Here is Part I:
We’re camping in the White Mountains.
I wander around in the morning light. Nearby, I find a lean-to shelter has been built by industrious campers. There are two very thick old logs lying around a few old fire pits near this.
Suddenly as if déjà vu, I realize a flood of memories. This is where I stood naked 21 years ago. I was in the camp of a couple of young guys and an art student from ASU in Tempe. She had taken my body paint sticks and created a swirly colorful psychedelic pattern across my back. These flowed out of the bands of a rainbow corresponding with chakras in the front. I was dubbed “Rainbow Man.”
I stand here remembering the conversations and reactions, as I was transformed by paint. Much begins to be more familiar, here. I can now confirm that the evergreen bush, that I saw yesterday, was where I had placed my tent.
She had been swiping paint on my body. I had approached them wearing boxer shorts with a Grateful Dead logo. Her squeamish compadre winced and gasped as I dropped them to give her full access to her art project. The coquettish young man looked as if he couldn’t believe what was happening.
As she neared my genitals, the obvious question needed to be addressed. I volunteered to slap paint on the delicate matter.
The rest of the day was spent in constant expressions of joy at the Rainbow Man. Some just had to hug me, some respectfully stating that they wished that they had the guts to do present themselves in just body paint. The primary colors were a more dramatic flower scene in a green hued world. I was covered by positive expressions and the loving tidings of 10.000 good souls.
We have breakfast and a casual start on a walk about. DF will see how things go. The broken toe may stop our excursion early. We’ll see.
We will head for the site of the ’98 Rainbow Gathering. We take a liter of water and cameras. We decide to wear shirts, there is a light chill. The breeze may pick up like yesterday. There is that dab of cold and it is mid-day in the high mountains. We could get too much sun, if we manage to stay away too long. Our trip is open-ended. In the beginning, we need to get past the view of Carnero Lake fishing people, too.
I look for signs of the old road. DF needs a flat surface for that broken toe. This field is filled with collapsing gofer holes and errand pieces of volcanic rock.
There looks to be a dark furry critter standing up on an old log out in the field.
I grab a couple of shots to blow up later.
As I close in on the little fellow, I’m surprised.
…We make our way across the huge meadow, we discover another obstacle. As we look over the rise, we see that someone has placed a new barbed wire fence across the field. New since our last visit, it is fresh and stiff.
We make our way down and along the intrusion, looking for a place to get through. We end up where it crosses the creek that comes from Carnero Spring to fill the dammed lake. The flow is strong and wide this year. It is covered with submerged soggy green grass. We will have to cross this.
There is a small opening to squeeze through the fence, on the other side.
I go first, scouting to protect any mishaps to DF’s toe. It is ankle deep and then deeper at the flow. The bottom is slippery mud.
We make it safely.
On the top of the berm that provides a dike for the flow, there is a trail. We see that it leads toward the old Rainbow site.
Here we find florescent green growth accented with colorful flowers.
Very soon, we have been lead to the field where the temporary Rainbow central monument had been. It had been the meeting place, the focus for ceremony. There is still a ring of dark foliage there, where thousands had sent energies and prayer for Mother Earth and world peace.
As I look across, I have to think about this. Each year, there is a different location for the Gathering. Each year, the locals are alarmed by fears of thousands of drug crazed and dangerous hippie types. The same conversations go around the communities as they are right now in Wisconsin, this year’s gathering spot. Each year, the locals enjoy the influx of income from 10,000 participants. Each year that current site is cleaned and restored with meticulous care. All of that happened here, 21 years ago.
I have to think how today, the gaming casino has actually invited a huge biker rally to the area. There are all types and there will be a few bad apples.
Here, it is beautiful. There does appear to be a new barren area across the field where a large ring was dug for the main fire. DF decides to investigate, but first, the wind has died down and a more natural state is warranted.
Across the way, DF finds that what looked barren is actually a carpet of white and yellow daisies.
When I arrive, she is watching fat black bees alighting on long stemmed flowers and their weight bending them over toward them like drinking from a cup.
While DF needs a little time alone, I head over to the circle that contained the focus of prayer 21 years before.
I drop my belongings in the thick grass and begin to meditate. I try a yoga warrior pose and stretch. In one direction, I look over my fingers up into a corridor and remember the activities that occurred there. I remember the engineer directing his team of six naked women carrying handfuls of mud to logs and constructing a public bridge over the creek. I envision the dug public toilet up the hill, the path and a few memorable people along the way.
I turn and face the pose the other way, going inward. I then look over my other hand’s fingers opposite and feel inner strength. I haven’t felt the inner warrior in a while. I feel a surge, a character, a confidence.
Finally, I stop and find my hands together in front of me in prayer. At that moment the wind picks up and I watch the grass wave over and over, flipping from dark green to a greyish green. It is as if a host of an army of spirit is passing through.
DF is still sitting, content to just watch life.
I make my way toward the forest at the edge of the meadow. I know that the creek runs over there. What I find is enchanting.
It is calm there, no wind is heard blowing through the trees. I only hear the lapping of the water in the stream.
This is good. Carefully, I go back to DF. I don’t want to disturb, or startle her, but I know that she would want to be there among the trees.
I tell her. She is game for it.
We putter along the creek.
Mostly, DF enjoys a perch on a log. I join her. She is teaching me how to do selfies with her camera. My camera has dead batteries. I have her camera sitting on a large rock and I’m running back and forth, while we attempt a shot of the two of us, for fun.
DF points into the meadow. Thirty feet away, a young very wet female elk is trotting past! I jump up, tripping the camera. I spontaniously say a one word obscenity, as it falls off the rock and rolls down the short hill. We stumble around in surprise as the animal bolts from view.
Quickly, I am wiping down the camera. We see the elk cross back on the other side of the meadow. I zoom in and fumble, attempting to grab a shot. It has quickly gone into the woods.
“Whew!” We are delighted and disappointed all at once.
We continue our exploration of what is in front of us. The small pine seeds have a cellophane-like cover that comes off of the pine cone.
There’s an odd chop into the bark of a ponderosa pine.
Someone had a bad day.
We take a few more photos.
We make our way back the way that we came through the fence.
The creek again is carefully traversed.
We again dodge rocks, looking for smooth passage.
It is time for lunch and we’re hungry.
After spending the next pair of hours lying about, we then, pack up.
It is several hours to get home.
Postscript: We had visited this Rainbow spot before: