Chimney Rock

The trail to Chimney Rock winds through a dry canyon toward a basalt outcrop overlooking the Crooked River. The ‘chimney’ is an eroded bit of a larger basalt formation, part of a number of successive volcanic flows dating back as far as 15.7 million years ago. The rock landmark sports a flat crewcut capping a cluster of black columns that look like fingers poised to hold a serving tray.

The footpath to the chimney is one of those tracks that seem to direct you away from your goal until making a 180 degree turn back to the destination. A newcomer might be confused as you cannot see the formation until you are almost there. I delight in this kind of misdirection. It calls me to the journey rather than destination.

Along the way, wildflowers offer splashes of color on a dark rock canvas. Low clusters of phlox, sandwort, and stonecrop are dwarfed by taller stands of lupine and desert parsley. As I round a bend in the trail, a bright stand of red paintbrush surprises my eyes. Desert wildflowers never cease to paint away the stereotype of arid country being a wasteland.

I come to a dry waterfall creating the headwall of the canyon. I imagine seasonal moisture spontaneously collecting and washing over the edge after a summer thunderstorm—only to disappear just as quickly. The rocks under my feet show no hint of water now, but wildlife tracks indicate it is a good watering spot.

In nature, things come and go, season to season, day to night. Survival depends on adaptability. This is no different in the landscape of emotions. Tears of sadness cascade down our cheeks then dry up in our joy. The movement of emotion is endless. The practice is to notice the transitory nature of everything arising in the mind and trust our capacity to compassionately adapt. This helps everyone survive.

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