Camping & a group hike at Lake Hargus

The first camping and hiking trip of the season went well. It gave me ample opportunity for both solitude, rest, making new friends and physical activity.

I arrived at HW Marion State Park Campground around 4 yesterday. It was a little tighter and cramped for space than I am used to while camping outdoors, even for a State Park. The facilities were sparse, and the proximity to others close, but it still made for a decent spot to pitch a tent. Being October, it’s getting chilly here in Ohio. I was more than happy to dive into my shelter, wrap up in my puffer jacket and take a nap before dinner.

As I lay there drifting off to sleep I listened to the sounds of the family adjacent to my site. A father, wife, grandmother and a young son. I was once again flooded with memories of my parents taking us camping as kids with my grandparents in an adjoining lot. Breece corner in a wooded private lot as it were.

I woke up, put on my camp shoes and started to make dinner. My last package of Dottie’s Chicken and Biscuits. While packing yesterday. I noticed the TSA confiscated my Toaks stove and my Esbit fuel. The stove probably because of the fuel residue, but my heat shield and spork. Really? Ah well, I had my trusty JetBoil for this weekend. Almost like an old friend as it was one of my big things I got from 2017 when I first began to combat anxiety by getting back outdoors. Away from 911. Surrounded by nature. Forcing myself to remember to live without fear for the sake of living. No choice.

After cleaning up, I dove back into the shelter, stripped down, donned my long johns, wool socks, knit hat, light gloves and crawled into my sleep sack with my small movie player. Before turning on a film, I once again listened to the sounds all around me. The muted sound of 80’s music, campfires, people talking, drinking, laughing. It was a pretty beautiful moment actually. Even if I didn’t muster the energy to raise my own campfire, it was nice to experience everything around me in a shared sense of the simple joy of being someplace where collective good times were being had.

I woke up a couple times in the night, got out, walked around a bit and looked at the few stars I could see through the trees. The rain started somewhere around 3 am or 4 am by my guessing. The sound of it served to knock me back out into a dream-ridden deep sleep. Gently impacting upon my tent cover as it fell through the tree cover, still green with the passing summer. The cool 39 degree, and crisp, air outside contrasting with my body heat filled one man tent that I was nestled inside. Warm, sleeping and happy. I slept 9 hours in fact. It’s amazing what the outdoors can do for our general health and patterns.

I got up the next day, broke camp early and went into Circleville to have breakfast before the Hike Ohio group was to meet at 10 am for the Lake Hargus trail loop. There were about 30 or so of us. I had to tie my boot lace one more time so I ended up bringing up the rear, which was fine, but there were a couple folks who were really physically struggling. One guy made me nervous, and several other hikers as well. We all gave him the full path ahead without complicating things by passing him. Some distance. I was afraid that he would suddenly tumble down one of the hills with his big wooden hiking stick flailing about like a baseball bat.

He eventually dropped off the trail with two other folks but we were effectively cut off from the larger group at that point. Still, the four of us made fast friends and we explored the trail system. Stumbling upon an old cemetery with dates like 186x, 1812, and so on, over these lichen-covered weathered headstones with barely visible writing. From there we caught the blue blazed lake trail and came upon great views of the shores, tree lines, walking through marinas and talking about fishing and canoeing/kayaking.

One of the guys I made friends with today talked about my camping last night and that I should have put a notice out about that on the group channel. I told him I opted not to because I didn’t want to sound creepy. He allayed those fears saying that a lot of people probably would have been into that. Thinking about that possibility made me consider what those campfire conversations would have looked like. So yeah, maybe next time John.

The five of us, we picked up a latecomer, ended our excursion with lunch at Brew Dog. I’d had their beers before, but I’d never been to the facility in Washington Courthouse before. Totally awesome. Really enjoyed the place.

