slow glowing » glowing, slowly

how I spent my summer vacation

I quit my ride over a week ago now, and have been back in Portland for almost a week. Backup (should I go back to calling him J. now?) and I spent several days at Smith Rock doing a little bit of climbing and a lot of hanging out. Our second day there, I worked for a couple hours moving rocks for a nearby homeowner, feeling like an awesome dirtbag climber, at least until I smashed my pinky between a couple big rocks (it’s still bruised). On our last day there, I hangdogged my way to within a couple moves of the top of a 5.10a, and then I bonked mightily on a 5.7 and had to get Backup to lower me so I could sit on the ground and cry for a bit while I stuffed food in my face. I made up for it by scrambling up to the top of Asterisk Pass (class 4) for the beginning of the sunset, and then we drove into Bend and drank some beers. Two nights in Bend (with lots of eating in between), and then we drove home to Portland.


I’m staying with my parents for now, in their guest room with my kitties (who are as wonderful as ever). My subletter is staying in my apartment for the immediate future, and when/if she finds another space, I’ll have to decide then what kind of living situation I really ought to have. I’m applying to jobs and also to school — not sure I’ll be able to register for classes this late, but if I can, the term starts on the 28th — and am I ready to do that, to be a student again? I have a bunch of prerequisites to get done for the path that’s floated to the top over my last few months of mental exploration. We’ll see.

The room is full of outdoor gear. I’m ready for any kind of wilderness adventure, but I don’t have much in the way of city-appropriate seasonal clothing. The evidence of my aborted journey is everywhere, in boxes of resupply food and piles of maps. Listen, I don’t feel great about it. I miss the trail. I don’t feel entirely ready to be home, but here I am.

A few weeks ago I wrote up some mini-reviews of the gear I carried through Washington; you can read those here. When we first got off trail in Trout Lake, I wrote up some tongue-in-cheek trail stats, as follows:

blisters: still zero (Altra and Injinji! love)
nights under a roof: eight
nights in a tent: 26
nights under the stars: zero (shameful)
showers taken: ten (four of which were in Stehekin. After that, I settled into being dirty)
gear failures / wear: holes in socks and shoes, leaky Evernew water carrier (but I used it as my dirty water bladder with my Sawyer Mini and squeezed it a lot, so)
favorite snack, hands down: peanut M&Ms. They melt in your mouth, not in your stuff-sack-full-of-snacks-for-the-day! “Sharing size” please, but I’m not sharing.
surprise hit snack: cheese sandwich crackers
energy bar I’m somehow still not sick of: sierra trail mix Clif bar
energy bar I never want to see again: peanut butter & chocolate chip ProBar “meal” bars
best vegan jerky (I bought a sampler pack): Louisville Vegan Jerky Company

I learned a ton about being in the wilderness. Logistics: what to carry. What to eat. My weekend trips are gonna be awesome. But also less easily-explicable things about forward motion and pikas and darkness and pain and beauty and berries and patience. I want to get deep into the wilderness and learn more, which with limited time to do so will mean going fast and far. Another reason to do the thing I’ve been wanting to do since my first trail race in 2013 and start training for ultramarathons? Maybe. My mom signed herself and me up for a 10k trail race in November, so that’s a start. I am still healing my tendons from what I put them through on the trail and then on my bike. But trails trails trails. Hiking wilderness trails spoiled me entirely for my bike trip, which is probably part of why it was ultimately so (regretfully?) easy for me to quit: who wants to travel along highway shoulders after hiking through alpine wonderland? I thought a lot while hiking, dreamily, about the ease and convenience of biking, but once I started biking I just missed the trail.

I feel like I have some good momentum, but I can also feel myself falling into familiar bad habits. Procrastination, anyone? A few weeks ago, I wrote this in my Little Red Book of a Better Life:

create more
make more
write more
learn more
share more
cook more
get outside more
celebrate more

So I should probably get on that.

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