Sadness and sorrow are emotions easily felt but difficult to express on paper. It takes a poet to do that, which I am not. I have had a significant amount of grief in the last few days regarding hitting the trail again. There were moments when I thought that I had found a solution: I found a far more comfortable pack, and I found someone who would be hiking (sort of) with me. I knew that before I returned to the trail, I needed to try hiking some trails close to home with a full pack. That I did yesterday, only to find that strength-wise, there was no problem. Instead, back pain, neck pain, and pain radiating down the arms from the brachial plexus was an issue. True, it was a pack that weighed in at about 30 lbs., something that I would need to be carrying through the Sierras. It would not be an issue if I were doing a 2-4 day hike, but to be doing a hike with multiple segments, some of which would be 5-7 days in duration, will probably no longer be feasible for me.
Dreams die hard. Perhaps next year I will find a solution. Perhaps not. It is in God’s hands. Betsy certainly is happy that I am not hiking. Don’t get me wrong; my favorite person is Betsy, and my favorite times are with her. The adventure side of me rages on. What would that trail look like? What would it be like going over Forester Pass or hitting the region of the high Sierra? My hike through the Southern California desert was filled with great joy, though I developed momentary problems that demanded rest. I had mastered the art of long-distance hiking, which is a skill in and of itself, very much unlike regular backpacking. I had devoted hours upon hours to training hikes and preparation. Perhaps my biggest mistake was not doing more training hikes with heavier packs; the pack I used weighed about 17-20 lb maximum.
To assuage my sorrow, Betsy and I went down to the Strip to see Rich Little. He was quite funny and nice to listen to someone with a conservative mindset. In 1.5 hours he had us all laughing and enjoying some political humor, while he reviewed his life story of coming into show business, and then imitating all of the really famous stars that he had gotten to know (and there were MANY!). We got to sit within 6 feet of him, and he even ended by shaking Betsy and my hands. Super-cool! Go see him if you are in Las Vegas, as he won’t be alive too many years more.
I appreciate the supportive comments that many of my friends have sent me. Sadly, a few people have tried to offer instructions to me as to what I’m doing wrong, though clearly having no clue as to what it involves to do a thru-hike. Adding insult to injury is something that only Fortunato would do, but unlike Amontillado, I will not vow revenge.
Why did things go wrong? I consider several issues were problematic here. First, perhaps more extensive training with a heavier pack should have been done. Secondly, our life had a tremendous disruption because of our recent move to Las Vegas, and that was always on my mind. Thirdly, I knew that Betsy was uncomfortable being alone in a new city, something that pricked my heart well. Fourthly, there was a huge psychological aspect to the hike which I did not account for. The fire to abuse myself and suffer great pain was diminished. I had no cause that I was hiking for. I felt like I was endlessly engaged in a self-flagellating procedure that offered me no redemption. The joy of having a friend or comrade with me was completely absent. All of these things added up to the extinguishing of a dream.
So, I am exploring options with Betsy. I need to pick up my resupply packages, and in traveling to Kennedy Meadows (South) will take Intrepid with Betsy and me to help them start their hike. I will pick up most of the resupply packages that I sent. I hope to get in some car camping, though that is not Betsy’s forte. I will be looking for short trips (1-2 nighters) that I could do, perhaps with the grandchildren? Maybe I need to start cycling more? I love cycle touring, and it is easy to break up a trip into small segments, thanks to the liberal bicycle policy of Amtrak. Who knows what the future holds. I’ll try not to waste the rest of the summer moping. I welcome friendly and informed advice.
P.s. “Anfang und Ende” means “Beginning and End” in German