Foray on Satan's Slab

Another post in my Breath on a Wolf's Trail blog for you all:

This is a true story:

The year was 1994 and the season was early summer. Location, the foothills of central Colorado along the South Mesa Trail.

It was a sunny, cloudless Colorado sky during a weekday. I decided I wasn’t working that day and needed space and a place to myself. I had recently returned from an assignment in Central America, and very much need a space to clear my head. I had also just moved in with my wife (at the time, wife to be) in the Table Mesa region in South Boulder. We were very near an open space that held a section of the Mesa Trail. It was an easy access to that trail that we frequented.

The open space itself was steadily sloped uphill towards the foothills from the prairie. Many ponderosa pines scattered the land covered in buffalo grasses, and next to dry shrubby cinquefoil, currents and sagebrush. The Mesa Trail goes from the famous Flatirons just west of Boulder, down behind NCAR all the way south to Eldorado Springs. Along the trail, and at the bottom of the foothills themselves, jut huge sandstone slabs, like the Flatirons, from the arid sandy soil to the vast expanse of sky overhead. And snaking steeply up from the trail are handfuls of canyons leading to ridges and peaks high above.

During my time in the Front Range I hiked up most of the foothill peaks, explored the boulder caves, walked to the stone arch, dabbled in the rocky rivers careening down from the high country, and tracked many of the local wildlife; from elk to mule deer, black bear, coyotes and even mountain lions.

On that day in 1994 my aim was nothing more than to leave the town, enter the land and go wherever life led me.

After hiking for a number of miles on empty trail, not another person to be found, I came to the bottom of a massive sandstone slab. It was just south of Fern Canyon. I had been down there before, but not on the trail, just wandering cross-country, so never came across this monolith of stone until that day. It was in the region of spectacular rock formations like the Devil’s Thumb, The Maiden, and Devil’s Wings.

The rough warm sandstone caught my eye and seemed to hold me in place. Until then I was just aimlessly wandering, but when I came upon that slab I could go no further. I walked up to the bottom of it, just at the north side where a thickly wooded canyon shot up to the west. Placing my hands on the heavily textured wall I closed my eyes. Beyond the sounds of chickadees, a few ravens, and the rustling of squirrels, there was little else, not even a wind. At that moment I felt like I was the only person in the world.

My eyes opened and I gazed upward toward the unseen top of the giant slab of rock. It shot up past the tallest ponderosa pines into the deep blue Colorado sky and seemed to disappear rather than topping off. For whatever reason, I had to be on it, part of it. So I began exploring the bottom of the slab. It went on for a long while and much of the bottom was choked in thickets of juniper, current and other arid bushes. Wandering back north a bit from the southern edge, I found a place that I could weasel my way through the brush to get to the wall.

I hadn’t left the condo planning to rock climb, so I was wearing shorts, hiking boots and a tee-shirt and carried a small day pack. Realizing there was no way I could climb in my hiking boots, I took them and my socks off. I slung a canteen of water tightly over my back with a strap, stuffed some food in my pockets and left everything else in the bushes.

Before my feet left the soil I placed both my hands on the rock face and said a prayer and offered some sage to its spirit. Once finished, I began hoisting myself onto the giant slab, aimed for the sky.

This was 1994 and I was in incredible physical shape. Climbing the stone was not fatiguing to my fingers, toes, hands, feet or the rest of my body. The sandstone was very rough, so eventually the tough calloused skin (from all the heavy work I did daily) did warm up and get hot enough to make me pause time and again.

I wasn’t thinking, projecting ideas of a climbing route or anything else. I had no idea how high the slab went, what pitches I would encounter, if there was an easier path up or how long it would take me. My intent was simply to climb and feel the rock monolith; to be present.

After about 100 feet I started to leave the tallest reaches of the ponderosa pines behind me. Hand over hand, gripping finger tight cracks and wedging toes on texture stone, I climbed. Reaching across flat faces from one broken space to another, then like a spread-eagled spider, launching myself over to continue up.