Next up is a 13-mile hike in Great Seal Park this coming Sunday. I plan to not fall behind on this one, shoelaces first, and try to camp out again in the even smaller, non-reservable, campsites in the park. The cool thing about these two hikes is that they are super close to Columbus. Like within an hour or less. While I love Columbus, she always has a way of surprising me with these hidden gems. I’m looking forward to more weekends outdoors as the leaves fall from the trees and the shadows grow longer. There are definitely campfires in my future. I can almost smell them.

Posted in outdoors

First hike & camping trip of autumn

September was a crazy good month for me but it wore me out in some areas. Starting with the Olympic Mountain hike and ending with a week in Orlando at Microsoft Ignite. It was a very good month overall. Still, change is ever present and as we near the middle of October I am feeling the need to get back outdoors again so I have signed up for two hikes with the good folks from Hike Ohio and decided to do a solo hike through the Dolly Sods during the last week of October.

This weekend starts with an overnight camping trip at H. W.Marion State Park. A chance to light a fire, eat and read outside, make tea and look at the stars on Saturday night. Then I plan to break camp after breakfast and meetup with the group and join them for the Lake Argus loop trail. Somewhere between 7 & 8 miles from the sounds of it.

I guess it’s time to repair my loose chest strap on my backpack, lay everything out and pack it up for the first hiking trip of the autumn season. I’m hoping to catch some great fall colors, make new friends, and enjoy some natural beauty while sending out major grateful vibes for the ability to be able to do this stuff at all. Truth be told, if I could, I’d leave more often, for longer periods of time and probably end up with horrible worse table manners if I had a choice.

Lake Hargus Trail

Posted in outdoors

Tapas & conversation

There was a boy who decided to carry a shield in the 6th grade. His dad’s old briefcase. He was looking for a way to feel important. Something more. A validation of his internal compass being slightly different than that of all the other boys around him. Or so it seemed at the time. His friends, rightly, warned him that this was tantamount to putting a target his back however he was not able to hear that. Until tonight when that boy, now a man, had dinner with a woman who he met back in sixth grade. The one who gave him those warnings. The one who used to duck out of school, taking a back route, to avoid the bullying that was ever present for both of us. Me as a confused gay kid and her as a confused transsexual person. Equally distant from our true selves as children, but with all the markup that brought us to tonight at Barcelona restaurant in German Village.

Truth be told, I was nervous all week. I spoke with my husband and my best friend about it in fact. Not in the friendship I have with her today. But in the awareness of all the insidious ways that my own privilege of knowing my gender so easily matches my genitalia and the socialization that is part of my programming which can have a way of making others feel less. I have trans contacts, yes, but this is my first childhood ally who was brave enough to realize a new and open reality. I was nervous I would inadvertently say the wrong thing. Use the wrong pronoun. Default to old names that were no longer relevant. I felt intensely aware of the cadence of the conversation and tried to make sure I made every effort to embrace the woman before me as nothing less than one of the bravest, strongest, most courageous and honest people I have ever met in my lifetime. A true friend.

Oddly enough, there was an On Being mailer this week, I love that podcast, it provided the following quote by Gustavo Santaolalla.

“I’d like not to think that [in] every phase in my life, I leave phases behind. In my country, we say ‘Yo ya supere eso’ — ‘Already, I’m over that.’ Now I’m in another phase of my life. And I always thought that it was better to try to keep on adding to your life. Let’s say you have the child, then the teen, then the young man. You carry these people with you.”

It reminds me of the closing scene from Beautiful Boxer, which I watched when I lived in Dallas, where the main character sits on a bus stop, as a beautiful woman, and looks to her side and sees the boy, the young man, the athletic and muscular boxer, the troubled trans person, all sitting beside her as individual people. But, all, the same person.

The saddest part of the night for me though was that my friend, and her wife who joined us tonight, have a “backup plan.” Money set aside for a quick escape should things get violent. An actual escape route to Canada. With gas tank volume, time, and mileage calculations. Then onto Germany or Norway. Places where it is thought to be safer for trans folks and their families. That there is a climate of violence against trans people brings me back to the days of Mathew Sheppard, and countless other horrific events. The days when gay/bi men & women had to hide for fear of bashing, unemployment, loss of family. The, not so far away days when gay/bi folk could not dance together in public under “fire laws” in Columbus Ohio. Or had to speak through a sliding window built into a door of a hidden back alley bar to gain entrance. Or being left with little option but to adopt a dangerous practice of cruising in alleys and public parks just to get off as we all stood outside of acceptable culture. The whole situation smacks of persecution in the form of fear. It always has.

