I dream that I’m in highschool in Anchorage. I catch the wrong bus after school, realize after a couple stops and get off to walk back to school. There are massive tangles of freeways everywhere, and I have to cross them, darting between the cars. In between the freeways are culverts that channel raging glacial rivers, and I have to get across these too. If I fall in the water I’ll get swept away and die. At last I reach a forest, and now two black bears are coming at me! I fight them off with sticks. There’s a house nearby, and I yell for help. The people come out with what is essentially a thundershirt like for dogs- they throw it on the bears and the bears are immediately calm. My friend Amy appears, and says she wants to eat one of the bears. All I have is the tiny swiss army knife I take thru-hiking, so we’ve got to figure out how to kill and skin the bear with this one inch knife.
“Carrot!” Matthew is calling my name from his tent. It’s six a.m., and the sun is up.
I tell him about my dream as we pack up. He tells me a story about our friend Brian, who once killed a caribou with a rock. I am new to hunting (I went hunting for the first time this year) but I am not new to eating meat, and I think a lot about what I would and would not be tough enough and/or have the skills to do if I actually had to acquire all my own meat, especially without the help of firearms, and whether or not that makes me a hypocrite for eating meat in the first place. But what is being alive in late stage capitalism if not an exercise in total hypocrisy? I’m a hypocrite, you’re a hypocrite. Here we are. Or maybe there’s no escaping the hypocrisy, even in other times, other worlds. Every living thing is born with a shadow, always has been.
Anyway. Time to walk all day for no reason. It’s beautiful this morning. We’re climbing up the flank of Humphreys peak, into groves of aspen and vast stretches of ponderosas, with their blackened trunks and flat, open, good-vibes understories. At a water cache we find a bag of candy- our first trail magic! And I eat several fun size snickers. My heart feels sad today. My heart doesn’t know this hike is temporary. It thinks I’ve abandoned my home, dogs and everyone I care about (except for my dear friend Matthew) to be here and it is sounding the alarm!! My brain tries to reason with my heart but my heart will NOT listen.
Anyway. There’s no way to distract myself from this feeling. All there is to do is walk and feel it, to squirm out here under the bright high altitude sun, to raw dog each wave of searing emotional pain. Just wait for it to pass. To feel something different. Maybe cry a little while I walk. Criking!
Soon we’re back at 9,000 feet. It’s cold and I’m having a fun random grab bag of physical pain now too. We take a long break at a cow pond that’s actually pretty clear, if a bit green. I lay full down on the ground and put my hat over my face. “Corpse pose is the most important yoga pose,” I say to no-one in particular.
We’ve been leaning into hiking a bit past dark, since the dark comes so early (5:45!) And we don’t want to be limited by the sunset. We walk as the magenta bleeds out of the sky, follow the circles of our headlamps through the silent forest. Matthew shows me how, in the beam of a headlamp, the eyes of spiders shine like glitter on the ground! A terrible thing I wish I didn’t know! Camp is on the good flat ground alongside the trail, in the pine needles. We’re close enough to Flagstaff to hear the trains rattling through, which Matthew says they do endlessly. I hope my heart feels better tomorrow.
I’m using this AZT blog to raise funds for Trans Queer Pueblo, a rad org that provides funds to trans and queer people seeking asylum and/or in immigration detention along the US/Mexico border. Here is the fundraiser- it was at about $9k when I first posted it, let’s see if we can reach their $15k goal! For every $150 raised, I’ll post another blog post. And thank you!
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