Chronicles of the Wayward Moot

WELCOME TO THE MOOT, oh world-wanderers and word-whisperers. After two years of Peace Corps. After 2,200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. What. Comes. Next?

1/07/2008

I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more . . .

Hi gang.  Looks like I got some photos and a video to upload but now the connection here is being a little finicky so I'll write some prose to fill in the blanks.  Interesting happenings of late:  I passed mile 900 on the PCT.  I'm in Mammoth Lakes, California - got a ride here from Red's Meadow which is as mile 906 or so.  Stayed at the Motel 6 last night, first time I've EVER stayed at a hotel/motel by myself and paid for it.  Not an experience I'd care to repeat, but no worries.  A cool girl working at the front desk asked if  wanted to go to some local hot springs and I said hell yeah!  She got off of work at 11 and so I went off to get some food and check out the nice pedestrian-oriented town's nigh scene.  Hehe, nonexistent pretty much.  Got a bottle of Merlot and grabbed some peanut M&Ms, my camera, a towel, and water, and off we were with her bf and a kick ass dog, an adorable Great Dane/Lab mix named Zooey.The hot springs were off the side of a boardwalk out in the middle on nowhere and since the moon hadn't come up yet the stars were unsurpassed in their clarity and number.  The sky last night was the biggest and most dazzling of all that I've witnessed since beginning this trek on April 23rd ... the Milky Way was out in full blast and we saw upwards of ten shooting stars in the couple of hours we were there.  Nice hot pool with soft sandy bottom steaming away and a little rivulet of water cascading down into one end of the thing, wow.  Some naked girls were there when we arrived but were on their way to getting out so we soon had the pool to ourselves and passed the wine around just marveling at the great little moments that life shares with the people whose minds are open to receive them.  Poor Zooey, still a puppy, had to be tied to the boardwalk so she didn't dive into the water and splash everyone, but she was none too happy about that and did the whining routine to let us know that she really ought to have been allowed in the water = ).  After the heat and the late late hour had begun to take effect, we drove back to Mammoth and made plans to hang out today.

Three hot springs in four days!

Last night's adventure was the third hot spring I've visited in four days.  (I'm totally a sucker for hot water that comes out of the ground!)  Earlier I was camping near the San Joaquin River by the Muir Trail Ranch, situated by some lovely valley meadow hot springs.  The rub is that one has to cross the river to get to them, and the snowmelt is making the ford a fast, deep, cold proposition.  Again, since I'm a sucker, I went for it and crossed over by myself in the wee hours of the morning after sleeping off my 8:45 pm arrival time.  Not smart hehe.  About halfway across I was up to mid thigh and nearly getting pushed over into the frigid waters when one of my brand new camp shoes got pulled off by the current.  BRAND NEW.  Gone.  I continued.  Got maybe 2/3 across and the other shoe went.  Hopefully they're making a habitat for some endangered species downstream now!  Feet were going numb fast, no blood in them, no feeling, and my pant legs had unrolled themselves and were starting to trip me up.  In order to stay vertical I'm now having to just blindly step out onto the submerged rocks with bare feet, unable to pick and choose where my feet fell.  Not pretty, the results.  In the end I had to lunge/swim/half drown to get to the far side, where I stripped off the freezing pants and noted with astonishment that my feet were bleeding and not quite the shape they were before.  I think I broke a toe on each foot.  Lacking any way to start a fire (I had water and food and a journal and a camera, all in a dry bag, but no firestarting tools!) I vowed to find these hot springs, rumored to be difficult to locate.  I needed to get warm fast.  Well, an hour of shivering and teeth chattering later I came across a warm lake, and just beyond that, a large steaming hole in the meadow's edge lined with wooden planks.  Nirvana!  I soaked in that thing naked completely alone for four hours, just me and the birds.

Two days later I made it to the Fish Creek Hot Springs on another PCT alternate route.  These did not require defying death to reach, and thus afforded an opportunity to chitchat with a family taking their daughter on her first backpacking trip.  She looked a little forlorn when I showed up, perhaps hoping that the Backstreet Boys just might be making a weekend getaway to the mountains.  No such luck, sister!

So.  Hiking.  All day.  With a pack. 

It's AWESOME.  I've never felt healthier or more capable.  A 3,000 foot climb with a 45 pound pack?  Doesn't faze me.  I do that stuff before breakfast, fool!  I got up at 4am the other day to do 22.5 miles before 3:30pm, just so I could nosh on an incredible barbecue dinner.  To walk, to MOVE our bodies the majority of each day is the way humans were MEANT to exist.  Maybe not with such heavy loads (the feet do hurt at times), but we are designed to be nomads, walking and climbing and leaping and running across the wild, and it feels amazing to get back in touch with that.  It's deep within each of our cells, the memories of what we really are, what we really can achieve.  Believe me people, the iphone is NOT the apex of human evolution.  I already know that when I reach Canada I won't want to stop this lifestyle, this routine of living simply and roughly, worrying about nothing but the tangible REAL forces of the world.  Water, food, temperature, predators, etc.  This is the life.  This is MY life.


2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Believe me people, the iphone is NOT the apex of human evolution. I already know that when I reach Canada I won't want to stop this lifestyle, this routine of living simply and roughly, worrying about nothing but the tangible REAL forces of the world. Water, food, temperature, predators, etc. This is the life. This is MY life."

What you describe is by definition a primitive style of living - not the apex of human evolution, a past step of human evolution.

You speak of "tangible REAL forces" of the world. Give me a break. There are beautiful and good things that result from society and technology. Don't romanticize your fear of/inability to interact fully in that world.

Fine, it might be YOUR life, but it's not THE life. There is a reason we evolved mechanisms to deal with "water, food, temperature, predators," etc. - it's so we could develop things like art, science, technology, etc.

Keep in mind that if we'd never evolved past being nomads, we wouldn't have poetry, novels, music, painting, etc. etc. You wouldn't be able to keep this blog.

I've got no problem with you enjoying the outdoor life. It's a little short-sighted, however, to paint it as the ultimate goal.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous JC said...

anonymous:

You're misinterpreting what he said to make it fit into a false dichotomy. Your conclusions are correct, but so are his--they're not in opposition.

And perhaps there's something to be said about the idea that all the trappings of modernity distract us from the natural rhythms of life.

Also, on a side note, some of the most beautiful poetry I've read was written by nomads (pre-Mohammedism Arabic erotic poetry).

4:56 PM  

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