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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Reflections from Wilderness

I wake with the dawn and sit quietly by the fire as the last watch patrols, and then I was alone.
The sky is a milky blue by now, and one can faintly make out the edge of the hills and the heavy mist that hangs over the river as the world awoke itself.
The crickets persisted in their continual chatter and the stillness is broken by the trilling of a Fiery Knecked Nightjar – ‘Good Lord Deliver Us’ ‘Good Lord Deliver Us’ gently coaxing us to the reality of day and giving us strength to face what the new day would have to offer us.

The baboons on the facing cliffs are barking incessantly. I first think it was some domestic dispute but as the screaming infants subside, so then do the alarm barks become more intense, more frenzied, creating deep tension in the air.
Something is disturbing them. Is it a leopard in the reeds near by, or perhaps is it us, as we all start to move around the camp, in the clearing light of day?
As the light expanded do in the distance comes the grunting of lion downstream, reclaiming their birthright and asserting their presence to all who will listen.

Dawn just came and went without more ceremony and then day was with us.
Feeling deep sadness as our last day on trail started to warm with the new sun, I withdraw to a log in the shape of a hammock without the strings. Friends came to talk in low voices and I again felt renewed by the special kinds of bonds wilderness trails create for me. Friendship that cannot be described on paper with ink – too fragile for chance misconstructions.
And so, the motions of departure begin. We all follow our routines and fiddle round with our packs – inevitably leaving things out to delay the end. Have our breakfast of cereal with water from our charcoaled kettle and started to clear the camp of our traces.

Solitude is elusive.

I knew that the end was coming and would be hard.

We leave a camp so clear of human trace – no one will know we were there. As if our journey was only an imagination.
Memory pricks at this waterhole where we always find rhino at the beginning of our journey or at the end. We are close now.
Over the slope, through the grass, there lies the tar road snaking through the trees. There is the vehicle..Through tears streaming down my cheeks, I remind myself that an end is also a beginning. There is life after the pooh, the mushrooms will continue to grow, the past necessary for the shaping of the future.
With that I pulled my pack from my back and didn’t look back again.

Journal Entry - Imfolozi Wilderness Trail -South Africa

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