Got off to the airport without a hitch. The backpack duffle I picked up Friday night, Trump traffic be damned, worked out very well. It even had space to spare for my trekking poles, foam bedroll and my still muddy hiking boots from Burr Oak State Park. I over packed with the intent of editing it down once I get a feel for the overlaps between Doug’s and my gear.
Hanging out in the DFW airport now for a couple hours. Chatting with Eddie & Doug. Sent Nick, Lori and Marsha a picture from the Hurricane Ridge webcam to give them an idea of the ending area of our journey. Treated myself to an extremely rare lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I loved this place when I lived in Dallas. It reminds me of a woman whom I used to work with named Rechelle. She got me through a lot of tough times and I always loved her indomitable spirit and her room-filling laughter. There’s just something good about a piece of fried chicken in a soft white bun accented by pickles. It’s cardiac poison of course, but damn if it does not remind me of some really incredible tiny moments when I used to live here in Dallas.
Spent a good chunk of the layover reading from Anthony Skura’s hiking guide and people watching of course. The reading was specifically about bears. So, evidently, my Ursack is great for mini bears… but since I’d have to hang it, if the land manager even allowed them, it seems like I will be leaving that behind at Doug’s house instead because of the following piece of data. Anthony cites that bear hangs do not work at all with bears. Which differs from my naïve research on YouTube about the PCT method and ways “guaranteed” to protect your food from bears. I’m hoping he is right that as long as you let them know where you are, then they are mostly afraid of you and don’t see you as food. Also, reading a humorous article on bear bells, from the bear’s perspective, the jury seems to be out on the effectiveness of those. I think I will be taking that with me but not being too complacent about not clapping or yelling out to the bears on a regular basis. I just wish I knew what kinds of spots they frequent. To me, and this could be true as I don’t know, they could be everywhere. On another note, I have heard of the Leave No Trace guidelines before but, as I had time to spare, I read them for the first time and really like the ideas they tout.
Tonight is a huge treat. Dinner at Farm Spirit with my best friend and hiking partner, his husband, and his husband’s boyfriend. It should be an interesting evening. Note to self. Please please please don’t dominate it with talk of heart disease or camping. Talk about, maybe, dealing with anxiety? Work? Eddie? The hike? But mostly them. What are they doing? What’s going on? Movies? Pool? Food? If all else fails, cats.
While on the flight from DFW to Portland, after watching a movie on my Kindle, listening to some relaxing nature sounds, and trying not focus too much on the screaming kids directly in front of me or their parents who were doing a great job at consoling them and each other, I stumbled across a podcast I had saved. It was an interview where the topic evolved into the idea of placing fear directly square in the center of our paths. It made me think of the fear I was sitting on today. The fear of our upcoming hike. Fear of the unknown. Bears. Getting lost in the real wilderness. Hiking up 6000 feet with a 28 lbs. backpack on my back. My cranky right knee. Heart disease. Money. Career. Being out here without Eddie and missing him already. Being tired from only sleeping 4 hours the night before didn’t really help matters I suppose. My mind sort of took that fear thing and ran with it. “Observe, don’t react.” One of my mantras that is in heavy rotation right now.
Still, I plan to use memories of previous hikes and camping experiences. Of running half marathons and feeling like I would need to stop. A good lesson there. Because when you feel that way, that’s exactly what you need to do. Stop. Walk. Catch your breath. Reframe your perspective. I suppose that’s what sort of broke me out of that cycle. All while realizing I was already doing what the interviewee was talking about. Putting fear directly ahead of myself. Or, more accurately, putting myself in the way of fear (to turn a Cheryl Strayed phrase a little inside out).
This article on the HOH TO SOL DUC VIA HIGH DIVIDE TRAIL is pretty much exactly what we are planning on tackling starting Tuesday. It’s going to be a serious challenge but I’m excited about the prospect of seeing what we see. That and a full night’s rest tonight.
Lunch was at this awesome little ramen shop called the Boke Bowl. Totally hit the spot. We went back to Doug’s place from there and I had to take an emergency nap as it was closing in on 7 back home. I was exhausted from the trip, not sleeping well the night before and still processing lunch.
Next up? Dinner at Farm Spirit. A restaurant we went to last year which totally blew my mind and did again tonight. It’s a place where you get assigned seating at a bar. On the other side are the chef and his staff preparing dishes in succession like something you’d see on Top Chef. A narrator describes the dish, the components, and structure and then talks about the farmers who make the products used in the dish Everything sourced within a 100-mile radius of the restaurant. The menu was extensive which I will have to circle back to later but for now, it was nothing short of a perfect experience even though we got shushed by the chef t one point as we were excitedly talking about our lives. I love that it’s truly locally sourced and uses waste nothing practices. Four friends, one night, great conversations and a shared excitement about Doug and my week ahead.
But first, a day full of packing and editing the backpack weights down, just as I did withthe Burr Oak hike recently, with both creature comfort and physical comfort in the balance.