I spent years of my early manhood working through the process of coming out. I spent decades more debugging my code to extricate the internalized homophobia that I picked up along the way of growing up. When my friend reminded me tonight of the briefcase I carried, and the warnings she gave me as a 6th grade child born into the wrong body, I am left feeling like, maybe there is credence to the idea that we meet the people we do for a reason after all. I’m gay. My friend is trans. We are both in technology fields for great companies. Both of our bosses are women. While change is constant. It is a slow, glacial powerful force.

Tonight left me feeling like I have work to do for the trans community. Work to do for diversity in tech, and in the world at large. It also left me with the hope that things are changing and that I know how to continue to carry that as far as I am able to do so.

Well, that and friendship over a good meal with inspiring people. That’s the best that anyone can hope for in my opinion. Life is best when it’s full of open love and fulfillment after all.

Posted in personal

Eggplant Parmesan, pro-rock climbers & books

Made a decent dinner tonight from a Mediterranean cookbook. A smoky/spicy eggplant parmesan with a couple eggplants Eddie picked up from the local farmers market tonight. It was a great way to end a complicated day. I’m preparing to travel to Microsoft Ignite next week and the demands of the office in advance of this are a little more immediate right now. It’s hard, at times, to get people to see beyond a simple need for an application to “rule them all.” I usually see this when a various organization has a tool that they want to drive enterprise-wide adoption. One of the folks I work with commented that every tool seems to be competing against the other to some degree with this misguided notion as the rationalization. There is a better path. One that gives proper weight and space to a variety of tools. All while setting up any single tool in a way that gives the best value to the entire organization. I’ve never believed that control is better than a purpose-driven offering. AS I argued though, it’s the value we build into our platform that makes a tool stand out. Not forced adoption guardrails… or in this case, noise. Ah well, another day awaits and with it more opportunities to try again.

It’s funny also that I just finished “The Longest Mile” by Jeremy Jones tonight. Short trail log kind of book about three guys who walked about 60 miles through the Smokies together over 6 days. It’s hard to tell actually how long they made it as the record and account seemed to change throughout the book. If I do sit down and write my account of this past year of hiking and camping my way to face fear, this is not the kind of book I intend to write. It was enjoyable. Made me laugh and think about my own mistakes and inexperience. The fact that this was his first hammock experience? Well, that was me earlier this year at my favorite gay campground Freedom Valley where the guys all decked up with 8 person tents for 1 (or hopefully 2) thought of me as an oddity. I loved Jeremy’s struggle with knots. I definitely share that in common with him as well.

Next on the reading list are “Zen in the Age of Anxiety” by Tim Burket and “These Truths” by Jill Lepore. Reading is an escape for me. Makes me think. I love reading cookbooks too. And yet, after having a moment of panic earlier today where I had to go find a room to myself and work through some breathing exercises. Probably because of my own internal reaction to challenging someone who was challenging me back. Confrontation is not my favorite thing. But sometimes it’s part of the work. Always calm, cool and professional. That’s the goal anyway. But it comes with a cost. For some of us, it’s moments where there’s a physiological cascade of baseless anxiety.

