Orange light illuminated the green tarp of my tiny, Easton tent. My mom and I unpacked ourselves from the sardine position and situated ourselves for a toasty breakfast in bed. We carefully placed ourselves as not to knock against the condensation that had gathered inside the tent. Outside it was quiet and cold. We were bundled in our sleeping bags watching the sun rise through the forest. Steaming coffee and oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts would prove a good breakfast for the next six months. I can only recall a couple days on trail in which I did not follow this morning ritual.
One of the hardest moments of the day was climbing out of our warm cocoons and putting on cold sweaty clothing with frozen fingers and aching limbs. We packed up quickly and felt the soreness of every single little muscle as we strapped on our packs and headed on up the trail. Early spring inspires a quick start because the air is still very chilly. The second day was an easy hike. We passed lots of large groups and ended up camping at Gooch shelter tucked away on a forest hill.
We did yoga with Aussie Legs on the hill and everyone was falling and tumbling off balance. It was a comical session. My mom’s polite version of the word “butt” was “fanny”, which inspired a lot of giggling from the Australian hikers. “Ok ladies, lift your fannies.”
Trail Log 2: The enthusiasm is over. I fly so high, then crash like a wave rolling in and out. Everyone is really nice until they aren’t. I need to focus on why I am here and ignore the bullshit. Most of it should fade as people get off trail. And just like that, the enormity of the world melts away. All those obstacles: the gnats biting my face, the rock in center of my mat when I lie down to sleep at night, the random acts of unkindness, an overwhelming sadness, is overcome as I look inside myself and see the graceful impact and overpowering enormity of being out here, so close to the earth. When I truly see the experience these little worries that frantically overwhelm me cease to have any meaning at all.
Everyone thinks that their opinions matter, but in the end, even my own opinions only matter as much as I decide they do. Most struggles with power are rooted in this problem. How menial it all seems while sitting at the roots of these great trees. The world shrinks from its troubles because I realize that these are perceived through me and that I play only a miniscule role in this world. All these troubles that bear down on me will dissolve away when I die.
Feeling small is not a shrinking from responsibility, being small emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things. I am realizing that even the smallest actions matter, when directed outward, what happens to the self alone doesn’t have any impact. I need to learn to let go. But maybe I need to change how I think since there is nothing to let go of, nothing at all. I saw some unpleasant happenings today that are difficult to digest without bitterness, without judgment. I don’t need anyone, and I don’t want anyone; I want to be alone and feel the world.We set up our tent at a nice site and settled in for a restful evening. I have never been so exhausted.
That night I wrote this:
Last night we stayed in the forest. It was bright green, sun warming the orange clay. We did some awkward yoga on the hill and went to bed feeling relaxed. The moon was a sliver and all the animals seemed to be stirring. I hopped out to pee in the early morning and star-gazed in our un-walled toilet. The rushing wind sent the trees blowing, swaying and the owls were singing, laughing with a livid anticipation. There is a quiet in the mountains that I’ve never heard before. A ringing silence, the sound of all life acting at once, a sound that humans almost never hear. From the dark, quiet world, a thousand tiny voices rang out. The sounds of little creatures stirring, the fluttering of tiny wings, of water dripping, all these sounds formed a collective noise that I’d never heard before. It was so loud that I could never hear it, then somewhere between sleep and waking, the forest resonated with the sounds of frogs, a sudden swell, a tittering about something that was coming, the entire world around me was whispering and giggling about rain. An energetic excitement woke the forest. What a blessing it is to hear the forest welcome the rain. If only I’d been paying more attention. The next morning I removed my fly to pack up camp and within minutes a deluge of water was soaking my unprotected gear.
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