Day 8. Mile 109. No zero days. 1 Nero day (sucked into a tarp’s shade)
I love this. I mean, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I love every step, every day, every person I’ve met, every plant on the trail, every star over my sleeping bag at night, every friggin’ molecule, second and ounce of this trail. And I love these lovely trail angels here in Warner Springs who just fed me breakfast and have computers for hikers to use. This is the magical world I always suspected existed.
I also fit well in it. I expected the first step of the trail to feel amazing and emotionally loaded, but no, I just put on my pack and started walking as if that is what I had done my whole life, a stroll through my living room, as natural as breathing. I didn’t even sign the start register. I got overwhelmed with gratitude a little down the hill from the Mexican border and spent most of that first mile crying from too much joy. I was alone, so I didn’t have to explain myself. I had expected barren, dry, open desert. I was looking forward to the stark beauty of a deadly desicated landscape, but instead was greeted with a green desert in full bloom. I have been walking a week and every day has brought one more amazing wide open landscape after another and new wonderful people to inhabit my world. Two days ago, I was walking alone along a precipitous trail surrounded by chollas, ocotillos and fat cacti taller than me, all in bloom. Today I rolled into town through gentle grassy hills and perfect bucolic scenes with a long line of new friends like some Tolkienish fellowship. I loved both, and everything in between.
I have mostly been hiking and camping alone, by choice. My need for space is finally accomodated. I’ve danced barefoot on the trail, studied how bees collect pollen in cacti flowers, played my harmonica to the stars, got spooked by rattlers, and so on … the list is too long. I am keeping a journal and it is already pretty fat after just a week. Because I tend to have a natural pace faster than most hikers I’ve met on the trail so far, I have been catching up with individuals and groups serveral times a day. Hikers also congreggate around water holes and in the rare shady spot, just like wildlife. I spent hours hiking with just another hiker here and there. I’ve had fascinating conversations about anything from the theology of the human body to quantum physics to bodily function and more. I spent an entire afternoon under a tarp with a motley crew of eight thru-hikers ranging in age from 12 to 61, laughing so hard that by the end of the day my cheeks hurt. I only hiked 12 miles that day.
Mileage is completely unimportant to me, but I do seem to have a lot of “walking” in me. When the day is over, I still want to walk. When others want to stop, I still want to walk. I wake up before dawn and walk, I walk after dinner in the golden light. And as Little Brown pointed out, “So far, you’re the only one without injuries or gear problems”. It’s actually not quite true: I have a small blisture between my toes, I had to repair my pack with a piece of cut-up water bottle and two socks (the fix is holding so far), I discovered that a cat peed on my tent while it was set on the Toledo house’s patio (I’ve only set it up once, because of ticks) and my self-inflatable pad is now a self-defletable pad. Mostly, I’m just so happy out here, I couldn’t care less about these small setbacks, so maybe I just complain less.
So, I love walking, apparently even more than I knew I did.
A wise man told me that one finds out who he or she is very fast on the trail. Wow. This is me? The Bobcat is something else. I recognize myself, but barely. I have soooo much energy and joy here, all the time. I meet people on the trail who say “Oh, you’re The Bobcat. We heard about you”. Social filters are extraneous here. I can be as quirky as I can be, and the depth of my quirkiness is surprising even me. Amongst other trademarks, I have been wearing a super-hero cape from 10 am to 5 pm everyday, and in just a few days, this has become absolutely normal to me. Nobody cares. In fact, they encourage quirks and occasionally match them. This is freedom of being as I have not known it before. Again, I can’t imagine how I’ll ever go back to the off-trail world. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that for a while.
I’m in town for a few days. I need to shower – clean hair, woohoo!! – fix some gear, get food ressupply for the next stretch, etc. I will be hitching a ride back down to attend the Kick Off party. I wasn’t going to go, but a series of strange events, which I will not recount here because I need to get moving, led me to change my mind. I have had zero interest in turning my phone on or contacting the outside world. For this I apologize. I am grateful for your understanding. Just know that I am well, happy, and in excellent hands (whoesever those happen to be, mother nature’s, the trail’s, the angels’, the other hikers’, etc.).
That’s all for now. Love to all.
XO – The Bobcat.