The Continued Deforestation of America

I’ve been sorting through files that belonged to Jeff, my life mate/soul mate, files that I couldn’t sort through right after he died. It felt voyeuristic then, and it feels voyeuristic now because the pictures, notes, cartoons a person saves tells a lot about that person, more maybe than they would want anyone to know. Still, I didn’t want to throw out that particular file without going through it just in case there was something I might need. (Though how I could need something I’d never seen before, I couldn’t tell you.)

I’m glad I did. I came across the photos posted below, photos that took my breath away. I remember reading stories in grade school history and reading classes about settlers, and the stories always seemed to begin or end with the hardy souls cutting down trees and clearing the land. This legend was so ingrained, it wasn’t until my twenties I realized the truth. What????? They cut down trees for farmland????? Trillions and trillions of trees — for what? The American dream of owning a piece of land? The insanity of it all is . . . well, insane. Yes, I know — persecutions in Europe, religious and political freedom, etc, etc, etc, but unconscionable for all that.

Coincidentally, I recently wrote a piece about how wilderness areas are being called irrelevant now, but I guess the truth is, wilderness areas have always been irrelevant to this country. Once people had cut down all the eastern trees, they set out to tame the west. And here we are today — tamed into submission. Is it any wonder I am committed to finding the wildness within?

Jeff and I planted hundreds of trees. I have a hunch most of them have been cut down by now, but still, we did our part to reforest America. And that is something to be proud about.

Forests in 1620

forests 1850

forests 1999

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Give a Gift of A Spark of Heavenly Fire for Half Price!

A Spark of Heavenly FireUntil November 23, 2014, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory.)

If you wish to give the ebook as a gift, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire, click on “give as a gift,” fill out all the information required, such as the recipient’s email address. Be sure to enter the coupon code ST33W in the designated box to get your discount.

Though A Spark of Heavenly Fire has been classified by some readers as a thriller — and there are plenty of thrills and lots of danger — A Spark of Heavenly Fire is fundamentally a Christmas book. The story begins on December 2, builds to a climax on Christmas, and ends with renewal in the Spring. There are no Santas, no elves, no shopping malls or presents, nothing that resembles a Christmas card holiday, but the story — especially Kate’s story — embodies the essence of Christmas: generosity of spirit.

(Why does A Spark of Heavenly Fire begin on December 2 instead of December 1? Glad you asked that. All through the writing of the book, I kept thinking: if only people could get through the first fifty pages, I know they will like this book. So finally came my duh moment. Get rid of the first fifty pages!! With all the deletions and rewriting, I couldn’t make the story start on December 1 as I’d originally intended, but that’s okay since it didn’t end on December 25 as I had hoped. The story overgrew it’s bounds, but the symbolism still held since it ends around Easter.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

When I Have To Leave Here

People ask me what I’m going to do when I have to leave my father’s house now that he’s gone, and I always give them the same answer. “I don’t know.” It’s the truth. I don’t know, and it’s rather liberating for a worrier such as I am not to know and not to care. I do think about the near future occasionally, wondering if something wonderful will come and shove me in a certain direction. (Any sign would have to be an obvious push because otherwise I would miss it or misinterpret it.) But for the most part, I’m enjoying not caring. I have a place to stay tonight and maybe to the end of the year. That seems security enough for me right now.

Other people are more worried than I am about my blank future, and most offer suggestions of what I should do. Often those suggestions reflect more their own blighted dreams than my needs. For example, I applied to mYAMAdventure.com in response to one such dream. The friend who sent me the link can’t do a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike and since she doesn’t know anyone who did, she’d like to live vicariously through my hike. (Assuming, of course, I ever do such a dangerous thing.)

I won’t be on the street, that I know — I’ve had an offer of a place to stay in an emergency. Nor will I be destitute. I’ll have enough to get by for a while no matter what happens.

