Tomorrow we walk.

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.

The little keyboard that could.

Did you know that they make portable, ultralight, foldable keyboard blue-toothable to your phone?

Well, now you do. This is a test. A big adventure is underfoot. There will be photos, with a new camera, and there will be real time stories, typed at normal speed rather than laboriously swiped on my phone.

Oh, the possibilities …

So, stay tuned. Watch this space.

And while you wait, here is a tree.

Are you feeling the Shift? (also about hospitals and mechanics)

Here is a set of strange thoughts on the status of the current world and on being in the hospital and having the truck in the shop.

Exactly a year ago, I was getting out of the hospital in Vermont. I landed in the hospital because of a pain in my lower belly that caused me such worry (because of fear caused by internalized stories about appendicitis) that I left the trail. While in the hospital, I was cared for by the most attentive doctors and kind nurses. Everyone was genuinely concerned with my special case and determined to solve the mystery. After state of the art CT scans, ultrasounds, xrays, blood samples, etc … the doctors were still at a loss as to what caused my ailment. But, just in case it helped, I was fed heavy doses of antibiotics intravenously. I didn’t like the method, but had to trust the process. I surrendered because I had no choice. I left the hospital on my own two feet carrying my own pack after 5 days. The pain was still a little present, but I knew I needed out. I couldn’t keep getting zapped and poked and fed high fructose corn syrup and white wonder bread. I just couldn’t.

The pain came back a few times. Determined to self-heal, I hit the Google and books hard and settled on a regiment of turmeric and ginger tea, raw garlic and watching my stress level and the energy I fed to the worry. Not only did it dissipate the pain, it also started a whole branch of research interest in my brain. Plant-based medicine, which led to Ayurveda, then to plant intelligence, and ongoing …

Now, get this … history repeats itself so precisely.

In my dreams, the truck (the Catmobile) and I are interchangeable. I am the truck and the truck is me and we can walk, drive or fly or do whatever we need to.

This year, the truck version of my extended Self is in the “hospital”. It landed there, again because of my worry, based on beliefs I hold about mechanical failures causing more damage than symptoms. Once again, I encountered nothing but kindness, goodwill and dedication to my cause from all 4-5 (or however many, I stopped counting) mechanics who made it their personal quest to solve the Noise mystery. State of the art diagnosis tools failed to find a cause. This week (assuming I figure out the finances), the truck will return to me with its mystery unsolved. I feel, as I did a year ago, that I need it out of there. One of the early mechanics damaged my front wheel bearings while trying to investigate – the truck’s corn syrup equivalent. The Noise remains, and I am determined to solve it via alternative methods. No, not plant based, but feeling based …

In my research on the topic of plant intelligence I have come to understand (believe) that everything – everything! – is alive. If it is made of matter, it is a coherent system of smaller parts, by definition. If coherence has emerged, then necessarily, responsive intelligence of its own particular kind also exists. And if that is the case, then it is up to me (the human) to refine my listening tools to communicate with this intelligence. Other organisms already do this. I talk to plants and they respond in healthy growth. I talk to my body and it responds with cravings to let me know what it needs. Muscle testing also works for me. But talking is easy – true, deep listening much less. It requires suspension of beliefs, expectations and preconceptions – a good exercise regardless. I have been talking and “listening” to the truck for 17 years. It has demonstrated its own sharpness of listening skills – like actually starting with a completely dead battery after I pressed my forehead on its steering wheel and explained how far and stranded we were (just one of many incidents – I have stories!). The truck has kept me informed of its basic needs. I “know” when it needs an oil change or filter change, regardless of mileage. The truck “tells” me. That’s a start, but I need to “hear” even deeper and more accurately. That’s how the Noise mystery will be solved, not in a shop by changing every possible part that “could” make a noise (and I mean that with much gratitude for what was done so far … I got it from here).

The world is shifting. And these two seemingly “negative” mysteries in my life are nudging me to shift with it.

