Skip to main content

Appalachian Trail: Mission Accomplished


Well, there I am, looking like a crazy person on the summit of Katahdin. Just now noticed my under layer of puffy sticks out like a little fupa. I guess we can't all look like a North Face ad.

It was strange how quickly the end came. We had been so mission-focused for so long, had trained ourselves so well to break an impossible goal into days, that when the night before the summit came, we were ready to hike and totally unprepared for world without hiking. After getting nearly killed in the Whites (and this one is truly with minimal hyperbole), and nearly killed in southern Maine, and nearly killed in Mahoosuc Notch (seriously, google it), Katahdin had never felt further away. But the miles yield to determination. We hiked in the dark, and cold, and rain, and over rocks and boulders and roots and—oh my God the mice. We ate in the dark and the mice ran over our hands and our feet and tried to snatch morsels from our bags. They bounced off the tent and wriggled through bags. They rappelled down the lines of our bear bags and nibbled holes in everything. They shit everywhere. I don't believe there is a single second in a mouse's life that it is not shitting.

Our feet took us over mountains, and worming through caves, and along the shores of rivers and lakes. The scenery astounded, day after day. I ordered a battery for my phone to ensure it could weather the wilderness and capture the granduer of our walk.

And then it ended. We were so unprepared. I was so unprepared. We had hiked every day, woken to sunsets and watched birds frolic in the morning sipping bad coffee and choking down saccharine instant oats. We complained constantly, we were in near constant pain, and we didn't know how good we had it.

The morning of the summit was iffy. We had a day to spare, to wait, to see if the weather would improve. The weather report was unclear, not enough to make the decision for us. We shuffled our feet and discussed. We'd slept poorly the night before. We'd done 55 miles in three days to get there. We were sick with fatigue and ruined bowels. Another hiker, one we'd seen off and on was going to make the attempt, that day.

"C'mon guys," he said. "Just go for it."

We did. The nervous energy took hold. Katahdin wasn't the hardest climb, but it was the scariest, with the greatest drops, the most obvious plummets to oblivion, and some goddamn acrobatic demands that I still can't believe we survived. And then we were at the sign, the fabled sign, and we took a thousand pictures and laughed and celebrated (quietly). We walked down the mountain on a different path, one of the easiest but still hard. And it was done.

The car ride home was strange. The stay at the motel was strange. Being in a bed was strange. Sleeping in and not hiking was strange. The rhythm I had known was gone. It's still strange and I feel like a stranger.

There is a rudeness to the civilized world evident after living in the woods. Before the trail I saw nature as the backdrop to the suburbs, the human creations prominent and the nature as decor. Now I see the nature before all else. The human trinketry—the roads, the sidewalks, the houses, the poles for telephones and sieved electrons—appears crudely pegged and hammered and sunk. The sidewalk separating a line of trees from the front yard is straight and well set—and still crooked and cracked and so clearly an brief annoyance to the engulfing nature on either side. I had thought the cabins and privies of the trail to be crude invasions, but in fact all of our human invasions are crude and ignorant and blatantly so. Crude, crude, crude, the word pops in when I look around and everything we humans have built.

I took a walk today through a small woods and stopped at a bridge. A heron was there fishing. Cars and people passed by around me. I stayed and watched the heron for an hour. He stopped fishing and looked at me and we held a gaze. I felt like there was something there we both understood. In some small, but meaningful way, I had moved into his world.





Popular posts from this blog

CrossFit: A Playground for Adults

Having suffered a bout of absentee self-discipline, I have joined the cult of CrossFit to mold my flesh into a more fetching vessel. It's interesting.

If you're lucky enough to have never heard of CrossFit, this is all you need to know—it's a jungle gym for adults. You run and jump and pick things up and put them down and throw them and jump rope and do hopscotch and work out all your heebie jeebies. There's some grade school math thrown in as well, since you'll be counting every time you do something, and you're always doing multiple somethings, and you're always doing a lot of multiple somethings. My gym is in an old converted garage with plenty of space, but at eight o'clock the rush hour hits and it is playground madness.

Likely there are serious types doing CrossFit who would quibble with this characterization, and there's no doubt that the serious types are serious. That ubiquitous American belligerence underpins the official CrossFit doctrine. …

Concentration camps in America and Urmpt learns he can make bad bad go away

Good article in the New Yorker yesterday chronicling the vicious misdeeds of Joe Arpipo:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/why-does-donald-trump-like-sheriff-joe

It's clarion that under the Turmp [sic] regime we are a nation of men (and women) and not laws. Not that the facade of law and justice has ever been tatter-free but now it is being torn away completely. Now Urmtp [sic] is figuring out he has a magic eraser for criminal activity and I doubt it ends with two-bit authoritarian Arpi.

It's hard to imagine the GOP putting the breaks on this runaway train as long as in the carnage of the wreckage a few babillionairios get a hefty tax break.  When you get to be worth a tenth of a trillion dollars, laws are fucking inconvenient.

The arguments from the right wing insanosphere are already drawing comparisons to Clinton's pardons and claiming Arpaio's contempt of court conviction was unjustified. This is a man who boasted he was running "concentration c…

The Truth About Overwatch

Imagine a game of Overwatch with no duplicate characters—once a character is chosen no one else can play as them. In this scenario the characters of Overwatch are distinct persons.
In this world the characters of Overwatch are heroes cum mercenaries. Their watch ended, their struggle won or lost, they are reduced to venal pursuits to make ends meet or simply to stave off boredom. Puissant and bereft of a unifying cause, they often find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict. The battles revolve around mundane objectives—moving a payload from one location to another, capturing strategic territory.
In El Dorado and Junkertown a group of Overwatch mercenaries performs armored car duty. Perhaps they are transferring the weekly payroll for Union Pacific, or the ill-gotten gains of a cartel. In Hollywood the Overwatch mercenaries serve as bodyguards for Harvey Weinstein as he travels to the premier of a new Polanksi-Allen collaboration. Another group of Overwatch thugs attempts an assas…