Friday, November 15, 2013

My why, Why I am planning on hiking 2600+ miles - Part 1

In August of 2006 while I was solo hiking in Yosemite I wrote down a list of 'Reasons why I like backpacking' in my journal. Back then I used a primitive journal that required a pen.

In fact it was a space pen sorta like the one Jack gave Jerry Seinfeld in "The Pen" episode, "Take the pen Jerry," "I'm not taking your pen," Jack goes on to tell Jerry that it can write upside down and astronauts can use it in space. So when I saw a really small version of it, I bought for packing...

Anyway, I wrote a list that I have often pulled out and thought about. Asking myself, "Is this still true?" and so far the answer to all seven things is still true. They are especially true for a thru-hike as demanding as this one will be. So without further ado... oh wait, I also wanted to mention the other significant thing I learned on that 2006 Yosemite trip.

That was the year that the tiles around the perimeter of the pool we once had developed some calcium deposits. I went to the pool store to ask about how to clean it off, hoping for some easy, "Scale-way, remove deposits with a quick spray and wipe." Instead the guy showed me to the pumice stones and said you had to rub it off. Oh okay, how hard could that be?

Ha, about the only thing somewhat enjoyable about it is that you get to be in your pool. Except it's really hard to apply any force to the stone because of the laws of Newtonian motion, especially that pesky third law which keeps the diligent tile scrubber constantly fighting to keep himself from being pushed to the middle of the pool by his own efforts to scrub scale.

So I bought the stone, I scrubbed the tiles for most of the summer and by early August my once grand and formidable stone was but a small sliver of it's former self. It was rounded on all of the corners and small and smooth. Did you know the pumice floats? Me neither, but it does. So as I sat there on the steps of my pool admiring the beauty of the tiles and the warmth of the air I had what would prove to be one of the stupidest ideas I have ever had.

My feet had developed some pretty (that's not the right word), hefty callouses. They where rugged and ugly. They were embarrassing appendages drooping off the sides of my sandals. And worst of all, they would snag on my sheets when I slide my feet into bed.

The first thought wasn't a horribly bad thought. Like the thought to move a little closer to the edge of the top of a gravel covered ledge so you can look down the face... what a cool view that would be... what a cool feeling it would be if my feet didn't snag the sheets every night. Before I knew it, my feet were soft and tender as a baby's butt. And it was so much easier than calcium deposits on tile.

My error did not become apparent until Peeler Lake. What is this strange sensation on my heel. I got these ginormous blisters that not even a Sacajawea dollar would cover. Note to self: snag your sheets or bloody heels, choose your poison.

But this post is about the reasons why I like backpacking, and they are:
  1. It's physically demanding, requiring stamina, fortitude, and tenacity
  2. I enjoy navigating and using a map and compass, estimating time and distances
  3. I enjoy doing without, it makes me thankful for what I have
  4. I enjoy planning and executing processes, attempting to refine them and make them as efficient as possible (like how to pack my pack so that stuff goes in and comes out in the right order without a lot of digging around, or like what is the most efficient way to setup camp and cook dinner, or like how do I setup my shelter, get inside it and reasonably dry while in the middle of a storm)
  5. Changing scenery, spectacular views, wildflowers and waterfalls
  6. Sleeping outside, listening to moving water
  7. Simplify, simplify, simplify - Henry D. Thoreau
So those are my starting point, they are from a previous me. There has been a lot of distance between the me of then and the me of now, yet somethings still remain true. I will expand upon and add to that list in future posts.

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