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happy birthday to me

2015 June 4
by Rachel Turiel

On the occasion of my upcoming birthday (40 + approx @%*!!), I’m heading out on a solo backpacking trip.

During the day, when I think about my trip, I’m all: Wild plants! Connecting with the blessings of nature! Waking up to bird song! Slowing way down! The mental clarity that comes from being alone in the woods! Feeling the power of my own two legs! At night when the doubts come knocking on my cranial door, I have a little mantra I repeat about “peaceful nocturnal animals staying in their own areas.”

And really, the nighttime doubts and fears are more about the unknown (I’ve slept in the woods enough to know that wild animals really don’t want to visit my camp, except for one highly persistent mouse-type scurrying around under my tarp a couple summers ago). The unknown! It’s such a vast, amorphous and shifting little nightmare. And really, I’m onto myself. When the doubts whoosh in, I try to shine the light of awareness on them, catching them before they do too much unaccompanied sneaking around. “Hello there, fears!” I say really loudly, “I see you’re back. Take a number.”

But it’s daytime, so I’m excited again. Excited to experience the wild world directly, to get a glimpse into my own humanity as reflected back to me in an aspen forest, to get curious about the taste of columbine nectar, to loosen the reins of control, to simply walk, to love the rain without a roof (the weather forecast is fierce), or I don’t know, just to not have to share my bacon and chocolate for a few days. I’ve got my sleeping tarp, my rain poncho, one pot, one bowl, one spoon, a book (OK, two books – last night was like speed dating for bibliophiles, scrutinizing the first pages of five books I brought home from the library), a large helping of trust, and the sweetest family awaiting my return at a nearby campsite.

And if you pray, pray for me, but only because I’m not bringing coffee.



p.s. Col and I planted a 3-sisters garden (corn, beans and squash) last weekend. Why does the boy look so aggrieved? Must tone down zealous delivery.

3 sisters

22 Responses leave one →
  1. Kathy Smith permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy birthday Rachel! Have a very special and well deserved solo time.

  2. Daniel Jokelson permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Good on you. I’m doing a solo backpacking trip next month, taking several days to hike just a small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail near my house in southern OR. I’m having similar excited/nervous feelings, but it’s gonna be great — for you and for me. And Happy 40@#! birthday.

  3. Sara permalink
    June 4, 2015

    I like it. Have fun.

  4. Becky permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy Birthday! You are a wonder – going off camping by yourself and with no coffee – I wouldn’t make it a day on either count. Blessings to you and those you love…

  5. Baba permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy birthday to a wonderful daughter and person.
    Wishing you some radical amazement on your forthcoming trip and always.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    June 4, 2015

    I always remember we share a birthday on the 7th! Happy Birthday! You are brave! wishing you a peacful and joyful experience!

  7. Claire permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy Birthday Rachel! Have a wonderful campout!

  8. June 4, 2015

    I love that you spend your birthdays solo backpacking. Such a great way to renew and reconnect with the self.

  9. Sarah permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Have a delightful trip, Rachel!

  10. Andrea permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy birthday sweet dear gemini sister. Nothing like being alone, with the Mother, to awaken the senses. It is a true delight to share this earth walk with you.

  11. June 4, 2015

    Curious about the two book titles. Here is another one you have to read, if you haven’t already. “If you Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland. Read it. (No personal gain here if you do. It’s just so good. Even if you’ve read a thousand other writer-type books)

  12. Kathy permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy Birthday! I assure you, you won’t need coffee. Just take a breath of that precious rare air. Enjoy your fabulous moutainous back yard!

  13. Natalie permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy Birthday Rachel! I love and miss you.

  14. Vicki permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Perhaps you should re-consider the coffee thing, if for no other reason than the nose full aroma of morning, no swallow required!
    Have a wonderful mind opening trip!

  15. Jessica permalink
    June 4, 2015

    Happy Birthday! Don’t worry about the sounds at night. It’s just the animals sending birthday wishes. They’re celebrating with you!

  16. Brenda permalink
    June 5, 2015

    Happy Birthday! Have a blessing of a day, and camping experience!! :)

  17. nan permalink
    June 5, 2015

    Wishing you happiness on your birthday and every day. I wish I was as brave as you to camp on my own. I always need a husband or a friend along to carry all my bear spray ( we have grizzlies here). Have a great time !

  18. nan permalink
    June 5, 2015

    p.s. We have only seen grizzlies twice while hiking, and they both ran away. I have to be honest tho, when our hearts finally calmed down, we turned and hiked in the opposite direction.

  19. June 5, 2015

    happy birthday, dear rachel!!! and i loved this: “I try to shine the light of awareness on them, catching them before they do too much unaccompanied sneaking around.” hope you have a fabulous trip!

  20. June 5, 2015

    Have a wonderful soul filling time with Mother Earth!

  21. June 7, 2015

    Happy Birthday indeed! I’m so glad you brought up the nighttime fear. This is what has kept me from camping/backpacking on my own my whole life. And its not animals I’m afraid of, its people. And a particular type of person: the Hannibal Lector, Evil Menacing Male Character From the Movies type. Just reading that you do this, have done it, have actual fears that you wrestle with and have come back alive makes me feel like I might actually do this one day.

  22. June 9, 2015

    Yay! I can’t wait to hear all about it. And what book you chose.

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