Friday, September 3, 2010

Mile ????: Braidenbush Hotsprings, Hippie Heaven

I am in hippie heaven. After a miserable day (cold, rain, wind, falling down) after a miserable night (cold, rain, wind, wet down), I barely missed the last shuttle of the day from the Braidenbush Trailhead 45 miles around a 12 mile section closed due to forest fires. A nice man named Dale offered to take us down to Braidenbush Hotsprings, which we had been fantasizing about all day long as we hiked through fog, wind, rain, and wet brush, usually all at once.

We went. At $70/person, it was more than we had bargained for, but we certainly weren't going to ask Dale to drive us right back, nor were we going to pay $55/person to camp in our own wet gear. The price includes three vegetarian, organic meals, 24 hour access to all their clothing-optional geothermal features, and admittance to their well-being workshops. It is heaven for the crunchy types and those who like to make fun of them. I am doubly satisfied. The cabins are cleaned by members of the "Cleaning Arts Team," and squirrels and dragonflies are allowed in the lodge because Braidenbush is a "wildlife sanctuary."

In the morning:
Feels so nice to sleep in til 7. Gah my knee hurts so bad though! I thougt long and hard yesterday about what it would mean to get off the trail. I'm somewhat ahsamed to admit that my primary motivator to remain on the trail is fear: fear of what I'd have to tell my friends and family (and potential employers) when they'd inevitably ask, "Why'd you quit early? Why didn't you finish?"

The thing is though, I'm now operating on everyone else's goal, the goal of hiking the entire PCT from Mexico to Canada. I specifically DIDN'T want to se myself up for failure and self-loathing, my own goal when I set out this summer was to spend my summer hiking along or near the PCT from Mexico toward Canada, and to do something fun every day. I have largely lost sight of that goal, and with all my skipping ahead, I certainly won't meet everyone else's stated goal even if I do make it to Manning's Park, British Columbia.

Imagine standing on a rocky precipice. There are jagged snow-capped volcanoes in the distance, some alpine lakes in-between, slopes velvety with lush evergreens carpeting them. The shot is framed by some gnarled, wind-tortured trees. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

Now imagine standing at that exact same spot, but your field of vision is significantly reduced down to the tunnel formed by the bill of your hat and your hooks cinched tight around your face. It doesn't matter though, because you can't see anything but grey-white beyond the trees directly next to you, because you're inside a cloud, and you have been for several days. The trees are dripping on you, the wind catches the shredded remains of your cheap poncho, and as you turn from the pointless viewpoint, it gets snagged and shredded some more by the trees.

Tha is my experience lately. I'm missing out on gorgeous terrain, and I'm miserable while I'm at it. I'm not ready to quit because I'm stubborn, but I might be coming to peace with it. Badger and Sweet Jesus figured out what they wanted to do with their lives while on the trail, and got off to do it. I realize that I want to live a balanced life, which hiking can be part of, but what I'm doing right now most certainly is not balanced.

- Typoed on my iPhone

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