On Thursday, the primary activity was a road trip to Crater Lake. We started with an early morning breakfast and then hit the road. Since I don’t have a car, I was fortunate that Sarah offered me a ride in hers. This yoga retreat reminds me of camp as a kid. Everybody is very friendly and welcoming. Most people knew someone else pre-trip. I knew no one. An oddity for me. On this trip, I realized I usually travel with family or friends. I’ve never really vacationed alone. Although there is definitely comfort being with familiar folks, this new experience has nudged me to reach out and meet people. As a storyteller finding out other people’s stories is what gives life more depth and meaning.
So, on the first night of ‘camp’ or the retreat, I randomly sat at a table with Sarah and her daughter Amy for dinner. And then the next day, I sat with them again for breakfast. And Margaret, another dinner table companion, joined us. We nicknamed ourselves ‘the breakfast club.’ And Sarah drove us the hour and half each way to Crater Lake.
One of the 18 wonders of the USA, Crater Lake was formed by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama nearly 8,000 years ago. It’s known for its crystal clear, blue water that is the result of rain and snow melt. The expansive lake surrounded by the shell of the volcano is stunning. The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s truly breathtaking and still. There is a natural quiet that comes from unspeakable beauty.
We opted to hike down to the cove. The only way down to the actual lake is Cleetwood Cove Trail. The roundtrip is 2.1 miles along switchbacks. One of the guys said it’s 1 mile down, 5 miles up. That feels about right!
I’m all about challenging myself physically. So, I took it on despite having the wrong shoes. Because of the dry climate and the volcanic rock, hiking trails are covered in loose rocks. Hiking boots are recommended. I was wearing my cute Dr. Scholl sneakers that I’ve practically worn out. There is limited tread on the bottom. The hike down was precarious. It’s all about gingerly stepping in the right spot. And aside from the loose rocks, the switchback trail has the mountain on one side and a huge drop on the other. I hugged the mountainside. As I get older, my vertigo and imagination keep me in a perpetual state of caution. I could continually see myself slipping on a rock and plummeting down the mountain. Luckily, I’m not a soothsayer.
At the bottom, some of our brave yogees opted to jump in the 35 degree water. I chose to take a short breathier and immediately begin the ascent. I like to challenge myself but I don’t want anyone waiting on me or listening to me breathe. The route up was steep. And I stopped multiple times to catch my breath and regulate my heart. Despite the rigorous and unsettling hike, I was glad I did it. The views were stellar. At the top, a construction worker asked me if I’d do it again. I responded with a confident, “I did it!”
When we got back to Sunriver, Brooke guided us in a restorative yoga session. We did the perfect stretches for a post hike. At the end, she took us through a mediative shavasana. Every yoga session ends in shavasana or dead man corpse pose. Her meditative narrative focused on each part of the body. She has this deep and soothing voice. And the effect was total melding of the mind-body-spirit in serenity. I almost purred my contentment.
The day ended on the lodge terrace watching the sun set behind the mountains. I enjoyed a local cabernet, delicious duck with sauteed vegetables and Margaret’s company.