What is the appropriate response on the eve of an epic adventure? Shouldn’t I be more excited? Shouldn’t I be worried.
Maybe they balance each other. They mingle, slow dance, size each other up, and upon finding their equality, sit back down, leaving the stage empty.
My pack is heavy. Not mountaineering with a GPS or GPR heavy, but heavy enough to be intimidating. About 6 liters of water and 7 days of food heavy. From the border to our first water cache is about 20 miles. Neither Hippie nor I have walked 20 miles since last year, since we put that new route through the Mojave. Prude to Nude. 160 miles. That was our big adventure last year. This year we’re looking at 2,200 miles. That seems right. Last year left us with a taste of “not enough”. The year flew by as we both got “real jobs”. Hippie worked as a bartender at a nudist resort (the “Nude” end point of our hike). I drove across the country to new hampshire to work as a barista and yoga instructor. It was a fun year, but training? None! The opposite of training. We’re not fit. Not fit at all, right now. Our first carry is 20 miles. On the up side, we’ll get fit fast. I anticipate growing pains. Good sore. Humbling beginnings to insure we’re tough enough for what’s ahead.
Hippie as a herniated disk. She was promised an epidural before we left. It didn’t happen. I will keep this in mind when my calves get tight and my pack feels heavy. I’ll remember, I’ve got it easy.
Of course, with almost 30,000 miles to her hiking odometer, she’s honed her walking skills to mastery. So, we’ll both be fine. I’ve got youth on my side (a whole 6 months younger – she turns 49 at the start, I do at the finish.) She’s got mad skills and experience.
5 months on a trail no one walks. While AT and PCTers meet hundreds of other hikers, Hippie and I, I expect, will meet none to less than a handful. I have spent long stretches of time, weeks to months, alone in the desert. I am comfortable with my own madness. But rarely have I had a consistent witness to it. Also, rarely have I had to cocreate, coplan and contantly communicate. The Desert Trail is a misnomer. There’s no actual trail. It’s a collection of destinations, water caches, resupply points, washes, jeep roads. Hippie and I both have maps, compasses, gps and gps coordinates, in case we get separated. But if the Nude to Prude taught us anything is that we’ll likely not get separated. Two brains work better than one when it comes to route finding. In the desert, the front, back and side often look identical. Compasses, sun and stars. We could do it alone. Of course. Absolutely. But it’s easier with two brains. Hippie’s is often more logical than mine. I’m more intuitive. I talk to cacti and trees. I understand I have magnetite in my pineal gland and I know how to use it – 97 and 3/4% of the time accurately.
Maybe the packs and pain won’t matter at all. There will be flowers. A full blown super bloom.
I think i know what the appropriate response is … It’s that calm turning of the hard cover on a fresh copy of “Oh! The places you’ll go.” while sitting in a favorite chair. You know the story. There will be highs (where the high flyers fly) and lows (I’m sorry to say so, but sadly it’s true). And by the time the book is closed again, nothing will be the same.
This is fairwell then. Tomorrow we walk. I must sleep.