Wilderness river trips tend to draw me in with their present-moment awareness energy – whether it’s the Grand Canyon, Middle Fork or Main Salmon. As soon as I put on my focus shifts to what is right in front of me: The River, the people I’m traveling with and the beauty that surrounds me. Some people like to party on mutli-day trips, I like to meditate. Some paddlers complain about too much ‘flatwater’ on these trips and I say that they’re missing the whole point. It’s not about the rapids you run, it’s about tapping into the flow of the river, about remembering our connection with nature. There is power in getting down to the very basics without technology or other distractions and remembering what is important.
Here are a few things that this trip helped me to remember:
1. What it feels like to connect with nature, with Spirit and with people by simply sitting, breathing and listening. There is nowhere to go and no phones to check, and we are privileged enough to have all of our basic needs taken care of on these awesome trips. So, what’s left? Here, now. The present moment and sitting with whatever is right in front of you. When I connect to the present moment, to nature, the river, the people around me in this way I remember that I am actually always connected to something bigger than myself – that gives me courage, confidence, a sense of calm and joy.
2. The River speaks to us if we can get quiet enough and get out of our own way to listen. Not only does it invite us to be bold and adventurous, but also quiet and peaceful. The River holds so many memories of the peoples who lived and traveled her banks, the Salmon who return every year to spawn and the millions of years of water flowing through rock and earth to create the riverbed. The River has been flowing long before we were born and will continue to flow long after we die – there is wisdom there, but we need to slow down enough to hear it.
3. Strong, supportive community helps people thrive. We all have ups and downs and times when we’re at our best, times when we’re at our worst. We live in a culture that can be very unforgiving and judgmental. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded in many aspects of my life by confident, caring communities of women who, even when I’m at my worse, never stop showing their love and support. This allows me to feel secure enough to be myself, which gives me the confidence to move through challenges and come out the other side more compassionate, loving and self-assured. Creating this type of environment was one of my main goals when I started Girls at Play. It was definitely apparent on this trip, especially with the added support and awesomeness of the Canyons guides who live in their river families all summer. I started thinking… if we treated everyone we know as if we were going to be with them on a week-long or three week long wilderness river trip, perhaps the world would be a better place!
I’m grateful for the river and for the opportunity to paddle with such amazing women! Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip. And if you’d like to join us in 2015 the dates are Sept. 5 – 10, 2015!