Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hello From Way Out West East

The gang is currently aft agley.

Happy Holidays, everyone! It's been an eventful year. Time for the annual "Status Report" that I send out to my family and all you people without whose support I couldn't be doing this.

As you may recall, I did set out last spring to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, hoping to get it done before Cheryl Strayed's movie came out and everyone in the world started going Wild next year.

And things did go well for a while. I was covering lots of ground until this one day. I'd had this growing feeling that something was off, so I finally had to stop and ask for directions. That's when I found out I was in Colorado.

Don't know how that happened. Well so anyway, being that far off the route and all, it doesn't look like I'll be making it to Canada this year. I'm too busy anyhow.

For the time being I'm spending my days in a little snow-filled town not all that far from the Continental Divide. It specializes in winter tourism — skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and all that, so at least I get to do some people-watching, but I got a job to tide me over too. I think it will. I think it will work out.

I met a woman here. Her name is Jane Saw. She's pretty special — tough but nice. Smart too. She paints watercolor scenes on card stock. Some gnarly ones. They appeal to the snowbirds who spend their winter vacations here. I write up some text to go with the pictures and we sell them for $10 a crack, and it isn't a bad business. Some people buy a whole box at a time. Mostly apologies. Apologies seem to be hot for some reason.

For example, our biggest seller so far is "I'm sorry I peed on the carpet," and it comes with your choice of images. A lot are cats and dogs but some are people too, which makes sense in a party town I guess.

Some you wouldn't much expect though, like "Insincere Apology Letter for Plagiarism", but we cover shoplifting, car accidents, drunkenness, slander, trespassing, infidelities of all kinds, minor acts of vandalism (mostly unintentional), and apologies to the court and to police as well.

So I guess it's my turn then. I'm sorry. I screwed up somewhere. Ed, if you're still out there, I will return your tent, but as you know by now, not on schedule, my friend. I need to be more organized for next year so I'm making a list. I'll try to follow it when I pick up the trail again next spring.

To myself:

  1. Do your research: You need more than a compass to find Canada. At least one that's better than what you get on a zipper-pull. Now I know for sure.
  2. Write up an itinerary: So you can check where you are, for sure, at least once in a while. Western Colorado is nice, but the winters are hard. I'm just lucky that Jane lets me sleep with the cat. (His name is Buzzer.)
  3. Keep people updated: Mom told me to call, but did I listen? No. I think I started to veer right at about Agua Dulce, down in southern California. Mom would have caught that.
  4. Keep on top of details: Given the above, I guess I should have gotten suspicious when the sun seemed to be rising in a more northerly direction than was healthy, and it did seem odd, but I was committed by then. Luckily I didn't make it all the way to Denver.
  5. Don't immerse yourself in the experience: That isn't natural. After all, they call it wilderness for a reason, so keep your guard up.
  6. Reevaluate: I.e., pay attention. Now that I look back on the experience, I realize that I spent way too many uncritical miles hiking along the shoulder of I-70.
  7. Taking zero days doesn't mean zeroing out: Don't just turn off your brain and shove food into your head when you stop walking. Although it does feel good.
  8. Do enjoy your hike: But not too much — you actually have to get somewhere.
  9. Follow a trail map and/or guide: So, older and wiser.

Come spring I'll be heading out again, and will myself be offering guiding services for anyone who wants to avoid making the same old mistakes. Jane and I are working on a whole new map set and we'll have note cards all printed up and ready to go for any and all eventualities. Sign up early!

Bye for now.