Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"How The Roots Become One With The Rocks And The Rocks Become Part Of The Tree"

He whose spirit does not roam the open spaces
He who does not demand the light of truth
And goodness with all his heart
Does not suffer inner ruins
But he also does not have individual buildings.
He is shaded by the natural ones
Like a rabbit who finds shelter in the rocks.
But the man,
Whose soul is in him,
His soul will not be sheltered
But by the buildings he builds in his own spiritual effort.

This post will have two parts, and you can decide which part interests you. The first part is the part I never really like when writing blogposts, but for some reason other people like: The plain, factual information. 
The second part will be about me, a human being inside the trail life. A human who likes to listen to her inner voices and her heart, to her craziness, neuroses and excitement. A human who writes without boundaries, because there should be none when searching ourselves. A human who loves openness and hates repression.
The dates written below are the actual dates the entries were written in my journal.
The photos were taken by me (except for the second to last one- the photo of the quote).

We started hiking on September 19th at Timberline Lodge, which is a lodge (built in the 1930's) at the base of Mt. Hood in northern Oregon. We hiked for 32 days along the Pacific Crest Trail and stopped hiking on October 21st at Fish Lake resort in southern Oregon. Our initial plan was to hike 15-18 miles a day, and I was planning on getting to Etna, California. But we realized already on the first day that we would only be able to hike an average of 10 or 11 miles a day. That's because a) we weren't running, and didn't want to; we weren't on a race. b) the hours of daylight (and sufficient heat in accordance to daylight) were limited to around 8 hours every day. We started hiking at 9, when it was warm enough to move, and stopped to set camp at 5, so that we'd be able to put up our tents and eat before the sun slid away behind the trees, leaving us very cold already at 7 or 7:30 pm. 8 was our usual bedtime. The nights were freezing, sometimes below 20 degrees (Fahrenheit, That's -6 degrees Celsius). The days varied from a high of 70 to a low of 45 or 50. The weather was generally pleasant during the day, which made this season overall a good time to hike (compared to the high season of PCT hiking, which is summer. They must have nice nights, but boiling days). There was one day when the weather was especially horrendous. It was the absolute worst day weather-wise, but was also one of the absolute most interesting days on the hike: A snow blizzard when we were at an altitude of around 6,500 or 7,000 feet, right after Jefferson Park. We walked on the ridge of a mountain with heavy winds blowing, heavy and wet fog, and snow. We set camp at the first possible opportunity so as not to keep hiking in these conditions, but even being in our tents was not a promise for heat or safety. The temperature and the wind were brutal. Bob made sure I was aware that this weather in fact was dangerous, and that if I do feel that my core is getting cold, I should not hesitate to take my sleeping bag and come into his tent, where the heat of two bodies will be greater than one alone. Luckily we made it through the night, in our own tents, and kept going the next day.
Sometimes when we stood on a montaintop and looked out at the terrain below, the air was so smuggy that we could just smile and say, "well, the view is beautiful, if only we could SEE it!" And at Crater Lake Bob added to that, "we'll have to Google it." Well, that's because Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful landmarks we had along the way, and almost missed the whole sight because of the fog. Sometimes the fog was eerily beautiful inside the forests. A sight that summer-hikers definitely don't get to see.
We passed through a few types of landscapes. The regular pine forest, burnt forest, and lava fields.
Each of those was beautiful and special in its own way for the first few days of our encounter with it, but then grew kind of repetitive and mundane after a while. Oregon doesn't change much. Bob and I didn't get sick of each other. I enjoyed listening to his stories, he enjoyed my company. I enjoyed telling him about Israel and about my moral ethics, and he enjoyed agreeing and sharing his own thoughts on morality. We talked a lot about religion, about Jesus, about belief systems and about culture. We laughed about my bad eyesight (my eyesight has worsened noticeably in the past 2 months), and enjoyed yummy meals in different restaurants along the way. He has two daughters just a few years older than me and told me about them, about his wife  and about his mother, I told him about my own family, and we became relatives, trail family, close acquaintances. Bob is generous, knowledgeable, intelligent, kind and poised. I watched how he spoke to people we met along the trail, the owners of the different resorts and waitresses in the restaurants, with a solid tune, a dignified voice and a flowing sensical speech, and gained from that the important inspiration of approaching people, which is something I have always been bad at. Every four or five days we stopped at a resort along the way and slept in their cabins for a night or two before returning to the trail. This gave us the opportunity to shower, wash our clothes and eat better-tasting food. The opportunity was possible thanks to Bob's wealth and generosity in paying for all of my accommodations along the trail. 
By the time we were nearing our last days of hiking, I was eager to finish it, to get to our end point. I felt like Salamanca in Walk Two Moons, when she drives with her grandparents and the trees say, "hurry hurry" and "rush, rush". When we got to Fish Lake, we didn't have the sensation of a grand ending. Nothing really happened. We got there, the place was closed for the season. They let us into one of the cabins to use the shower. Then we got a cab into Medford, where we each had a room in the Holiday Inn. That evening we went out for dinner, Bob let me choose. Not many vegan options in Medford, but I found a pizza place that has an "artificial" cheese. So we went there. And there we had a good closing dinner for the trail. We spoke about what we learned from it, what we enjoyed and less enjoyed, what we already miss, and how strange it is that it's already over.

