Pg 12 Try this: make use of one of these trigger lines for freewriting (the first thing I want in the morning…)
The first thing I want in the morning…is a good stretch and a secret tree to pee behind.
It doesn’t matter how exhausted I was from the day before, I still couldn’t sleep. I never can the first night on the trail. On the first night, there is always this increasing fear that a black bear has been waiting for a bunch of young idiots like us to set up camp right in this spot. Now he’s ready to emerge from the bush and tear us to shreds. Thus, the first night is scattered with panicked whispering of Oh God, what was that noise?!
Not to mention I slept on rocks. Too cool to strap on a sleeping pad, it would just be more weight! Now I’m sleeping on rocks for the next five nights. What a young idiot, indeed. I wiggle out of the mummy bag. Did they say it was made from feathers or nylon? Like I care what the cool-kid name brand gear is, I just want warmth. I pull on the same pair of pants from yesterday, the kind with pockets and zippers, the kind that I might actually LOSE what I’m storing because I can’t remember where I left it. The cuff of each leg is still caked with mud, as if foreshadowing another rainy day filled with slipping down the switch-backs.
Doesn’t matter. I pull them on while performing the awkward getting-dressed-dance while crouched in a 3-feet-high tent. As if releasing myself from the womb, or a cocoon, or an egg or whatever metaphor you want, I grab the tent door zipper and my hand follows the curve down, revealing the morning. My eyes squint as they are not prepared. Jeez, did we sleep in? It’s too bright already. As they adjust to the light, I find my boots and lace them up. Its as if I’m strapping on armor and a cloud at the same time.
Man, I need to find a tree. Fast.
Once the darkness descends, it does not matter how much your bladder is telling you its about to explode. You are stuck in this tent until daylight, unless you want get lost, be eaten, or be murdered. That’s just camping 101. Now the search for the perfect tree may begin. It needs to be far enough away so they can’t see me, but close enough to camp that they could hear me if I screamed.
I get distracted. Blue all above. Greens and yellows and reds and browns everywhere else.
The glory of mountains can only be fully appreciated in personal experience.
There they are. Towering. Old. Colorful. Real. Unmovable. Majestic. Looking out towards the horizon is like looking out at kings seated next to each other, one after the other, each beautiful and challenging. They really are glorious. They don’t move or change, but I could literally sit for hours and just watch them like a normal person would watch a Mad Man marathon. Just stare at them, taking them in. Perfectly content.
North, south, east, or west. No matter what direction I turn to, everything proclaims: I AM NOT MADE BY MAN. No cinderblocks or metal or rising pollution. I can’t hear traffic or angry shouting or annoying ringtones. Not even a single telephone pole in sight. When the only scenery is mountains, and I mean mountains as far as the eye can see, a feeling creeps up that is amazing, yet slightly terrifying: I am free from responsibility, their watching eyes. No one can see me. No one can touch me.
Fresh air. Open mind. Free spirit.
I open my eyes, and the beauty of the image fades, the powerful feeling disappears. I’m back at this cluttered desk, hunched over the same white laptop I’ve been staring at for hours. My floor heater warms my tiny bedroom, but my feet always manage to stay cold. Out the window, the lonely branch, empty of leaves, brushes against my window, reminding me that it is still too cold for such Appalachian adventures.