On the day that marks our half way point through the Anake program, we load up into 4 passenger vans and embark on our journey south, to culminate in Southern California at the Quail Springs Permaculture Farm, an annual Anake trip for the past 9 years.
As we set out, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this journey reminded me of our ancestral roots, when tribes were nomadic and would travel to warmer lands during the cold season. I speak for my fellow classmates when I say we were more than ready to enjoy some sunshine and warmer temperatures after a long, cold and rainy winter thus far.
We stopped a few times on the way south. Our first night was spent at a campground outside of Ashland, Oregon, where we were surprised by a snow storm at 2 a.m. which was immediately followed by a mad dash for cover since most of us were sleeping out under the stars. Our second and third nights were at Henry Coe State Park, just south and east of San Jose, California. Our time in Henry Coe was magical as we explored the beautiful Oak Savannah ecology, which was a new landscape for many of my fellow classmates, but for me was a familiar treat, reminding me of my home in Santa Rosa, CA.
After setting out from Henry Coe, with a brief lunch stop at Pismo Beach to enjoy some sun and sand, we finally made our destination; Quail Springs Permaculture Farm.
Quail Springs was founded by Warren and his wife Cyndi after having founded another organization by the name of The Wilderness Youth Project in Santa Barbara, CA. Warren has attended some trainings at Wilderness Awareness School, and is an accomplished tracker and naturalist with ties to many of the same teachers as Wilderness Awareness School. I sensed our shared lineage immediately, and it felt like visiting extended family members. Our two organizations have further cross pollinated over the years as some Quail Springs folks have attended Anake, and some Anake’s have gone to live and work at Quail Springs. We were greeted by two such Anake family members; Marilee and Paul.
We spent a total of 6 days in their high desert, sub-alpine canyon, among the Pinyon Pine, Sagebrush and Yucca. Our days were filled with hands on permaculture experience, from goat milking and herding to rabbitry, bee keeping to natural building with cob. Spending time learning from the incredible people that live and work on that farm was such an inspiration. It’s one thing to buy a hybrid car and use reusable grocery bags to be “green,” it’s a whole other realm to live and work in a way that actually feeds the earth and her people.
There were lots of fantastic opportunities for naturalist fun too. Most mornings a group of us would rise and head up the tallest canyon slopes we could find to watch the sunrise on a ridge. The sandy canyon floor made for spectacular tracking which we took advantage of on our midday wanderings.
The things that will stick with me most from my time in that magical canyon, are the people and their songs, stories and laughter, the stunning landscape, and my fellow tribe members of Anake. I got to see relationships flower and deepen, and passions for new ways of living ignite.
We waved goodbye to our new cousins as our vans pulled away on the dusty road. Our drivers plotted the course north through the central valley, and off we went. I had an opportunity to enjoy a very special treat for our lunch stop in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. My family lives just 45 minutes north of the Whole Foods we stopped at, so I invited my Mom, Sister and Niece and Nephew down to join me, and they accepted! It was incredibly soul nourishing to visit with them all.
Back in the vans for the next stretch to the Coastal Redwoods and Sequoia’s of The Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Redwoods Park. We pulled in after dark and made camp, feeling blessed to fall asleep staring up at a few stars peeking through the canopy hundreds of feet in the air. It truly was like resting at the feet of giants. Many of us woke early the next morning to maximize our time with these amazing trees and the stunning Eel River. We sang them songs and played among the forest.
After a wonderful morning, it was time to head out again. As a group, we collectively decided that we wanted to push hard on this day and make it home late that night, rather than break it up into two days. It was a long day of travel, but we finally pulled into school at around 1:30 A.M.
I will never forget this 11 day trip and how it brought me closer to my tribe, and how it has molded me. I was rather anxious about spending so much time cooped up with a lot of people, but in the end it helped me move past some things that have kept me from being closer to people.