Regurgitation (Pages From the Pile #1)

*Over the past year, and especially these past few months working quite remotely in Maine, a small heap of writing has accumulated. Some of it relates to my hikes, some does not. I have not been using this blog much lately and will start sharing selections here  as I type selections up. 


REGURGITATION 

We are driving home from the airport and not a thing seems the same. The city, the girl, the way the highway ramps sweep around in the night, it’s all changed. All is vaguely tilted as if compensating for some new ache that has appeared in my absence. Something is off with her and I overanalyze the pounding of my heartbeat in my head as I clutch the steering wheel and weave through orange and yellow lights. It is the middle of the night and in the passengers seat she is slipping through the consciousness that lines the perimeters of sleep, the realm where things often appear simple, where the sameness of two things like speeding down the highway at night and cooking a slice of bacon are clear, defined and easily understood. Upon waking the comprehension is always lost. Outside of the window a snow-scape is flying past; mountains, trees and houses hidden in white. She feels the engine humming deeply beneath her. Looking over at me she sees a blackness driving, my body a distant memory of hers and my eyes a ray of unfamiliar light. This is the car that took us out west for the first time, the car that cooked us potatoes and cracked open the sky, the junky old Saturn with white duck tape racing stripes and a massive black sack on the roof full of tattered clothes. She puts her cheek against the window and watches it all soar by through the slits of her tired eyes. The car turns and swerves winding through a forest. She is beginning to feel sick. The car bumps and jerks every which way as I accelerate down mountain roads. She puts her hands on her belly as if she is going to vomit; she is dizzy, the rotation of the world has slowed. I look over. She is gazing at me sideways and begins gagging and heaving. Her belly is undulating as if it were packed with eels. The car fills with a viscous terror. Something large is coming up her esophagus, and I am afraid of what it might be. She is in agony and like a queer birth the first one comes, fleshy and squirming and naked. It crawls out of her mouth and into the back seat. Another, and another. The car has become a nightmarish carnival, a hallway of warped mirrors between our desperate minds. Gazing into the rearview mirror I admire the creatures. They are her, each born from different parts of her. The car emerges from the forest and into the vastness of Texas. The sun is coming up, bitter with the coldness of the night and sets the sky ablaze. From the back seat they look at it all with crazed and fierce eyes, shimmering with bile, free at last to exist in the realms of this world as true individuals. They smile and throw themselves against the cold glass in awe. They are her parallel kin, the fruit and seed of her secrets and suppressed urges. These creatures are a part of her. They define her. They are what no one knows. They are her obsessions, her insecurities, soft spots, and hatreds. They are the things she wants to scream in the street; the things she wants to go out and do late at night but doesn’t, the antipodes of who she secretly is, birthed into physical form. What would be left of her without them? Kneeling backwards in the seat she opens her eyes wide, watching. She cannot part with them, these glorious molds of her potential personalities, potential lives. They are portals to parallel universes. It is setting in. The reality of being cut off from them, living without them and always simply being the person that her friends and family are so accustomed to. The whites of her eyes are consumed by a feverish hue of blood and she leaps into the back seat. She begins to wrestle the creatures, the selves. They fight back and plea in dumb alien tongues like savages kept in basements, so unknowing of the world, erupting with curiosity to the point of insanity. She swallows them one by one. Their berserk cries becoming muffled as they slip away back into her belly; driven mad with their brief taste of freedom. What a hell it must be to live inside someone’s body, only getting to maneuver it and make decisions, actions, for brief moments months and years apart, a mess of selves always futilely reaching to take the wheel, wondering if their time will ever come. She curls up in the back seat and clenches her jaw, shivering, the dirt highway becomes paved, the desert grows tall and thick with buildings and houses, the red and yellow lights return to drown the stars. I squeeze her thigh with a little shake, signaling that it is time that we step out of the car and make our way inside.

Posted in thru-hiking | Leave a comment

Bringing The Trail Back Home

“A man cannot live on bread alone”

Since my infatuation with long distance hiking first began, weight has not only been shaved off of my gear system, its been simultaneously shaved off my home life. Without thinking about it or realizing what was happening I was slowly ridding myself of my belongings as well as my financial setbacks. I’m not recommending my lifestyle to everyone. I doubt many people would enjoy such a minimalist home life or even find it feasible, especially in an urban setting like Boston, but I’d like to describe the ways in which my home life has taken on minimalist tendencies and what that life is like.

