Mount San Jacinto

The mountain in the background of this photo is San Jacinto. The San Jacinto Mountains is one of my favorite motorcycling destinations.

Metadata: f/5.3, ISO 200, 1 Second, and 70mm Focal Length (35mm equivalent: 105mm). Captured on January 5, 2012 with a Nikon D200 and a Nikkor AF-S 18-105mm VR lens.

Back when I used to do a fair amount of backpacking the San Jacintos was my favorite area to go to for multi-day expeditions. Though I now do a certain amount of hiking, I haven’t made a solo backpacking trek in a decade. I can only remember four times over a three-decade period when I backpacked with other people. Other than those few times, I always backpacked solo.

One of the things I liked about going alone was the meditative quality of the activity. After a couple hours of packing, my thoughtstream usually shut off and I was just a small part of the universe. With thoughts shut off, I was just a node on the matrix. It reminded me, once again that the universe is one thing moving within itself.

Beyond the obvious and well-known benefits of the meditative state there was another benefit. Because I wasn’t broadcasting a constant stream of thoughts, animals frequently didn’t know I was coming. They were unaware of my presence, so I saw more wildlife in that state of being than when my conscious mind was engaged in maintaining itself. I would frequently step up on a rise in the trail or around a blind corner and startle some animal.

Deer seemed to be the most puzzled by my sudden appearances. They would typically stand frozen, looking in my direction for a few seconds as if bathing in the light of automobile headlamps. Watching them, I would start thinking again, and they would bound off into the underbrush.