I had been counting the stairs, but realized I lost track some time ago. How long can a staircase be? What silent images are these that drift past demanding my attention with such force?
"Is this where good men go to drink?" I asked the bartender, looking around and seeing only patrons of questionable character. Confused, the man replied with hesitation, "Certainly not." Hesitation and certainty are interesting bed fellows. "Where then, do the good people of this town drink? I should very much like to go there instead." "Try across the street, they seem a better lot," he replied while surveying his customers. Across the street I saw a crowd of better repute, dressed in suits and sweaters. But I heard nothing but lies and conceit. Incredulous that this was the best lot, I asked the new bartender "Please sir, I asked the owner across the street where the good people go to drink, I believe he was mistaken with his answer, is there another establishment in this town where good men go to drink?" Questioning, the man replied without hesitation, "Certainly not. These are the good people of this town." I returned to the first bar and settled in at a game of cards. Upon being dealt a hand I overheard a naive man at the counter asking where the good men go to drink".
Awake, I reviewed my food bag. 7 days of food left. A typical day consisting of Breakfast: 2 Oatmeal Packets mixed with one Carnation Instant Breakfast Snack: 1 Cliff Bar Snack: Ramen Lunch: PB or Tuna on Tortilla, Jerky, MM's Snack: Trail Mix Dinner: Mashed Potatoes and cheese Snack: Too many Crasin's or MM's or Chocolate Chips
Today would be my first 29 mile day. My feet will be swollen, my throat will be parched, but I will Dream tonight.
But the burning red cross shines through the night. A crucifix of fire calling its children home. My feet nestle with each step deep into the sand. The sun will blaze down upon me tomorrow, there will be no shelter. Just the way I need it to be. For in the night, I have returned home.
I have arrived in Wrightwood CA. An interesting little town. Its businesses strung out along the highway. A day of mixed emotions ending with concernation, unless things change. I find myself increasingly unable to access the dream world or meditative states as the land becomes dominated by trees rather than sand. I feel robbed of the environment that was so conducive to bubbling up insights to my psyche. The woods are but a poor, empty shadow compared to the power of the desert. I pray dearly that my real journey has not lost a powerful facilitator...or that its over all together.
The teachings are but a raft. A raft is a burden when one is done crossing the water
In the waking world an approaching storm has forced me from the mountain and into Idylwild for shelter and resupply. I have slept the last two nights under picnic benches to ward off the rain, my tent unable to withstand consistent rain. I have relayed the story to too many people and care not to share it again in my precious few moments on a real keyboard. Suffice to say I did not care much for extracting myself from a pool at near freezing weather and continuing to use my wet sleeping quilt. The storm has, and will likely be for some time, the hardest thing to deal with thus far physically. Yesterday was my first day not hiking (called a zero, or zero day, i.e. 0 mile day). I get a bit too anxious to get on down the path. I can't really say why, it's just a need to keep moving despite a mild case of Plantar Fasciitis. Perhaps that is the residual poison of the real world, the anxiety and pressure to do 'something' rather than take what comes and devise a real plan. However, the hiking group I really like seeing at the end of days (I hike alone until AJ catches up to me at the end of the desert) is also in town. They're just good people who have done impressive things. And the thing about the trail is that is really does a fine job of pulling out the better side of people. Of course, some people seem able to resist the tenancy to be kinder, more empathetic, and grateful - but with as much politeness as one can muster they can be largely avoided. This group however, I'm sure are good people even at home. They let me dry my tent in their cabin, bless their hearts. But it is with great sadness I announce a really good dude has departed from the trail due to injury. His departure aside, it'll be a pleasure occasionally bumping this group. Be good, everyone!