For every hike I do, and every remote job I take, I have to pack up my belongings and store them somewhere and then move them again afterwards. This process has encouraged me to own less simply because I’d rather not move so much around. Part of this progression has definitely been detaching myself sentimentally from my belongings. I used to hold on to every scrap of paper, piece of furniture, tool, book, whatever as long as possible. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being sentimental about possessions but in my particular case I feel better off without such attachments to these inanimate things.

I currently live in an 8×10′ bedroom in a 3.5 bedroom apartment in Boston Massachusetts. Guess who has the .5′ bedroom. I have one box of books, another of my own work (tapes, records, books), a backpack full of hiking equipment, a guitar, and a suitcase of clothing. Next time I need to move or store my belongings, these are the things I’m concerned with. My mattress, box spring, desk, shelves, and stereo were all built or acquired and are of little importance. They are easily replaceable.

My rent is more than affordable and expenses are few. I eat cheaply and have few bills. I realize that I am extremely lucky to be in the position that I am; I am twenty seven, unmarried with no children, I have no car, I qualify for free healthcare, I have no addictions, severe health issues or expensive habits. My only real debts are some minimal loans I’ve been neglecting from the two years I mistakenly spent at a state college. Worrying about my retirement or other financial securities is of little concern to me and is contrary to my mindset. It is true that I could easily break my back, rack up medical bills, or who knows what, but to worry about these things and waste the majority of my life working endlessly in an effort to pad my future for such hypothetical events would be tragic.

It’s a funny thing to live in this way. This mentality I have certainly stems from having hiked so much, having lived out of a tent for so long, having eaten lukewarm rehydrated meals for months on end and most of all by having overcome numerous obstacles and intimidating goals by relying on myself alone. Things like nice cars, expensive meals, Manhattans galore, and stylish clothing are all things I would surely know how to enjoy, yet I find myself easily shrugging all these luxuries off as excessive. I have no delusions about bringing the fruits of my life to the grave.

Lucky for me, being a bummer of a guy who thinks about death and the futilities of life all the time has somehow helped me out. It has let me make the sacrifices I need to in order to get out there and do things I find fulfilling. I guess “No point working this dumb job much longer, I’ll be dirt soon enough, gotta get lost while I still can” is more or less the inner dialogue that gets me places. People always seem to let their fear of death rule their lives and that’s not going to change. In our present day first-world lives we only acknowledge death in the sense that we avoid it at all costs. We live in fear of anything that could hinder upon our life spans. Whether it takes the form of germs or terrorism we avoid it like the plague. But what happens if we don’t so blindly fear and avoid death? Death is definite. Death isn’t a bully that you can avoid. It only seems logical that one would do their best not to let fear of such unknowns determine all their fateful decisions. Many of the happiest and most magical moments of my life have come with great risk and much suffering. How could something feel fulfilling without risking anything to behold it?  What am I talking about? Death? My lack of possessions has little to do with death. [END DETOUR]

This style of living has enabled me to be more autonomous. It lets me go off on adventures, save money more easily, tour with my band, and do whatever else it is I might feel so inclined to do. It really just has to do with cutting down on expenses and freeing up your time from wage slavery or earning in general. Not everyone is fulfilled by the same things I am. More free time can let someone pursue less selfish endeavors (saving those for when my legs don hike so good) like relief work or helping those who go without in your neighborhood, or perhaps just let you feel so relaxed you might even read a book. I still get down on myself and my life just like everyone else does, but having maintained a certain level of autonomy has prevented those feelings from becoming an overwhelming force. I don’t find myself envious of my many friends who are receiving their masters degrees, having children while in their twenties, starting businesses, and so on. Those things require a great deal of sacrifice for benefits I personally am simply uninterested in. There’s a lot to be said for having goals that take a lifetime of hard work to achieve, but like, what if you’re goals were totally unfulfilling man? What if being a brain surgeon totally sucks ass? If you really want a Lamborghini and to pursue the “American Dream” more power to ya. I don’t even care that you’re an idiot, but a life that requires forty plus hours a week without pause in order to afford it I cant help but see as attempting to live on bread alone.

