Last night I slept over 11 hours. This is the second morning in a row I woke up after 10 hours or so and then went back to sleep. It felt wonderful. I was totally surrounded by forest, completely alone. There was a soft breeze and the sun shone through the trees. I stared awhile through the roof of my tent at the trees above me and drifted off again. Sleep till noon? Don’t mind if I do!
Sleeping long hours and walking alone with my thoughts all day is like being in a continuous dream. My mind is like a lighthouse and my brain is the light, resting on a pool of mercury. Wherever I cast my gaze, I send a steady beam of light out in front of me. I feel healthy in body and mind. I am completely at peace.
My schedule is very binary: I am either walking or sleeping. There is very little in between. I take very few breaks during the day in part because of the lack of seating options, in part because the bugs descend when I am at rest, and in part, because after a long night’s sleep, I have work to do!
The more days I spend hiking, the easier it is mentally. Most days start off stiff and sore and it’s a struggle not to check my watch. As the day goes on I find my rhythm and time passes much more quickly. Today it was much easier to start, as it is each day of consecutive hiking. After Petoskey especially, but also after Mackinaw, I struggled to get back into the flow of hiking, feeling discouraged that my daily mileage wasn’t good enough and not able to check-out mentally the way I need to in order to get through the long hours.
Reading books on this trip makes me realize how impressionable I am. It’s not always so noticeable since usually there are many competing influences but, here on the trail, the only external input is whatever book I’m reading. I’ve noticed that my writing style in this journal changes according to what I am reading. Earlier, when I was reading Tesla I felt compelled to use old-timey language and write complex sentences.
“Dalva” has been amazing. It’s been a long time since I have been sucked into a book like this. I think it has to do with the caliber of the book but also where I’m at in my life. The only other time it has happened was on a family vacation when I was in high school. Catch-22 was my only escape from my frustrations with my family and I fell hard. I’m sure I would like Dalva regardless but here, without any distractions or company or entertainment, this book is my one and only escape and it has elevated to a whole new level of meaning to me.
In Dalva, there are a few moments where the characters cry or wail or whoop loudly and I am really drawn to the idea of utterly letting go like that, just making noise! But I’m scared! inspired by the book, I tried to wail out loud but it was a pathetically meager attempt. The sound I made was sound and not very loud. Afterward the noise seemed to hang in the air, embarrassing me, and I felt my heart racing. Uninhibited shouting is definitely something I’d like to continue working on while I’m so alone out here.
Another point from “Dalva” that I’ve thought a lot about is the concept that all grown men see themselves through the lens of what they were as a child. She believes that men foolishly apply some caricature to themselves- a hero, a leader, a great mind- even if it doesn’t jive with present reality. It made me wonder if I do that. What is my own misrepresentation of myself? I think I see myself as constantly embattled, perpetually misunderstood. I have countless make-believe conversations in my head where I eloquently defend myself against some imagined injustice. I’m not sure how, but I need to let that go. I am no victim.
A final take-away from my reading: sudden and extreme sexual frustration. This is no 50 Shades of Grey, but there are a few slightly steamy scenes that have a powerful impact on me. I’ve started to fantasize about encountering a sexy lumberjack or a mysterious Native American in the woods. I imagine that we would lock eyes and pounce on each other without even exchanging a word. In my mind I am a wild Yooper sex goddess. I wonder if I could actually go through with it.
Most likely I’ll never find out. Once again today, I saw no one.
Continue to the next entry in the series here: Day 18: Pine to Naomikong Creek Shelter
Go back to the last entry in the series here: Day 16: Breevort Lake to Gamble