, 2012


"A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are for...". John Shedd
The first time this was said on Outward Bound, it struck a few as funny because while this old quote reflected on ships and the ocean, we were deep within the mountains. Yet metaphors and Outward Bound blend together like summits and the sky, so the next few times we heard this we listened with different ears...
Now, looking far back to those origins and beginnings, many of us can see as well how Outward Bound had firstly sent us forth - launched our very selves and lives upon so many amazing undertakings. We have since propelled ourselves towards mountain summits, then launched further when rappelling on our return. We've initiated treks so far, taken first steps out in wild places previously only envisioned, gone forth on the open ocean and among canyons so much farther and deeper than ever expected.
Such launchings...
So many wonderful journeys, all from those first fledgling beginnings. We adventurers are born for this kind of experience. It is elemental, primal, an inherent part of us and what we do when we wander the wild places.
Soon, I am about to 'commence once more', for long days and as many nights, starting on a course that has taken years for it to come into being. I will launch with my sea kayak out towards my farthest, most elusive coastal island yet, with new expansive intentions, towards those dreams only known upon a map until those moments. My goal is the creation of memories, that would not have been a possibility, without being sent off in those truly encouraging ways, so long ago on Outward Bound..... DSD 
My appreciation to Jeff  for his comments that inspired these memories and this musing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"A Mile Or So, A Thousand Times..."

When solo coastal sea kayaking, we find ourselves very aware of maritime distances, especially when out among endless wind and waves. We seek seclusion where the tides and timings of the season generously gift this to us. This chosen water route I have paddled many times, over longer years and seasons. My intention soon is to seek solitude and these elusive islands provide so many opportunities and possibilities for just that...
I've read my charts very closely, always looking for new paths and inlets, and forever finding variations, even after many familiar wanderings out there. One wild place in particular is what I fondly refer to as my 'there and back' beach. A mile or so, maybe a kilometer and a half, of countless cobblestones, broken and whole shells, so soft sands, and shifting driftwood too. Sometimes it becomes more revealing with the ever changing tides, while other quiet moments shyly still keeping its secrets...
On this 'there and back' beach I have wandered across, then returned over long moments, musing while strolling and gazing, and often gathering up little selected touchstones. Just walking, maybe hiking, always pondering, only a short distance, maybe a mile or so, yet a thousand times or more...
A 'there and back' wild place this is, so known yet never twice the same, always something to be discovered, among the ever changing sands and ways of seeing too...
Time to soon wander there once again.....  DSD 

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Limitless Horizons..."

"No sea paddler worth his salt can have failed to be inspired by the sense of physical space and limitless horizons when paddling out of sight of land...". B. Taylor
Limitless opportunities, endless possibilities, all awaiting for you out there Dear Friends... DSD 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Night Quiet....."

In that special quiescent time, between those so beautiful sunsets and then the slow sunrise, are moments we embrace within the gentle quiet of the night...
While much of our adventure activity takes place during the daylight hours, it can be the tranquility within darkness that seems to balance this all out.
We rest in an alpine hut, listening to the breathing around us, beginning to feel warm again in the quietude after completing our latest challenging climb...
On a distant secluded island, under the cover of darkness and a night filled sky of stars, we discover the magic of a reposeful solitude, as those long lingering hours unfold...
Up on the shoreline of a far northern lake, when the winds calm and those waters settle into their elusive undisturbed times, we listen as a loon calls, while the night blankets everything with a so soothing peacefulness...
First unfolds the calming disposition of a greying day, then the gentle falling of the veil of darkening night, where sound and motion settles, and those tranquil secrets now reveal themselves. What a so special process and time is the embrace of the night quiet within our adventures. Special because upon night falling, we may move from musing to an even deeper contemplation, from the full days of anticipation, then to the nights sense of completion. Therein these silent meditative moments, we will likely listen more closely for what else out there is calling to us, and then also to more clearly hear our own deepest longings as well. All within our adventurous night quiet..... DSD 
My gratitude Dear Friends for your unique quiet of the night images.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Something In Us..."

"So if you cannot understand that there is something in us which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go...". G. Mallory
Dedicated this adventure season to all our Friends who understand this 'something within us', and who are Adventuring For Another Reason ..... DSD 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Singing Softly....."

I'm not sure when I noticed, but on that solo scramble, at some point amidst this long climb, I found myself softly singing...
There didn't seem to be a lot of words to this tune, only a bit of melody there as well. But isn't it amazing my Friends, when we discover ourselves doing this kind of thing out within the trials of our adventures. We are surely happy within our efforts...
It was indeed a different mountain scramble, with challenging route finding and exposure, and a much longer day than I had expected. Yet the harder it got, the more rhythm I seemed to find within me - just singing & humming softly in those special ways we all know and share in from out there.
I believe this was likely more about contentment and spirit, than any attempt at distraction from the efforts. Although that in itself can be a useful technique for keeping going.
I think it was later on the summit, when I began to realize what those sounds, this elusive music and words meant.
I was just so happy to be there, just so appreciative that I still can adventure so after these long years and with those health challenges. Then I started that even more daunting descent, simply, quietly, singing softly to myself..... DSD 
Thank you for your images my Friends.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Our Tian....."