FullSizeRender-1

* “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.(Mathew 4:4)  an interesting statement from the New Testament. My atheist buttocks would prefer something slightly different yet of similar resonance like: A man does not live on bread alone, but by a life that pursues and embraces its freedoms. Something like that. IDK, lmao, rofl, g2g, nsfsjw, gfys, lol

Posted in thru-hiking | Leave a comment

AZT Town Guide Updated

With help of my friend No Day (AZT 2015) I have made some updates and modifications to my “AZT Town Guide & Tips” The Maps have also been updated…finally.

Click to view/download AZT Town Guide

Prieview page:

AZT sample

Posted in thru-hiking | 1 Comment

Thoughts and Fragments 12/26

IMG_1045There is the forest road, the dirt path, the slope, the sand, the cliff, and there is always movement. Somebody is chasing time across the plateau, chasing a sun setting on a flat backdrop of yellow hills. A place where hope is in mud or the spec of green in a dusty expansive whatever. The root of suffering always binds around a stagnancy of sorts, and at least somebody is out there enduring sleepless thoughts of stars and their existing. Keep moving further away from voices and words, from the judgments. To have eyes that have seen, and fingers that have traced the face of the devil as he snatches children up like sitting ducks. To have an ass that has sat dumb on teary beds while hands clutch empty bags and straws. The mirror shattered once again in fury. All fire is peaceful, all fire is rage, a warm quiet sleep is all that is in her mind tonight. In the morning the electricity is turned off until such and such a debt is paid in full. Who is it that loses their lives in the disappearing night? Someone gets out of the bed and instantly dreams go bad. The room is cold. Is it like that? Is it like coming home to find that the family next door has moved away? Is it true that sleeping in stagnant rooms is just like drinking from stagnant pools? Its okay, someone on a bicycle is coasting down the street with an illegal smile.

Somewhere on the tracks outside of Castella there is an old bum camp deserted but for a dog. With everyone gone, and only a skittish ragged pup prevailing the freight trains shake the tattered world time and time again. Colorful fragments of man; blue and green and red plastic food wrappers, tarps, bottles, cans, a cardboard panhandling sign nailed to a tree that reads:

“MOTHERFUCKERS

PLEASE FEED ME!

(sober)”

Further down, the tracks cross a road. “God give me more life!” scratched into an electrical box. Devil what is the passing of time through contemplative walking? Wouldn’t it be nice to learn from things? A man says something beneath a bridge by the water. Something like “I got drunk and woke up old, a few months ago” Words that are received with a smile, a laugh, a cheers, but who took anything away more than a slight internal pang? Everyone ignores their own shadows. He said he was born with a napkin full of crumbs, and that there’s only so much you can do with such provisions. He sat there feeding the geese. “Do you feel me? Know what I mean jellybean?” he said. The geese want more bread and loiter for a while. Memories grow dumb and delusional, speckled with an admirable fog that may or may not have risen over the morning dews “What has been walked and what has been seen? Where are the ladies silent and green?” He tosses a stone and the birds quack and scatter.

It boils down to childish memories full of color and intense yet increasingly vague emotions. Eventually one might think to themselves “perhaps I have danced my whole life with somebody while blindfolded” as they lay awake in in their bed smiling.

It did happen once, after eating some fruit salad; a blind man was escorted from the supermarket for biting into many different types of fruit and then putting them back on the displays. “I knew their taste but not their shape! I am sorry!” he yelled.

In the beginning it was very simple. It was like ice among frozen peaks. Pure like a child’s heart. It was like reaching out, like fingers aching to draw in something special. But like snow these fingers slowly melted, gaining momentum and muck as they tumbled down the mountainsides; always following the path of least resistance. Eventually they found themselves backed up by dams. Polluted and still they wait for the day that they finally make it to the confluence.20140720-102008-37208938.jpg

Posted in thru-hiking | 3 Comments

The Idea (CDT excerpts)

cropped-pct1.jpg

“The idea is to feel like a spec, to feel insignificant, small, and powerless amidst an unforgiving expanse. The idea is to be intimidated, overwhelmed and challenged. The idea is to recede from the species for while. The idea is to step far outside of my comfort zones. The idea is to embrace the brutality that comes with being free. The idea is to think for myself, and suffer the consequences of my decision-making. The idea is to acknowledge the ridiculousness of our culture, yet regain an appreciation for “home” and human contact. The idea is to be a living “fuck you!” to the idiotic trends of my generation. The idea is to shame the part of me that says, “you’re never going to make it, give up” The idea is to know the difference between loneliness and solitude. The idea is to see what’s left. The idea is to go home and know I’ve been free.”

