1841.5 miles hiked
I’m back in the mountains! The trail climbs up into lupine, and tangled pine forest, and meadows seeping with springwater. There is water again! I pass an abandoned cabin, I climb and descend on ridges and through forests. I follow a combination of jeep roads, cairns, wooden posts and faint, mostly shitty tread. The miles come slow but I’ve got all day. I take my time. I’m tired again today and my stomach is still upset. I’ve accepted this. As long as I don’t get as sick as I was in Montana, I’ll be fine. I’ll drag my melodramatic, gassy self across this last final state. I’ll have diarrhea all the way to the New Mexican border, if that’s the way it has to be. I’ll forever remember the CDT as the trail where I was sick almost all of the time.
I realize halfway through the day that hiking solo was definitely the best choice for me right now. I’m 65% less anxious knowing that I can take a break without falling totally behind. I miss my friends, but it’s worth it. I can tool for hours at 2mph if I want to. Whew!
I listen to podcasts all day. I catch up on the last 6 broadcasts of Democracy Now, feeling the outside world woosh in like a bright strong wonderful wind. The “hiking community” is an odd bubble- most of its most visible/vocal members are white, conservative-ish types who want only to sterilize/brand the outdoor experience while simultaneously pretending that everything outside of the bubble is just peachy-keen. Listening to the soothing monotone voice of Amy Goodman I am reminded that yes, the larger world is just as real, urgent and complex as when I left it. For example, Shell has obtained to necessary permits to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska. Even though they admit that “there’s a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill” and even though scientists say that it is crucial that the oil and gas reserves in the arctic stay underground if we are to avoid the 2 degree global temperature increase that would lead to worldwide catastrophe and major endtimes. While I’m hiking across the country for no reason, activists are repelling themselves from the St. Johns bridge in Portland in order to block one of the drilling ships that has come in for repairs. Portland is having a heat wave and it’s over a hundred degrees, but the activists don’t care. They stay suspended for forty hours before the coast guard cuts them down, knowing that the ice-free drilling window in the Chukchu Sea is extremely short and that the ship will take twelve days to reach Alaska. Every hour they can delay the ship helps. I am also reminded, via an episode on a new documentary on the U.S. backed Indonesian genocide of the 1960s, that the reason Americans have access to the resources and goods that we do is because of the genocides our country has perpetuated, and continues to perpetuate, in developing nations around the world. And, of course, here in our country, police officers continue to execute people of color in the street. This is literally the world that we live in right now.
White privelege it the ability to pretend that none of this is happening. I have it, as do many of my readers. White privelege is a great responsibility, and what we choose to do with it is up to us.
Democracy Now is seriously great, as far as news broadcasts go. Check it out if you don’t already know about it!
I reach camp just after eight, as the sun is setting. Slow days, slow days. I throw up my tarp against the chill- it definitely feels like autumn in the mountains! In Steamboat Springs I’ll get back my stove and tights that I bounced to myself, not a minute too soon.
Tomorrow I reach Colorado!
Photos on instagram