I wake to what I am sure is dawn’s first rays. Light creeps through the cuben fiber of the tent and Carrot is next to me, hat pulled down over her eyes. I listen to her breathe for a moment or two. I am rarely awake before her and she sounds so peaceful.
I pull my phone out from my pocket- the temperature last night had a low that hovered around freezing and that’s the moment when one sleeps with their electronics to preserve the battery- and my clock reads 2:01 AM. I am briefly confused- it’s so bright out there for 2:01 AM!- and then I remember that it’s the full moon.
I stumble out to pee and gaze up into the moon’s beautiful light bounty. I have a moon workbook that I use in the city- a ritual book designed in an attempt to connect me to the universe and its wiles. As much as I try, I never feel as connected to the moon as I’d like at home, but as I piss between two trees, bathed in moonbeam glow I feel myself as a part of the moon’s moony world, awakened by her whims. The energy around me vibrates.
The vibrating moon energy fucks with me for many hours in the tent. I wanted to feel connected, but not this connected! I think about everything that’s ever caused me anxiety: sex and death and taxes and interpersonal connections and money and if all of my friends maybe hate me just a little bit. My nose becomes stuffed. I have to pee. I’m hot, and then cold, and then hot, and then cold. Eventually I drift back to sleep like this, wild brained and tossy turny.
Carrot and I wake for real at 7:30AM, which is very late for even our extremely relaxed hiker standards. She agrees that the moon was very moony last night, and on top of that she’d had stomach burning that caused her to do a four AM webMD google.
Why am burning? she googles.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ webMD responds.
I fire up my maple and brown sugar oatmeal, stir in a big scoop of peanut butter and contemplate the day. The terrain here on the Tahoe Rim Trail is, objectively speaking, a real dream. I feel like the opportunity to do a few more miles than I have been is right in front of me, and though I don’t think that day is today on account of my broken sleep, I do feel it coming. My body feels good! All my normal morning aches and pains aren’t even present!
Carrot and I complete our morning chores and set out to hike at 9:15 aka late late late. CQ always says that it’s bad luck to start hiking after eight and if you start after nine you’re basically shit out of luck. (“You can go, you just never seem to get anywhere” she says)
I know from just my little bit of hiking experience that this is mostly true, but today doesn’t feel ill fated, so I decide it won’t be. The morning is golden, the temperature is ideal, the climb is moderate. I am ready to hike!
We climb. We climb in high elevation and the thin air is clean, coming into my lungs in tiny streams and I suck great gulps from my mouth. I like this thin air, I decide. Say what you will about it, but it’s a million times easier to breathe than smoke. I don’t feel dizzy at elevation and I don’t feel nauseous. I feel simply out of breath, which I’d become so accustomed to on the Washington section of the PCT that it seemed normal. Just kinda can’t breathe, that’s all! Totally chill.
We climb all morning and meet just under seven miles in for lunch. We dine under great sequoias, mostly talking about a new life we are imagining in which abundant time to write and cook and make a little house to fill with dogs. We discuss which grains we will cook (brown rice) and what the house will look like (grandma couch, very nice light). This new imaginary life sounds like a dream. We love to discuss it with great enthusiasm.
After lunch Carrot challenges herself to take the eight mile descent without taking a break. Both of us aren’t huge fans of hiking after six PM but we also wake up late and love breaks. This means at some point someone is gonna have to hustle and she seizes this moment to be that time.
I kiss her cheek and wish her well. I am not a fast descender and I like breaks! Plus I love to hike alone and I have an audiobook to finish. I watch Carrot’s braided hair, her turquoise pack flanked with two Gatorade bottles, and her treking poles click away and I settle in to my book.
Have you ever spent any time thinking about different types of bodies? I spend a lot of time thinking about different types of bodies. I think about these types of bodies because 1) I’ve had many kinds of bodies in this short life of mine. I’ve been categorically under and overweight (though i hate both of those terms with the power of 1000 suns.) and 2) I’ve struggled to accept my body mightily, having spent most of my 20’s starving or running or puking or taking diet pills or laxatives or whatever else self hating thing.
These days, I spend a lot of time trying to be kind to my body and quieting my own narratives about myself by listening to others experiences. Today I finish Landwhale by Jes Baker and the whole thing is so beautiful, so sad, so raw and honest and real and artfully woven that I can’t do much but LOL at my own body image woes and the marriage of these woes with my thin privilege. There is so much more to me than my body/diet culture fucks so deeply with us all/I have no actual fuckin’ clue what it’s like to be oppressed because of my body, no matter how much I’ve struggled. Perspective. It helps everything.
I meet Carrot under a bridge at a rushing stream as we collect our day’s last water. The sun has started to cast long shadows and we’re both hungry with aching toes. We camp, just around 20 miles in and I turn to her and ask:
“25 miles tomorrow? Do you think we can do 25 miles?!”
(moon photo totes a creative commons licensed image)