Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

hiking

Where We Find Us~~

marriage, Adventure, Love, Travel, Spirited LifeColleen HanneganComment

We met on a dirt trail. Me in a dirty heap, with blood oozing down my left arm, my thumb hanging by its tendon. Gravel and more dirt ground into my hair, across my legs, my bike in a heap next to me. Strangers had helped me remove my bike helmet and encouraged me to put my head between my knees to keep from passing out. I was making some jokes about my state of affairs as the crowd grew around me. Wondering, no doubt, how I could have crashed on this really flat spot of the mountain bike trail.

He stood quietly nearby, his mountain bike and his riding buddies watching over me until the paramedics arrived to cart me away. He saw me but I didn’t see him. We formally met each other two months later when I returned to the trails to ride with his group. He rode at the back of the group with me and taught me how to ride, be safe, and shared the pure joy of playing outside again with me at 50 years young and him at 58.

We fell in love while we rode into new wilderness places together or hiked new trails he introduced to me. We got married 10 years later. Third time was a special charm for both of us. Riding and hiking into out sunset years, welcoming mature love into our last chapters, we return as often as possible to wilderness places to find ourselves again and again. The best part of us. The honest, forever young, happy, spiritual seekers we recognize in each other…. out there. We always find it and return refreshed.

Last week-end we headed out to Palm Springs for a sunny pool retreat. We included a hike up the North Lykken Trail above the city. I’d been up on the trail on two other visits to P.S. I was anxious to take Al up there, knowing he would love it’s wild, rugged, winding trail and the vast view it offered of the desert floor below.

The craggy rocks and bold boulders, the zig zaggy trail required us to mind our footfalls and stay focused. Our hiking poles were keeping us well balanced. The early morning sun was warm, not hot, yet. The trail rose quickly but spread cool shadows across us, carrying us up and up. We paused to catch our breath now and again and for a chance to look how far we’d come. And to look up at the merging of bright blue above and the determined, jagged silhouette of this mountain that held us.

Hiking PS.jpg

Al always wants to go farther. I’m usually the one that says, we need to turn around now. The sun was hotter, our water supply dwindling, and knowing our knees would require patience on our part to hike down, he agreed. One hour out, would be one hour back.

On our descend, we both commented on the special feeling this trail had, how it seemed to draw you up and in it, and that only the hearty hiker would be moved to be up on this mountain as every step required attention.

Four days later, back home, we were still talking about the magical feeling this trail offered. And why it felt like I sensed a presence around us. I’d kept looking around on the way down, wondering if I heard or saw something. A coyote watching? A snake? A Native spirit? A ghost? (Albeit a good ghost.)

Al finds his confidence and identity out there where nature brings out the best of us. A quiet man, he chooses his words carefully. If I want him to talk to me more, I invite him out to the nearest dirt trails to hike or bike together. It loosens up the tightness that suburbia delivers.

He had something to share with me. “ I think that hiking out in the desert, on a trail like this, with no trees, low brush, mostly rocks with all life very close to the ground, allows our own spirit to be free. And that what we sense around us is actually our very own energy flow, our own spirit. That when we hike in a forested area, or even the other desert trail we’ve hiked surrounded by palm trees, we are aware of the energy of those trees.”

He continued. “Trees and all life have energy and we’ve never hiked such a sparse trail like this before. There are usually trees and canyons and more plants. But out on this trail our body energy was able to fly freely about, unobstructed by trees or larger boulders and such. I think we became aware of out own energy flying about us. I thnk that’s what you heard; what you sensed. And I did as well.”

And so it is. Me and Al finding us. Out there. And by the pool. And the hot tub. And the cozy, private room that afforded us a lovely leisure and resbite from the noises of a busy world.

“There, up there, that’s where we gotta go!”

“There, up there, that’s where we gotta go!”






