Hayduke trail day 34: O ponderosa forest

April 20
Mileage: 20
484 miles hiked

It’s cold af in the woods where we are and our sleeping bags are damp with condensation and the full moon is so painful silver-bright and supposedly there are mountain lions and I sleep so, so well. Except I dream that I inheret the one-story brick house my grandparents used to live in and the house is so full of ghosts, secret sadnesses and unresolved hurts that I am driven mad and I weep for the rest of my life.

Today we walk through Bryce; not the hoodoos & spires part of Bryce but below the canyon rim in the ponderosa manzanita forest with its yellow gravel soil and sunshine and chickadees saying cheeseburger, cheeseburger. All day the trail climbs and descends steeply, contouring between 7,000 and 9,000 feet. This feels hard, embarrasingly- the Hayduke so far has been lots of bouldering and canyoneering and walking for miles in flat deep sand. What is this steady slow ascending and descending?

As I walk, I think about whether I ever want to have children. I don’t think having kids is necessary to feel as though one has lead a full life. There is so much to do/learn/study, so many ways to grow. But I’m here for human embodiment, and I want the full ride. Having kids seems like part of that? Maybe. If I do decide to have a kid, the plan has been to get around to it “after publishing my next book but before I’m 40.” I try to imagine my life with a kid in it. I couldn’t hike for five months of every year, obviously. I’d still be a writer, but hiking is the thing that grounds me to the earth and to my physical body. What could I use to replace it? Gardening? Pickling? Yoga? Crossfit? I don’t know. I really can’t imagine myself in a settled life like the ones my friends live, and that makes having a kid seem like a bad idea. But then, I like to tell myself that anything is possible. When the world starts to feel small and as though there’s not enough of anything to go around, and I feel paralyzed by scarcity and fear, I try to remind myself that there’s an infinite amount of the most important things (beauty, love, wonder, awe, etc) and that anything can happen. You just can’t imagine how it’s going to work out. It’s a surprise.

Maybe I can’t have kids. Maybe having a kid is a terrible idea. Maybe industrial civilization will collapse in two years and all of this is irrelevant. It’s fun to think about, though.

Camp is next to a piped spring in the forest at 7,000 feet. We’re cowboy camping again! The full moon hangs in the pine boughs and in the shadows the stick-breakers lurk, waiting for us to fall asleep so they can dance around us in a circle…

Photos on instagram