Oct 082014
 

IMG_0636

Having an innocent cockiness about how you are in life opens up many doors to new experiences. It also gets you into some predicaments. Mostly, it’s something I value about myself, that I identify a desire to do something, and just go ahead and do it, trusting I’ll adapt to it along the way. Last week, I cursed that quality. I was not fit enough to hike a 104 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail through the Northern Cascades in Washington. Sure, I’ve walked many miles of difficult terrain in my life, 2600 in a row once, which in retrospect should’ve made me know better. You don’t develop sinewy bands of Herculean strength just once and then rely on them for all of eternity, you have to maintain them, or they go flaccid and fail you. It sucks that that’s true, but identifying that it’s “not fair” doesn’t make it any less true.

IMG_0625

I’ve had a difficult, challenging summer, so much that it pulled me out of my routine of fitness maintenance, actually any and all “maintenances” I usually cradle myself with. In short, I sat on my ass, and dwelled on “stuff” for injurious amounts of time. A walk in the woods was psychologically necessary, and I just happened to have a spectacular section of un-walked PCT, some free time,  and a week of good weather staring right at me. Why wouldn’t I? Oh, well I’ve been sitting on my ass for a couple of months, that’s why wouldn’t I, and this un-walked section just happens to boast being one of the most strenuously difficult of all of the PCT sections with no options for bail-out. I would have to walk out on my own volition, or “fly” out much to the consternation of search and rescue crews. I’d take my trekking poles. That was a good solution, as if I could just “pin” them onto my legs should they fail me.

IMG_0627

Immediately, the magic that gets set in motion when you’re about to do something that you are clearly meant to do was activated. The logistics of it all, how I’d get there, where I’d stay, how I’d get back to my car, all worked themselves out in a matter of about ten minutes. That “magic” was largely Kevin Weiderstrom, the same “magic” that kept me from going insane in Skykomish last year while I was waiting out the big storm and potentially facing my mission of completing the trail being smothered by snow, the same Kevin Weidersdtrom that dried a miniature train seat off for me and let me ride around on it in pouring rain in the middle of town to distract myself from that fact. He’s clearly on my side. Thank you, Kevin.

IMG_0633

I’m not sure why I hold so fast onto the idea that I’m going to figure out my entire life and solve all of my problems while I’m out in the wilderness. It never happens. I never even think about it. If I try, it usually goes like this: narcissistic pondering, narcissistic pondering, narcissistic pondering, and BAMMMM!! Something extraordinary enters my line of sight, obliterating every other abstract thought. I set off from Steven’s Pass narcissistically pondering, made it an entire 6 miles without falling off the tread doing so, when BAMMM, Lake Valhalla slipped into a little mountain canyon and spewed its wonderfulness all over my very important thoughts. Oh right, I’m out here for that. I wouldn’t even try it again for the next six days. And yet, I can’t help but notice that my life just kind of mysteriously did become all figured out and my problems solved. The emptiness and joy just took care of all kinds of inner housekeeping while I focused on the beauty and how I could make my trekking poles do most of the walking for my now dysfunctional legs. Those miles hurt.

IMG_0639

I’d like to go on about how truly spectacular it was, but I’m not going to. However,  I am going to go on about how the “magic” continued, even without Kevin Weiderstrom joining me. I was barely able to accept that I was walking the same planet I’d just been delivered from. The first factor was of course the spectacular and unique beauty. But the second factor was my vulnerable and highly sensitive perceptions and mind, a by-product of having been in “crisis consciousness” for the weeks preceding (yes, grief rips you open, my friends). I had auditory hallucinations the entire time, music, people laughing, the “hum” of the earth, deep voices talking. And dreams. I would wake up completely raked by whatever emotions had been roused in my sleep by the kind of dreams that pull your entire being into them. And coincidences. I ran into people I know. In the wilderness. In Washington. Some not even thru-hiking, but just happened to be there. I’m a social gal, but still the odds of me finding familiars in the Glacier Peak Wilderness has got to be pretty slim. And I met gorgeous others, people I actually like. By the time I got onto the ferry in Stehekin to return to civilization, I had many warm and fuzzy people I didn’t want to leave waving to me as I sailed off into the sea of Lake Chelan. I almost felt like I just thru-hiked again.

IMG_0637

Portland, Oregon - The Six Month Stats

Portland, Oregon – The Six Month Stats

Number of times I’ve nearly run over a pedestrian or into a car slamming on its brakes for a pedestrian: 74 Number of times as a pedestrian I’ve intentionally confused Portland drivers by crossing an intersection on a diagonal: 3 Number of times I’ve been nearly injured by a bicyclist both on foot or in [...]

It's A Trick!

It’s A Trick!

     Long distance hiking adventure season is rolling to a close in the United States.  The hikers whose blogs you’ve been following are just starting to arrive at their destinations and post photos of themselves at their respective terminus’ jumping into the air and crying and hugging the monument markers. They look skinny and [...]

50 Things That Qualify as Porn When You've Been in the Wilderness Way Too Long

50 Things That Qualify as Porn When You’ve Been in the Wilderness Way Too Long

PORN: n. Media that is regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a nonsexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience. (Dictionary.com) ~ or revised ~ PORN: n. Media  Any media, object, person, or sheer mention of something that is regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a nonsexual subject and stimulating a [...]

It's A Problem to Solve - Another Enduring Trailism

It’s A Problem to Solve – Another Enduring Trailism

The thing about most dire situations is that you don’t realize they are dire until you’re standing smack in the center of the them. For example, when I left Kennedy Meadows to begin the Sierra segment of the Pacific Crest Trail last year, I was feeling a bit achy, a bit tired, and was having [...]

Top 20 Uses for Dollar Store Flip Flops on Your Next Long Distance Hike

Top 20 Uses for Dollar Store Flip Flops on Your Next Long Distance Hike

Dollar store flip-flops are, well, a dollar. And every town with more than 35 people in it has a dollar store. What that means to me is that I have a somewhat destructible ultralight piece of gear that I can easily replace on a long distance hike without the expense and peskiness of having to [...]

Letting Go of the Need to Feel Good, an Enduring Gift

Letting Go of the Need to Feel Good, an Enduring Gift

Thru-hikers are masochists. They have to be. What other personality trait could coerce them into thinking it’s actually preferable to spend 5 months more or less in a constant condition of suffering when they could, easily, instead choose to be cradled in a society wholly created to foster an illusion of non-stop comfort with bouts of occasional [...]

Dromomania

Dromomania

“Dromomania, also traveling fugue, is an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander. People with this condition spontaneously depart from their routine, travel long distances and take up different identities and occupations. Months may pass before they return to their former identities.” Wikipedia “True dromomaniacs are obsessed with travel and are always planning their next trip or [...]

I Don't Like Hiking

I Don’t Like Hiking

Hiking sucks.  And the only thing worse than hiking is camping. There’s way too much romanticizing done about both of them, as if ANYONE is out there with rays of sunlight beaming selectively through the trees at them, blissing out on birdsong and silence, thinking important philosophical thoughts and “communing” with nature. They’re not. The [...]