Friday, June 7, 2013

California Wilderness: Reflections from Death Valley


The spring California Wilderness 2013 program begins with a backpack into Death Valley. Since the early stages of a program can emphasize the so-called "separation phase" of the journey, Death Valley is an especially favorable starting place because it is unfamiliar and challenging to most participants. Discomfort is quickly dissipated once we have settled into our basecamp under cottonwood trees with spring water nearby. In the expanse of desert, the days pass and seem to float independently and timelessly, losing their connection to any calendar.

From Antonella De La Torre, aka Pachamama:

Under the afternoon sun of Cottonwood Springs, we sit in shady sit spots reading, journaling, and watching the wildlife interact with both earth and sky. Cottonwood Springs shelters a plethora of migrant birds, colorful lizards, wild horses, and even a few snakes! Because of the amount of life in this seemingly barren desert, I never felt alone during this last stretch of our educational adventure.

Inspired by all the amazing readings by authors such as William Everson, Bill Plotkin, John Tarrant, Jon Young, Starhawk, and other ecopsychologists, my ecological and personal consciousness expands with every day that passes. Endless learning and infinite questions pervade my Sierra Institute experience so far, and what I am getting out of this is beyond any sort of knowledge I’ve gained in the typical educational institution.

From Kelan Ilya:

As we enter the Oasis of Cottonwood Canyon, we endure solitude to the highest degree. We face the reality of the emptiness of the desert.The dialogues that take place in such an astonishing setting allow us to relinquish the stresses of our everyday lives. Both personal and universal mysteries are addressed and investigated in a manner that enables the group to express themselves freely.

The group dynamic is sophisticated and enables an intimate bond similar to one of a native tribe. Being a part of such a unique community is an honorable experience and seems unachievable elsewhere in society.

A wild horse in Death Valley 
To see more images from the Spring 2013 California Wilderness trip, visit Sierra Institute on Facebook.

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