Like life, the walking doesn’t get easier on some sort of upward trajectory. Without rhyme or reason, some days my pack feels light as a feather for 30 straight k. Some days, even as I eat through food weight, I would swear someone’s added rocks to my pack. Only once have I been right.
If trail life is a dream, slightly off trail sleeping life is more like a half wake-sleep rollercoaster. You’re not entirely sure you’re on it — could be dreaming, could be enjoying it, could be the worst time of your life. Could even be all three in quick succession. The adrenaline rushes the two times I’ve been truly frozen scared have both brought to mind, mid-freeze, the city life, the desk life I’m leaving behind. To say the least, it’s surprised me to be considering —seriously considering — the pros and cons of society while board-stiff with bear spray and hunting knife — safeties off — in hand, ready to be eaten. I know very well how absurd that sounds, and yet this is among the thoughts my racing fear-brain has produced. I’m working on making sense of this.
I’ve started to sense not only the geographic changes, but also the cultural shifts as I move through the land; the way one community melts into another over distance. I can’t put it to words just yet, but it’s been rather unexpected and quite beautiful and remarkable, this social drift.
Our society is set for the apocalypse. If I need soap for the week I must buy soap for the next 4 months, but if I’ve just bought rice and beans for the next two weeks, perhaps I’ll skip the soap. But I’m in town and won’t see another fresh thing for at least six days, so I guess I’ll eat three apples, a whole head of lettuce, and half a dozen eggs before the day is out. Timing bulk is everything.
Today, regroup from frightful night day, I’m cleaning and purging. It’s shocking how much baggage I’ve managed to carry halfway through the province, how many things I haven’t used in almost 4 weeks on the trail, but shoulder mile after mile ‘just in case’. Letting go feels good. Taking stock and learning this about myself feels even better.
Tonight’s trail angels are Lisa, Colleen, Chanda, and Jerry. Jerry is a motobiker who works with forestry and natural resources and has twice walked sections of the Camino. Jerry saw me struggling to clean my stove after trying a new fuel and offered me a bar of soap, and later a small amount of shampoo dispensed into a ziplock I had on hand because he loves his little travel containers, and so he wanted to keep the container. I loved that he loves his containers, that he was ok with the awkwardness of me accepting the shampoo in a ziplock. A place for everything, everything in its place, and only so much everything as you need. And clean hair on the horizon, to boot!
Lisa is one of the strongest walkers I know; a human who walks everywhere for ultility more often than adventure but also and as much for adventure and the sheer pleasure of walking. I’ve had the great gift of walking and hiking and adventuring with Lisa on three continents, in every terrain and climate and season imaginable. Lisa is a voracious reader with an uncanny recall and strange penchant for ‘things-that-can-kill-you’ facts, always tailored for the local clime and fauna. Lisa was an obvious first-call after my night with the scampering screecher, which I deduced to bird or cougar, having been recently told that mom cougars make a bird-like screech when calling for their pups. In Lisa’s always wonderful words: “The bird thing is true, but you know what else sounds like a bird….birds! Beautiful birds!
And last but not least, Colleen and Chanda who hold keys to the universe and reflected wise perspective to me from the other end of a telephone wire.
In gratitude and rollercoaster respect.