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Dozens of mosquitos lay in wait on my tent's bug netting. Unsettling thinking of what wretchedness just a small hole could allow into my tent. Especially given that I've already killed over 20 large black ants tonight that have found there way between my ground cloth and tent floor, beasts that I worry could be the very instruments for creating such holes. Still they march one by one to their doom over the bodies of their comrades. My 30 ounce silpoly sanctuary is under attack by monsters that know not the malcontent they cause.
Are monsters those who understand their harm and continue on, or those who lack the empathy to understand they cause harm?
The mosquitos have dogged us the past two days, hardly allowing breaks in the day as we do Desert mileage on Sierra terrain. It has been tough, a true slog. Certainly the hardest physical thing for me to deal with on trail now is the insects. Readers may recall my worst night on trail was largely prompted strange bugs invading my insects. They are vile, provoking visceral reactions knowing any given one can carry serious diseases along with mundane ailments like itching. Thru hiking isn't all glorious views, it's often grounded in the reality of bugs, pain, wet shoes, but boy, some things are just harder to deal with than others.
Check out this sweet fuzzy photo - is it a mosquito or... A man floating above the treeline ??? CALL THE X-FILES PEOPLE!
I wish I could take back all the times I made fun of anyone for something they liked. A store is playing Live Like You Were Dying or whatever and I'm just thinking if someone likes it, its meaningful to them...what's the point of trying to show it's bad? What do you really get out if that? I hope off trail I can remember to just empathize with why they like it, even if the medium causing the positive feelings may be dumb.
I came across a group of hikers the other night that I've seen before and like hanging with so I joined them for the evening. Most were on the Drugggs that evening and one got the group to create an "energy sharing circle" where everyone holds hands hand and collectively focuses on "sending good vibes" to each person before doing the same for the next person. While this garbage was happening, for garbage it was, I was able to enjoy myself thoroughly - the people around me were happy, and that makes me happy, why would I try to take that away or risk tarnishing their high (pun intended)? So I hope I always remember to do no harm to other's enjoyment and have the discipline to keep my opinions to myself when they risk doing so.
My mom once told me as I grow older, I seem to return to things from the past. It was right after I got my blue Subaru with a light interior, which made it look a bit like the Bluebird from high school.
Maybe that's why I'm listening to an old trucker song from high school, Richard shindell's next best western, and iron and wine's such great heights on repeat tonight. These songs are from a time when I thought I had the world figured out, so long removed that nostalgia has washed away much of the dirt from them leaving only shiny memories of high school glory days. Nostalgia makes memories that fall within in its domain cleaner than they may have, strictly speaking, actually been. That's no reason to not be grateful. Who wouldn't want better memories? You absolutely can go out and make better memories, but if the brain is going to make old memories better, just enjoy the free revisions.
From Shindell's song "Willin'", of the four citites mentioned, I now have slept in 2, having been to Tucson and now Tehacipi. I think I'd like to be sure to hit the other two, just for the sake of it. In some sense the past holds templates for our future. Isn't that what a goal is? Some goals simmer for decades longer than other. Goals are just addressing gaps from your current state and your desired states. Goals and motivations are children of this gap. The templates are often vague mental lists of things not yet fulfilled.
Meditation spaces occasionally present themselves on trail. Unfortunately it still takes discipline to ensure I utilize them, rather than worrying about grabbing an extra mile or so. Part of my pilgrimage will be over when I no longer need to force myself to utilize such spaces, when it becomes unnatural to >not< stop for such opportunities. We all miss so much beauty and opportunities to calm our minds in daily life. The world will not miss you for the twenty minutes you take for yourself to intentionally clear your mental weather
I know not what song she sang. Her voice and ukulele chords carried from across the valley. It mixed harmoniously with the choral laughter of those in some hidden camp behind the nearby ridge. I like to think it was a happy love song about the early euphoric stages of love. It makes me wish I had a little whiskey to sip and share with this sunset. Jim Beam perhaps, for few flavors call out in the voice of summer like Jim.
A 12 Fl oz Cactus Cooler In Pineapple Blast soda contains 79% of ones daily recommended intake of sugar, apparently. Today was fully restorative. It illuminated a possible source if my consternation too. What I believe to be Mount Whitney can be seen looming above the mountains blocking the horizon. It is the highest point in some stupidly large area and within 110 miles of me. I have the permit to summit it, but I will be so new to the Sierra and find it foreboding. A vague anxiety and fear of the unknown but certainly mildly dangerous especially if the snow situation there doesn't improve is a clear recipe for the recent bad night. You all know the feeling when the brain demands new information to assess a threat and is unrelenting even when it is fully aware no new information can be obtained.
With full knowledge of the source of my malcontent it is nearly entirely washed away. But I see the landscape changing, the Sierra is coming and there is nothing more to do but walk forward and hope for less snow up there. And drink in this awesome trail magic, of course.
First gear failure: mile 250, backpack strap broke, tied back together, still working fine
Second gear failure: mile 620, headphones ripped apart when scampering over a fallen tree. I really am bad at hiking without rhem, hoping to hitch a ride to a town to get a new pair. Need battle music to steel my resolve for the climb to Kennedy Meadows
As expected, the day comes with light. The desert deals is no half tones, it is always blunt and saturated. Shade, water, and Julien Baker leaves me physically comfortable, but for my left foot, and in a state of bittersweet reflection. For those who don't have rankings of human emotions in terms of platonic beauty, you may be interested to know that the emotional state related to bittersweet is the most beautiful. It is a hybrid that acknowledges both traditionally considered positive feelings and traditionally considered negative feelings. Thus it is the most artistic and wisest of our emotional pallet. Other emotions ignore either the "good" or "bad" of the world. How ignorant and unbalanced of them.
Has it been three years now since listening to Sprained Ankle or just three? Countless listens between New England and Arizona, best times and worst times, and yet it still always moves me to the balanced state.
The emotional bad weather is over and soon I'll be back to fully enjoying my precious time away from real life, but some have asked what the emotional side of thru hiking can be like, so I hope this window into a low turning back high fulfills such curiosities to some extent, cryptic as my style tends to be. Here's some cows passing the road by the 2'x4' folding I've been hiding under for shade for lunch
Only a few hours into camp, but I feel these are some of my lowest hours yet. Even including the 30 degree night in which I was soaked to the bone and slept under a picnic table. Including all the nights of soreness, bugs, and loneliness. For I have all of those today, with a splash of dehydration caused by a long hard day that even 6 or 7 litres of water can't do the job completely. Its been 50 days or so since I've seen a friend from home, 40 days or so since I've seen family which makes all the physical issues above seem less tolerable than ever, and such physical issues make the loneliness less tolerable than ever. The memory of nights like this surely must push one to be more empathetic.
I am 100 miles from the Sierra. Its not like quitting is even a remote possibility, but like all bad circumstances on the trail, you just have to hope they'll resolve themselves soon. The mental weather is just bad tonight is all. What is surprising is how quick the mental storm came, without warning or dark clouds to herald its arrival.
I must endure this bug killing vigil until full darkness when such creatures are less inclined toward home invasion, but I hope sweet precious sleep comes immediately with that darkness.
From the lowest mental elevation yet, Pilgrim