The forest was far below and there was nothing but the slab, the sky and me with the sun on my back. Time dissolved, as did thought after a while. I found myself simply feeling, simply being. Nothing below me but hundreds of feet of air, but there was no fear, no thought or concern of falling, nothing. Heated aromas of sandstone filled my nostrils and the vanilla scent from the warm ponderosa pines far below.

I arrived at a small ledge I could take pause, turn around and comfortably lean back against the slab. An expanse stretched out before me of forest, sky and distant prairie lands. It was just space, huge and empty and I felt as though I was simply suspended like a speck of air in the vastness of the atmosphere. My sense of self, of me started to dwindle almost as if the idea of self never existed, had never been born. There was no feeling of division between the perception of me and the air all around, or the ancient rock at my back. Looking out I saw nothing and everything before me all at once. Every breath in was just a movement of the sky. My shorts and tee-shirt felt confining, foreign; things threatening to separate the full sense of everything. Shed, they dropped downward tumbling over themselves on their way to the forest floor somewhere below.

I drained some of my canteen and left it on the ledge as it too was something of a burden.

Feeling the sun warming the air, the rock and skin; body melding with stone and the only time that holds true power, the time of the environment and the earth (sun and moon, stars and empty space), then movement of it all, upward and upward. Heading up the slab seemed effortless with advancement towards sky, as if I were truly the air gently lifting in warm thermals of the summers day.

Eventually I reached a top, a place where elevation could no longer take place in a physical body. I crawled over a rock lip onto a rounded and narrow dome, the top of the slab. It stretched north and south like an ancient compass needle used long ago by giants. To the west it dropped off straight down to the soil below. And to the east, the side I climbed, it dropped down so far I could not see the bottom. I was full, and empty at the same time and in the same space.

Standing nude in the sunlight atop something older than I could scarce imagine, tides in my mind began to shift and it almost felt as if the slab were growing, or the land far below were sinking away. It was at that moment that my consciousness invaded and reminded me that the slab was sandstone and was formed by erosion, not uplift. It latched onto the placement of the sun and brought human time back into awareness. It calculated I had just free-climbed about 800 feet from the forest floor to the top where I was standing, and I had nothing but my skin on me.

It was then the cruelty of human consciousness and its perverted idea of time started seeping through my veins and dredging up physical reality and mortality. Fear, stone cold, acrid and heartless fear embraced me.

There in the hot sun my skin felt cold, my guts felt hollow and I shrunk into a minuscule speck in the vastness of everything. My consciousness had done what consciousness is wonderful at – seized the ironclad idea of self, of me and in-turn created separation, isolation from everything else. That is what Self is, the Me in here, and everything else outside and separate. It is the very difference of the world, the natural state of it, the wilderness, and cities. Lying on your back on the ground in the “middle of nowhere” at night, staring up at the seemingly endless expanse of the universe allows you to dissolve all sense of self and separation, which opens you to everything. My experiences wandering through human cities with signs, distances, names, crowds, abusive noises and smells, etc, close off the world, cause separation from the earth and the universe through the hyper-activation and employment of consciousness.

Fear had me in its icy grip atop that sandstone slab monolith, when before was a peaceful, vast and borderless experience of eternal belonging, openness and endlessness. That had all caved in like an avalanche and caused my body to quake like a leaf in a windstorm. Flash memories of traumatic experience inside the cult during my early teens… emotions and physical sensations arose and viciously reminded me of the time last year at the hands of my captors, flashes of mangled bodies from my most recent assignment… all came flooding in and seemed to suck me into an invisible maelstrom.

I sat down on that ridge high in the sky, held myself and shook in fear. I knew there was nowhere to simply walk off the rock. I was going to have to climb back down, and climbing down is usually more difficult than climbing up. Going up you have upward momentum and perspective on your side. Going down gravity feels so much heavier, you cannot see the route (footholds, handholds, cracks and small rock imperfections) as easily as you can while climbing up. One slip is all it would take, followed by seconds of free fall to my death far below. My consciousness continued to relentlessly remind my brain of that reality.