-CDT journal 8/2/2014

Justifying long distance solo hikes is sometimes difficult. Hikes of this sort are not simply scenic walks in the park, they are often incredibly trying feats to take on alone, yet my desire to embark upon them has only grown over the years. Why I insist on doing so is an ongoing personal debate that I often struggle with. As most of my readers know, I have a tendency to hike alone because I have a fast pace and specific routine that I hesitate to compromise for the sake of company. I do often hike with other hikers who have similar hiking styles when the opportunity presents itself, but that is not often, and the hikes I have planned for this year are very remote and untraveled. I will most likely be tackling the Grand Enchantment Trail this spring (if not, in the Fall) This is a 770-mile high desert route from Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM and has been thru-hiked by less than 40 people. I may not see another hiker on this trail. My other hike this year is a hike from Iceland’s northernmost point to the south shore , which is not a trail at all. I will be making my own cross-country route over the island (~400miles). Because having a social hiking experience will most likely not be possible on these trips it is important to me that I at least try to understand both why I am compelled to go through with hikes of this sort as well as figure out what I can get/have gotten out of them.

By now I have hiked over 3,000 miles alone, often without any other hikers anywhere in my vicinity. This past summer on the CDT there were a handful of times, the extreme lows, where I would collapse in the snow and say to myself “what’s the fucking point?” and I would lie there and not really have much of an answer. “seeing the country” or simply “for adventure” don’t exactly hold up as arguments to justify some of the mental and physical anguish a thru-hiker tends to experience. Those moments overall were few and far between and I spent much of my walking time contemplating better answers to the “why’s” of thru-hiking…especially those concerning thru-hiking alone. Lately I’ve been turning to old journals to remind myself of some of the actual thoughts and feelings I had because after completing a hike it immediately begins to get romanticized by the memory, hardships dulled, high’s emphasized and so on. Its always interesting looking at what I wrote while out there.Here are a few excerpts that show a spectrum of thoughts and experiences from the CDT:

“I survived today. And now that I have lain down to sleep I will go right ahead and feel invincible” -6/5/14

“haven’t seen a soul for days. I talk mostly to the sky, attempting to influence the weather. Most days I’ve found myself running along the divide trying to beat thunderstorms to the next gap in the ridge. I am incredibly lonely. So much snow, continuous snow. I have anxiety dreams about the snow. I should have bought a pint in town. Canada is impossibly far away. Why am I doing this?” -6/9/14

“I don’t like to think that I’m out here to find myself. I like to think that by now I know myself pretty well. Some days though, days like today, it is as if the incredible sparseness, remoteness and especially the quiet of walking across this desert lets me navigate deeper into myself than is possible elsewhere. It’s like exploring a cave; At home I can only go as deep as I can hold my breath, but here I have days on end to search out new caverns and passageways…all of which are cold and empty of course!”

-7/9/14

“I’ve never felt a sense of desperation equaling that which I sometimes feel out here. Desperation brings out the worst in a person, and its nice to deal with and recognize the mental and emotional demons that surface in such moments while in such a private isolation. I cannot ignore things, or act out in childish ways. Instead I am forced to come to terms with them or overcome them, anything else would send me home defeated”-6/21/14

“in this environment if I spend as little as one day hiking with someone, I know that they are probably going to be someone I stay in touch with for years to come and go out of my way to help and see” -6/27/14

“I hiked out of Rawlins, Wyoming around noon yesterday and didn’t stop until 10:30 at night. Only an hour into the hike I got tangled in some barbed wire hidden in some brush and got nasty cuts on my right calf, wrist and palm. I was covered in blood and freaked out some construction workers when I asked them for some water to clean up with. After about ten miles I got away from all signs of civilization. The colors were changing and lone deer kept appearing on rises silhouetted against the sky. I began to feel a growing ecstasy as I turned off of mineral-X road and into a vast barren desert with subtle rock formations articulating the tops of each low hill. There were packs of wild horses. The fiery and golden evening eventually gave way to a fat gibbous moon and a cast of stars it permitted to shine. I was feeling one of the rarer highs, like my body was trying to explode into light. I felt entirely content. I covered 30 miles before crawling into by bag.”  -6/?/14