Take a Hike and sharpen your Senses

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

This morning I decided to walk to the hardware store to make my purchase instead of automatically reaching for the car keys. My idea was to combine morning exercise with a simple chore. Three miles ’round trip. My walks and hikes are more often in the opposite direction from morning traffic but today I thought I’d see what I could see, and to hear things differently.
As I walked on the sidewalk alongside the zooming commuters, my slow and quiet pace was a stark contrast to speed and noise. I reminded myself of how often I drive too fast to make that green light and too impatiently wait for a sole pedestrian to make it across the street. Do I have to wait until they get all the way across? I sensed that was the thought for those caffeine amped worker bees waiting for me to hop back up on the sidewalk and get outta the way! This morning though, drivers were very patient with me. Not one person tried to mow me down in the crosswalk.
I stood at the busy corner waiting for the red hand to turn into the green walker, a bit self conscious, standing solo, feeling vulnerable and so “seen” while thirty odd drives looked at me. I always check out the walkers waiting for their signal to cross when I’m in my car, waiting my turn. It’s something drivers do. You can’t help it. No other walkers were nearby. I was the one pushing the crossing button and single handedly altering traffic flow. That was a power rush, a push of the button and the world demands I get a chance to cross safely.
I walked along an area near the overpass that was dense with high bushes and noticed someone had been sleeping there recently. I’d never noticed speeding by in my CRV. I walked past a man, waiting at the bus stop, his bike next to him with a flat front tire. We made eye contact and smiled. “Oh, a flat tire.” I said. He replied, “Yeah, my brother gave me a bike but didn’t include the air!” We laughed at his joke.
The landscape maintenance worker respectfully paused his mower and smiled a “Good Morning” as I passed his crew and stepped around the trimmed grass and trees.

I made my purchases then headed back home.

Walking along noisy streets is not my first choice for outdoor exercise. I’m out on wilderness trails and in neighborhood parks getting my exercise almost every day. But once in awhile, walking in my neighborhood helps me to remember how to be a conscious driver; easy on the speed, more patient with pedestrians, aware of the people around me, not just their cars, and pay better attention to what I see and hear. It’s so easy to be distracted inside your car.

I had this funny image of all the people going to work, walking, instead of driving. All lined up at the red lights, standing single file, tapping their foot impatiently. And the commuters in the opposite direction, walking quickly through the intersection while they had the green light favor. All that serious speed and heavy metal replaced with……..just people walking. If they had to yell at each other instead of use their horn, would they think twice? Afterall, cutting someone off while you’re walking would look rather ridiculous.

I love having my car. I really enjoy moving along and listening to music and getting from here to there in a very short time. But today I wanted to just move at my own easy paced 3 MPH and remind myself I have a choice, to stop look and listen, no matter how fast I’m moving.

Nature; My Kind of Church

Featured, Spirited LifeColleen HanneganComment
Me and my tree.

Me and my tree.

Every day we walk a new trail. Even if it appears to be the same one we walked yesterday, there are subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes all around us. Yesterday I hiked  my favorite trail in Aliso and Woods Canyon wilderness park. It’s tucked alongside a creek and is partially hidden from the main hiking and mountain biking fire trail. Only hikers are allowed on this sweet single track surrounded by a wild, magical grove of oak and sycamore trees. Each time I hike in, I notice changes caused by the weather. New rain ruts appear or deer tracks, hiking boot prints, fallen trees, or crazy overgrowth from Spring busting loose and not caring where She grows her wild flowers. Poison oak has spread far and wide, clinging and climbing up and over and under and between.  Each time I pass through, it feels new and welcomes me like a familiar friend with the birds calling and creek frogs singing and the rustling leaves of small animals nearby. I was lucky to spend a few moments exchanging eye to eye with a deer yesterday. She paused and looked my way as I stopped to enjoy her beauty and grace, the sun highlighting her gorgeous color.

I spent a quiet few minutes lost in the sounds and whispers of nature as I sat underneath this very special ancient oak that is a Shaman’s “journey” tree for me. It seems the beauty of this tree could well be the Mother of this entire park! Her towering trunk and large limbsI reaching up and beyond all the neighboring trees, shading the path and housing all manner of birds and crawly things. A most peaceful 30 minutes!