In the next few days, Oasis and I will reach the half-way point on the trail between Mexico and Canada which is about 1332 miles. We plan to treat ourselves to a beer at the Drakesbad ranch to celebrate this achievement.
We are currently staying with Spud's (another hiker and friend) relatives in Quincy, CA. Beginning with some wonderful trail magic from Steve in South Lake Tahoe, my mother's visit to Truckee, CA as well as a somewhat unexpected visit from a good friend from college and now a wonderful stay in Quincy (not to mention a visit from Spud's parents in Ashland), Oasis and I feel so lucky and well taken care of along the trail. Our group has now expanded to include Spud and Histogram. Spud, also known as Evan, I actually wrote about in my blog (Certified Geardo). I will admit that Spud was NOT impressed my portrayal of him. Nevertheless, after a mildly awkward encounter where I apologized for comparing him to a character in the Portlandia TV series, we decided that since we both like crosswords, cribbage and food, that perhaps we might make a solid hiking trio. We now consider Spud an integral part of our group. Histogram, who is from the Bay area has also joined us for the time-being and we are enjoying his company.
In my eyes, we've reached a point on the trail where putting one step in front of the other has become such a routine that at times minutes walking seems like hours and an hour can feel, well, alot longer than an hour. As a way to combat this time warp, we have began playing word games on the trail: telling complicated-multipart stories that rhyme, playing contact and imagining certain futuristic world problems and solutions.
A few days ago, I remembered an encounter we had with a hiker who chose to spend the day in silence . His reflections of the experience made me curious, and so, on July 14th (my sister's 22nd birthday), the four of us chose to spend one full 24 hour period in silence. The experience gave me time to reflect and relieve some of the pressure that comes with trying to engage your hiking partners in conversation. Although I had no problem interacting with Spud and Oasis without actually speaking, we did encounter a few day-hikers who seemed quite distraught by our refusal to respond to any questions about the trail. I had made a sign that explained what I was doing but since it was buried in my pocket by the time I had found it, most people had given up on me and hurried angrily hurried away from me, (the pretentious thru-hiker). Furthermore, we also ran into trail magic that day. Some burners (people who attend Burningman) parked their RV by a road and gave us food.
This blog must be cut short...but until I post again in Ashland, Oregon, I leave you with poem by Mary Oliver.
The Summer Day
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?