Meantime, I’m clearing out what I can of my still too numerous possessions and packing up the things that I’m not yet ready to get rid of. A year or two of paying storage costs might make me change my mind about what is important, but for now I’m keeping the necessities such as pots and pans, dishes, eating utensils, comforters, a rainbow assortment of towels — all the familiar household goods that will make some future place feel like home. (The urge to chuck it all looms up occasionally, but I’m not quite ready to obliterate my past.) I also have boxes of notes, notebooks, and started novels (one that has yet to be typed up. Yikes), and a few irreplaceable items such as the tables my now deceased brother made for me. (His death started the long siege of losses I’ve suffered in the past eight years.)

The nA Spark of Heavenly Fireon-essentials are harder to know what to do with. For example, I have the handwritten first draft of all my books. I write long hand, silly though that might seem nowadays, but when I wrote those books, I didn’t have a computer or even a typewriter. Just pencil, paper, time, and me. So, do I continue to keep those first drafts? Or do I toss them out? (Not a rhetorical question. I really do want to know.) It doesn’t look as if I will be a brand name author any time soon, so I don’t need them for posterity. And anyway, the published books deviated quite a bit from those first drafts. (In at least one case, the final book resembles the draft not at all.) Unless someone comes up with a good reason for keeping them, out they go.

Such are the small decisions of my life. The major ones might take care of themselves, and if they don’t, well . . . I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

For now I’m basking in the glory of not knowing.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Grieving in the Desert

It’s been a while since I went walking in the desert. A couple of months ago, I started taking extra dance classes, so I felt as if I needed to rest in the evenings and on the weekends to make sure I had the strength to dance, but lately it’s more because of . . . well, because of laziness, I guess.

After last night’s upsurge of grief for all my losses, I wanted to talk to Jeff (my deceased life mate/soul mate). During the past four-and-a-half years since his death, I’ve felt the closest to him out in the desert away from the traffic and commotion of the city. But he wasn’t there today. Of course, he’s never been there except for the part of him that used to be a part of me, but today even that tenuous connection was missing.

Bell MountainI used to worry that my grief kept him tied to me so he couldn’t go wherever he needed to go, though I’ve believed from the beginning that when he died, he went far beyond my influences, back to the higher reaches of radiance he came from. (At the same time, oddly, I believe he is gone, obliterated, oblivious. This second belief seems to be the result of my logical mind, while the first is more intrinsic.) I have no true belief as to what happened to him — either way, he is gone from my life with only his very pronounced absence still making him present to me.

At the moment, I have his photograph standing on a table where I can see it frequently, though sometimes I put it away or lay it face down depending on my current state of dependency. During the time of my dysfunctional brother’s nearness and my father’s decline, I needed to keep the photo handy to remind me that my life wasn’t always such a horror. Eventually, I’ll pack the photo away and not look at it much if at all — I’m not sure it’s a good thing to keep reminding myself of our past. The past is past, and only shows itself in what I have become because of it, anything else seems to be . . . I don’t know. Wallowing maybe. Irrelevant perhaps.

It does seem strange to think he isn’t relevant to my life anymore. For thirty-four he was relevant to everything I did, said, thought. Now my life is mine alone. I still wish I could go home to him, but though I seldom admit it even to myself, I know I would chafe under the life his illness forced us to live. I remember how numb I was that long year of his dying, and I don’t have that sort of defense any more. His death and my ensuing grief killed that particular mechanism in me — now I feel everything, as if my emotional tuning fork is poised to thrum at the slightest disturbance.

Sometimes, when I am at my most mystical, I feel as if my life’s journey is just beginning. That everything up to now has been prologue. (That sounds familiar. Didn’t Shakespeare write, “What’s past is prologue”?) So I won’t say prologue. Maybe school. My life does have a bit of that “almost graduation” feel to it, along with the panic/excitement of what is coming — whatever that might be. I’m trying to follow the advice of a very sage woman and not give too much thought to the future, but my mind does seem to wander/wonder at times.

