I woke up late, still with that glorious feeling of freedom under my skin. I had 3G service and, instead of surging into action, I lay in my bed looking through Facebook. I felt so much as if I was at home in Seattle, scrolling through my friend’s lives before beginning mine.
I finally got moving, and the day passed as if I were in a dream. I listened to my latest audiobook (I am trying, yet again, to get through Walden … I don’t understand why such a widely read book for the outdoorsperson must be so terribly boorish and opinionated, all at once, without break.) and then to hour after hour of Savage Love. The beginnings of the show, where he rants about the latest silly political and social issues, made me feel like I was at home as well … like I knew what was actually going on in the world.
Travel can be a massively eye opening experience, where whole new worlds in this world are discovered, whole new ways of being, thinking, doing, living can be found. It also can be extremely limiting. I have no connection to Seattle, to our country, to what my friends in the civilized world are doing. I get flashes of that other reality from online and the people I chat with occasionally, but I am divorced from the normal flow of the world.
Instead I have arrived at myself. I am, especially now solo, completely in my own world.
I was talking in Mammoth with a hiker who had done the PCT in 1975. When I asked what the differences were now, he said it was a social trip, and that he thought it should just be communing with the trees and flowers.
I have been turning that over and over in my mind today. Why am I out here? Has it changed since the beginning? What kind of trail do I want? How should it be out here?
Tonight, tucked in my little, dirty shelter (it hailed on me two hours ago, and the dirt is stuck to all of my wet things), it seems as if this trip is a kind of homecoming. After spending my entire life running away from being in my own skin, here I am, alone in the woods, just me.
I am finding that I was waiting inside me this whole time. And I am not nearly as frightening as I thought I was for all those years.
I love people, I love vaguely keeping up with what is happening in the world, I love the strange wilderness I get to pass through, and now I love myself as well. I simply couldn’t ask for a better trail.
And, as I was neglectful of scenery and people today, here is one fleeting image: walking slowly up the last pass of the day, listening to Dan answer questions on the podcast, I stopped short. A curious, furry face was attached to a bold, fat body and all of it was watching me, only a foot away. It was a golden, reddish marmot, busy in his dusk duties. He was unafraid and friendly, turning one way and circling back around for another look at me, one foot in the air, wondering what strange preparations I was making before the night fell.