Friday, November 20, 2015

Another post (an afterthought) about the Pacific Crest Trail

I am practically forgetting what being on the trail was like...
I remember thinking before the trek that after it I'd feel so accomplished, and that when I eventually would go back home to Israel I'd feel so great having done what I was about to do. But I don't have that feeling at all. I feel that the memory is fleeing from me, as if it happened in the blink of an eye and I can barely catch a glimpse of it now...
So I'd like to write an additional post about the trail (additional to the one I wrote on this blog about 4 weeks ago, which I shortened by the way, so you may wanna go read that, or the whole blog for that matter. I'm pretty proud of this whole blog) so that maybe I can revive the memories, even for just a little while.

I had no idea really what I was about to do. I knew I was going to be driving with Cameron in a shuttle/bus (which ended up being a private driver in a limo) from the hotel Cam was staying at, to Timberline Lodge, where Bob and Paula had been since two days prior, after they had hiked a few days together. From there Paula would go back to Portland and then home, and Bob, Cameron and I would start backpacking through Oregon (Cameron hiked with us for five days). I had never backpacked before for more than five days, but I was confident I'd make it the whole 32 days even without what would be considered sufficient preparation. Some people were a little skeptical, or even outright against my trek (not that it mattered. I'm my own independent human being) because I was going to be hiking with a male, a "stranger" I had met on the internet, and for so long! Out in the wilderness! It's not safe in the wilderness! But public opinion didn't matter much to me once I decided this is what I'm going to do. That decision happened while watching the movie "Wild" with S in the theater. It must have been around April. I was so inspired by the movie (by the movie-making - the acting, the videography) and by Cheryl Strayed's difficulties, suffering and courage, that I decided that I'd do this. Why not?

So, I did it. Bob later told me he and Cam thought I'd bail out after the first few days, when I had aching blisters between my toes...
But I honestly didn't even consider bailing out.
Later, the blisters went away, or I ignored them (one or the other, I'm not sure), and my knees started hurting me. They hurt a lot. Walking downhill (or down steps) was especially hard because of the bend the knee needs to do. I kind of stepped down sidely, slowly, with the help of the trekking poles. I limped for a few days, maybe a week, maybe more. It didn't bother me much. I joked that worse comes to worst my knees will be forever damaged, but I didn't actually believe that. I know my body is young and strong and can heal itself... And can endure pain... And can keep walking, one foot after the other, all day long...

And that's exactly what we did.
We awoke in the morning, yelled good morning to each other from inside our tents (and commented on the weather if there was something unusual about it), got dressed, ate our breakfasts, folded up our stuff into our backpacks, and then folded our tents (and attached them to the top of the backpacks) and continued on the trail. (The campsites were usually along the trail. Sometimes campgrounds- which are fancier than campsites, with a picnic table and sometimes an outhouse- were a little way off the trail, so we'd get back on the trail in the morning.) Then we'd walk all day, which usually meant between 10 and 15 miles, and stopped for the night at another campsite...

During the day we sometimes walked together and sometimes separately. Usually after about a mile or two whoever was first would sit and wait for the other, and then we'd continue walking.
Sometimes we were silent, sometimes we talked (usually Bob talked. I didn't have so much to say. I asked questions, that I did. But when Bob asked if I also have stories I can tell I said I'm not good at telling stories. Bob was good at telling stories.)

He told me about how his father just died one day when he was a young boy, about his hardworking mother, about how he got out of being recruited to fight in Vietnam in the 60's, about his photojournalism career before he started AEI in the 70's, and about his wife and daughters. He also told me about his company (AEI) when I asked. (I kind of felt ignorant not knowing anything about finances... Well, even after his explanations I still know nothing. But having met Cameron and Paula and Bob, I got the feeling this company is quite unique in the type of [honest and kind] employees it has.) We had conversations about human nature, about Americans, about religion. We both held similar opinions on many issues, with Bob being a liberal and a feminist, but in other ways our lifestyles (and age, of course) were very different.
I was inspired by Bob in many ways and I think he was a little inspired by me too.

He mentioned quite a few times that he was so impressed by my courage at coming out here to hike, so far from home... I didn't feel so courageous, but I appreciated his saying that.

I mainly felt anxious and confused (about things unrelated to the trail). I tried so hard to just be there in spirit, and I thought I managed most of the time, but maybe the fact that the trail memory is fleeting now means I wasn't really there...
(Or maybe, at second thought, this is the type of big experience from which the memories will unfold and come to me over time.)
Looking back, I wish I was freer when I was out there.
I wish I had no strings attached to anyone or anything.
But of course that was impossible. It always is. I had so many aching and complicated strings attached...

But why, or how, am I missing life? Why is it rushing by me without letting me really soak in it? It's honestly so sad...

There were physical types of anchors (like the "spot" device) which effected my mental feeling and hindered my spiritual freedom.

I did not gain from this trek all that I wanted. (But I WAS there, experiencing it all while it was happening.)
Maybe that's why I don't feel accomplished.
I reached the "end line" with no feeling of excitement.

But it was, in many-a-way, great.

And I go back to the opening sentence of this post... I think it's not that I am already forgetting, but that I haven't yet remembered. As time goes by I remember more, and the memories become riper and better.

(More "afterthought" posts will come later, as I remember specific things from the trail.)

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