What started out a few years ago as an adventure with friends into Saline Valley for the new year has now become almost a pilgrimage for me. As I drove the distance around mountain passes and down long dirt roads, I realized I had no other idea of what I'd want to do for the New Year than leave the daily-humdrum, soak in some springs, and be ready for the next step, wherever 2018 decides to direct me. Saline Valley is always magical, and always provides what my soul needs to soak up, as I look backward, forward, and inward.
I took time to reflect on the changes in the past year. So much had changed over the course of 2017. Everything felt right.
This road trip so far has been full of amazing experiences: hours of soaking in the most beautiful pools, with the super moon rising over wide desert expanses, small engine planes landing right next to us as we approached the airstrip, with the opportunity to explore them; the harrowing and formidable 4wd Lippincott road up to the Racetrack (a geological feature in Death Valley); the loss and finding of my good friend's much-loved pup; more hot springs, cool springs, and unexpected encounters in Bishop; skiing in June Lake, and a surreal 12.5 hour drive in a day to Colorado.
But the truth is, aside from all of the natural wonders, the things that touch me most are all of my friends' individual truths and stories that I hear along the way. Everyone encounters such different challenges, and yet we are all connected by common threads. We all live these different parts of a massive collective story, and fill these roles, and make choices that propel our lives further down the paths we walk. I genuinely value each opportunity to connect and learn from the people who I encounter at all of these junctions.