Monday, June 7, 2010
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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