Susan Keene Author

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Breakups, Buffalo and Beginnings

Posted on Jul 17, 2022 by   5 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized


Break ups, Buffalo, and Beginnings

Ever been to Mount Rushmore? The buffalo roam the streets along with the tourists. None of them acted like they wanted to charge us. We didn’t stop our cars to get closer to them. One followed me but not so close as to frighten me; but that is not my story.

Twenty some years ago, I had a bad break up. My heart was broken, my ego shattered and my mood; depressed.

I’d never been depressed before and I knew I couldn’t live that way. My idea was to go to the Black Hills and rid myself of all the negativity that insisted to follow me around.

For several days I wrote down all of the negative thoughts, places, and resentments I’d incurred due to this break up.

I put it in an envelope and decided to take it up on one of the glacier pacs and burn or bury it.

Even though I hiked alone, I didn’t feel alone. Dozens of people passed me going down the mountain and many went up. We came to an area where you had a choice to go left or right. I chose right. Within ten minutes I noticed the rest of the hikers went left. I found myself alone half way up to my destination.

The trek ran nearly straight up hill (most likely the reason every one went the other way).  I had to walk from tree to tree to brace myself so I didn’t slide back down.

Shortly, I heard a sound; a drumming of sorts. I stopped to listen and try to figure out the rhythmic noise. I leaned on the tree for awhile and it stopped.

I kept going from tree to tree and the noise came again. This happened at least three times before I realized my heart made the sound. It not only pounded in my chest b

ut in my ears.

Time to rest, I told myself.  I sat down at the base of one of the trees I’d been using as walking sticks, drank water and ate a protein bar I had in my pocket.

When I looked down, all I saw were trees. I couldn’t see the bottom or an outlook at the top. I began to hope I got up the side of the mountain and back down before dark.

At this point, the terrain became so steep I had to look down and force myself to put one foot in front of the other to reach the next Ponderosa pine. The higher I climbed the longer the distance between the trees.

For a month before I decided to make the climb; I trained every day. Nothing prepared me for the thin air, the steepness of the trail I’d chosen and the heat.

You couldn’t get lost on one of the trails. There are signs with arrows pointing your way. I still didn’t like the feeling of being so alone. Every 20/20 I’d

seen and every Nightline featuring missing hikers crossed my mind. One thing; I didn’t have time to think about how depressed I was.

I looked up, keyed up on the next tree where I could take a slight break, looked down at my feet and began to walk.


I ran smack into a buffalo. This was no baby, I’d run into a full grown 2000 pound buffalo as he grazed between the Ponderosa pines. I slid back to the closest tree down hill of him and waited.

I didn’t just bump the big guy, I ran straight into his flank, and hard.

He didn’t seem to notice. He kept on eating and slowly moseyed out of sight.

About ten minutes later, I saw the top. I sat on a rock and relished in the splendor of the view. The sign at the top said something about, you made it.

They’d had no rain up there for weeks so I didn’t burn the envelope I had with me. I

went about twenty yards to the south of the peak, scraped away the pine needles and put all my negativity in the hole.

I said a few things too private to share with you, other than how grateful I was. Not only to rid myself of my burden but to see the beauty around me.

There were loose rocks in all directions. After I replaced the pine needles, I put rocks on top of my envelope and headed back down the path in the direction the signs pointed.

Going down might have been more difficult than climbing up. I slid on my feet more than I walked and sometimes I went to fast (not of my own accord). I had to pass up a tree for fear I’d hit it too hard and injure myself.

I’ve had occasion to use a burning bowl again, but I did so in the privacy of my farm or at church.

When I returned from my trip, my friends asked me if it was worth it. The answer is yes. I spent time in nature. The pitfalls of the climb and dissent of the glacier pac kept my mind off of myself. I realized it might have been the ending of a relationship but it became the beginning of a new way of thinking.

5 Responses to "Breakups, Buffalo and Beginnings"

Comment by Kathleen Garnsey
July 18, 2022 3:50 pm

Great story! Could apply to every reader and more. We’ve all been there.

Comment by Shirley McCann
July 18, 2022 4:29 pm

What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. f

Comment by Tierney James
July 18, 2022 4:40 pm

Wow. What an experience! Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Janet Kay Gallagher
September 4, 2022 10:11 pm

Susan, you stuck with the difficult climb and reached the top. That was a big milestone of achievement. Then you buried the bad things that had happened and left them so far from the new you. Another achievement into the new way of thinking. You also get points for bravery, gratitude and new goals. Glad to know the new positive YOU!

Comment by Georgia Peterie Harris
September 6, 2022 5:04 pm

Thank you for this inspirational read about your courage and determination. You are a Special and unique kind of person and have always been.

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