I have only walked one mile today.
Here I am, in Vancouver, feeling it. You know those movies where you are beamed into the future, or onto another planet? It feels like that: landing in another dimension without foresight.
The Breka Bakery has a line out the door. People in line have make up covering their weary faces, and wear things like shoes with heals, tight jeans, and blazers. They seem impatient and entitled.
The lack of a mirror in the wild is a gift. I felt free from self-conscious thoughts. It was on the PCT where I became united with a young self, a self that lived in magic every day and didn’t have an ego. I stopped caring what other people thought about my appearance. The trail didn’t care that I had snot dripping down my nose, gray hair, or a fat stomach. No, the trail embraced me in its wild folds, and allowed me to feel and live in wonder. As an adult, this is liberating.
None of these people in line know that I just spent five months walking twenty six hundred and fiftymiles from Mexico to Canada. Instead, they look at me with indifference. I am in abnoxious lemon green tights, the only base layer I could buy at Stevens Pass that fit me, an OR rain jacket, and a Lee Vining Mobile baseball hat. My Merril boots, like clown shoes, are disproportionately large for my height. My brown hair is now salt and pepper. I have no idea when it was last colored or conditioned. Despite my physical skin being toughened by the five months of sun and wind exposure, I feel ultra sensitive. Now back in civilization, I find myself judging this culture, and along with it, myself. Alas, that devilish ego is returning, and consumerism preys upon it. I feel like I need makeup and sexy shoes to be liked. My senses, like a toy top, spin in the public space of Vancouver and I feel like in any moment I am going to fall.
I start tearing up. Having access to anything and everything makes things feel less valuable. I am both shocked and tender to realize I am awakening to this perception. I had never valued a baked good as much as I had until hiking 2600 miles. In fact, I am so grateful for everything: the five pieces of clothing that kept me warm and alive, my 3′ x 6′ x 4′ shelter that survived the snow storms, my spork that helped me shove fuel into my body, my pack that held my shit. And I am grateful that my 45 year old imperfect body endured and got me to Canada. And the trail people, my family, a collective of outliers who, like warriors, persevered in the record snow and fires. We belong to the trail – not here – not yet.