While I was waiting for the peach cobbler to bake off before starting the eggplant dish I picked up the copy of Esquire Magazine that came yesterday. I read an Alex Honnold interview by Brandy Langmann titled “On How Not To Be Afraid of Fear” (this is in a full series of feature interviews, so do a page search for it by his name if so inclined to find it). The idea that we, more specifically myself, place ourselves in situations that are intended to face our fears… when in reality we are simply maneuvering through them blew my mind. It was the key to my whole entire year so far in less than 500 words. Boom! Mind blown. This guy is evidently a Rockstar climber who is often times in situations that can end his life by a simple change in the wind and an easy mistake. What he closes with though is gold. That it’s better to face fear in increments. To learn the difference between actual fear that is worthy of our attention… and fucking anxiety. I am definitely going to explore this more. It’s exactly what I wanted my hike through the Olympics, Burr Oak, and Lake Vesuvius to be about. Being away from an easy call out to 911 if I have another heart attack. Forcing myself to find joy again and stop worrying about every damn day about the next. It’s crippling. But I’m working through it slowly. I can definitely say, Alex, is absolutely right.

 

Posted in food, personal, professional

On the edge of autumn

There is still a smell of my first fall meal in the air of my home tonight. I found a recipe for titled “Sheet-Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Peppers” in the New York times today. It was this beautiful combination of flavours that had a little bit in common with jerk seasoning but more floral-aromatic-sweet yet earthy and hearty at the same time.

I think I am still physically recovering from my Olympic Mountain hike now too. My left knee has been talking to me along with my left thigh which probably used all of its force to propel my frame and my 50-pound pack weight up the mountains and back down last week. My run at the YMCA at lunch today was my first since leaving Portland. Not painful but felt like stretching, cracking the spine of a book and liberating at the same time.

Today was one of those days where I am simply left feeling grateful for the totality of everything. I am missing a camping trip this weekend I had planned, which seriously bums me out, but I plan to use that time to go visit Nick for the first time in a long while. Spend time with Eddie. Maybe start a writing project and get ready for Microsoft Ignite the following weekend for the coming week. I guess, maybe, for the moment anyway, it’s time to retreat and be thankful for a few days. I just had one of the best summers of my life. Yeah, there were challenges and demons, but damn, this stretch of hot summer months have been so good to me. I feel full of warmth and possibility again.

Tomorrow’s plans start at 5 am with decaf coffee and a walk up to the YMCA with Eddie to go workout together. Weights are on the agenda for me for the first time in a while now that the 90 mile hike is over. I guess the seasons have officially changed for me at last. Who knows, I may actually sign up for the 15k race in November called the Hot Chocolate, just to nod at the last three and a half years with a smile and a warm heart.

Time for bed. But I wanted to take a stab at putting thoughts to words to leave a record of what I think being lucky feels like.

Posted in food, personal

Life and patterns

One of my history professors used to say “history never repeats itself… but it is very fond of patterns.”

Having spent the afternoon with my parents talking through the trip I just took and catching up on various life and family matters in the Breece clan I discovered something that made me think of the previous statement. I got my book on the Smoky Mountains recently and am starting to plan some hikes for next year already. When I saw the sections of Clingmans Dome, I said to myself, I am going to hike a small section of the AT to go out to that spot and back again in 2019 if I can.

This is where history and its fondness for patterns comes into play. Evidently, my dad, grandparents, and a couple of my uncles did the same thing decades ago. This is when my dad still had his eyesight. It made that bell go off inside me that said this is exactly one of those moments that was meant to happen. Like life itself was steering me toward some design pattern.

It made me feel even more grateful for the lessons and patience that my parents have showered upon me while growing up as a boy and even more so as a man. I have a great deal of admiration for them both.

Next up? Hunkering down for the upcoming Fall season, getting back out on the running trail and swimming pool, and, of course, planning more outdoor adventures.

Posted in outdoors, personal

End of the road

Safe and sound back in Portland Oregon with my buddy Doug. Once we got back to his home from a hearty pasta lunch and a trip to Zupan’s he got straight down to the business of resuming his life and the things that bring him joy. This included making a wonderful dinner for the three of us. It’s one of my last nights here at the tail end of nothing short of a transformational journey. One that started, for me, last year. Well really, it started three years ago last April actually. Regardless, his husband asked a question of Doug, “do you think you could have done this without doing all the preparation work you did? Carrying your pack six miles a day across the bridge and working out?” The answer was of course yes. But what I held back to myself was a counter. I think that all the work that we both did in advance of the single hardest physical challenges he and I have ever faced could not have been done without each other for one. But mostly, without the mental preparedness for the harshness of the backcountry. While beautiful, and worth every hardship, it’s a lot like running a long distance race. Like the 20 mile race I did a couple years ago. That one taught me that I am a tough son-of-a-bitch. I just didn’t know it at the time. There are challenges that we face where we, sometimes, find ourselves. This trip? This journey? Well, it was definitely one of those for the both of us.

