I’ve spent the past two weeks in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, my time divided evenly between two different campspots, one in the north end of the forest, and one in the south end. The north end seem to attract an older, more rural set of outdoor enthusiasts who spent most of their time flyfishing, exploring ORV trails on side-by-sides, and plinking with rifles. The south end seemed to attract a younger set of backpackers and climbers since the main attractions of the south end were the Cloud Peaks Wilderness area, that didn’t allow motorized vehicles of any sort, and Ten Sleep canyon, which is a bit of a climbing Mecca. I preferred the quiet wilderness of the south end, plus, the fishing was much better: bigger, hungrier trout. My days are simple, quiet, and reflective. I start each morning with meditation, chanting, and reading sacred literature at my campsite, then explore around a bit in the afternoon, either on my motorcycle or on foot with my dog, Kody. As the day cools off, I do a little trout fishing to pull dinner out of a nearby stream, and then close out the day with another round of meditation, and watching one episode of Maverick in my van to lull myself to sleep.
It’s so nice not having internet service up in the mountains. There’s nothing to fill my mind but the excellent books I’m reading, the soothing sounds of nature and occassional glimpses of wildlife. So far on this trip I’ve read Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire” and “The Monkey Wrench Gang”, and am currently reading John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden”. I find that when you starve the senses of worldly distractions, a simple novel becomes a paradise of dreams and imagination to escape into. Reading is one of the things I enjoy most on this journey… that and fishing. I practically grew up waste deep in water, fishing nearly everyday of my life between the ages of 12 and 19. Then I became a vegitarian and felt it was no longer proper to inflict suffering on fish for my own sport. Now I’m a pescatarian, and I only picked up a pole again on this trip. I have to say, it’s like rediscovering a part of myself. It’s amazing how quickly my skills, instincts, and passion for the sport have come back. And I can see why I was so “hooked” on fishing when I was younger. It quiets my mind and fills me with peace nearly as much as meditation. As a general rule, a committed yogi shouldn’t eat fish or harm any other creature. However, last year when all this “White Wolf” energy arose in me, something wild inside me really came to life and seemed to demand I begin consuming fish again, as if the Wolf spirit I was channeling required it. I trust my instincts, and so I have been cutting the heads off the fish I catch, running a knife up their belly, removing their innards, tossing them in a pan, and then devouring them. It’s a good practice for me; it gets me out of my contrived pacifism and puts me a little more in touch with the fierce and unflinching realities of Nature. It is refreshing and reassuring to see that I can fill my belly drawing from the abundance of nature without having to participate in commerce. It’ makes me feel free, and wild. I also have been drinking pure, fresh, water from mountain springs and eating wildflowers.
Now I’m down off the mountain in Thermoplis Wyoming, at the “world’s largest mineral hot springs”. I needed a couple days to fill my fridge, do some laundry, and soak my bones. I didn’t know what to expect from this town but I am pleasantly surprised. The state park is very accomodating, the town has a quaint charm and a touch of culture, and the people are quite friendly and straightforward. Straightforward… that’s the word I would used to describe the Wyomingers I’ve met thus far. If you yourself are straightforward you’ll get a long just fine. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are an outsider from a different culture; if you are just authentic, humble, open, and honest, and love the outdoors, you’ll fit right in.
I’ve decided after all that I will make my way towards the ancient and powerful spiritual center of Mount Shasta California to continue my sadhana until it gets too cold, but I’m gonna take my time getting there. I measure my time now mostly in terms of water tank refills. My van only holds ten gallons of fresh water, and used sparingly, I can stretch that for 5 or 6 days. I’m not out here to be running around all over creation and spending a lot of money. I’m here to be sitting quiet in nature and focusing on inner things. I plan to take the northern route to Shasta, stopping through the Lamar valley in Yellowstone to try and see wolves, then up the Bear Tooth pass into Montana, across Idaho, cutting the corner of Washington, and down the Oregon coast to Shasta. It will probably take me several weeks before I arrive there, because I plan to spend a water tank’s length of time at several beautiful spots connecting the dots between here and there.
That’s all for now. Here’s some pics of some moose I saw in the Bighorns, Lake Helena in the Cloud Peaks Wilderness, some 11,000 year old petroglyphs near Thermopolis, and a selfie. Peace and love.