From the Desert, to the Beach, to the AT
Full on foods of Byriani, Kubba, lamb, and a dessert called Lebanese nights, I sit contemplating the trail to come. My husband and I fly out of Amman in two days. Our hearts are full of goodbyes and blessings from the people who have become our friends and family here in the Middle East.
Some of our day to day conversations go like this:
“Do you want to do the trail with me?” asks my husband every day.
“Say it with me out loud Heather, ‘No blisters.’” says my husband about our feet on the trail.
“Get behind me devil,” my husband says jokingly to constant emails of REI discounts and amazon deals.
And this morning it went like this:
“I had a dream last night,” my husband says, “we were at a hostel along the trail. You found the perfect sleeping spot for us. There were lots of other hikers who were already there. But you wanted to do something I didn’t want you to do and we got in a fight. I feel like we just had an argument.” I say, “Good morning!”
And conversations go like this:
“I know you don’t want to see a bear. But I want to see a bear. But from a safe distance. We have light packs though so we can run. We’ll just hike with someone who has a heavy pack so if a bear chases us, we can just push them over and they won’t be able to get up and you and I can get away, okay?”
Backpacking Hasn’t Always Been Like This
We found a video online of two women who hiked the CDT back in the 70’s. Both untied down and in search for adventure, their metal exterior framed packs and all their gear weighed 70 lbs as they ascended mountain peaks. Their feet froze in their five pound boots and I’m sure their jean shorts didn’t wick moisture quite like clothes today. And now that I think about it, the video composition that is guided by narration is actually a series of photos because they didn’t have a GoPros and iPhones back then. My how things have changed. You can check out the video here: First Women Hiking the CDT
Virtual Community: Writing and Vlogging
It’s encouraging for our enthusiasm to be shared by finding AT class of 2017 people online writing, “Can’t it be March already?” Who else has spent time watching John Z and Neemor‘s hiking video’s converge into one on the PCT? My husband has already started vlogging and video editing for the first time in preparation for our adventures on the AT. His YouTube channel is Joel Wanders if you want to subscribe and check out some video from here in Amman. He’ll be doing gear videos shortly.
Upcoming Gear Breakdown
This week we both completed a spread sheet of all our gear including original and sale price, weight in ounces per item, and total base weight. My husband already said he could feel the snobbery of ultralight backpacking creeping in under his skin. “Don’t let me become one of those people, k honey?” referring to the occasional condescending tone of a person who has the money to spend $350 dollars on an item that weighs less than a pound towards people didn’t spend that much money on ultralight gear (we didn’t spend that much…on any one item at least…ehhem, moving on).
I’ve considered doing a gear write up but I’m not there quite yet, I’m still holding my breath for a bit longer to get into the cold-hearted details of what I’m going to carry around in a backpack for five months until I’m farther away from the reality of children here needing shoes, heaters, and food. We distributed countless blankets this month as my husband and I were excited on the inside that we found cheaper, better inflatable sleeping pads for half price online.
The families here are excited to leave this cold weather, excited to get out of UNHCR tents, excited at the hope and possibility of a normal life somewhere else while my husband and I are looking forward to spending time outside in the cold, in a tent, in a remote location somewhere else.
Today again we avoided the subject of our upcoming adventures in public conversation as it often wouldn’t be understood or our intentions might be misinterpreted but Joel and I are excited like little children and understandably so. Who wouldn’t be excited to sleep in freezing weather on the ground outside? Who wouldn’t be excited to eat processed foods every day out of a backpack that you carry around with you? Who wouldn’t be excited to do physical labor that results in no pay or wages? Wouldn’t you?
As my husband sits next to me connecting people in the states with a refugee family soon to emigrate to the U.S., our upcoming time off from work here in the Middle East is shaped by our vision of our soon-to-be AT hike. We’ll leave the desert two days from now and to wake up the following day on an island in the Caribbean. But beaches have merely become training grounds for our calves and ankles. Hills and mountains with scenic views will no longer be hammock destinations but daily activity to train our hiker legs.
I’ve given myself permission to be in bliss even in the contradiction. Though the contrast is stark our anticipation and excitement are sure. The passing of each day continues to metronome our joy. We sure are looking forward to our 2017 AT hike, are you?
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