Journal Entry: June 7, 2010 – 100 Mile Wilderness

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 9

A  bitterly cold 6:30 a.m.

I knew I needed to get up and get moving.  A hot breakfast was in order to make sure I had plenty of calories to start off the day.  I wanted to finish White Cap, cross the Hay and beyond Gulf Hagas to reach the West Branch Pleasant River and tent there. Trout had described the decline past Gulf Hagas as being ‘gentle’ so I figured the eleven miles would be well worth it and a reasonable goal.

The sun broke through about 8 a.m.

Took my time to keep my heart rate low.  To keep the number of calories being burned to a minimum.  I continuously reminded myself, ‘an economy of movement.’ and any time I started to break a sweat I would stop or slow my pace.

As for the gentle decline…I guess.

With the brain fog of the past two days gone, I did a lot of thinking throughout the day.  The suddenly pleasant weather.  The Zen of movement.  Why I was doing this hike.  My family.  My plans and hopes for the future.

My conclusions…well…I concluded I’m doing this hike to be away from others and Society’s expectations.  Here, I only have my own expectations to live up to day-to-day.

I am only subject to my schedule.  I rise in the morning when I want to.  I eat when I am hungry.  It’s a relief to not be concerned with what others may think of my appearance, my actions and how I am going about it.  I set my goals for the day and make adjustments when I want and need to.  I love that my instincts have been spot on…for me.  No commentary.  No criticism.  No pressure to do or say or be…other than for me.

Taking the break yesterday gave my body much needed rest.  I had enjoyed a 360 degree panoramic view at 3500-ft.  Can a day get better than that?

I thought about how individuals need to learn to be less dependent upon their jobs and living such set routine schedules.  Crazy.  All kinds of people work at all different paces utilizing all different methods.  Continuously trying to ‘standardize’, to ‘regulate’ everything…what a mistake.  Resenting others for working ‘their way’ and in ‘their time frames’…a gross error.  It’s just petty jealousy.  People ought to stop worrying so much about what other people are doing and focus on themselves.

I ponder those living their lives in fear.  Afraid of themselves, others, living.  Constantly defining and limiting themselves.  Fearing if they don’t ‘label’ themselves they and others won’t know who they are.  In fear of being ‘fired’ from their jobs if they don’t comply or meet others’ expectations.  It’s sick.  The way some try and control others in this manner.  And for what?  The bottom line?  More productivity?  More money?    What is money?  So much value on something so worthless.  Simply the means, to a way, to control.  You can’t control what others do, only what you do.

I thought about my family and wondered if they wonder where I am at this very moment.  It’s funny.  Hilarious really.  Being estranged and adopted.  My life is so very full of conundrums.  All because of my life circumstances and ‘poor’ choices.  The silent treatment.  Criticism of my actions and choices.  Suddenly being treated and spoken to as though I was five years old all over again and incapable of making intelligent decisions.  A subtle, yet not so subtle form of passive aggressive control.  An emotional manipulation.

I want love.  I want support.  I want understanding.  I want them to think about the results of their actions and words.  To think about how it is hurting, not helping.

I thought about my hopes.  My plans for the future.  A pleasant day-dream.

A little farm where I can self-sustain sounds nice.  Free-range chickens for eggs, a vegetable and herb garden, canning food for the winter.  Hunting wild game.

Visions of my youth flitted before my eyes.  Played across my memory.  Haying.  Sweating under the blaze of the Autumn sun.  Everyone standing, chatting, around my uncle’s pick-up.  Drinking ice-cold beers after off-loading the bales to the conveyor to the hayloft.  The same loft I had asked my grandfather to put a swing in as a child.

‘Why?’, he’d asked.

My reply, ‘Every hayloft needs a rope swing.’

Most of my friends are married with children, divorced with children or in the process of one of the two.  Very few are single with none.  Like me.  When I had been married I had longed for motherhood.  Sometimes I still feel that twinge.  Whenever I mentioned that thought to my friends with kids, they looked at me like I had grown two crazy heads.  Maybe I feel that twinge because I miss my childhood.  Maybe that’s why I think about having children from time-to-time.  Maybe I tried to submit to expectations.  Everyone else was doing it.  Thank god, that travesty never came to be.  A blessing in disguise.

Tangent upon tangent upon tangent thought.

