Dear Trail Friends,
The completion of a dream is also the death of that particular dream. I wonder if this is not what Freud meant by "death drive," this drive to completion, wholeness, finishing things. (And engaging in things that are finish-able). Filling in that missing fifth point on the star my father drew.
"Life drive" on the other hand tolerates uncertainty, incompletion, ambiguity, is less focused on destination, open to emergence and the unknown, to love. And yet the two exist hand in hand. Really and truly they are complementary and mutually necessary.
The walk to the lodge this morning was short and easy. A bit more downhill than I imagined ( I had misread 1422 ft as 142!). A beautiful clear cool, but not cold, morning.
Photo 1 shows morning sun reflected in a small lake ( the bridge over that lake, from which I took the photo, was also my "last bridge crossing."
The photo I could not make for you was of the night sky last night. I got the idea of unzipping the whole front of my tent. The difference getting rid of the bug net made in being able to see the stars was huge. It was almost as good as cowboy camping, plus I had been able to sit and write my blog in the sheltering protective presence of the tent. Even the fragrance of pine trees seemed stronger when I opened up the big front "door" of my tent. Suddenly I was "in" the night air, under the tall pines encircling me, breathing their smell. It triggered a sensory flashback to the night out dog Misty died. When she wanted to sleep outside and I (thanks to the suggestion of my dear friend and mental health emergency teammate Steve) got a mat and sleeping bag and joined her. I spent the night with my arm around her, singing her lullabies (just as I had her first few nights with us, when she cried pitifully all night, missing her sister). In the morning I awoke to find that I was lying beside Misty's lifeless body. She, her spirit, had departed - dissolved into the night sky, the stars, the fragrance of fir. Last night I gazed into that dark deep seemingly endless sky sparkling with stars, and thought about how this is a universe full of possibilities and mysteries beyond our understanding or even imagining. When Misty died, the PCT dream was conceived (though I wouldn't recognize it for another year). Who knows what dream was beginning to be conceived in me last night?
The second most important photo I was not able to take this section - and perhaps the image that lingers most vividly in my mind - is of the little girl at Stehekin Valley Ranch when she and her mother and I were all in the women's washroom brushing our teeth. We were talking about dancing and she would illustrate dances (like Samba) - she was 5 - and then she told me "You can't curtsey without a skirt" and proceeded to show me how you need a skirt to curtsey by lifting the edges of an imaginary, invisible skirt. Then she and her mother curtsied together, side by side, each lifting her invisible skirt. Because a subject of reverie this hike is learning to lead with hope and faith - and I have come to visualize them as playful little girls - she seems the exact embodiment of my theme. And so to have her say that "you can't" and then proceed to do exactly what you "can't" do, by calling on the imaginary realm to make it possible - seems the perfect photo image for this section of my hike.
I arrived here, the Manning Park Lodge, just before 8:30am. Though the wifi was way too weak to upload blogs I was able to contact Chris and confirm she is coming. We are both aware, though, that we may not be able to catch the 9pm ferry, and I regret again that I couldn't get a message to her to try to get a trservation for, or stand by for, an earlier ferry.
The woman at the reception desk at Manning Lodge smiled and said it was a good thing I told her I was a PCT hiker. She gave me a coupon for a free shower, a free drink, and a key to the "bike" room to store my backpack. I have now showered and begun my laundry and am treating myself to a hot breakfast. It's a somewhat lonely victory - no other PCTers at the campground last night and as far as I can tell none here today. This is the downside of the joy of being a solo hiker.
At the lake where Mountain Sweep camped there were three woman hikers who have been hiking together for 12 years, since they hiked the Wonderland (around Rainier, that I hiked with brother- and sister-in-law Gerd and Sue in 2014 before hitching to the PCT and hiking south to Timberline lodge). They called themselves the Wonder Women and were full of jokes and laughter - about the time one fell backwards on her pack and couldn't get up, just waving her arms and legs like an upside down turtle. Or the time another pee-ed on her roll of toilet paper and so had to pack out the entire wet roll while borrowing toilet paper from the others. They also talked about pedicures and washing their hair and clothes, and part of me was so relieved I hike alone, and part of me was drawn to that community of laughter.
Chris and I realized that our chances of catching the 9pm ferry were not very good with her drive from the ferry (arriving 1:10pm, taking at least 20 min. to unload) taking over 3 hours plus unknown delays at the border. So we decided I should hitch to a little town named Hope west of Manning Park. The kind young woman at the desk at Manning Lodge suggested Tim Hortons (a Canadian version of Starbucks) as a place with wifi where we could meet. So here I am, at 2pm, in Hope, BC, looking forward to meeting Chris and having plenty of time to catch the late ferry.
I had to smile as I stood on route 3 holding a sign that said "Hope" and sticking out my thumb. Hitching toward Hope - what a perfect part of the Grand Finale of my PCT adventure. And sure enough, a car pulled over and gave me a ride. Three young Canadian hikers and lovers of mountains, Josh, Erin, and Kayley, who met as undergrads at Queens and are now getting grad training in law, architecture, and environmental and resource management. What a delight to ride with and visit with them, my young trail Angels giving me a lift on my way to Hope. Photo 2 is a selfie (by Josh) of me with my three trail angels.
So I'm off and running in my post-PCT afterlife. Wherever I am heading, I am going (I hope) toward Hope metaphorically as well as literally. And what a lesson - that if you are willing to stand at the side of a road you have never travelled down, and stick out your thumb, you may just find a ride to Hope.
Thanks for walking with me. May we meet again, on the next trail or in the world down here off the mountains. May your life be rich in big dreams, and may you have the luck and courage to live them, and bring them to completion. Thank you for helping me to do so with mine.
By the way, Chris and I managed to get to the ferry landing early and stand by successfully for the 7:20 ferry. We pulled into our Orcas driveway just before 9pm, when our ferry was scheduled to leave. Moral of this story: Hope is a great place to meet.
And just for the fun of it, let's end with the New York Times cartoon Chris clipped for me on the morning after our return to Orcas (photo 3).
That's all, folks! Hope you enjoyed the show.