September 08, 2004

Bumpass Hell

bumpass_hell.jpg
Bumpass Hell, Canon 300D

Believe it or not, that's what this place is called. Of course we laughed like 10 year old boys over it and made ass jokes for the whole drive up the mountains. Why on earth would they call a place that? Little did we know we would be hiking that very same trail the next day, in complete awe of its enormous beauty and mysterious sulphur springs. As we got closer, the smell became more and more intense. We heard, "It smells like farts!" in about 14 different languages.

Because it was a high yield hike {aweseome views and sights for relatively little effort} the trail was crowded with many people. My favorite moment was a French family getting all of the kids to pose on a rock overlooking the valley. At the notorious "cheese!" moment, the dad shouted, "Camembert!" and all of the kids grinned really wide. Nothing is more charming to me than an entire family of french people shouting camembert!

*I just read that Bumpass Hell recieved its curious name from a disgruntled explorer, who lost a leg after falling into a boiling pool. Yikes!

The next day Matt's brother and I hiked to a crater called Cinder Cone. It was, as they say in California, a gnarly hike. When we got to the foot of the mountain, I was already overheated and gazed up at the 90 degree incline we were about to scale. To top it off, it was made of pure sand, embers and ash. For every step you took upward, you fell a half a step back. I felt like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill, but slowly, surely, made it up.
andrea_dunes.jpg
Photo by Steven Passmore, Canon 300D

The payoff was the view of the painted dunes on the other side of the cinder cone. It was like being on top of the moon and staring down at Mars below.
painted_dunes.jpg
It looked a lot like the architectural model of the park we saw at the ranger's station.

I started to get an inkling then about why people might rock climb or trek a zillion miles in the Himalayas or dive deep into the ocean depths. To experience life fully, you have to take risks, you have to challenge yourself. It might be hard. You might suffer at the hands of mother nature. You might fall into a boiling pool of stinky sulphur, but there are rewards of beauty and aliveness in it as well.

Every time I go to Burning Man I vow to never go back. I will be overheated, covered in dust, sleep-deprived, thirsty and miserable. Then a dust storm will come, followed by rain and mud will be pouring out of the sky and I will think, 'I am never ever coming back to this godforsaken place.' I will be afraid I'm going to die (this will be totally unfounded) and I will look at my cracked feet and wonder why I spent so much money on my ticket and bought that expensive tutu that is now encrusted with playa mud.

And then suddenly, the rain will stop, the wind will die down, and out of a white cloud in the distance a flaming car that shoots fire and looks like a painted dragon will float across the horizon. And I remember again that sometimes the only way to see all of the beauty we want in this life is to work for it.


Posted on September 8, 2004 08:19 AM
Comments

Wonderful writing...beautiful pictures. Thank you!!

Posted by: Deb at September 13, 2004 07:44 AM

i am always amazed at how something dying slowly and gracefully like our planet can be so beautiful.

Posted by: mr andrea lewis at September 9, 2004 01:49 PM

Andrea - you are starting my morning off right!! I was feeling sluggish and a wee bit lazy and you jolted some inspiration into me. Thank you lady!! I love your great pieces of wisdom you share.

I must say that your pictures are amazing. One of them looks fictitious(sp?) -like you said - a model they had at the building. Beautiful!!!

Posted by: Jen at September 9, 2004 05:27 AM

andrea, i'm trying again..and as you can see, it is possible to make a comment after all. must have been my dodgy connection and/or fingers. i'm in malaysia (travelling from uk)..and reading this super entry made me realise how much i appreciate blogs.for eg: i find a blog i really like and feel connected to (ie superhero) and then just by following it, i am able to see what another person sees/does. plus i also get to see what a random far faraway place looklike. eg crater cone - what are the chances of me ever knowing about it, let alone that it looks so out-of-space-like all the way from malaysia/england?

Posted by: azura at September 9, 2004 04:59 AM

chock full of adventure (some, high yield, totally acceptable) and beauty, but i think the winning line in your entry is:

"It looked a lot like the architectural model of the park we saw at the ranger's station."

so funny!!! maybe the architectural sculptor wanted to let all the less-able-bodied, or lazy bums feel left out.

Posted by: crissy at September 8, 2004 07:53 PM

Great photo and story. Sounds like you all had a wonderful weekend. :)

Posted by: Julia at September 8, 2004 07:41 PM

This is a great photo, thank you for sharing it! Great thought on the need to take risks.

I actually am a climber, and one of the best things about being out there is the absence of words... (um, even as i post this comment, on a blog, via an appliance built on ordered ones and zeros... :-))

and for those who mediate (there are many here i'm sure), you know that a "top ten" trick to get yourself to "where you need to be" is to just stop talking to yourself! :-) words are the workhorses of illusion (for all the power they give us) -- our brambles -- pointing us to everything that is not here right now. when words fall away, the world as it is comes into focus.

and when i enjoy so many of these photos, it is often because the images just arrest me, and words just fall away... who needs to meditate? :-)

thanks again!

Posted by: artie at September 8, 2004 05:04 PM

andrea,

great photos. i love this story. it reminds me that being safe isn't really living. How can i live my life to the fullest if i won't take any risks? it is so easy to stand still, but then look what i am missing out on...

glad to see you all made it home safe.

jenn

Posted by: jenn at September 8, 2004 12:45 PM

That last sentence is so true...I remember a hiking trip in fourth grade. It was winter, I was so small that the snow came up to my knees and it was exhausting take the next step (somehow German winters are not that cold anymore). After about 30 minutes I wrapped myself around a tree sobbing "I can't go on, leave without me! I'm going to die here!!!" (Little miss drama...) Nothing worked, the whole group had to stop while the teachers tried to persuade me to let go of the tree. Then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a frozen waterfall. It was so beautiful, I actually ran to it. And was the first to reach it.
Maybe sometimes we just need a proper carrot dangling in front of us to go on.

Posted by: Anke at September 8, 2004 11:25 AM

That last sentence is so true...I remember a hiking trip in fourth grade. It was winter, I was so small that the snow came up to my knees and it was exhausting take the next step (somehow German winters are not that cold anymore). After about 30 minutes I wrapped myself around a tree sobbing "I can't go on, leave without me! I'm going to die here!!!" (Little miss drama...) Nothing worked, the whole group had to stop while the teachers tried to persuade me to let go of the tree. Then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a frozen waterfall. It was so beautiful, I actually ran to it. And was the first to reach it.
Maybe sometimes we just need a proper carrot dangling in front of us to go on.

Posted by: Anke at September 8, 2004 11:25 AM

That sounds like such a good weekend. I am sorry that I missed you in CA, but it seems like there will be a next time :)

Posted by: JC at September 8, 2004 11:20 AM

now i realize why we are friends---

you make ass jokes!!

i love you!!
hahaha

xoxoxo
eMiLy

Posted by: Emily at September 8, 2004 11:04 AM