The sun tracked unfazed through the sky. The afternoon was growing long. Air currents began to shift and the winds started to sweep in with hot afternoon thermals, driving air currents like a buffalo stampede across open grasslands. An hour had passed me by while I sat clutched in fear, logically trying to work out my so called predicament, the predicament my logic brain stamped on me. I had to climb back down the route I had taken up, because it was the only route on the entire slab I knew was doable without ropes and harnesses, by someone in lala land at that! What the hell was I thinking??!! Ah yes, as is typical with fear, the conscious mind loves to throw criticism and negativity at you… after all it always helps the overall situation, right?? Yea, whatever!

That was that, and I wasn’t having anymore of it! I stood up and forced my breath into calmness and used it to fill my body with energy, with strength. I drove my spirit back into my heart with fury and faced the world from atop that slab with the intensity of life and the will to truly live. I felt the endless expanse of time and space. I had breached the line of the separation illusion on that rock face, and so my consciousness couldn’t hold me in that trap, the snare of fear and isolation from the All. It felt as though the energy of Thor, through my ancestral line, swept through the fear with the might of mjölnir, shattering it like ice in spring.

The only thing I wore was my solid brass mjölnir pendant. I rarely ever take it off and it had accompanied me on every assignment, though it was frowned upon by my superiors. Still today it hangs around my neck.

Goosebumps covered my skin with the rush of live that coursed through every cell of my being. I would climb down as easily as I had climbed up, or cross over to the other-side doing something I loved, and that wasn’t so bad; crossing over while tasting life to the fullest! Yes, at that moment it was me again, the true Me.

So down I went. To my utter surprise and fascination I managed to find the exact same route back down as I had followed up. I recognized small landmarks on the slab I passed traveling up. Before long I was standing on that ledge and retrieved my canteen. Pouring the warm liquid down my parched throat was like filling a lake with spring snow melt. My sight became sharper, as did my other senses, with the new sensation brought in from the outside world to flood and mingle with my internal world – water.

Eventually I touched both feet and hands and knees on the pine needle covered forest floor, there in the shadow of the sandstone monolith ages old. Before I hit the trail back home I gave another prayer and offering to the rock spirit for the valuable lesson and set of experiences I was allowed to bear witness to that day. Later I looked up that slab and found it to be called Satan’s Slab, part of a network of unique sandstone features in that region, of which weird people years ago named “Satan’s” something or other.

I literally had to form myself to the rock, to its will and it’s the eons of time it has stood. Much of the industrialized human civilization today appears to have forgotten this subtlety, that of becoming the environment, rather than trying to force the world into an impossible mold dictated by the illusion of separation.

When a person and a people have to navigate a natural landscape for a living, the land bestows a depth unto them that is absent with a modern life of driving in a car on a paved road from one sign to the next, or walking the same route along a sidewalk day after day. When a person or animal must travel a landscape on their own two feet, the land changes them, conforms them to itself, because every path is unique, and our bodies are literally part of the environment. Riding or driving in a vehicle is all the same, anywhere; a metal box, 4 wheels on a paved track, completely removed from the environment. Today most people move across the world very differently, very removed, and people in general have come to treat the world in the same manner, removed like they aren’t even part of it.

Time of the modern human is not the time of the world or the universe. Natural time is very different. The world moves through space at various speeds depending upon the time of year it is. It changes shape, size, speed, and thus time itself as it travels around the sun. This can be seen by science in the seasonal differences in various parts of the world from year to year; seasonal lengths change and shift no matter what the human made calendars tell us. While humankind has and continues to adjust and readjust time and calendars to make everything fit (sort of but really not even close) into a boxed structure of time, the real time of the universe flows in a state of perfection all around us.

