January 28, 2014

Hiking, Like Time, Is A Matter Of Perspective

Every November, my husband and I travel to Ashland, Oregon to photograph Lithia Park color and the wood ducks.  We walk the park, the streets, visit our old friend Northwest Nature Shop on Oak.

Last November we pulled up into the park just after dawn and discovered several, no more than several; we discovered many film production trucks and crews packing up. One truck was loading racks and racks of clothing (costumes?)

Someone asked us if we were part of the crew after we set up our cameras and tripods.  We just missed Reese Witherspoon and the director, Jean-Marc Vallee.  Cheryl Stayed's solo journey up the Pacific Crest Trail was being filmed. Ashland is one of the many towns along the trail that hikers mail packages to themselves with cash and supplies. They usually take the opportunity to shower, sleep in a bed and eat something other than trail mix while they're in town.

Inspired, I read Wild,  Cheryl Strayed's book.  The tome tickles my imagination about backpacking in the wilderness. How awesome it would be to head into nature and become a part of it.  I reminded my wayward imagination that we (imagination and I) don't even walk the whole river trail and that is a paved trail. Can you imagine me shlupping 50 pounds of survival gear and food on my back?

As soon as I finished Wild, I downloaded Walk In The Wild, the book written by Bill Bryson about his adventures on the Appalachian Trail.
Pacific Crest Trail

 It is amazing to read the two versions of the two longest treks in the U.S. In some ways they are related. Two people with an idea, ill prepared, out of shape, over estimating the hardships of trail life.

Strayed is in a lost place in her life, searching for something to fill the emptyspace in her heart. Bryson is just looking for an adventure. Neither one of them trained for the hike, neither had ever backpacked prior to hitting the trail.

Both were cautious about the thought of bears and mountain lions. Strayed bought the "loudest whistle in the world" to scare off the denizens of the forest, Bryson scoffed at the idea of a whistle so purchased a small knife, cue the ferocious denizen guffaws.

On the trail, Cheryl used the whistle and the bear lumbered off. In the middle of a dark night, Bryson pulled his knife out. I am sure the bear could have used the little blade to pick his teeth after his yummy feast of dirty, sweaty human.

As I read the second book, I couldn't help but compare the two perspectives. Strayed talks about blisters, raw skin, deep relationships being built along the way. Bryson is funny, speaks of meeting others but I never get the feeling of true connection with anyone.
Appalachian Trail

Were these journals from the perspective a women's need for connection, of belonging and a man's need for autonomy and how he is perceived from the outside? Or, were they simply just the style of two people, different in many ways, linked by the same need to walk?

Both accounts inspire the reader to walk along side the author, to take a closer look at our precious  wilderness areas and to walk. So, I shall end this woolgathering, put my shoes on and check with Rex to see if he would like to accompany me (who am I kidding, he's already at the door).

See you on the River Trail. Now, where is my whistle?

1 comment:

  1. I think you should take an itty-bitty knife.


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