Just past the Sydney Tent Site I was passed by a girl.  I caught up with her at the Carl A. Newhall Lean-to.  She, Eli and Crawford were there.  They had just finished eating and were prepping to head out soon.  My stop was brief.  I left before the girl did.  Although she caught up with me at the West Branch Pleasant River.  A fifty foot wide stretch of knee-deep round rocky river.

I sat down and stripped off my foot gear, my usual routine, for water crossings.  She stood at the river’s edge silent and still.  It seemed like she was thinking.  Or listening to the rushing water.  Then suddenly she went for it.  She strode forward and crossed removing nothing.

After she reached the far bank, three men appeared, packless.  I stood up, grabbed a stick to help support myself and slung everything over my shoulders, my pants rolled up to mid-thigh and barefoot.  I stepped carefully, slowly made my way over slimy slippery rocks and through the rushing current.  The four of them stood and watched as I laboured and Maxie swam for it.

It seemed an eternity.  Several times my feet slipped and I thought I might topple.  Their presence, their watching, a test of my mindfulness and focus on the task at hand.  I cut them out of my thoughts.

I walked on to shore, past them, to a grassy spot to put my socks, boots and gators back on.  I asked one of the boys, they were all young men, high school or college aged, if there was a place to tent nearby.  They all shrugged and then turned and walked away down another trail.  I guessed that they must have a car nearby.  They didn’t look or move like thru-hikers.

The girl and I walked together following the white blazes.  We came upon a flat gravel area next to the water.  Not an ideal location but it would do.  It was convenient to have water close at hand but the mosquitos and black flies were thirsty and thick.  I decided to tent there for the night.  The girl decided to keep going.

I strung up line to hang wet clothing taking advantage of the breeze.  The girl re-appeared and asked if she could share the spot with me.  I asked her if she had anything she wanted to hang to dry.  She declined.  Other than that there was little conversation between the two of us as we set up camp.  A welcome relief.  She, like I, quickly prepared dinner and then headed to bed soon afterwards.

Distance: about 11.5-miles

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Photo Memory: “A Point in the Right Direction” photographed by Nichole Hastings

“I concluded I’m doing this hike to be away from others and Society’s expectations.  Here, I only have my own expectations to live up to day-to-day.”


A Point in the Right Direction photographed by Nichole Hastings



Copyright 2011 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.









Journal Entry: June 6, 2010 – The 100 Mile Wilderness

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 8

Woke up late, around 8 a.m.

I thought if the weather remained clear I would traverse White Cap, Hay and Gulf Hagas.  This would have been a fine plan if it had simply remained overcast.  But, not long after setting out it began to sprinkle.

I caught up with the two young high school kids Just Bob and Trout had mentioned seeing.  They were busy rearranging their gear.  We nodded hello to each other as I walked by.  Soon it began to pour, coming down at a steady pace.

The hike was brutal.  Large blowdowns littered the trail.  Maxwell was not happy.  Navigating around the dense branches of the downed trees was hard work and required a lot of coaxing to get him to follow.  I suppose if I was a foot off the ground it would have made more sense to just trot underneath them, taking the path of least resistance.

I pushed myself, hard, to get up the lower half of White Cap.  I refused to let my mind think of anything but the now of my situation.  I still felt disconnected and haggard.  In an unfocused haze.  In spite of that, a dreadful thought, a reality, continuously circled in my mind.  An unwelcome realization while packing and eating this morning.  I was running out of food.  And quickly.  Also, my caloric intake was not nearly close to what it should be.  I had read that ideally you want to be consuming 3000 to 4000 calories a day.  I would be exaggerating if I said I was taking in 1200 a day.

I was soaked, inside and out of my rain gear.  The wind, sweat and rain had me chilled to the bone.  I was exhausted.  I knew Plan A, to stop at the Logan Brook Lean-to would be the smart move.  Immediately upon arrival I hung up everything to ‘dry’ and set up camp.  I pulled all my food out.  Looking at it I realized I had much less left than I thought.  I laid out five plastic ziplock bags and I portioned out everything I had for five days.  Four days worth of hot breakfasts and dinners.  Five days worth of cold lunches and snacks.  The amounts were painfully meager.  Portioning out the trail mix was a joke, about a cup per bag.  I counted the pieces of dried fruit and chocolate pieces I put in each bag to make sure they were evenly distributed.  Two small squares of chocolate per bag and a piece or two more than that of dried fruits.  And fragments of beef jerky in each.