People lived for tens of thousands of year being formed by their environments and so grew seamlessly with the land. They obtained wisdom of this earth and universe modern humans cannot begin to touch today with our conscious minds, the region of the mind that dominates our social structures.

I’m not bashing the modern lifestyle of humankind. I realize it is simply a place where in the pathway of human growth happens to be, and how it is very different from what it was. I think most people today can see and feel that difference everywhere, whether we are looking or not. The illusionary removal from the natural world, and the pursuit to try controlling it, all simply removes us from the depth of life and its natural flow, its movement.

On the face of that rock I found that. Going up I left all pretense of modern and conscious self behind, and you read what it was like and how I traveled. At the top I allowed my consciousness, with all its modern conditioning, confinement, human created rules, regulations and whatnot to move in, dominate and enslave me. And you read what that was like.

I find living with a chronic illness, like ME/CFS, applies similar dictations. The more removed we allow ourselves to feel from the world; people, animals, plants, weather, seasons and so on, the more challenging it can become to deal with the day to day drudgery of suffering. For those of us house and or bed bound it can be tricky to feel as though we are actually part of the moving, living, breathing world. But we are. We may not be as physically outwardly engaged as we may wish (at the present moment), but we still breathe the air of the sky, drink the waters that flow through the cycle of water from earth to sky and back again. The light from the sun and the darkness without both affect us daily. The weather fronts affect us even if we are indoors, as do the seasons and their fluxes. Our thoughts and feelings emit outward. Like the bear in her winter torpor, or the groundhog in his true hibernation, or the toad dug deep into the soil to remain just beneath the freeze line for the duration of the winter season… they are no more removed from the world of the living than we are.

“Clinical studies have proven that 2 hours of nature sounds in a single day reduces damaging stress hormones up to 800% and activates between 500-600 DNA segments responsible for repairing and healing the physical body.” Dr. Joe Dispenza

After running 2 wilderness excursion and skills schools for 10 years, I saw firsthand how effective positive exposure to the wilderness was for therapeutic benefits of mind, body and spirit in people from all walks of life. I was continually impressed with the highly positive and powerful changes I saw in people during and after excursions; changes that lasted.

There are simply many different methods and variations of living, and they ebb, flow and morph throughout our time here.

It is one reason we are all here - comradery, other perspectives, an expansion of knowledge, the spreading of empathy, compassion, kindness and the wish to both give and receive. This isn’t separation, but unification. And as the rest of the world bickers, fights, feuds and boils with politics and how people think others should or should not live; think or not think… we here hold a common ground.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

The slab is in the middle right of the photo. The Devil's Thumb is on the left ridge line:

Satan Slab.png

Comments

This was amazing, and I truly enjoyed it. Thank you for relaying it to us. I was really looking forward to it.

It reminds me of an experience of climbing up a mountainside above a mountain lake with my former boyfriend. We just kept climbing up, and it kept getting steeper, and the loose gravel was increasing. We were constantly one slip away from falling to our deaths into the frigid lake. Finally, we decided we had to turn around and go back. You're right, going down is much, much harder. It was incredibly precarious, and we always remember how we came so close to death that day. This was in Idaho, Bloomington Lake, 2008.

Thanks again. I look forward to more.
 
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It reminds me of an experience of climbing up a mountainside above a mountain lake with my former boyfriend. We just kept climbing up, and it kept getting steeper, and the loose gravel was increasing. We were constantly one slip away from falling to our deaths into the frigid lake. Finally, we decided we had to turn around and go back. You're right, going down is much, much harder. It was incredibly precarious, and we always remember how we came so close to death that day. This was in Idaho, Bloomington Lake, 2008.
Scree fields can be brutally tricky to navigate! They can be great fun going down if they are the right pitch. If not, they can be treacherous. A really fun one is on the east side of Castle Peak in the Elk Range of Colorado. But I also have been on some very dangerous ones.
Idaho has some great country. I love the SawTooth Mountains!
 
