The Zen of Thru Hiking

People sometimes ask if I am hiking alone. The answer is yes and no. You can meet someone hike together then go over a month without seeing then; hike with a group for a while then due to a number of reasons (pace, breaks) not see them for miles/days. Then they pop up outta nowhere the whole time they may have never been more than five miles away from you.

So with the heat I’ve been hiking alone as most people are hiding from the heat. I can deal with heat, no problem. (Yes, Pat i am drinking water!) So I have to entertain myself. In the mornings I just like to listen to the birds chirp and the sounds of nature.

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By midafteroon I need some motivation. So, time for a trail dance party! I break out the tunes, usually a dj dance mix from TTITD or some other festival. Then I bust a move on the trail. Swinging my trekking pole or using it as microphone! I must be a sight.

The other day I tried listening to an audio book, The Way of Zen – Alan Watts. But it turns out, the more I concentrate on what is being read the slower I hike. Good for that slow end if the day hike I guess. Hiking is very meditative, more on that later.

Lastly sometimes I just entertain myself with made up scenarios about why I’m out here. Like my small town was captured but Russians, I escaped, and now I’m trying to make it North to the American free zone. I know, totally the Red Dawn plot, whatever.

One must busy the mind or it goes to weird places out here. Sometimes it goes there anyway and you just go with it. Ahh thru hiking.

Post trail dust off and reacclaimation

Well I’m back in San Diego. Physically I am anyways, my mind and heart are somewhere else.

So let’s see the Burn was way different for me this year. The weather was crazy, windy, dusty, cold (this has been the coldest summer on record for me, seriously), and the art was stirring, but there were SO many people. Going to the burn right after the trail might have been a bit over ambitious on my part, I admit. At least I had some down time in between and wasn’t just dropped directly into that or I may have lost it. Honestly it was a bit more intense than I thought it would be.

No sooner than I got to the playa I got in a tiff with a dear friend. We worked it out but I really internalize it and just wanted to hide out in my tent sanctuary, that did not exist. (note to self there is no such thing as a minimalist burn) It was very conflicting having so few things for months then being around all the excess on the playa. Also, even though self expression is stressed at the burn, I felt more ‘myself’ on trail. On the playa there is a need to ‘dress with flare’ that seemed like a mask to me. Nevertheless I got myself through it, left my Brooks Cascadia in the temple with a note that took forever to write with all the crying. Those were great shoes, letting them go was like closing a chapter I didn’t want to end. The random connections didn’t really happen this year. Reconnecting with new/old camp mates and distant friends was much more what I needed and enjoyed.

Now that I am back in SD the finality of it all has hit pretty hard. Trail life was, well simpler, everything now is overwhelmingly complicated. Agh. The weirdest things have been throwing me for a loop. It is hard i’m sure for people to understand the difficulties associated with coming off the trail. Like driving, I hate driving now, i just do. Why does everything have to be attached to an address? Why am I so broke but, I have so much stuff? Agh. All I really want to do is climb in my sleeping bag and hide. But I cannot, because I have “things” to do. That and it is like 100 degrees! (i am loving that part!)

Luckily I have friends who are allowing me to crash at their home while I “get it together”. Thanks Colleen and Mike. And yes, I am “getting it together” albeit slowly. First, I need to get a job or two even. Because………..wait for it…….I’m preparing for the Camino de Santiago!!!! A girl’s gotta have a dream!!!

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Time to burn

Tomorrow we hit the road headed to Nevada!! Time for that thing in the desert, otherwise known as Burning Man. I’m excited to say the least. Last year darling Marie sat with me at the burn and asked me what my dream was. I quickly said: To be a thru hiker! Then end with a burn.rt

Well I put it out in the universe and boom! Even when I doubted things just fell into place. Sometimes you just have to put it out there, then get out if your own way.

Super freakin hyped to see all my beautiful crazy burner friends. Let me tell you all throughout this journey my burner friends have been there. Whatever I needed. When I went to my first burn 5 years I had know idea I would meet so many amazing, generous, crazy, beautiful, loving people. I’m so lucky and super grateful, I get hearty (is that a word) and teary writing about this.

But no time to get mushy. We got to finish packin and loading! Dusty hugs for everyone soon! I love you guys!!!!

oh I am so burning my shoes!!!!shoes

End with a Burn

Well, Burning Man 2014 is in the books! Although I am still process all the events, experiences and lessons I am moving through the change on to my next adventure. As my friend said last night it hard to come away from a burn without changes. This year my changes are smaller but I feel a deeper meaning.

I spoke many times at the burn (to anyone who would listen) about my upcoming PCT adventure. The similarities between the two experiences are staggering.The sense of community, LNT, trail magic/playa magic, surrendering to the elements. Carrot’s recent post struck a cord:

The PCT is a place that we construct with our imaginations that has its own culture, value systems, traditions, vocabulary, cuisine (block of dry ramen covered in peanut butter, anyone?), beauty standards, and mythology. We come together, agree that this place exists, and then we all there, for a little while. 

At Burning Man we construct a city quite the same way, it’s extraordinarily indescribable, the planning, transport and building of all the things, together we build this magical place to live. But after a week it is gone, we burn the art and remove the rest, as though it never existed at all. It remains only in our collective hearts.

Initially I was wrote the burn off for next year, but now I am super determined to try and make it back in time. What an epic way to end my PCT adventure! The logistics and finances I have yet to figure out but if it is meant to be things will come together. Things tend to work out the way they are supposed to.

 

So the ‘real’ planning and training has begun. Down to about 7 months to get my crap together! Eeek! Time flies man. Seems like just yesterday that the class of 2014 was leaving kickoff. But in the last weeks many have completed their journey at the northern terminus. Ah, yes there is a feeling I long to have, but wait I’m getting ahead of myself, so much to do.

 

Along with all the gear, packing, training, and a gazillion spreadsheets I ‘ve been working on some inner stuff too.

Like figuring out what my philosophy/goals are for this thru-hike. Hike fast or just in enjoy the experience, are both possible? Do I want prove something to myself?  What’s the meaning to life? What are my plans after the trail. What do I really want from all this?

These questions whirl in my head at night, no real answers yet…..but stay tuned I may have a lead on the meaning to life one!

tentative schedule

Time to Burn

Hey there readers…..crickets…..i know it’s been a bit but I’ve been busy and my internet is sketchy. So while I have been training more in the gym my hiking miles have declined. Did my training hike over the Poway mountain about two weeks ago and did a long stroll with my hiking buddy last weekend, but that about it. Been working out in the gym 3-4 times a week, sometimes twice a day. The weight hasn’t fallen off the way I had hoped, but then I eat crap. (must-eat-better) I can feel my muscles getting firmer and stronger, I can run longer and faster, best of all I feel good.

I’ve had to put most of my PCT training on temporary hold because…….agh!…the man burns in 17 days!!!! Headed to the burn in one week! I am so not ready, not even packed kinda.

Feeling weird about the burn this year, excited then not excited, unfortunately the not excited periods are longer than the excited ones. Oh well ten days to get my head in the game and my sh** together. There are so many things to be excited about this year. First time I am driving myself, ohh, road trip with as many stops as I want! Ranger training, fingers crossed that goes off without a hitch. I have so many friends coming this year that are first time burners! Just got the camp layout and I am tucked back in a nice little corner with some fun people. (agh , they better not change it).

I had written the burn off completely for next year…..however….as I see people on the trail this year are finishing up pretty early (ie before September).. I know that it is a wild fantastical dream but what an epic way to cap off a PCT hike but with the man burn!! A girl can dream……