Freedom to Wander
At times, the independence and freedom of the mountain came with a cost. Hiking had become my therapy, in those times of internal conflict, anger, and hurt from my family’s situation and my relationship with my father- I would lose myself and gain perspective by exertion and by climbing the peaks and valleys surrounding Mount Nebo. Hours of wandering through the trees and brush would sometimes leave me far from camp without a clear understanding of how to get back. I had a pretty good sense of direction and could usually explore my way back to a landmark that would help me find the way home.
Chelsea was a great companion too and would often remember the way, even if I didn’t. There were times, though, when neither Chelsea (if she was with me) or I would remember the way back. After hours of hiking to reach a new area, I’d find myself in a forest or a valley, a cliff, or a hillside that would look very similar no matter which direction I went. I’d try and try, finding myself walking in a circle, the panicked feeling growing inside me as I grew increasingly tired. These were the times that I felt completely abandoned and alone.
It reminded me of the times on my bike as I tried to find the way back to the tipi in American Fork, where I would go through the streets over and over again. I grew more frustrated and sad in the blackness of night until I would find a dumpster to sleep behind until morning. On the mountain, I would curl up in a ball and cry- my frustration, fear, and loneliness finally overwhelming me. I would allow myself to think of my distant mother and siblings, wishing I could be with them instead. I would cry myself asleep and awake to the sounds of nature, say a prayer that I would find my way, and each time with renewed determination and focused senses. Eventually, I would hear a roadway or see a familiar place that would eventually lead me to camp again.
Daniel Alexander Burleigh, Daniel Burleigh