Back on the trail, my brain starts to turn. Hiking is the time when I try to figure out what to do with all of the beautiful and horrifying nuance of being alive, right now in this nightmare that is the year 2018. What will I do?! How will I work with the stories I have welling inside of me? How will I reintegrate into a city lifestyle? I popped into Portland just briefly between the PCT and here and it filled me with an anxiety so palpable I could taste it. Had it always been there? Is this new?
I walk with Deanna and we talk about the end of my last relationship. Relationships are so hard and I married someone because I thought I could give forever a go and instead I felt trapped in a sea of nagging about housework, queer fantasies, and indescribable isolation. Marriage is supposed to be so beautiful, I bet it is so beautiful for so many but I will never do that again. I just have no faith in the system and Deanna seems to understand and that makes me feel like less of a failure and a monster.
Tomorrow I’ve been hiking for a month and something has happened. My hunger runs in a way that’s no longer like a person that desires a meal. I’m now a car that needs gas and roars to life when fed. My hair – which doesn’t change really ever- has grown. I’m working hard all day every day and it feels like my most natural state. I’m really fucking dirty and I’m eating like shit. (An example: I have packed out four and a half bags of chips for a three and a half day section and I’m 100% sure that I will have no problem finishing them) but still I feel so good. My cycle has synched with the moon. I rise and set with the sun. I am free.
I tell this to Carrot just after climbing over the highest peak of the TRT, a pass just over ten thousand feet that I didn’t notice was happening til after it was done. we’ve both been out for some time now and I swear just today we feel strong. The terrain goes by with ease, there are no bugs. It’s not too hot and halle-fuckin-lujah my knees don’t hurt. I could go and go and go and I want to but I know I’m done soon and that fills me with….something I can’t quite place my finger on.
“That’s the feeling that lets me know that we’ll never really know all we’ve lost being in cities” Carrot says, and I know it’s true. We really won’t.
I think about how healthy I feel with all of this eating like shit. Was it necessary to focus so much on the health of my food in real life because I never got to have all these other immutable and indescribable things in the nature to keep me feeling good? Something to consider.
Our nineteen miles in meeting spot comes and the campground is full. Of course it’s full! It’s Labor Day weekend and it’s Saturday. We sit down to brainstorm but we don’t have to think for long, because an old friend from Carrot’s PCT days drives up in a teal four door full of watermelon and diet coke and chocolate and a vegetable tray. He’s going to camp with us tonight, to take us to an empty spot to set up and he’s a fuckin’ thru hiker so he knows what’s up when it comes to snacks. We are grateful.
Woody drives us to the closest trailhead with open spots and we settle into a circle. We talk about…well, we talk about hiking mostly. We talk about our aches and our pains and our hopes and our dreams and we laugh and eat and fart and go to bed by eight PM.
I fucking love hiking. I don’t know how to not love it, but for today I don’t have to worry about that at all. Hiking is on the docket on this day, and tomorrow and the next day and the one after that. Beyond this, I know nothing at all.