When you begin to consider carrying all that you need on your back for a few months, the contents of your home begin to loom in the mind as well. The idea of ‘comfort’, ‘luxury’ or ‘morale’ items becomes a topic of thought. We really don’t think about these things day to day, just like we don’t think about availability of water or food, shelter or medicine. We as a whole (define ‘we’ as you wish) mostly have never experienced true want or need. Yet more than half of the world wonders about those things daily. That is what they do each day, locate and haul water; cultivate, forage or barter for food.
So this again is a new thing, at least for me. I have had periods of want, yes – relatively speaking. I have had times of wondering, true. But I was wondering and wanting from a dry place, with plenty to eat and only things like banks to worry about, over time. As my future mode of living takes on new mental shaping, I am thinking about these things a lot. It is still abstract though, not what I face every day. I am still doing it from shelter, with access to a quick faucet of water (however nasty tasting and smelling it is), a pantry and fridge of food items, and with electricity and of course, interwebs!
On my trail journal, I was chided for discussing ‘off grid living’ while writing on the internet 🙂 So I suppose I should modify that label and say “partially off grid’ to satisfy the purists out and among us, and to keep things realistic. I plan to have internet through my cell phone – both a luxury item and a necessity when one lives alone, travels alone, camps or hikes alone. It is a lifeline of sorts. It would be pure foolhardiness to try to do ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ style as a single female, in addition to being very isolated and socially inhibiting. I have never even been close to a minimalist. Never even sought after it. I have lived most of my life with an eye on comfort and enjoyment. And quite frankly, for a long time, most of my ‘stuff’ was my security blanket. I believe it still is now as well. So when I look to packing a backpack, or to the appointments of my future home, changing my perspective is still a continuing task I need to diligently work towards.
Much of what I wear now in an office environment simply won’t be needed I suspect. It depends on what kind of work I find. But I also want to retain some of those things in order to just go somewhere and look nice. I continue to winnow through my working wardrobe, and of course, appending it with a hiking wardrobe. Right now, if I held everything clothing for hiking, it would fit in an area almost the size of the purse I carry to work each day (excluding boots of course, ha!) The fabrics don’t wrinkle, they are super lightweight with exception of my rain gear, and they are created to be stuffed into crevices or plastic bags to be kept dry. I want to be able to get dry, at a tolerable temperature and be somewhat comfortable at day’s end. That’s because during the day you are everything BUT those things. My day hikes are tiny toe dip experiences in those realms, excluding the rocky and uphill terrain that I simply cannot really train for.
Last weekend’s hike was a good look at where I am today and where I think I need to be – in preparation, in packing, in physicality. Hiking is not like preparing for a 5K, or mountaineering, or some other short burst of physical endurance and speed. It is just walking – for a very, very long time. It is walking in rain, fog, cold, heat, bugs. Walking for many hours without pack weight is easy-peasy. Add pack weight, and the dynamics change. My hike was short, less than a full day and only ten miles – an average beginner day for any kind of trail. The terrain was flat, root-covered in places, in the sun some places, bugless, and hot. I am a heat wussy. Drop me in colder temps and I’m alive and loving life. Drop me in heat and I am a sweltering, sweaty, miserable wretch. I kind of straddled that line last weekend. Yesterday’s hike was far more pleasant in the temperature arena, but not so much in the wading arena. Too much water for me for a day hike, although my boots passed with flying colors in regards to waterproof testing and my feet continue blister free, yay!
The most interesting awareness dawning of all is just how much stuff I still own. Duplicates too, of most things. I prevaricate often, knowing that my financial status will be very different two years from now. Do I keep and store duplicates for future restock without cost? I’ll have to pay to store it all while I hike, so, could I replace it all for the same costs as storing? On some things, likely not in one fell swoop truthfully. I will narrow that down when it comes to the final size of storage needed, and cost. I may end up having a huge alley sale 🙂
Earlier today, I set up my new tent. It is lighter but more durable and designed for three season camping. I’ll get to test that in another primitive camp upcoming in February for many days. And see, still more consumer behavior. So much thought and planning, and buying, for a ‘simple’ lifestyle. I’ve tried not to fall into the ‘ultra-light'(read, exorbitantly priced) mindset. After two weekend minor hikes, the weight I’m carrying is obvious. It isn’t unbearable, but I also know I’m taking it off in a few hours, driving home and not looking at 10-12 hours a day of it, end upon end. February’s experience should help me with the winnowing.
As I began my hiking day yesterday, a herd of deer browsed beside the road to the trail. This trail is smack dab in the middle of housing developments, by fast driven roadways, and a lot of the deer get hit by cars despite the ‘deer crossing next five miles’ signs. I enjoy both observing deer, and eating them. Kind of like cows I guess, just smaller poop 🙂 Just a short hop off the trail were massive high tension power lines. I’d never been close to them that I recall, or been in a quiet enough environment to hear their static – a metallic and weird sound to me when juxtaposed with the hawk’s calls. It is reflective of humanity too, that clashing of environments.
Hiking sets my mind free, but I have nothing to record those free-wheeling thoughts on. Stopping to write would make my pace even slower than a snail’s! They come, reside, bounce around and I try to grab some of them to record later – then get distracted by a tiny yellow flower or dual pair of blue ones, the soft spongy green of some kind of moss, and they are gone. It is just my mind, my eyes, my body; all working together in joy. Yes, it is joy. Surely not effortless, but, it is very enjoyable. Here are a few photos from the last couple of hikes. Enjoy.
And so now, after an exciting Seahawks comeback, I’m resting with a cup of Earl Grey and planning my next weekender.
Have a marvelous week all!