Shortly after I crossed the border into Oregon, a southbounder passed me and said, “You are entering the Promised Land”. And I suspected she spoke truth. It was everything the Class if 2012 had said to me when they knew I was getting back on trail this year, consolidated into one statement. I nearly expected instantaneous waterfalls and smooth easy tread and unicorns and soda caches around every bend. And it is easier .. It is. Butttttt, WHERE’S THE WATER??? I know Oregon has a lot of lakes. I haven’t looked, but I imagine the Oregon license plate has a faint backdrop of a fairy winged mosquito and the words “Oregon (top) We have a shit ton of lakes (bottom)” But they seemed to have meticulously steered the PCT a good bush whacking distance from any of them, as if they didn’t want us to crossbreed with the day-use people. I’m at a lake right now. But I had to hitch to it. Without further words, I’d like to exhibit one of my water sources below, and you can just SEE for yourself what the “Promised Land” delivers:
That being communicated, I do have to say, that Oregon is indeed beautiful. The forests are rich, tall, and magnificent. There are many blue and beautiful lakes, though inaccessible, for my visual pleasure, Crater Lake of course being the crown jewel. And I have many miles to go here. I’m feeling vibrant again, slowing down for the simple reason that I’m not eager for the trail to end. And I have time and no one I’m trying to catch up with. I am close enough to the end (a mere 740ish miles) that I’ve started to imagine a bit what life will be like off trail. I’ll have new and different problems. Here is how they compare with what I’m facing out here:
World problem: Where shall I live? How will I pay for it? Where shall I obtain furniture from?
Trail problem: Am I on trail?
World problem: What career will make me the happiest and earn me the most money that I have the appropriate skills and talents for?
Trail problem: 20 miles or 25 miles?
World problem: Seeking God.
Trail problem: Having God smack you repeatedly on the head while you’re trying to tie your shoe.
World problem: Weight gain and unhealthy diet leading to persistent health problems.
Trail problem: Wiping the dirt off of someone’s dropped Jolly Rancher you just scored on trail.
World problem: Finding an enriching and satisfying relationship with a partner that loves you and doesn’t make you crazy.
Trail problem: Seeing another person and getting them to stand still long enough to listen to your bear encounter story.
World problem: Pollution and unnatural environments leading to a depressing disconnect from beautiful living.
Trail problem: Walking fast enough that you don’t inhale the dust you’re kicking up with your trekking poles.
You get the idea. I realize with the end of the trail comes the movement from immediate and obvious problems to a plunging back into the abstract. Hopefully I will be refreshed from my time on the trail, not crazy, and fully capable of bringing a perspective of what’s real into my societal endeavors.