For months the Olympic Mountains had been beckoning. Sometimes veiled by layers of gray clouds, sometimes towering in snowy glory, their many moods called to me across the waters of Puget Sound.
Massive rainforest trees, thundering waterfalls, wandering bear and cougar, no highways or roads penetrating their wild interior—I knew it was a perfect place for a rite of passage to mark the transition into my 65th year, and to honor the death of my father and son this past year.
Following the pattern of the vision quest, I entered the separation phase of the journey: preparing my backpacking gear, completing office and home details, saying goodbye to family and friends. Once I left the trailhead and began the 3.2 mile, 1300 foot ascent to Lena Lake with my backpack, I stepped more deeply into separation from the comforts of civilization.
My simple, beautiful camp provided the threshold or launching place for me to imagine and create a ceremony to honor my father and son.
On day two I entered the Brothers Wilderness and hiked another three miles and ascended another thousand feet in elevation.
I found the perfect place to sit and be with their memories—a place nestled in moss, watched carefully from above by the Brothers Peak.
The ceremony I created is a private one, partly based on some of the traditions of the threshold phase of the vision quest and partly generated by my own soul and relationship with these two dear men.
Time alone in wilderness heightens my awareness, reminds me to look within, and stirs my creativity. It restores my soul. I am home now slowly, carefully entering the longest phase of the vision quest—incorporation. I made the journey to the “sacred mountains” on behalf of myself and my people. Now I must learn how to make real in my daily life the wisdom I discovered there.