Part II
This may be a long post, like part of a novel, where all the parts will eventually come together to be one solid me-ness. Or it could be a short post, with highlights that may not interact in a solid and fluid way, but will be more concise and easier to read. I'm not sure how to write it out, so let's just see how this unfolds...
I kept a journal on the trail. At first I scribbled down dry facts and short memories. My hands were not yet accustomed to the cold at night and it was hard to write.
When we left Big Lake Youth Camp, about 11 or 12 days into the trail, I was overwhelmed by a wave of aching thoughts, stemmed by a certain one dilemma, which I will call "The Dilemma", and somehow by now my hand was fluent with the pen twined inside my fingers, and was able to eagerly scribble away the words that flowed out of me.

First day on the trail.
Hard but not too hard.
I'm lonely, but not longing for any one person. 
Just a universal loneliness, with no strings attached to anyone.
It's easy to miss. 
To eagerly want to go back to a situation of safety, warmth and abundance.
It's so easy to be reminiscent of the intimacy, of the wonderful closeness
between me and a loved one.
It's automatic; my unlimited, unguided and desperate desire to be in warm familiar arms...
Hunters. Many of them around here. With their camouflage uniforms and long rifles, they seem to me the same kind of [violent] people who would join the US army, fly to a foreign country and kill people from a jet, like many American soldiers do but no one talks about. 
After Bob fed the birds nachos they kept coming back and some landed on the table next to us, where a woman was sitting across from her friend. After shooing them away again and again the woman finally slammed her hand on the table and cried out, "what is WRONG with these birds?" I was laughing inside. Bob smirked too. He said, "It's a republican; it'll take whatever you got!"
The old lady whose trail name is "Mother Goose". The woman had wrinkles on her face and two white braids. She looked to me like a matriarchal Indian chief.
I thought I was afraid of the dark. Guess not.

[Nov. 18: Here there was a long section I removed for now, because it makes me feel a little nauseous and uncertain. Maybe I will write a revised version sometime)

Yesterday's lava fields * Remembering the word kisufim
Wanting to bake vegan desserts because the black specs of earth looked like cookie crumbs
Thinking about food
Trying to BE HERE Being forced by today's brutal weather to BE HERE
Thinking about Bob's story of his daughter's elementary school pen pal in Ukraine, and later asking the leaves and the stems and the plants to try to pen pal the different parts of my body and attach me to them spiritually, so I would be part of Them
Walking with my hood over my head and I could only see a square meter in front of my each step
I liked that
Trying to remember who to send snail mail letters to;
Every night remembering more dear people to write to
מכל מאהבי השכלתי

October 17th:
Wow, almost a month on the trail! We're in the rain, but in our tents. I'm cooking Outdoor Herbivore's Chickpea Sesame Penne. We're camping somewhere in the Mazama area, a little south of the Crater Lake rim. Today was an eventful day. It started with Chuck and Andrea driving us out from Diamond Lake to the Crater Lake rim. We walked the remaining 3(ish) miles to the rim village, ate lunch, waited to hear that our packages were at the ranger station a few more miles south, walked the 3 miles down there, got our packages, sent most if their content back. We had so much food and only a few days left on the trail, so we didn't need all that extra food (=weight on our backs). Then hitch hiked down to where Annie Springs met the road, hiked 0.5 miles (uphill) ("we had to have an uphill right out of the freakin car?" [Bob]), then about 1.5 miles to reconnect to the PCT trail.
I love being in my tent and I love writing. It makes me feel connected and less alone.

October 18th:
Imma's birthday!
We have 3.5 days left to this adventure! On Thursday afternoon we should get to Fish Lake  It's 35 miles from here. Really not that far. Can't wait!

October 21st:
We ended up getting to Fish Lake a day early.
We're here today!
We're done!

"One of our problems is that very few of us have developed any distinctive personal life. Everything about us seems secondhand... In many cases we have to rely on secondhand information in order to function... But when it comes to questions of meaning, purpose, and death, secondhand information will not do. I cannot survive on a secondhand faith in a secondhand God. There has to be a personal word, a unique confrontation, if I am to come alive."
[From a book called Journey Into Christ. I read the quote in the book The Road Less Traveled.]

This last photo was taken from inside the bus down to Sacramento from Medford, Oregon.
The ride was very pleasant and scenic. I enjoyed it.

I don't remember if I wrote anywhere that the camera I got from B&H in NYC was a used Fuji XQ1. it's excellent, in my opinion. I'm really happy with it.


  1. Incredible post! I really enjoyed reading it.
    It's amazing to see how your writing style has matured and changed over the years. You make the experiences on the trail so colorful and vivid. At some point I really felt like I was reading from a section of a novel, like you said :-)

    Missing you back home!!

    1. Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to read it. I appreciate that so much :)

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