I used the word “transformational” earlier. I set out on this trek with the goal of putting fear in my path, setting my sight on it and then, walking by it. That’s exactly what happened too. I am already planning a trip in my head to see Fall colors in a place called Dolly Sods in West Virginia on a solo 20+ mile backpacking trip. A trip to the Smokies, 30 miles in and out to see Clingmans Dome and do a small portion of the Appalachian Trail. And, possibly, some more of the National Park systems through regions that my mom and dad introduced me to as a kid on our cross country treks to California while I was growing up. That’s another thing. Through all this, I realized I owe them a huge debt for fostering a sense of enjoying the outdoors in me as a kid. Yeah, I hated it at the time. But damn if I don’t think back to both of them every time I am sleeping outside and saying “thank you.”

The text below was a note I sent out to my own husband, family and friends back home before the last day of our trek. Before we’d face the toughest challenge on the trail before us. One that brought my friend Doug to tears at the summit of his mountain some 5700 feet above sea level shoulder to shoulder with an entire range of mountains lined up like jewels in a crown before us. To be honest though, I had my moment of tears when I collapsed on the ground after I unfurled my bedroll in the dirt on top of another mountain where we reached Hoh Lake after the most extreme climb I ever summited in my life. That is until, of course, the last and final ascent to Hurricane Hill – which turned everything inside me upside down and inside out.

Lastly, I want to thank my best friend Doug for going on this journey with me. I could not have done it without his planning, preparation, and enthusiasm. You truly are my brother in every sense of that word and I love you. To Char and Gary for their hospitality and the pink spork. My husband for letting me go and pushing me toward the many and varied doors that my crazy life purpose frenetically points toward. Eddie, my heart starts and ends with you. Always.

On to the synopsis.

Note; The use of “today” below refers to Sunday August 2nd before we headed back out for the final and most grueling/rewarding day of the trip.

So, as planned, we hiked out of the Elwha dam (webcam from what is left of the dam facing outward) territory yesterday and got picked up by Doug’s friend Char for a night of comfort before we tackle the last hike of the trip today. One of the motivators all week was the idea of having a good meal at a local restaurant called Nourish. Gluten free, but on par with a popular place in a larger City that Sequim, small that it is, has a quality and flavor that denotes a marriage between the simple and sublime. All in one awesome little waterfront town. Of course, true to myself, I criticized them for several points of service quietly, for once, to Doug… you can take the boy out of the restaurant but you can’t take the restaurant out of the boy. Anyway, I will write up all of my notes and share some of Doug’s photos in the coming weeks. But for now, here are some highlights.

We walked through a real rainforest, with massive trees covered in dense mossy vegetation that looked as if it were dripping from the enormous branches reaching far higher than anything I have ever seen in person. Made friends with the elk, along the trail, at a distance. Filtered water from the beautiful Hoh River nestled between the mountain peaks we were about to climb in the coming days. My one regret is that I cut my audio recorder in favor of saving on pack weight as the sound of this place was absolutely wonderful. I would love to have brought that home to my dad who is blind not to mention capturing a moment that even a photo can’t hope to frame.

We faced a massive climb from there up to Hoh Lake. Serious. This day was probably the most physically demanding thing I have ever done in my life. 33 switchbacks, according to one guide, up 4500 feet above sea level in just 5 miles. It nearly killed us. But we had these views of not so far off peaks like the glacier-covered Olympic Mountain and it’s sisters all around. Clouds were literally touching our heads as they rolled over the heavily forested summit we were walking across.

