With Every Step I Took

Dear Friends & Family,

"The greatest progress in life is when you know your limitations, and then you have the courage to drop them."
-Yogi Bhajan

  • Just North of the iconic red rocks of Sedona, Arizona...
[Editor's Note: The slide show works best on laptops and desktops. On phones and tablets, Chrome often doesn't work. Firefox works on everything we've tried. Swiping a photo left or right often works. Music should play as the "pages" of photos turn.]

These past couple of weeks I have celebrated and given thanks to literally hundreds of you in a special way – with every step I took on two arduous yet exciting little hikes in the Arizona wilderness.

All of you prayed and meditated for my recovery during and after surgery and hospitalization, cheered me on through months of physical therapy, sent messages and funds supporting me so I could reach the point where I am again able to teach Kundalini Yoga and teacher training, Reiki training, Gong and Mantra training and Numerology.

According to my doctors and therapists – I had such a talented, special team of doctors and therapists and those of you who brought your healing presence into the hospitals for me. Yet according to all of them walking was the single most important therapy to master. The surgery – a full laminectomy of the lumbar spine surgery in April – a subsequent respiratory collapse with another surgical procedure, a “near-death” experience and a month-long journey through three hospitals left me weak, without strength or stamina, and with only minimal balance. Thankfully, pain had left in many places, and lessened in others.

So I knew I had to walk, and walk I did. At first, only in the house, then around my cul de sac, then further. Now I’m going further, much further. These last two journeys were over two hours each. So many times I chanted the mantra Yogi Bhajan told us works like a charm – the one word “Victory!” And a gradual, exciting victory it has been.

Here are some pictures from my latest “victory & gratitude walks” I’m so happy to share with you. More victories are coming.

The first little trek was a week ago – a two-hour walk (with occasional sitting to take photos) on the Coconino West Fork trail in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona, Arizona. For years I have wanted to walk that trail, which I am told runs three miles and includes fording several streams. But my declining lower spine prevented my realizing that desire. My last time there was in a wheelchair and we got only as far as the first apple trees, a large orchard planted there by homesteaders in the late 1800s.

Now, 6 months out of the hospital, I am finally on the road with the help of hubby and my rollator. I named her “Butterscotch” after my favorite horse in my early teens when my family summered in the Colorado Rockies. The West Fork trail often goes through deep sand, has hills and obstacles in the path (like the tree roots you see in the slide show), but I made it through them all. At times I did what I call “free walking” while my beloved Hari Nam took Butterscotch over some rough areas where wheels wouldn’t go.

Most recently, on this Thanksgiving weekend, we went East of Phoenix up into the front range of the Superstition Mountains to a beautiful state park, “Boyce Thompson Arboretum.” It’s home to a very old rose garden I adore. The last time I was there I also had to go in a wheelchair.

Then I could go no further. Because from that point on there’s a truly steep climb up into the high Sonoran desert range to Ayer Lake and even higher, and then downward with many slippery switchbacks into the verdant riparian valley of Queen Creek where the red Japanese Pistachio Trees are now in full color.

It’s a mile-and-a-half trek and it takes a lot of huff-puff for normal folks to make it up the steep hillside, then almost a crouching crawl and strong brakes to creep down the other side. A couple of these photos give you some idea of the height I reached – see the tops of the giant trees below me in the valley to which I was about to descend. Also note how far down Hari Nam had to be to get that shot on one of the many switchbacks.

And we’re not done walking. We have many more "adventure walks" planned throughout Arizona over the coming months. Shhhhh, don't tell any one, but some of them even include ghost towns from the bygone era of mining and the "wild west."

We’ve never displayed so many photos of me and, frankly, I’m a little embarrassed to do so. But we wanted to share these victories with you.

These are not just a personal victories for me – these are victories for all of us! You are my gratitude family and I give thanks every day for each and every one of you!

Bless you in all ways always!

November 26, 2018

P.S. Here is some information about the places we visited in the slide show.

Call of the Canyon Picnic Area / West Fork of Oak Creek Trail

I'll bet you didn't know that one of America's greatest writers of The Old West is Zane Grey. In fact Mr. Grey had a cabin in this wilderness. This Oak Creek Canyon area is also the backdrop to one of his most popular books Call of the Canyon! His books were so popular, that Hollywood made many movies based on those books, including the 1923 silent film Call of the Canyon, directed by Victor Fleming and filmed in Sedona at Red Rock Crossing (now a state park). In all, more than 110 films were made based on Mr. Grey's writings.

A Great article about Mr. Grey and his history with Arizona is in TrueWestMagazine.com.

A list of his writings and movies based on them is on Wikipedia.

You can download a free copy of the book Call of the Canyon for Kindle or EPub from Gutenberg.org. If you are unfamiliar with Project Gutenberg and you love to read, you are in for a treat! This non-profit takes books that have an expired copyright (and hence are older works and are now "public domain") and makes them into ebooks that are free to everyone. Project Gutenberg has over 58,000 free ebooks that you can download and enjoy. If you are a bit of a book geek and curious about when your favorite book will become public domain, this chart from Cornell University demystifies this interesting subject!

Call of the Canyon Picnic Area was an old homestead established in the 1870s. It has an interesting history, and some of the stone walls and my "favorite" fireplace are still standing. Some of that history and photos are on TheProperFunction.com. Note, the author has a significant typo in the headline -it should read "A Trip To Mayhew's Lodge" but I think the author's spell checker was a little mischievous!

West Fork of Oak Creek trail is one of the most popular trails in the Coconino National Forest. The first three miles are maintained and cross the creek many times. Although I've yet to hike it, I always see numerous hikers returning sporting a broad happy smile! If you are really adventuresome, after the maintained trail ends, a rugged path continues on 11 miles more. Read more about it on the US Forest Service website HERE and HERE, and VisitArizona.com. Google's map is HERE

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA) opened to the public in 1929. Today it is cooperatively managed by Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Inc., Arizona State Parks, and The University of Arizona. In 1976 BTA became an Arizona State Park to which Hari Nam Singh and I have been members for 20-plus years.

We never tire visiting BTA numerous times each year. There is always something new happening -new exotic plants, blooming of a dormant cactus, birds stopping over during migrations, a new exhibit opening, Queen Creek, which flows through the arboretum, floods and washes out the foot bridge, and official bird counting, just to name a few.

And there are always field classes to take. The scariest one is the nighttime Scorpion class where you go collect scorpions for the instructor to talk about! The tastiest one was about collecting and making jams from the various ripe cactus fruit. Yummm! The most interesting one was called "Plants of the Bible." And how could we not take home a few new plants at each of their Spring and Fall plant sales? Plants are like puppies, but without the vet bills!

Learn more about Boyce Thompson Arboretum at BTArboretum.org and Wikipedia.org.

Oh, and don't ignore the 34 other Arizona State Parks. AZStateParks.com has details on each of them. Which one is your favorite?

©2018 Sangeet Kaur Khalsa, All Rights Reserved.