William Tugman State Park to Jessie Honeyman State Park (actual date Monday 6/2/14)
In the morning I sing the praises of bug repellent. Giant mosquitoes hover and hum as if debating the safety of a clumsy landing. I’ve never seen a swarm of bees yet I imagine this is what it’s like to encounter one, albeit one in slow-motion. The thick cloud hums like a distant engine and I can almost feel a collective confusion. None land on me. None. I’ve heard that only the female mosquito stabs her stinger into human flesh. I really don’t care, as long as I avoid their itch.
I feel off today. I keep tripping over things. Dropping stuff. I pack things that still need to use. I’m stuck in a place between sleeping and waking and have trouble snapping out of it. Things get done but with more attempts than usual. When I think I am ready to go I can’t find my Bert’s Bees lip stuff. Back home I have a tiny tin of the stuff in every pocket of my life. Here, I have only one. No backup to speak of. And this morning it’s MIA. An irrational panic knocks me into a spastic fit. I rummage through my pants, ripping open zippers and velcro hides. I search the top pouch of my pack. Then the outer pockets. I never put my lip stuff in these places, but desperation rules. I look where the tent had been. A dry, flattened rectangle of earth. No sign. But then, as if my subconscious had been quarterbacking a thoughtful rewind, I suddenly know where it is. In the tent. Ah yes, of course. So I unpack it, unroll it and shake it open. Nothing comes out. But maybe I am onto something. Maybe I had, in fact, left it in the tent, but maybe it got into something else? Like a clothing bag? It’s not until after I dump out two stuff sacks that I finally hold the southern end of my sleeping bag in the air and out drops the tiny, magical tin of lip stuff. It lands on a leaf in a sliver of sun and I snatch it up so it can’t hide again. I unscrew the cap and glide my shaking index finger in small circles so it may pick up a thin layer of minty-fresh wax from the walls of the concave valley. I transfer the oil to my lips and relax, finally. My name is Tom Griffen, and I am a lip-stuff-aholic.
But everything happens for a reason. And the ensuing repack of my gear seemed to lighten the weight of the load. As I snap on the waist belt I realized my chafed hip felt OK. For now anyhow. I hang some art and take off.
On today’s long stretches on the 101 I meet two bikers who stopped to talk. They had been cycling since Anchorage and were heading to Arcata, California. Human contact, especially with like-minded folks, is rare and savored. I meet another guy as I stop for a break at around mile 18. He assumes I am a hitchhiker and offers me a ride. My response surprises him but he doesn’t miss a beat. He goes on to tell me I should stay here and there and I can’t miss this or that. I find his passion compelling initially, but after ten-ish minutes of his rant I am totally over it. And over him. When he asks where I am headed for the night I tell him Honeyman State Park. He says, “You’ll never make it.” Well thank you sir. Challenge accepted. Ten miles and three hours later I am chillin’ in my yurt at Honeyman. I laugh about my weird day and my neurotic intensity. I notice the similarity of the yurt to my mood. The yurt is a camping/not camping sort of place. And today I was half-in/out of my body. I knocked out a fair bit today, 28 miles or so, and I feel pretty good. But there’s no doubt I was on-edge. I think I know why, too. I had done some trail math was worried about finishing. It’s so hard to shake this compulsion to focus on the end rather than on the now. Being in the moment is tough. And today it was especially so.
I fell asleep under the yurt’s dirty skylight while listening to birds and children chirp outside. I woke suddenly as if someone had tapped me on the shoulder. I sat up and immediately wrote this down in my journal:
“I call into question the truths I think I know about me. Why do I say the things I say, do the things I do? It’s time to leave behind the myths that began as walls built to hide the true nature I’ve been afraid to expose — My honest, undivided self.”
I put on some lip stuff and fell back to sleep.
Morning art drop
This is one of those “why did I pose with that” shots
Less than 200 miles to go (the mile markers count down, not up)