At that elevation, we started to encounter clusters of black bears who were 100% focused on eating as much of the loganberries which were all over the mountainside, ripe and sweet, as they could in order to fatten up for winter. We walked from Hoh Lake down 3000 feet through this nearly J.R.R. Tolkien forest which was lit by golden light falling through the distant treetops tinting the sunbeams with a greenish yellow hue as it hit the reddish forest floor with a shimmer of summer promise along our path. There were so many streams and rivulets that it was almost like walking through some forest orchestra playing soft movements of sound and life to entertain us. Or at least give pause to think about how a forest system works like a single organism.

We had to trek back up 4000+ feet to Heart Lake, part of the Seven Lakes Basin, the “jewels of the Olympics” as Doug described it, where we broke camp in a hurry as it was raining, cold, densely foggy and our spirits were low. This was our short day where we were at camp early so we could try to continue to recover from the Tuesday hike which left us both decimated. Anyway, it was still raining and so I rolled the tent cover into my bedroll which hung off the back of my pack and we headed off to a place called Appleton Pass. It included walking between two peaks of two mountains with a huge climb up to 5200 feet. The maps said we were in for about 11 miles. Wrong. We tracked about 20 miles on foot that day to arrive at a place called Boulder Creek. This was our last night of camping in the Olympic National Park.

Our trek out the next morning was a walk through the closed Elwha dam network. The dam had been destroyed in 2012 to help promote salmon habitats. We walked down a now unused and blocked off paved road the whole 3400 feet to an elevation of a mere 100 feet of elevation where we walked to a parking lot where Doug’s friend Char picked us up. She’s this amazingly warm and wonderful being who truly reminds me of Ruth Gordon’s character from the film “Harold & Maude.”

We are shedding our 45+ pound backpacks, mine full to capacity with two bear cans, the big one and a smaller one for trash, his with a four-person tent and a whole lot of other bare minimum essentials for a trek like this. Both flirting with 50 lbs thresholds and heavier than anything we’ve done to date. Our packs today are just day packs with a water bladder, lunch, and some small supplies. Like maybe 7 pounds with any luck with trek poles as our climb today is back up 5800 feet up Hurricane Hill. A link to something that may not be exact but looks like our hike today.

It’s been an incredible effort but totally worth the time in planning, expense in equipment procurement, time away from home and the people I love given that I feel privileged to see something that won’t exist for much longer as climate change and lawmakers continue to erode habitats like the varied and unique ones I have walked in, over ~80/90+ miles, through this week.

Posted in outdoors

Final night, final pack

Final day before the hike and we made it to Sequim where Doug’s friend has graciously opened her home to us for the night. That in addition to her and her boyfriend driving us to the trailhead tomorrow. At 6 am.

 

We stopped for coffee near a beautiful beach called Potlach. When we finally got there, we drove to the Olympic Mountain visitor center and checked in for our hike the next day. I learned that there is no history of bear attacks in the Olympics, which is good, but there are documented cases of Billy goat and cougar attacks. Oh great. I guess we will see what we see when we see it.

Lunch was at a Thai place off the beach. Small portions which were awesome. I think it gave us both a much-needed lift. Once we got the car unpacked and the contents of our packs unloaded and then reloaded I discovered that I could fit both the large bear canister and the smaller one inside my 44 L pack. That in addition to the Jet Boil, the water filter pump, my clothes, and the miscellaneous gear like first aid kit, personal items and so on and so forth. My base weight is now roughly 35 lbs. which means I will have to be really careful to make sure the balance is right and it’s fitting as good as it can.

Dinner plans have changed and we will be having Mexican (which is cool by me because I have a hankering for a burrito).

The last update until the trip comes to a close here. Time to take our first steps and enjoy a week in the backcountry.

Posted in outdoors

Departure

In the words of Rosemary Woodhouse, “this is no dream, this is really happening.”

