End times

Bleak.

That’s the only word I came up with today. Write something on your blog, Mary, I told myself. Maybe it will be therapeutic.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve become increasingly dependent on the Internet to soothe my restless mind. I lose myself in a labyrinth of interesting articles, the antics of friends from around the world, silly videos, TV series on Netflix. I quell my boredom and at the same time avoid doing anything of note, including blogging. Oh yes, I do emerge for yoga and some running, I do read actual books to the tune of one or two a week. But still. The rest of the time? Drugged.

Until lately. It’s no fun any more. Everything is so awful. Everyone is yelling. And since last Friday, every day just seems to bring us one step closer to the apocalypse. Is it even legal to gag the EPA? Or is the “liberal media” telling me a whopper? Who’s lying, who’s exaggerating? What the fuck is really happening? Can this be real?

I marched on Saturday, with loads of lovely people, everyone was so polite, so optimistic, so motivated. All over the world, we marched. We agreed — we must hold one another up. We must care for our planet.

But what is unfolding in front of our unbelieving eyes is instead the opposite. There is no reason to support one another! People should be responsible for pulling their own selves up! They should stop complaining and start working! There is no reason to care for our planet. It will be here long after we die! We must achieve. We must take advantage of the rich abundance of the natural world. That’s intelligent. It’s our God-given right! We have a duty to make progress, to continuously grow the GDP, to use the resources for ourselves and to build personal wealth. Those are our American values.

I despair that the story lines have become so entrenched that dialog is no longer possible. That this will end in lives lost, hearts broken, landscapes obliterated, a broken planet. Earth will survive, you can be sure of that. Cockroaches will not suffer, nor bacteria. But humans, as a species? It’s not looking good. Might feel fine now, to be rich, to have achieved, to have built wealth and comfort on the pain and suffering of the less fortunate and the bounty of the earth, but in another hundred, two hundred years, what will humanity look like? What world will our children’s children be inhabiting, if they are even around? I shudder.

I should buy some live chickens, stockpile some rice, canned salmon and vitamin C. Good thing I have backpacking survival equipment. I hope my cat Minnie doesn’t eat the chickens. I’ll need some cat food, too. I should make a list.

I need to take a tech vacation, too. Internet rehab. Otherwise my brain is going to fry itself out with post-apocalyptic nightmares. I don’t sleep well these days.

Thank God we’re moving to Australia. Did I mention that? Yes, we’re moving to Melbourne.

But when I get off the Internet, and I feel untethered. It’s like a craving. What happened? Has anyone sent me an e-mail?

Can anyone tell me how to stop this, how to exit the cycle of despair?

Maybe if I try to blog every day, a single, beautiful thing. Maybe that would help.

PCT day 21 – Cascade Locks

August 13
Miles hiked: 24.5
Total trip mileage: 406.9

In the wee hours of the morning, I peek out of our tiny tent window and see the departing backs of Monique, Bert and Todd. How do they manage to get up and out so early and so silently? (I later learn they eat their oatmeal cold). We get ourselves going as quietly as possible. During the night, another hiker has set his bivvy up in a tiny spot nearby. This is a record number of people in a single campsite for us. Continue reading

PCT Day 20 – Salvation Spring

August 12
Miles hiked: 21.7
Total trip mileage: 382.4

We wake up, pack our stuff and head down to the main lobby, where we’re greeted by several familiar faces. Bankshot, who we first saw at Shelter Cove and who was very friendly with us, is hanging out. We invite him to join us at our table. We also see the trio who left Ollalie Lake in the pre-dawn darkness: Monique, the kiwi, Bert, the Belgian and their American friend with the sasquatch beard, Todd. And many more who we haven’t yet met, all hungrily awaiting the opening of the buffet. Continue reading

PCT Day 19 – Mount Hood

August 11
Miles hiked: 24.8
Total Trip Mileage: 360.7

We wake up early today, eager to get on the trail and get to Timberline Lodge. A bed tonight! Dinner in a restaurant!

The green tunnel continues as we hike past Timothy Lake. We see the “designated” camping sites, and are glad we didn’t try to make it this far last night. At one point when crossing a road, we go under this lovely sign, which is a perfect photo-opp: Continue reading

PCT Day 18 – The Green Tunnel

August 10
Miles hiked: 27.5
Total Trip Mileage: 335.9

Somewhere in the pre-dawn darkness, the woman from New Zealand, the guy from Belgium and their US companion vanish into the mist. We never heard a thing. We get up as usual around 5:30. Okay, I lie, Marc gets up at 5:30 and brings me my tea …

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PCT Day 17 – Our heads in the clouds

August 9
Miles hiked: 22.0
Total trip miles: 308.4

Dawn comes and the fog is swirling around our tent. Miniature raindrops —  morsels of the  mist— still patter intermittently on our tent. We want to get to Ollalie Lake today, and it’s 22 miles, so we haul ourselves up and get going.

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PCT Day 16 – the sky is falling

August 8
Miles hiked: 22.5
Total trip miles: 286.4

While we’re drinking coffee this morning, I watch the weather forecast on TV. The heat will be returning later in the week, but for today, there is a chance of showers! The weatherlady in Bend is psyched about this, because it’s been a long, dry spell. I watch the radar loop and see a big, bright blob headed right over the mountains. Oh well. It was inevitable, wasn’t it? Behind the blob things look okay, though. Not to worry.

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PCT Days 14 & 15 – Double zero in Sisters

August 6 & 7
Miles hiked: 0
Total Trip Miles: 263.9

Sleeping in a bed, my head on a pillow.
A shower in the morning.
A cup of coffee (or two!) with milk in it.
Long chats in the garden, with nowhere to go.
Watching the Olympics on TV.
Eating wonderful food in restaurants.
Reconnecting with family and sharing memories of my dad.
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PCT Day 13 – From one pass to another

August 5
Miles hiked: 20.5
Total trip miles: 263.9

We wake up bright and early and head back over to the PCT from our awesome campsite at North Matthieu Lake. Soon we’re walking on lava, winding in and out of ancient flows, making our way to the road and MacKenzie Pass. We’ve gotten an early start because the forecast is for a hot day. Yesterday we saw a very sunburned southbounder, who said hiking over the lava flow in the heat had been unbearable. From MacKenzie Pass I figure we have about 5 miles of lava walking to do, and early morning is the best time to do it.

We can see both Mount Washington and Mount Jefferson in the distance to the north, and the Sisters to the South. We make our careful way across the eerie, desolate landscape, trying to not twist our ankles on the rocky trail.

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PCT Day 12 – black glass and a blue lake

August 4
Miles hiked: 17.3
Total trip miles: 243.4

Today is going to be an easy day! It’s less than 40 miles to Santiam Pass, and only about 20 to the Lava Camp campground at MacKenzie Pass, where I think we’ll camp tonight. We start off bright and early, hiking through one gorgeous flower-studded meadow after another, watching the South Sister slip by us on the right and the middle Sister come into view.

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