Sunday, January 09, 2011

Divide Peak and fantasies

Today I did a little hike to Divide Peak. Divide Peak is a peak overlooking the ocean near Murietta Divide. Murietta Divide is the boundary of the watershed between Ojai and Santa Barbara. It is also the same trail I hiked on the first and second day of my 2009 hike from Santa Barbara to the Pacific Crest Trail. I walked right by the place where I slept on my first night of that adventure. It was nice to be back.

At the summit of the hike, we were at the top of 4700-something foot Divide Peak. Peaks and ridges surrounded us all at similar elevations. I was on the Crest once more. Two ravens floated by cawing. For a minute there I felt like I was back on the PCT in the So Cal section. I felt happy and at home. Everybody I was with (and it was a big group) sort of disappeared for a moment and I was back on the trail.

Lately I have been engaging in little escapist fantasies about living in an RV on the road spending all my time touring BLM and forest service lands. I have been wondering if I should get a van so I could have something to live in on the road. I currently own a pickup truck. Maybe I should get a camper shell instead.

It occurred to me today that an amazing adventure could be had with my truck and my backpacking gear. All I would need is my backpack and gear, a box with some extra gear for colder or warmer weather, a box with some extra clothes and a cooler to store some food. So a camper shell would be sufficient.

I could imagine myself parking at the trailhead and hiking up to Murietta Camp to spend the night. Maybe I could set up a stealth camp near the hot spring that was nearby. Backpacking feels so much safer to me than sleeping in a vehicle. Backpacking is respectable behavior. Sleeping in a car is practically illegal, at least around here. I could do this all over the place. Drive a little, hike in and set up my tent, pack it all up in the morning and return to my car, move on. Stay awhile somewhere nice. Do a few days of hiking at a time. What an awesome way to live that would be!

It's a great fantasy. Back to work tomorrow, sadly.


  1. When I first started working all over rural Oregon, I lived in my Suburu Justy. It got 40 miles to the gallon and the tires where little and cheap.

    I think that is a better way to go than a van or an RV that is harder to sustain with parts, gas, tires, oil. Everything is cheaper with a smaller car.

    The next year I bought my little pickup with a cap and lived in that. The year after that I bought a little A-Liner, it's a little light trailer that pops up in 30 seconds to a hard sided A-frame with skylights, chalet windows and an arched door. Cute as can be and I would park it for months sometimes on beautiful sites on BLM land or Forest service land without problems. However it was expensive and even though I bought it new I was always having to fix something. The Justy would have been better.

    I hiked with Billy Goat last year. He drives a little Toyota Tercel in which he removed the front seat so he has a place to stretch out and sleep. I think that is the best set up.

    I still have my pickup but since the bed liner blew away, it gets wet back there in the rain. I think about getting a new bed liner but still I don't like having to crawl in and out through the back door. I would much rather have my bed so I could just jump into the driver's seat and drive away if needed. Since I have and extended cab, I think if I removed the passenger's seat I could sleep comfortably in the cab. It gets 28 miles to a gallon.

    Backpackers know how little a person needs to live comfortably. Van and RV dwellers don't know or they would all be living in little gas efficient and cheaply maintained cars.

    I think living like that would be a very nice life. I thoroughly enjoyed my time living on BLM and Forest Service land. In Oregon, almost all the land is publicly owned. I would arrive on the job site drive down some dirt roads and easily find myself a stunning secluded place to call my own for the duration of the job.

    My co-workers would find an ugly RV park and pay to live right next to each other in their big RV's. They would all drive big gas guzzling pickups to pull their big RV. I would say, "Man, you guys don't know how to live."

  2. Yeah, I don't quite get the huge RV thing. My mom has one. Once I went to visit her out in Death Valley where they were parked with amazing views, but all in rows inches from one another in a dusty gravel lot with the sound and smell of generators going all night. Her RV was more spacious than my studio apartment that I paid $800 a month for. I was amazed.

    The nice thing about my truck is I already have it. It would offer storage space and shelter from bad weather. I guess I had been thinking about livable vehicles, but then it occurred to me I don't need to live inside if I have a pack and can hike. Only when the weather is bad.

    It's all dreams anyway. But if I get fired or something, it may become reality. I don't know how much more of this pointless "non-negotiable" American way of life I can tolerate.

  3. By the way, you are right about RV people not quite knowing how to live in more ways than one. I signed up for an email list on the subject and most of them are totally in the mindset of "I have this problem, what should I buy to fix it?" Backpacking has taught me so much about scavenging stuff to solve my problems. It's a gift.