I have always found inspiration for my hikes in various forms; other travelers, books, films, history. One of the most influential characters has been Sir Richard Burton, one of history’s most interesting men. I read an incredible biography about him called “The Devil Drives” a few years ago. He is truly an adventurer to be admired. His fierce need for exploration and adventure is something I can relate to deeply, and being a master linguist he does a good job articulating himself about such things:

“Of the gladest moments in human life, methinks is the departure upon a distant journey to unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the Slavery of Home, man feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood….afresh dawns the morn of life…” -SrRB

“Conquer thyself, till thou has done this, thou art but a slave; for it is almost as well to be subjected to another’s appetite as to thine own.” -SrRB

“How melancholy a thing is success. Whilst failure inspirits a man” -SrRB

A lot goes on in the mind while walking. There’s nothing to do but think. I came upon this today and thought it did a good job summarizing the most common aspect of thru-hiking to overwhelm a thru-hiker and take them off of the trail:

“One of the big difficulties of any long hike is coming to terms with spending long hours living in your own brain. In spite of the all the terrific scenic views, walking separates us from the usual distractions of everyday life. It is inevitable that over the course of time, we’ll replay our life’s traumatic events. Attempting, as it were, to derive some meaning from the events that makeup our lives”  –Ron Moak of six moon designs

By now I’ve become pretty confident in my ability to complete what I set out to do, but the struggles do more or less stay the same regardless of experience. Because of that it still takes a lot of mental preparation to get myself ready to begin a hike. I still tend to second guess myself until the day I step foot on the trail. I hope you found this haphazard scatterbrained post interesting. I’ve begun buying maps and gear, and planning this years hikes is underway. Signing out -RAINERP1000567

Posted in thru-hiking | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

CDT in 3 minutes

Some random clips taken while walking the CDT…with musak!

 

 

 

Posted in thru-hiking | Leave a comment

The Hikes to Come….

For the past five years I’ve spent every summer in the middle of nowhere, hiking or working. I do really miss the city summers and plan on dedicating most of next summer working on art/music, and perhaps living a semi-civilized urban lifestyle (yeah right!) This does not mean I wont be long-distance hiking. There are two hikes I’d really like to do in 2015, an Iceland traverse and the Grand Enchantment Trail.

Iceland Traverse: A ~400 mile traverse of Iceland from its northern most point to southernmost point. This hike will be entirely cross country except I plan to include the 50km Laugavegur Trail in my route. I hiked this trail and traveled around most of Iceland in 2012. The landscapes were so otherworldly I just can’t begin planning any other international hike without doing this one first. I plan on hiking this trail in July of 2015. Of my two planned hikes this is priority. Here are a few photos from my 2012 trip.

557313_10151338083638761_220376812_n 430363_10151338085193761_1558925139_n 190149_10151338084088761_790951735_n

Grand Enchantment Trail: This trail is a mountainous high desert trail from Albuquerque, NM to Phoenix, AZ stretching about 700 miles. It is a rugged route consisting of trails, x-country hiking and dirt roads. Very few people have hiked this route, which is one of the major reasons it appeals to me. That and because it is a high desert trail. Desert hiking seems to be what I love most; vast expanses, open terrain, dry heat, and the ongoing quest for water. I would hike the GET in the spring or fall depending on finances and convenience. I’ve crossed the GET three times before: I hiked ~70 miles of it on the Arizona Trail…an extremely scenic and extremely dry portion of the AZT; I worked in Aravaipa Canyon, AZ (digging about fifty three foot deep holes with rockbars in a dense as f*@k river bed (work i miss) this was one of the most surreal places I’ve been in the southwest; and I also crossed the GET while on the CDT somewhere in the Gila Natonal Forest, but I have no clue where. P1000494But until I hit the trail again I will wade through an uncertain tide of work and travel. Currently I’m washing dishes (my truest calling) in Boston, for ~3 weeks in October I will be touring with my band. Immediately after tour I will be working near Sacramento, CA for 1-2 months making good money with some friends…then I’ll pretty much be scraping by in the city until I can HHHHIIIIIKKKKKEEEEE!

maybe i should talk about my post CDT depression

maybe not.

The truth is out there.

-NRV

Posted in thru-hiking | 1 Comment