I slept well last night and everything we have is now staged by the door. We plan to head out in 30 minutes, stop for spare batteries and coffee then make the 4-hour trek to Sequim to stay overnight with our gracious hosts and shuttle drivers. Dinner reservations set for Nourish tonight which will mark our last non-dehydrated meal for the better part of a week.

Here’s where courage carries you on the shoulders of friendship.

Posted in outdoors

A day of edits

Day two and full of prep work.

We head up to Washington tomorrow to lodge overnight with my buddy’s friends who are generously taking us to our drop off point and then picking us up on day four where we plan to go back and stay the night with them one more time before heading out to Hurricane Ridge on day five with lighter day packs. I gather the last day has similar inclines as day two so we will definitely be working our asses off both those days.

Today, however, started with some quiet time as I continued to adjust to the time change between here and Ohio. I slept like a rock and racked up just under 8 hours which is really good by my normal 5 to 6 hour good standards. We had brunch at this Scandinavian restaurant called Broder. It was phenomenal. Friendly staff. Interesting décor. And food accented by Dijon everything. Loved it. The talk turned to my buddy and his husband working through some pre-trip anxiety on both parts. It was pretty adorable to watch them communicate how special they were to one another. It made me think of Eddie back home a great deal and how lucky I am to have someone who supports me no matter where my crazy train brain chooses to point my head toward. I miss him a lot already on this trip. Watching Doug and Byrd only made it more poignant.

Doug and I spent the afternoon going through the pack editing process. Fully loaded, we were dangerously heavy. Like 40 lbs. territory. By the time we were done we were back into the 33 lbs. range. Only 5 lbs. more than I am accustomed to so that made me feel good even though I sacrificed a few of my favorites during the editing process. Things like my camp sandals, secondary cook system in case Doug’s encounters an issue, a few other items near and dear to my heart. But, I’ve got the onus of carrying the big ass bear canister in my pack. That sucker is huge. Fully loaded and super important to our survival. I may also end up carrying a secondary, smaller, bear canister in the event that the ranger tells us that more than food has to go into canisters. That could push me into the range of 35 lbs., I just keep telling myself that we will be eating ourselves lighter as the trail goes on. That, and while I still consider myself a beginner, I know my body can handle the weight if it’s packed right and the straps are set correctly.

It was fun to stop back in at Zupan’s though. A grocery store that reminds me of my absolute favorite grocery store of all time. Central Market Lovers Lane in Dallas Texas. I spent so many nights there shopping for experience meals that Eddie and I would share during our lonely disconnected Texas years. Dinner was this amazing Tapas place called Mediterranean Exploration Company. Again, the four of us had these great unabashed excited conversations. All winding and weaving patterns of connection, sharing, openness, and love. I feel really lucky to have made such a random friendship connection with Doug on an old outdated internet system back in the early ages of the Internet called Gaydar. Yup, that’s where we met along some primitive search algorithm with keywords probably including “Columbus, Ohio.” We’ve known one another for, well, probably closing in on 20 years now.

 

If helping my friend Nick through his stroke recovery and our very long-term friendship has taught me anything, it’s the value of those precious moments of being bonded to someone through a mutual attraction, admiration, respect with the freedom to be as messy, scared, anxiety filled and confused as he and I have shared together over our years of friendship stemming from a random prehistoric Gaydar search. I have learned that life is short. But, right now anyway, I believe there is meaning to be found in hiking with a friend through the Olympic Mountain wilderness.

We leave tomorrow to stay overnight with his friends. Do a final pack edit with one of his other friends who is more experienced than either of us. Go to dinner at another great place which sounds fantastic. Sleep. Then head out to five days in the wild.

I guess now is a good moment to feel grateful for everything that has brought me here. Yes, I sorely miss Eddie. Yet I feel his love always in the support and guidance he has provided me all through our years together. It’s the same with my friendships with Doug, Nick, and a very rare few others. I would not be who I am today; or have the ability to hold things together the way I do, without these people as my family beside me.

Tonight we move from “onward” to motion.

Posted in food, outdoors, personal