Things That Have Come to Be (June 2)
It is almost six weeks now that I have been out hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. Sometimes before the trip I was asked, what are you most looking forward to? And I often said, “Just being out there, day after day, for months of time.”
These are some of the longer-term realities I have noticed that have come about after weeks of being out here. They are all surprising or amusing to me:
Ability to sleep: I sink into my foam sleeping pad every night, and it feels like just about the most comfortable place to be in the world. I almost always sleep deeply. No longer does it feel thin to me, I just feel glad to have a full night of rest ahead.
Body changes: For one thing, my feet have literally thickened up. After a lot of swelling and soreness, I can tell that they have padded themselves up with thicker tissue on the soles. It’s a marvel to me that the body can adapt in that way.
Appetite: I can sit down at a restaurant at any hour, eat a huge meal, and drink multiple sodas when I didn’t even know I was hungry. I’m kind of amazed at my stomach capacity now. I also rarely make it through a night without waking up starving, and then snacking on something to get me through to the morning.
Hygiene tactics: Desert dirt doesn’t bother me so much, as long as I can at least use wipes to clean my legs and feet at night. I’ve learned that I like wearing pants as much as possible, because then I can just plop down anywhere in the dirt, and not have that dirt directly against my skin.
Hydration tactics: I’ve learned to buy electrolyte powder for my water. That’s been a big thing that has helped me feel more quenched when I have a limited water supply to work with.
Plant knowledge: I’ve learned so many desert plants. In a lot of sections of trail, if you know one plant, you know 90% of what is in the landscape because it’s so prolific on that mountainside. It’s been satisfying to learn to recognize plants like yerba santa, scrub oak, brome, sagebrush, and chamise, among many others.
I’m sure there are others I could add here, but these are the realities that come to mind at the moment.
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