Saturday 3 January 2015

The Harsh Elements

As I sit here in front of my computer screen, it is about -20°C and it feels like -27°C. Not a terrible day, just a little cool. That statement says a lot about the human animal, it can be minus 20 and I don’t think it’s too bad. Well, if you’re dressed for it. I used to be one of those people who loved the winter, but as I age I am either getting smarter or less tolerant to the cold. A good way to spend days like this is to hunker down under a fleece blanket with a hot drink and either a good book in your lap or a good movie on the tube. NOT, frolicking in the snow.

The good book I am reading is “Wild” by Cheryle Strayed which has recently been made into a movie staring Reese Witherspoon. I am about a third the way through it and have just gotten past being uncomfortable with what she has written. The book is about a woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail which is about a 1000 mile backpacking trip. Most people, who do long thru hikes like this or the Appalation Trail, do so because they have gone through some major life changing event like death, divorce or they are at some kind of crossroad in life.

Cheryle`s mother passed away, she got involved with heavy drugs and managed to get a divorce. She had plenty of reason to take a hike. I’m past the emotional part of the book and into the hiking part. She is woefully unprepared to do this hike and I can’t help but shake my head when she talks about the hike. I do have to hand it to her though, she is sticking to it and I look forward to reading the rest of the book.

There is something in my head that makes me want to do a long thru hike. Unfortunately (?), I have a life that is more or less blessed and dusted with pixie dust. I have done the West Coast Trail a couple of times, but that was with a much younger Ken and one who was in better shape. There is the argument that if anything will get you in shape; it’s hauling a 50 pound pack a few hundred miles up and down rough terrain. It gives you time to think as well.

While I am reading the book, I will contemplate a long walk into the wilderness. I might just do the hike in my mind and on paper, kind of like J. R.R Tolkien did with Bilbo and Frodo. I might leave out the Orcs and Wizards, replacing them with hunters, traders and other magical creatures. Perhaps the story of Saint Benedict and his buddy Saint Nicolas and their travels would be interesting.

For now, I will sit with my warm drink and good book being happy that I live in an age that I get to choose not to hike or be out in the harsh elements

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