Around 4:30 p.m., Eli and Crawford appeared, drenched.  We all bunked down early with the sound of rain playing us a lullaby on the roof of the lean-to.  One of them, maybe Crawford mentioned a planetary conjunction this evening.  I scribbled away in my journal.

Distance: about 3.9-miles

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Journal Entry: August 8, 2010 – Skamping

My ambitions are better served each day, in busying myself foraging for food water and shelter, the three necessities to maintain existence, rather than money or fame; on which no living thing can be nourished, nor provide protection from the uncontrollable conditions of Nature. And so begins my stay in the Skamper. Surrounded by an urban jungle, a tight residential sprawl of gridded quarter-acre lots.
The residents manicure the landscape encouraging an unnatural subdivision, pointedly placing tree, shrub and fence; a false and wistful re-creation expressing the desire for Nature and solitude. Conditioned to this visual and social ‘norm’, people have no conceptual imagination and understanding that their environment could be quite diametrically different if they chose. It is strange to me, to agree so easily to another’s visions and perceptions without contemplating it first. To examine the details, to perform a careful comparison and study before reaching a then informed conclusion. A realization that every decisive action reflects a personal choice made, for every situation and circumstance. And allowing others to make those decisions for you will never facilitate a contentment of the soul and true happiness.
There are rare moments of natural silence in this environment. I hear the engine of a lawn mower hum steadily. A small airplane flying low overhead. The whistle warning of a passing Amtrak train. Cars driving by, a man sneezing, a teenage girl screaming angrily at her father and slamming doors. The constant whir of a window air conditioner. If a noise must be at a constant, let it be the water flowing over rocks and the wind in the trees. My heart is melancholy for the pure sounds of the wilderness.
This cozy 8’x20′ area contains everything I require to live. A sleeping space, a counter and sink, a table and benches for friends and company. I am off-the-grid. I live without electricity and running water; an independent and alternative existence, a staunch refusal and repudiation of relying upon modern technology. There is a small television occupying a large portion of the counter which I will be pleased to see go. For now it serves as a mirror and shelf for a few items. For some, this picture box is an imagined necessity. In fact it provides no real value to living or enrichment of the mind. I take my light from the sun or by candle, water from a nearby source, pleasure in my own company and entertainment in my own thoughts.
Some friends are enchanted with the idea of how I live. Some find it bizarre and their discomfort manifests itself in their conversation and body language. When some visit, they are afraid, at times, to enter or stay long. Their inhibition Pavlovian.
I leave the door open and unlocked. I have nothing to hide. There is no possession I value so much as to miss its presence if it were to disappear. Some ask if that picture box and a small refrigerator are hooked up to electricity. Does the sink provide running water? They grow silent when I answer, “No.” and then ask me, “Why?” Why ask why? The answer is so obviously and simply that I do not care to have it so.
In this Age of the Ownership, my lifestyle and words are strangely foreign. The concept of money is a grave travesty. I find nothing so uninteresting as the conversation which begins with the question, “What do you do for work?” And the presence of those who wave about a bill roll of dead trees with symmetrical markings utterly disagreeable. The very word and concept ‘value’ simply distasteful in its inherent hierarchical definition and use in judgement. People today are not so very different from those that existed centuries ago. The majority of the population exist as indentured servants. The distraction of the Colliseum a button push away in every living room. How cleverly slavery has been re-conceptualized, presented, with the escapist elements of distraction well woven in the fabric of what some call ‘ciivilized society’.
To busy oneself day-to-day with the hunt. To understand the foolishness and imminent disappointment of expectations. To appreciate all living things, plant animal and human being, knowing each are equally deserving of respect and a right to existence. To actively exemplify these thoughts addressing the truly important aspects of living through one’s actions. These are the foundations of happiness. These are the cornerstones of enlightened realizations. Ah, what joy to Skamp and live free!

Katahdin Streams, Appalachian Trail, Baxter State Park, Maine, May 30, 2010.

Photo Memory: “First Bath on the Appalachian Trail” photographed by Nichole Hastings | Hiking

“It was a hot day and I hadn’t bathed for three days.  This spot on Nesouadnehunk Streams looked so inviting.  It was painfully cold.  I forced myself into it, scrubbed my skin and hair with sand while shaking uncontrollably.  The mountain fed stream was icy, I could hardly breathe, my skin stung and turned red.”

Katahdin Streams, Appalachian Trail, Baxter State Park, Maine, May 30, 2010.

First Bath on the Appalachian Trail photographed by Nichole Hastings


Copyright 2010 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.