I'm having a difficult time sleeping now that the adrenaline rush of this trip has replaced the monochrome blandness of my life Yes, the calm has been good for me, and yes, I do appreciate the minutiae of my daily routines, but sometimes it takes a stressor in my life, whether positively or negatively charged, to make me feel alive. Right now I feel ALIVE. ALL CAPS.
The epicenter of this rush is, of course, the hike. Splintering outwardly, or more accurately, inwardly, in a thousand spider webbed directions, are the details that I need to keep track of. Everyday the abstraction of a beautiful walk in the woods gets whittled away, replaced by spread sheets filled with names, prices and weights in ounces of the gear I'll need, replaced by an inner dialogue that questions just how much of my life should be shared in my posts, and replaced by trips to the AT to regain the leg strength that I lost after injuring my knee 2 months ago. There is the route planning: days, miles, shelters; zero days, and resupplies, the selling off of an old life (band equipment and rare punk rock and hardcore records), and the challenge of letting go of a view of the world that was my fuel for decades.
This website, blog, journal, call it what you like, is where two worlds will collide, There is the world that my patients and most of my coworkers see; someone who is compassionate, cynical in a sort of amusing way, and a relentless smart ass, one who seems to move fairly easily among people, and then there is the private me, the one who doesn't answer the phone, who spends hours and hours alone running, hiking, and writing, and who feels trapped and uneasy in large groups of people. Both halves are grinding their way down the tracks toward each other and it will be interesting to see what happens upon impact.
Since every word that I've written for the Dusty Camel up to this point has been pretty matter of fact/serious, it's time for me to relax a bit and share some random thoughts from the last few weeks:
a) I've been trying to find the right backpack for my trip. I've analyzed the topic to the point of paralysis, all while never once strapping a friggin' pack to my back. A few weeks ago, while in the midst of the acute early stages of Lyme disease, I took a ride to REI to take a few packs for a test drive around the store. I tried on the pack that I was fairly certain I wanted, a Gregory Baltoro 65, and had the nice dude load it up with some sandbags, quite a few sandbags as a matter of fact. Showing a surprising lack of good judgement (a statement that's only funny if you know me well, since it's the only kind of judgement I'm capable of) I had the guy load it up until the pack+sand bags equalled over 40lbs. I walked (limped?) around the store for maybe 5 minutes, unloaded the thing, and then had to go home and take a handful of Tylenol and a nap. Time to start paying attention to those ounces.
b) I went on a 6 or 7 mile hike this morning on the AT north from Bull's Bridge in Kent, CT. About an hour and a half in I ran into 2 dudes that looked like thru-hikers. When they confirmed that they were I got so excited that I think I may have scared them. I didn't have much in the way of trail magic in my pack, but I gave them my GU Chocolate Outrage gels and some baby wipes in a ziploc bag. We talked for a bit, I told them how f'ing psyched I was to meet them and I went on my way. I met 6 more thru-hikers before the end of the day and I scared every single one of them in the same manner. There's a layer of filth that gets wiped away in the woods, a way of approaching life that runs counter to the way I've always viewed human nature. People are excited to share their stories, to talk about gear, to tell me about their worst days on the trail, and what I find most miraculous is that I actually WANT to listen. The everyday details of most peoples lives bore me to death, but soaking in the stories of people that are actually living, who are literally and figuratively walking the walk, well I could listen to them all day long.
c) A few of the questions I keep hearing from my friends and family revolve around weapons and wild animals. No, I am not bringing a gun because a) it's unnecessary and b) I'm no longer allowed to own a firearm. Funny and true! As far as animals are concerned, I would prefer to never see a mountain lion, not even in a zoo. I'm excited and poo pants terrified at the thoughtof seeing a bear, but the animal that I'm most afraid of is the size of the head on a pin head. F-U Deer Tick!!! After having Lyme disease twice, if given the choice of Lyme or bear fight, I'd rather wrestle the bear.
"The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?" Oscar Wilde