On Finding Clarity

Start: Scott’s Spring (2372)
Camp: Urich Cabin (2356)

I woke to a feeling of restfulness that I strive for but rarely attain. I smiled to myself knowing that I’d ‘hit my mark’ the evening before and that’s why I felt so good now; I’d gotten my shoes off by 7:00 p.m. and was board and falling asleep by 9:00. Eventually, I brought myself to reach out and touch the exterior of my sleeping bag. The last two mornings I’d had to dry off a significant amount of condensation before packing which had slowed me down a lot. I chuckled when I saw that I was still wearing the blue nitrile gloves I’d donned against the cold the night before while reading Brave New World. I swiped the smooth nylon with my gloved hand and then brushed the high, hairless part of my cheek on the same side. I smiled and opened the valve above my head. The air began to rush out of my Thermarest. I remembered today’s singular goal, to walk twelve miles to the next water source, and I picked up the aqueous oddity that is my hydration system: a 1.25 liter Sprite bottle with a Sawyer Mini screwed on where the cap should be, then the Sawyer’s eight inch rubber straw (typically intended to syphon water from inside the included collapsible bag, which I’ve long ago discarded, into the Mini when it is in an upright position) stuck on top to increase the fluid pressure at my mouth when I invert the while contraption. It stands 26″ high and works superbly. I drank my first 1.25 liters of water. Over the next hour I would drink five liters of water and eat four cups of oatmeal. That’s why I have a yoga belly. I taped one of my toes for the first time, the right ring toe, to fend off a blister. “What’s a yoga belly?” you ask? I sniffed my socks and then put on the cleanest pair. A yoga belly is an oddly large bulge in an otherwise fit person’s lower abdomen. I rolled up my thermarest. Using my foot to get it tight like i always do, then i slipped in my already tied shoes. Yogi’s guide recommends keeping your shoes loose enough to slip on and off. In my case, the yoga belly bulge accommodates unusually stretchy intestines that regularly house quadruple portions of food and several miles’ water.

My mind and body seemed to agree on purging as I shot like a rocket into the driest segment of trail yet. Without going into details (I pooped three times in two and a half hours,) it was wonderful. A ripened effluent that I’d hoped to release years ago spewed from my mouth. It fumed and spattered and I scooped it carefully so as not to leave any of it behind. This is what I’ve come out here for. For five weeks it has alluded me, Marissa, perhaps I’d forgotten to mention that in our conversation some days ago. No, I wasn’t being purposely vague nor truant from our conversation. No, that catharsis which I seek I simply have not seen since September of last year. On a hike along the Lost Coast, in the state park specifically, the section south of Shelter Cove is where I saw it last. Until today. Today Clarity began.
Tall yellow-white puffs sprout from clumps of ordinary grass on wavering green stalks. Like gargantuan pistils of alien botany they line what seems a trail across another planet. Bear Grass, as Kent called it last night, is the only thing that is different. The rest of this place is exactly like the one I spent so much time in as a teenager. A tall mountain ridge with a gentle grade, sparse pines and a crumbly soil that is mostly pebbles of crushed granite that are smooth but not round – that description applies to both of these places. That ridge was traversed across its top by a wide dirt road which seemed endless (60 miles was long enough to achieve the feeling back then) and although this one is traversed instead by a trail, this trail too seems, for my purposes, endless. To cement that similarity in my mind a trail dirt bike winds along a flanking ridge releasing it’s gutteral pit-pat, and gunshots ring as a dull pop in the trees below. The bikes wind slowly down a trail that must be technical, the ones on my ridge are, and glinting helmets appear through the trees then ride off before I’ve finished their place in my writing. Deep pops follow in short succession, the sound of large caliber magnum rounds muted by trees that grow more densely in the lee of the valley. It must have been there on my destination-less walks as a teenager that I first found Clarity.
With this newfound place old memories return. It’s the smell, I believe, that’s set them loose as if they’d bubbled up as ephemeras from a cold, sloshing brain stew. I’m overwhelmed with excitement and my pace quickens as I peruse these bits of the past I call Clarity. I choose a few to focus into view but I cannot stop, not for long, because I will run out, not just of water, but of inspiration. I speak the memories aloud with names and details whispered or left out completely, not so much because I think there’s anyone around to hear but because these rapturous words, if spoken to loudly, can evoke such strong recollection as to clear my view of all else, bringing their own set of bubbling ephemera into Clarity and pushing all else into a cloudy fog. It is the former though, the only moderately memorable bubbles of life, that I am scanning for. These I will organize, then record, then write and weave into a story framework, that is punctuated by rapturous fruitbodies and therefore easy to remember tableaus, but is otherwise left quite vapid in the absence of the mundane mycelium that places them there.

I stopped, and I wrote.
Then, as I hiked on, Hawaii wafted into my nostrils and a time before my walks on the ridge wafted into my mind. But I didn’t get far, my energy and mental focus were waining.
I broke for lunch, cruised a few more miles, then broke for dinner once I reached water at the Urich Cabin. A thick fog blew in followed by “real rain” as a camper from Seattle put it. It was the most substantial rain I’d seen on the trail. I decided to call it a day.