Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Solo Hike in the Oregon Desert

After a heartache-y breakup in April 2011, I decided that many of the things I had been waiting to do with a guy, I was going to just do on my own. 

I always loved going camping, but I was never the one in charge. My guy was always the planner, the organizer of things to eat (which were often less culinary than I preferred, like only couscous for 3 meals in a row!),  the packer of supplies, the charter of maps. 

My turn, I decided! 

I knew that a night alone in a tent, where I was responsible for all the planning, all the amenities (I could have whatever I wanted but I had to carry it all too!), was just what a broken heart needed.

So my friend invited me to stay at her dad's ranch in Eastern Oregon, near the John Day river for a few nights, and I packed up all my gear, borrowed a cookstove from my roommate, my special ceramic mug, a borrowed tent from my artist friend Daniela, and after enjoying 2 nights with my friend and her family, I set out in the morning with a large 2 gallon jug of water, my backpack full, and fixings for one dinner, and one breakfast.

I found a perfect spot to set up my tent beneath a large cedar tree. I was only a few miles from the house where I had stayed the past nights, but I felt all alone in the big wide openness of the high desert. 

The sagebrush was with me at every turn, and I followed it's sweet perfume. There was a small river, a creek where cattle go to drink and I was SO LUCKY! I stumbled upon a patch of stinging nettles. 

I learned to harvest these in the spring in Portland, but I didn't know they would grow in the desert. I put on my gloves and plucked them by the tops of the leaves to avoid too much stinging on my fingers, and carried them back to my campsite folded into my shirt. 

I steamed them with a bit of water, and then added my quick cooking polenta to the mix. I brought 2 bags of polenta with me on the trip, one pre seasoned with zatar (an amazing middle eastern spice mix), salt, and pepper; the other one I put raisins and cinnamon, cardamon and raw sugar. 

My dinner was extra delicious with the surprise of nettles. I was so grateful for their texture, earthy flavor and healthy vegetable addition to my meal. 

The night was windy, but I was happy reading in my tent, full from my special meal, and feeling content. I had accomplished what I had set out to do, but I found something even greater in that adventure, I found peace, ease, and living perfectly in the moment.

my special thrifted mug, filled with pourover coffee and some whiskey
Nettles from the nearby creek!
my dinner of polenta with spices, and wildharvested nettles
The AMAZING view of the sun about to set over the mountains

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