The cairns and registers we find upon mountain summits tell so many stories...
What we often discover there can be fun, historical, enlightening, and at times a real mystery of words and meaning up above those thousands of feet and more. I so enjoy pondering who wrote these things and what experiences may have prompted such  musings. At times they have sent me off on other journeys too of looking to find the meanings of these notations. Here is what I've found out about two words written large, upon a single page, within the register of a favorite summit climbed again this past season.
They simply said: "Our Tian".....
Now the oldest 'Tian' literature I discovered were references to certain kinds of 'Elders'. There was also a very interesting 'Treasure of Tian', which was said to be mysteriously hidden, yet somehow still available for us all.
In my search for its possible earliest meanings I found that Tian seemed firstly to represent a 'summit' or 'mountaintop', but also interestingly refers to the top of our head and that which emanates from there.
Depending upon which tome you muse over, Tian further reflects meanings of the weather & climate, sunrise & sunset, all of nature and the elements within, and what seems to be called the 'seven seasons'. Most intriguing for me are the Tians as stories of mystery, of the heavens and sky's, of that which is beyond human will, and of the celestial energy and spirit worlds both out there and within. These two words writ large were beginning to really engage my attention...
Tian is written about to also be an elemental but indescribable thing, the natural character of a being, something that reflects instinct too. It looks to originally be a Taoist or Confucianist reference. It is one of the oldest Chinese symbols that represents the cosmos, the heavens above us, and those hidden within us.
What a most interesting ancient phrase. What an intriguing high place to have found it...
I have returned again to that same silent summit, and hopefully now too, I have come back with more of an understanding of what our fellow climber may have meant by writing "Our Tian". Now as I write this and gaze out across a sea of summits, valleys and rivers, up to a shimmering sky of blue, while feeling the winds ebb and flow at this height - I begin to sense what our shared Tian may be about in this wonderful, peaceful wild place..... DSD 
Thank you Friends for sharing your Tian images here.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

"A Look, A Smile, A Sigh..."

A look of possibility, that maybe we could,
A smile about decisions, and a commitment to go,
A sigh reflecting dreams, from our shared vision too...

A look when beginning planning, with anticipation and ideas,
A smile during our preparations, initial motion and direction,
A sigh over these beginnings, and the momentum we felt...

A look at the trailhead, once finally upon the ground,
A smile during first light, enlightening so much more,
A sigh amidst our efforts, and the inevitable testing of endurance...

A look upwards across steep slopes, with an awareness too of timings,
A smile when gaining altitude, and that building of our shared confidence,
A sigh while gazing back, knowing how far it has been...

A look as challenges become apparent, the need to focus now so clear,
A smile after figuring this out, navigating on such a very long route,
A sigh once past the crux, the puzzle solved yet again...

A look towards each other, another amazing shared adventure,
A smile upon this elusive summit, our dream now become real,
A sigh quietly once again, while slowly descending amidst such beauty and wonders...

Dedicated this adventure day to those out there sharing in  The Smiles  of this little endeavour.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

"Returning It Home..."

It was one of my most difficult solo climbs. The kind of experience out upon a mountain where we remember every detail, pretty much all the moments of our whole high place adventure. This stone has rested here at home for so long now, from that summit to our den, then in that old leather box with so many others. Years of seasons have passed along the way. So many times I have held it in my hand to recall again the challenges endured on that climb. I chose this cherished stone from that summit for a variety of reasons. It was first gathered up because I recognized it as very, very old rock. It was uniquely carved by the elements into a mountain shape of its own, there are also cracks, striations, and whorls upon it that reflect those of the ancient Scholars Rocks . It has now become a perfect medium as well to splash a bit of paint upon it, and to Mix In many special elements with that paint as well.
It seems only fitting now to return this wild touchstone back to its own summit home, as I have long intended to climb there once more...
Back then I had built up a small cairn as there was none there at the time so long ago, and I am hoping to see it too once again. Other than bits of new color on one side, this stone appears the same in most ways after so long, even though I have certainly weathered much more. So while these old legs can still make it up there, it is time to go back.
Like old good close friends, who have shared many long trails and unfolding climbs, and now have to part ways, I will miss this little stone, but it is time to now return it back home..... DSD 
My appreciation for your own images of your returning experiences my Friends.

Friday, August 03, 2012

"The Hidden Strengths Of Adventure Stoicism..."

To stand on that real storm in such a way, beneath the relentless rain, among those persistent winds, yet still very much with a hint of an ever present smile on his face... That moment, that look, of our Outward Bound Instructor so long ago, was my first sense of the hidden strengths of adventure stoicism...
It was not any kind or resignation we saw, never was there even a sense of giving up, but something especially powerfully else...
The wild places and the elements out there blend in beautiful, amazingly, wonderful ways - but clearly many times not the way we want them to be though, nor the way we may have expected things to turn out, and often many degrees off what we wished they were.
We plan & prepare, practice skills, and hone our minds too, yet we cannot ultimately predict nor control the final outcomes on our wild place journeys. So a different kind of enduring philosophy is needed at times, other levels of fortitude, temperance, patience, and subtle indifference can be useful learned skills too.
There are real strengths in developing a kind of adventurous stoicism like that Outward Bound Leader had. For in learning about acceptance of the way things are, in going anyway regardless of those inevitable twists and turns, by continuing on and embracing the surprises, the unexpected, and in reframing it so, we surely further our love for the mystery and the unknowns of it all even more.
All such adventure challenges and our forthcoming efforts then brings out something else latent from deep within us, and asks each of us to become something more. To go beyond the person we started the trail or climb as, and to become the adventurer we each know we can be out in the wild places. For being an adventure stoic at times, is yet another subtly potent way of doing just that..... DSD