One last esoteric thought on the topic … I think each identifiable form (you, me, that truck, that tree) is a part of a greater whole. I think the shift that is occurring is an emergence of coherence, the realization of the consciousness of the “Sum”, which is greater than its parts. And a shift of perception from individual to Whole Intelligence. The intelligence of the Whole system, all included – and the discovery that Free Will exists at that level (and that we have been calling it “fate” all along). And when we get there, I would like to hope that channels of communication between the parts will be wide open. Man, what a world to live in that will be, when we can communicate with everything.

So, yeah … that’s what’s on my mind today. :

croppedfromdeb(loves, soon reunited)

Trail journal from the most beautiful highway in the world

Day 1 – 10 pm. Both Kristo and I got lost right after crossing the border, and that was the last of our hardships. Traveling up the Cassiar hwy was a dream. No unfamiliar places. I have been up these parts before. But my eyes are different – these eyes now are on their way to Alaska. And everything tastes just that much more delicious.
We are sitting on coolers and tailgates in old western caravan style with Ally, a new vehicle-dwelling friend from Victoria. Kristo is strumming the guitar,  elks are singing the song of their people. We have shared bear stories. Summit Lake is pure Stillness. All is peace and quiet … Except for us, according to one local. He came up the hill to see “what the ruckus was all about”. He said he’d worry about us more if we were quiet. Obviously, if we were up to no good, we’d be more discreet. In other parts, this would have been a “you can’t park here. Move along.” but, this is Canada. Instead, he gave us recommendations on what not to miss on our journey north (Liard hot springs, a must-not-miss) and welcomed us to use the toilet behind the hall. “There’s even toilet paper.” Oh Canada!
The 10 hr drive went by in a flash. Every ten minutes BC outdid itself in beauty. Especially down by the border where the road climbs up in pines trees along the Fraser River and the freeway clings to the flanks of snow-capped mountains. And that sunset. It went on for 3 hours with 2 sets of double rainbows. For a while, it looked like the end of one rainbow was right on Kristo’ s truck.  It probably looked like it was on mine from Ally’s, whom we hadn’t met yet.
Today was a very good day.
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Day 2 – I kept a list today. 12 bears (including one in a tree), 3 cubs, 7 moose, 5 elks, 4 bighorn sheep, 7 porcupines … then I realized how ridiculous. How very human of me to reduce this experience of pure happiness to a list. It cannot be comprehended, so let me catalog it. Numbers are safe. We drove for 14 hrs. It felt like 2. Kristo’s truck passed 250,000 miles. Meanwhile, the spectacle explodes my mind. I already now it is futile to try to describe it with words and possibly rude to try to capture it with a camera.
Gratitude for perfection. We are parked across the road from the Liard Hot Springs.
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Day 2 – I want to meet a man who makes me feel the way the Alaska Highway makes me feel. I would marry that man.
It goes beyond the hot springs before breakfast, the remote untamed wilderness, the glaciated peaks, the forest, the lakes, the adventure, the freedom, the quiet stillness when the engines are off, and that space, so much space … It’s not about any of that. I don’t think it can be explained. It only can be experienced.
A magic journey anchored by dramatic landmarks. “welcome to the Yukon” Yes, Yukon, you are indeed larger than life. A reunion with the Yukon River, like a visit to a former lover for whom I still have feelings – too brief, too superficial, too much time has gone by. My favorite coffee shop in Whitehorse was closed. I found a baby pine tree in the trash at the gas station. I will plant it at the ranch.
It’s 11:30 pm, broad daylight. The view from my pillow is of the Kluane National Preserve, with the Wrangell mountain range framed in the opening of the truck.
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Day 3 – “Pinch me” Kristo said when we got here. I don’t think he’s leaving – ever. Today was a short driving day by our standard. We got into Tok in mid-afternoon and stopped by the grocery store. Goose and Pinky recommended the 3 bears grocery store –  5 aisles of guns, amno, fishing gear, camo clothes, bear spray, 1 aisle of potato chips, 1 cooler of beers, 1 cooler of ice creams. I expected as much. It felt like a stamp on my passport. Yep, I’m in Alaska. I walked around minding myself to not look too much like a tourist. I looked at all the guns, and all the knives, got some fuel and drove on. 100 feet further a second 3 bears grocery stores, with actual food. ahaaaah!
We are here.
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2,800 miles in 3 days later. I live on a ranch in Alaska.

Wow.

And so it begins …