Wonderful story and experience.....quite a slab.

What goes up successfully, might not get back down again in one piece- is something worth learning about. Early on. Cats are sometimes known to fail this lesson.

And it helps you answer that DMV question we are often confused by- do you yield to uphill or downhill traffic?

So I learned it by observing other's fail. Out hiking around the basalt, one of the guys kept going up, the way guys Keep Going. And found himself up in the lava flow cave ledge, unable to get down.

We all stood below, waving and eventually drove back to town to retrieve ropes and related equipment that would fascilitate climbing back down in the face of the Gravity Assist. I recall how embarrassed my friend was, stuck up on the ledge (unwilling to fall to the ground below...over 100 feet or so)

Recently, my little granddaughter visiting, we turned on some cartoons and I'm, struck by the powerful take home messages provided by, oh, Disney and Warner Brothers. Wile E. Coyote faces the laws physics. ACME does not always solve it.

Figure out these rules early on. So you can break them later, I say!

A major theme in some of my personal writing and contemplations relate to the laws of physics being suspended.

Which seemed to occur that day there, with you on the Slab....
 
Its really interesting how you talk about your consciousness merging, with all that is....with one. Its a fascinating concept that i have read about in many different forms. One that i recall is when i was first becoming severely ill and two books landed on my doorstep....in complete perfect universal timing. One was a book about a woman whom died, had a incredible near death experience and came back very changed. The next was about a woman whom was a neuro type scientist and had some kind of a severe stroke and was able to recall the entire episode and 8 year long healing journey and when she began dying, her consciousness left her body and she merged with everything...again. It was incredible to hear her describe.

I had a brief 2 minute experience in 2007 where time became non existent and i felt merged into this oneness with every single thing near me. It wasn't quite euphoric, but it was extremely pleasant and a life changing moment parts of me are still processing. Then, the next day, i had a complete nervous breakdown. There were external and internal triggers...but i do think it triggered a clearing in my system that was a bit overwhelming for me all at once.

Also, the sandstone monolith sounds amazing. Really neat to hear these stories. Do you mean giants figuratively or literally (ancient)?
 
Its really interesting how you talk about your consciousness merging, with all that is....with one. Its a fascinating concept that i have read about in many different forms.
I started having such experiences when I was quite young, and have had numerous since. It seems that for some people it happens often, for others only once in a while, yet for others perhaps only once in a lifetime. To me there is no judgement in it. I feel some people are more predisposed to the alignment or dissolving of self than others. Some people seem to be able to train in various practices for years in order to experience it, and others it just sort of happens.
but i do think it triggered a clearing in my system that was a bit overwhelming for me all at once.
Yes such episodes can be quite sweeping under the right circumstances!
Also, the sandstone monolith sounds amazing. Really neat to hear these stories. Do you mean giants figuratively or literally (ancient)?
Ha, ha... you a re prompting a reiteration from one of my other writings elsewhere :)
I do mean "giant" as a literal title.
Take for example the rune Thurz, which means Giant. But Thurz are the destructive Giants of natural disaster and adverse and sometimes chaotic events external to the self. To true Heathens and myancestors, Thurz are very real, very much alive and have minds and spirits of their own. The Earthquake Thurz, the Hurricane Thurz, the Famine Thurz; Thurz of specific diseases and addictions are all prime realities of the very real and living Giants. Thurz is a combination of the runes Iss/Ice, and Ken/Fire. The two primordial elements that had the most potency to myHeathen ancestors of Germania and Scandinavia. Iss of Nifelheim and Ken of Muspelheim. The world of icy mist and the world of fire. Between them was an environment perfect for the making of the first Giant, Ymir. Ymir was the first Primordial Giant of which all other Giants come from. Thurz is Giant born of the meeting of Primordial Ice and Primordial Fire. Thurz is Giant.
;)
 
"I do mean "giant" as a literal title."

Yes, as i thought. I am only loosely familiar. Thank you for further explaining.
 

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