Elana Kundell Painting

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 22 December 2014

I met Doc and Elana Kundell at Tuolumne Meadows during the Summer of 2009. I had walked down from Lake Tahoe on my way to Mount Whitney, while the Kundell's father-daughter JMT hiking  team climbed up from the Happy Isles JMT trailhead in Yosemite Valley on their way to the Whitney Portal.

That's a steep climb from bottom to top. I advise caution, and a slow start. A climb like that can tear your heart out.. It's a Hard ONE, baby.

I've climbed out of Happy Isles a couple of times, not on the JMT, but after dropping down from Tuolumne Meadows to the Yosemite Valley on my way from Tahoe to Whitney. Hiking down to the Yosemite Valley is a big detour off the Sierra Crest. And what a detour! I climb back out past Little Yosemite up the Merced River over Vogelsang back onto the JMT in Lyell Canyon.

Kundalls at Tuolumne Meadows 2009.

Very nice folks.

I subsequently learned that Elana is an accomplished artist:

Elana Kundell Painting

I notice that Elana captures elements of the dynamic spirit  of Nature and Humans in her artistic expressions.

With a little adjustment for perspective differences, and mediums of expression, I can validate the abstract expression of her works against the structural elements of the spirit of life I've seen moving through our physical reality.

Abstract? I'd say "not," if you've ever clearly seen the spirit of life moving, emerging out of the coalescence of the power and presence of the force of life in the Natural Word.

It takes big spaces for this force to come out. A clear mind can see or construct it.

We backpackers are, or I shoud say, have the ability to become reflective points between the spirit of life moving through the surrounding environment, both in our physical existence and experiences, and as a part of our spiritual, our reflective capacity.

We don't have spirit. We reflect it.

We reflect the power and spirit of life both physically and spiritually. Sometimes in coordination, other times in contradiction. Our reflective capacity, when freed from our personal constraints is a vechicle of and for the spirit of life.

Offer it up as a sail to the wind, and it will be filled. It will lift you in spirit and it will impoverish you with man.

 Seriously, having a relaxing chair representing a comfortable place to sit while observing all this may be the key to understanding it. 
If we are soooo uncomfortable, so physically and psychologically tortured by the rigours of the trail that it is impossible for us to reflect  the environment around us, we have failed.

In a sense the backpacking chair represents comfort in nature, the ability to retain not just comfort, but our reflective capacity under duress.

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