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City: San Francisco
Begins: May 27, 2009
Date: Wed, Jun 3rd, 2009
Start: Warner Springs
End: Warner Springs
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 109.0
Entry Visits: 546
Journal Visits: 38,043
Guestbook Views: 2,119
Guestbook Entrys: 46
Pacific Crest Trail Map
Today has been my first full day of rest and it has proved to be both wise and restfull. My feet feel good, legs are doing great (though they were never really troubled) and my blisters are feeling much better. I'm well rested.
I was up early this morning at 5 a.m. for no apparent reason. The previous night I had problems falling asleep. I could not get comfortable despite sleeping in a nice clean bed. At one point I even considered pulling out my air pad and sleeping bag and sleeping on the ground. How amazing is that? I've only been out on the trail for one week, and my spirit and apparently body already belong to the PCT?
I had a lot of time today to reflect on a few lessons learned, or I'd rather just call them reflections. I believe the PCT no doubt will teach me many lessons and eventually I'll come to see it as a metaphor for life, but for now consider the following:
1. Utilitarianism, or the school of thought on being practical, useful, functional and/or sensible is a minute by minute lesson on the trail. Every ounce, and I mean every single tiny gram, is felt on the trail. You quickly develop a very critical discerning eye. If an item in your pack doesn't serve a dual purpose or it is just not as useful (like long underwear for really cold nights) as you thought when you packed it, you discard the item. No questions asked. I've easily shaved off at least five lbs of useless items that I can replace later or just didn't need. My pack with 6 full liters of water weighs around 39 lbs now. I also think this is such a great life lesson. How much unnecessary weight do we carry in our 'real' lives...
2. The night sky is bigger than you ever thought. While cowboy camping I often lay awake for at least an hour just looking up into the crystal clear night sky. There are so many stars in the universe. I don't even know how to describe it. Perhaps it is the air quality out here or the minimal light pollution, but there are literally millions of stars that stretch from horizon to horizon. I've never seen anything like it before.
3. Being dirty is a GIFT! I'm an athletic guy, always have been, so I've long accepted that being dirty and sweaty comes with the territory. However, I'm always quick to clean up after my activity. I've never had to LIVE in it for a week. Out here sometimes you go for three or more days without being clean. For me this has been a GINORMOUS adjustment. I mean, I'm the guy at the beach with the perfect beach towel with no sand on it (the Hansens in Simi Valley are laughing as they read this I'm sure). Now, I have no problem sitting down or laying out in dirt to relax and nap. I actually kind of enjoy it.
4. Cherish music. Music has long been such an inspiration to me but on the trail it is magic! Each day I allow myself to listen to one song on my iPod shuffle. I never listen to it while I'm hiking or resting, since I would never hear the warning of a rattlesnake, and because I actually enjoy listening to the birds sing while I hike. Rather, I wait until just before the sun sets, when the last of the sunlight caresses and colors the surrounding landscape with shades of bright reds and golds. (If you've seen this before you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's not just in the wilderness, but I've seen it in both New York City and San Francisco). I wait until just this moment and then I play my one song. I've cried each time, from happiness, when I've done this. It really is so magical. It doesn't work if you play two songs...I don't know why...but it doesn't.
5. Letting go of daily goals and just enjoy the path in front of you. The night before each day I take out my trail maps, the PCT data book, and the SoCal water report and plan out my next day. I determine the most ideal location for the next camp site and set out early the following morning. What I've come to notice is that sometimes I get really hard on myself if I feel I haven't reached a certain mileage by a certain time of day. I'm quickly learning to just let go of all expectations and just ENJOY the path in front of me. To date I've been blessed to meet my goals on three days, exceeding them once and only falling short on two occasions. I find myself wondering how many of us are not enjoying the journey of life? I know I'm often guilty of this but I am getting better each day. Of course I'll still plan out (to not do so could prove devastating) and set goals for myself on the trail and in my personal life, but I absolutely will enjoy the journey much more.
Okay, time to hit the hot springs one last time!
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step". - Lao Tzu