Before we came down to New Mexico, I sent a note to my friend Jerome.
If you’ve been to our home, you’ve seen his artwork hanging on the walls. He is a talented friend who lives in the San Ildefonso Pueblo, down the road from Los Alamos. His grandmother was the famous Maria who made black pottery that represents the area.
Anyway – I asked him if it would at all be possible for him to arrange for me to climb up Black Meas. I knew my chances were slim as they only let members of the tribe on the land these days. But, I asked, all he can say is no, and I can take no for an answer.
Jerome said, he would see what he could do.
Long story short — yesterday was a go. A lifetime dream of mine was about to come true.
Jerome picked me up in the afternoon and took me around the East side of the mesa to begin our journey.
I’ve looked at Black Mesa all my life and yet, have never been so close to it before. It loomed up like a giant and I began to doubt my wish.
I think I’m in pretty good shape with all the walking I do, but with the altitude here I was nervous that I might struggle.
We took off. Jerome had a good pace going as he has been up the mesa many time and he is a bit younger than me. I reminded him that I was 61 and lived at sea level. He slowed down.
A jack rabbit greeted us at the start of the hike and up we went. There was no trail, no path. We just started climbing.
About two-thirds of the way up I had to sit down on a rock and rest. My heart was beating out of my chest, and we drank some water. As we sat there, my vision started to go all blurry, and my hearing felt like I was underwater. I felt faint.
I told Jerome, I wasn’t sure I could go on. Truthfully I was afraid I would black out, and tumble down the rocks. I couldn’t get my heart or breath back to normal. My eyes wouldn’t focus. It was weird and scary.
As we sat, Jerome told me a story. He told me, that a few months before my father died, he had been up the mesa and found a small red rock. He said, he knew that rock was for me, because it was dark red and facing Los Alamos. He had a vision that he would give it to me when I was in a real struggle. He thought it meant that my father would be dying soon and that I would need strength then.
My dads death was not the big struggle Jerome thought it might be, but he said he kept the rock for the day I might need it.
A rock! Really??
He pulled a stone out of his pocket, and said, perhaps I was meant to have it now. He handed it to me. It was hot. Really hot, but different from the heat of the day hot, it was energetically hot.
He put it in my hand. I sat there woozy and confused. I swear it was only a few moments later, that the rock cooled in my hand and everything came back into focus for me.
My vision came back, my breath settled, my ears opened. I was good to go again.
As most of you know, I am not a spiritual person and not a big believer in woo-woo.
We started again and continued to climb. We had to scramble around loose rocks, sand, and cactus. Each step was a grind. My thighs were screaming. Each step took effort.
Again, I came to a place where I thought I could not go on. I didn’t get all woozy again, but as I sat against a rock, I resigned to myself that I wasn’t going to make it. I started to accept the fact that climbing on Black Mesa was as good as I could do. The top was out of my reach. I thought I had done my best.
Jerome smiled, pointed, and said, “I think you can do it. It’s right there.”
I stood up, gathered all my strength, took a few more steps, climbed some more, rested again, then scrambled up again.
All of a sudden, Jerome, said, “You made it!”
I was on top of Black Mesa! A lifetime dream of mine had come true.
I couldn’t believe it!
The view was like no other. The joy I felt was grand. I raised both my hands! We stood in silence and looked out. It was incredible.
Before we started, Jerome told me it would be okay to take photos. I was ready not to as it is a sacred space for the tribe, and I didn’t want to offend. Still, I was thrilled that he said it would be okay.
I admit, I took A LOT of photos. I even asked Jerome to take a picture of me at the top with my camera.
In time, we started back down. I was just as nervous about the trip down as I had been on the trip up. The mesa is just so steep.
I was surprised that trip down was easy and fast! Somehow our feet were like deer in the loose rocks and sand. We didn’t slip or slide. We just went down. It was almost like I was skiing, only a lot slower and with great presences.
At the bottom, I looked back up at Black Mesa. I couldn’t believe what we had done — what I had done. Before we got in the truck to head back to Los Alamos, the jack rabbit showed itself again.
I will say, thanks to Jerome, this was one of my life’s greatest days and adventures.
At home, after a shower, I went to download the photos. I know for a fact I took a zillion pics. On easy regular hikes I go on it is easy to take 40 to 50 photos.
But, get this… I went to load them in my computer — there were only 12 photos on my camera!
And while I know I was there, and posed for it, there is no photo of me at the top, nor of the jack rabbit.
I’m not going to question any of the strange things that happen yesterday. I don’t feel the need to. I just know I was part of something really special and I am extremely grateful.