Scribbler's Debris

Running with random topics twenty minutes at a time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Topic: Hiking

Jack Kerouac. Thank god for Jack Kerouac. (Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy) Before I ever stepped onto a trail with fifty pounds on my back and no notion of when I'd return to the civilized world, I bathed my head in his poetry words and his tales of unthinkable adventure. At fifteen, I picked up Dharma Bums. At seventeen, I was hitch-hiking back and forth across the US and climbimg mountains with no place but here and now to call home.

When I first set out vagabonding, I was a mountaineering virgin. My family didn't hike or camp. For summer vacation, we went to the beach and stayed in hotels. Of course, I had hiked, as in walking through the woods on a trail for a couple hours, but I had never really gone hiking, as in climb until you cry in agony at the dubious challenge you made for yourself.

And what better place to test my ability and see if I could handle Kerouacean experiences than Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast and home of the world's worst weather (that's what they say). I caught a ride up from Vermont, got to the park and weighed my pack before setting out on the trail on a full moon night. Forty-five pounds. Not bad. It didn't feel like forty-five pounds, at first.

I said so long to the park ranger and started up. See, it's a two day deal. You hike to a base camp, then do the climb with a day pack. So, on my way to base camp I'm feeling good, strong, alive, in a state of exaltation even. This is what it's all about. There's no time to think, only the steps ahead of you, how you'll avoid busting up your ankles and how blasted heavy the pack is starting to get. Very, very zen.

To hike in the night under a tree filled moonlit kaliedeoscope sky is to encounter bliss itself. Various reasons. The chance of random encounters with fairies, gnomes and other freaky hikers is at its peak. All senses are heightened, especially the extras - mystery and awe. It's oneness. It's purity. It's being. It IS. And so I am, in this heaven under the stars climbing to the place where I can find some folks to share my joy and my wine.

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