Tuesday, October 25, 2005

When I was little, I wrote novels about kids that were suspiciously similar to my cousins and I. The novels usually centered on some adventure that took place in the wilderness, preferably with a madman chasing the protoganists, with some cute boys thrown in. The kids were remarkably self-sufficient; they ate dandelions and crushed ants for food, and caught fish with panty-hose. And they always managed to thwart the enemy through some outlandish means.

I mention this because of my own real-life adventure this weekend. Granted, there weren't any psychos pursuing Jon and I across the balds (I think in my novels I would have had the kids jump on the wild ponies to escape), but we endured the "cold-that-seeps-into-your-bones" and climbed a couple ancient mountains to boot. I can't tell you how pleased I am to have actually enjoyed myself 99% of the time; to have been able to look at the trail snaking its way up the mountain-side and not want to cry at the thought of climbing.

I really have changed since the first time I went hiking in the Gorge and collapsed deliriously red-faced by the truck after a maliciously up-and-down 8 mile trek. We hiked 10 miles the first day, 12.7 miles the second, and 13 miles the third, on our way into Damascus. I was still standing, and quite alert, when we reached the car.

On the third day, Jon woke me up at 4 AM to tell me he was too hungry to sleep. So we got up, went outside in the tar-black darkness to retrieve the food-bag (you hang your food-bag a substantial distance from your camp in case bears amble into the vicinity), cooked breakfast and set out. I can tell you now that I do not like hiking in the darkness and rain. We hiked four hours before the sun rose.

It's like Mom said, you truly have to like being around yourself when you go hiking. Without even the distractions of nature around you, hiking in the dark, focused on the small circle of light directly in front of you from your headlamp, calls for some serious retrospection mixed with zoning out. I just thought of myself as a hobbit on a journey, truding in the cold and wet.


dwain said...

So, after 38 miles, did you have to hike back out?

Laura said...

:) that was the total amount. my feet are still recovering.
oddly enough, that only inspires me to continue hiking obscene amounts of miles. I'm actually thinking I could quite possibly hike the AT.

dwain said...

I confess that I don't understand that. Perhaps I'm not at the stage of my life where I feel that a journey is what I need, or at least not that kind. I've always had itchy feet, but I don't get the same peace or fulfillment out of hiking for long distances to a destination that isn't really all that much of a destination. I know, Camus would say that life's a journey, not a destination, but I think that life is made up small destinations.

I remember that when I was younger and less out of shape I would always hike to the tallest peak around wherever we happened to be camping/fishing, just to see the view. I think my need for a destination may have come from that early desire to see the peak. To each her own, of course, and I recognize the beauty of passing through such wonder, but my personal epiphanies come from passing through to reachsomething.

I'm really embarrassed to talk about my hiking, now, because we got tired after 2-3 miles!