Being Silly

As I was sauntering along today, carrying twenty-eight pounds on my back, the whole thing — the weight, the pretend backpacking treks, the dream of a hugely long hike — suddenly seemed utterly silly.

I suppose if I could see any changes — more muscle tone, a sleeker body, greater energy, anything — it wouldn’t seem so ridiculous, but I don’t see any difference in me at all. I am carrying more weight in the pack than I did at the beginning, but I don’t think it’s because I’m stronger; it’s more that I carried less than I could when I started this project. Back then, I couldn’t carry much because I couldn’t sling the pack onto my back. Once I figured out that it was easy to put the pack on while sitting on the bed, I was able to increase the weight.

But that brings up another silly issue — in the backcountry, there are no beds, so I researched how to put on a pack out in the wild (hoist it up onto a bent leg using the haul strap, hold the haul strap with the left hand, put the right arm through the right shoulder strap, hump it onto your back and then put the left arm through the strap), but that’s difficult to do even without a weak and wonky left arm. I thought of using a rope to haul the thing up my back, but sheesh — talk about silly!

I guess none of this is any more foolish than the rest of my life, such as spending years writing books only a few folks read. Or taking ballet classes when one is leaden footed. Or learning to dance when one can’t distinguish one note or instrument from another. (In class the other day, I was told to do a certain move when the steel guitars started. Total blank. Hadn’t a clue.) Or driving a forty-six-year-old car. Or . . .

Come to think of it, is anything in my life not silly?

But then what do I know — perhaps silliness is the point of my life. Of any life. Maybe God created us and the world and even the universe in a fit of silliness and then went on to more important things.

Since I have nothing more important to do at the moment, I’m stuck with my silliness. At least I’m consistent, but then, consistency is foolish, too.

As if all this weren’t silly enough, I spent the past half hour trying to find the perfect positioning for the image of the bed in this blog post.

Yikes.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

On The Trail Again

I managed to get outside today before the winds returned, so I had a lovely trek in the desert. Oddly, after the hiatus from my faux backpacking trips, I could barely lift the pack, but once it was strapped on my back and resting on my hips, I hardly noticed the weight. Well, not much.

You’d think while I’m out sauntering around on desert trails, carrying an addition twenty-seven pounds (additional to my own weight, that is), that the urge to go backpacking would leave me since trekking with a pack is hard work, but nope. The hook remains. I’ll be interested to see if after I finally get out in the wilderness by myself, the desire will be as strong.

The other day, I was chatting with a friend who suggested that my Seattle trip should be just for my sisters (and dealing with Jeff’s ashes) rather than adding a short solo backpacking trek to the mix. She said, “Why not just do the longer trip in September?” My answer shocked both of us into laughter. “But what if I hate it?”

Despite that totally unexpected response, I truly do not think I will hate being out there by myself. I’ve hiked alone. Camped alone. Could it be so different?

I’m not really that naïve. Of course it could be different — a whole lot different. So, yes — a short backpacking trip first, a trip where someone can come get me if I run into trouble. Afterward, I can decide what comes next.

Meantime, there is the rest of my May trip to plan. As I am writing this, I am printing out a brochure for a San Andreas Fault road tour in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Although I have no interest in driving along ghastly roads, the San Andreas Fault does interest me. Years ago, I went searching for the fault line (which, I discovered to my horror, was a mere ten miles from where I was living at the time), and though I found traces of the fault in displaced red earth and a lake (pond, really) that had been created by a fault sag (a place where the land sank as a result of earth movement along the fault) in the early twentieth century, there was no obvious indication of the fault, no break in the earth, no line. But apparently, in the Carrizo Plain, the line itself is visible. Probably looks like a dry creek bed up close, but still, if the weather, me, my car, and my nerves hold up, it might be an interesting tour.

Earlier today, I printed out information about the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. I get a kick out of that — the idea of going from desert to rain forest in just a few days. Talk about jet lag! Car lag? Cultural lag? Geographic lag? Some kind of lag anyway.

It’s funny — January seemed about three months long, probably because I had added the practice backpacking trips to my normal schedule of dancing, blogging, reading (not writing, you might notice). But February evaporated. Just . . . disappeared. The four months until I start my May trip have shrunk to two months (although I call it my May trip, I will actually be leaving about this time in April).

Yikes. Still so much to do! By this time, I’d hoped to be further along in the weight addition category (being able to carry more weight in the pack), the weight reduction category (carrying less weight on me to keep my knees and feet from having to deal with extra poundage), the planning (though that is coming along quite nicely), and the writing. (I’d still like to finish that last work in progress before my life veers into a different direction.)

I better get cracking.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Meeting the Challenges of the Day

I woke this morning feeling sore and achy after yesterday’s adventure, and I considered staying in bed. No one but me would know I was being lazy, but I got up anyway. First challenge of the day met!! Yay!

I also considered taking a zero day (hiker parlance for a day without accumulating miles), but after puttering around for a bit and getting my muscles working, and after adjusting the pack again (since I have a hard time adjusting the shoulder straps when it’s on), I decided what the heck, just go. Second challenge of the day met!

Except it wasn’t that easy. The cold wind hurt my ears, so I came back for my earwarmers. Headed out again, walked a ways, and then realized I’d never make it with the cold blowing down the back of my neck. So I came back for a scarf. Headed out again. Left shoe came untied. Bent down to tie it. A real challenge with twenty-plus pounds on my back. Then the right shoe came untied. Then the right shoe. Sheesh. But I met all those challenges.

20180107_113937.jpg

Finally, I got to the desert, made my loop and headed back. When I got to a crossroads where I could take my usual route down to a sidewalk and ending with an uphill trudge or I could take a slightly shorter route back without battling that final hill. I stood there for what seemed like minutes but I’m sure was only seconds, unable to decide. (My brother recently told me he worried about me because I seemed to have a hard time making decisions. Ya think?) I eventually took the usual, slightly harder route because this is supposed to be a challenge, right? Well, challenge met.

I had to stop a couple of times on that last uphill leg, but I made it. (Well, obviously, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.)

And these were just the challenges of this day.

I thought all these challenging faux backpacking trips on the weekends would have made a difference by now, but I don’t seem any stronger, have no more stamina or endurance, don’t weigh any less. I mean, I’ve been doing this for months now, haven’t I?

Uh, no. Although it does feel that way, it’s been merely four weeks. Still, I would have thought there would have been some sign that I’m getting more conditioned to backpacking, but so far, I don’t see a change, and did I expect some change. If nothing else, I thought I would feel lighter after taking off the pack, that hiking with the extra weight would make the rest of my life a bit easier, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I still lumber more than bounce when I walk, still struggle to get things done.

But then, the challenge is in the doing, and I am doing these weekends of backpacking practice. In fact, these weekend backpacking challenges are beginning to seem an end in themselves. Who knows — maybe by the time I’m in condition for a real backpacking trip, I’ll feel as if I’ve already accomplished what I want to accomplish.

Whatever that is.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.