Looking at My Feet

Looking for a bed

I lost my way, or rather, my mind wasn’t right when I regrouped the trail again. Seeking, seeking, I’m always seeking for creature comforts. But, more then anything in the world, I’m butting heads with my ever-unquenched thirst for carbonation. I’m not hungry, really. There are days I will eat a Snickers for lunch and I feel satiated. Much like a horse with shutters my vision has narrowed and the walk has become an out-of-body experience. Unlike the 100-mile wilderness bereft of a charged iphone, now everyday I’m listening to my stories. This is where I sound like a day walker whiling my way through the day. Here I am surrounded by God’s Green Earth. The simplicity is hidden in every rhododendron thicket, field of hay, pile of granite, and lichen covered evergreen. Yet, I feel my soul rising in the trees and the trail has become this ceremony that is being completed. I’ve already mentally hiked the trail, I just need to be engaged. So, with much despondency I stayed at two hotels back to back with late starts. Man, I need to get my mind right.

Ira Glass, Glynn Washington, Lea Thau, Roman Mars, and Garrison Keillor

Each mile of the trail I will remember distinctly as I listened to a story hosted and presented by these fine people. Much in the way as songs become the soundtracks to our daily lives. Near Dead Woman Hollow Road I hear about the design of Freud’s original couch. Near Quarry Gap Shelters I hear the amazing story of Abdi’s road to U.S. citizenship. In a meta way, I listen to Ira Glass talk about amusement parks while I walk through Pen Mar Park. Then Lea Thau presents a story of a man fighting against Alzheimer’s and I reflect on my poor memory. I do not have Alzheimer’s, but my memory is faulty.

People often ask me my trail name, Bard the Changeling, and they’ll say what’s that from. It’s me. Bard’s are storytellers and, well, I change my mind a lot. Though I’m not some product of a fairy/troll/dwarf swapping with a human baby. That’s just absurd. Caveat, I’m short. Wish I was taller, but that means I wouldn’t be so balanced. Two exceptions have arisen in the past month of hiking. While negotiating the root and rock of post-White Cap Wilderness, I came upon Tumbledown Dick Creek. You can stop laughing now. There are three routes: rock hop, balance the logs, or splash through. A log seemed to be positioned for just this occasion. I took three steps and then I saw the rub. I was falling…in slow motion. It was in motion and there was no going out of motion. Slowly positioning myself to a sitting position I then fell into the river at a slant onto my pack. Gatorade bottle floated by. I look around for someone to blame and only found myself stupidly getting soaked and I laugh. What else could I do. One could say I tumbled down into tumbledown creek.

At Pine Grove Furnace, I finished eating some grub and pulled myself away from Hoss downing the half gallon challenge. He’d already eaten a quesadilla, hamburger, fries, two sodas, then the half gallon challenge, and afterwards another quesadilla, and two more sodas. The tumble into dick creek was the only misfortune. As I walked to the AT museum I passed by a parked car. Actually, my head ran into the canoe sitting on top of the park car. Specifically, my hat and glasses flew off my head into the gravel while eyebrow bonked the canoe tip. It wasn’t necessary for me to look back at my new friends. They never brought it up when they met me later at the museum. Whew, good thing I’m telling everyone who wasn’t there about it.

Looking at my feet

When I was young, the only way for me to make money was to look down for fallen change and bills. A school trip to Valleyfair (like Six Flags) saw me looking down everywhere and finding enough change all day to play the games, not much for the amusement park rides. This was good preparation for the slow moving trail. Oddly, the last eight months before I hit the trail whenever I look down at my job it was from 300 feet up and kind of scary. Now, every single step I take is spent looking down. Make sure I don’t trip. Make sure my pole doesn’t snap. Make sure nothing goes wrong. I finally notice what I’m doing and lift my head for awhile and realized it’s harder to do so. No wonder why bicyclists sometimes duct tape their necks.

Despite all of my night-time laziness, I’ve got my trail legs, but not my hiker hunger. I prefer to eat my gut for awhile. Also, I think my mind’s right now.

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