Friday, August 01, 2008

Some post-hike observations

Yesterday I went to my Irish session. My embouchure is horrid but I felt more confident and my fingers seemed to go a lot faster after my 3 months of practice with just a pennywhistle and no other learning aids but my memory.

My session-mates were amazed at my hiking accomplishment. Nobody asked me "why didn't you go all the way to Canada?" I admit I worried what others might think and they might think that I didn't go the distance and discount my achievement. I guess I didn't quite learn how to Hike My Own Hike and not care what other people think.

About the concept of an "unfinished" or "failed" thru-hike. Many sources seem to write about a hike that ends before "the finish line" as somehow incomplete. They suggest we who don't complete the full distance should learn from our mistakes. I suggest that they rethink what makes a long distance hike a success. Is it going to the end of the trail or going to the end of the hike?

My hiking website organizes the hikes not as individual trails but as adventures you can have. Many of the adventures start at one end of a trail and go to the other end. Others are loops involving a series of trails. I always suggest that if the overall rating of a hike is too hard, simply hike less of it. To me it's all about the adventure, the experience. I had a full and complete experience on my thru-hike.

Today I decided to walk to the bookstore. It was a roadwalk, and I really hated those. Cement and asphalt are really hard and painful to walk on. I liked the small portion of the walk where I walked on the dirt next to Oak Park.

On the way back from my walk I saw someone resting sitting on some steps by the sidewalk. My first instinct was to stop and talk and begin the conversation by asking if he was thru-hiking. But I stopped myself when I realized neither of us is thru-hiking and this isn't the trail anymore. All I said was "Hi."

My new size 10.5 Keens are a little too narrow if I wear toe socks. I'll have to wear my thin socks instead. Monstrous feet I have now.

I wanted to scream at all the people in their Priuses "You're still driving a car, you know. Why not really care about the planet and walk or ride a bicycle instead?"

Even idyllic, supposedly environmentally aware Santa Barbara lacks safe places to walk on some streets.

I'm trying not to let my residual hiker hunger get the best of me in my new, less active life-style. It can be hard, though.

I mostly want to eat fresh, real food and not processed crap. This can be hard when 3 tomatoes cost $11 and you don't have a job.

I took as long as it took in the bookstore to find the right books. Before the hike I would have been less patient about how long it took. During the hike I did whatever there was to do for as long as it took to do it, whether that was walking for 20 miles up hill, finding a flat spot to camp, going for a swim, climbing a scary High Sierra pass. Seems like the only way to do things now.

There is a Sierra Club hike tomorrow to Fish Creek. I find myself looking forward to it. It will be hot, dry, shadeless and nearly waterless. It will be burned out, too. Just like hiking Hat Creek Rim without the smoke and humidity. And I get to hike with that good day hiker smell, not the thru-hiker stink.

Last night at the Irish session many people took their shoes off while they played. Everyone has such tiny feet, even the men. I always knew I was near a road when the footprints got tiny. Thru-hiker feet are big. Muggle feet are tiny.

Nothing profound here. Just some observations.

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