I will make one plan for the near future, though. I’m planning to walk in the desert again tomorrow. Even though Jeff might be absent, I was very much present, and that’s what mattered.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Too Many Losses

I’m sitting here with tears running down my face, and I don’t really know why. Just too many recent losses, perhaps. Two losses — the death of my father two and a half weeks ago and before that the loss of a dear friend to what seem to be irreconcilable differences — aren’t many, it just seems like a lot because any loss renews my grief for my life mate/soul mate, who died four and a half years ago.

windI tried to wait until the tears passed before writing tonight because I’ve wept way too often on this blog, and I just didn’t want to have to admit to more sorrow. But here I am . . .

I was fine all day until after dance class this afternoon when everyone went home to someone and I returned to a borrowed house. I don’t mind being alone — it’s rather peaceful not having to worry about other people’s ills and crotchets, not having to figure out what someone else wants or needs. But perhaps that’s my problem. After a lifetime of being needed — from a childhood spent taking care of younger brothers and sisters to a recent adulthood spent taking care of the sick and dying — all of a sudden, no one needs me.

It’s not that I want to be needed — I don’t. (It’s long past time for me to figure out what I need rather than what other people need.) It’s more that I’m not used to the emptiness not being needed has left behind, an emptiness I have yet to fill. Dancing helps, of course, but there are only so many classes I can take. I’m filling many of my weekend hours sorting through and packing my stuff for storage, but I can only do that for so long, too, because it’s sad dismantling what’s left of my shared life with my mate. Not only is each item I get rid of one more thing gone from that life, it’s a reminder that I won’t be going home to him. Not now, not ever. The odd thing is, I really had let him go several months ago with the realization that he is a person in and of himself and on his own journey that has nothing to do with me. But preparing for the coming upheaval in my life brings it all back.

Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself tonight. Instead of sitting here whining or trying to figure out why the tears, I think I’ll go for a walk. If nothing else, it will be good for me.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Relevance of Wilderness

I read an article today that called John Muir’s philosophy irrelevant. In case you don’t know, John Muir was an early environmentalist who believed in our oneness with the earth and advocated the importance of keeping some wilderness areas as undisturbed as possible so we can experience nature in its original state and to ensure that there will be wilderness areas for coming generations to experience. He founded the Sierra Club to further promote his ideas, and while the Sierra Club has gone beyond strictly environmental issues into other political arenas, Muir’s philosophy still holds true. It is important to spare at least parts of the earth from human depredation, because who are we and who would we be without the earth?

Muir’s detractors think his philosophy implies that only awe-inspiring parks are worth saving, and that his vision is rooted in economic privilege and benefits mostly rich white folks with the leisure to backpack, rock climb, and otherwise enjoy the far off places. They say that new generations, especially the diverse communities of working class and minorities, see the world differently than WASPs such as Muir, and that it’s more important to cater to their vision by creating and protecting urban parks and close-in mountain areas.

I don’t know what the rich think — as a matter of fact, until reading this article, I haven’t even seen the phrase “White Anglo Saxon protestant” in years. I’m certainly not a WASP — well, technically I am white, I suppose, though traces of Finno-Ugric blood might skew that a bit. But I am not Anglo-Saxon, protestant, rich, or privileged in the way such folks are said to be.

Nor do I know what the poor or those in diverse communities think. Perhaps they no longer believe it’s important to keep some wilderness areas pristine for the sake of our souls. Perhaps close-in parks are more important to them, but that is their choice. It does not negate the need for hard-to-reach wilderness areas. Besides, most people I know who love to hike or commune with the mountains or find solitude and spirituality in the far reaches of the wilderness are not rich. Some are retired with fixed incomes, some make great sacrifices to be able to afford the lifestyle they love/need, and some indulge their nature-lust in the small increments their time or money afford them.

I’m one of those who like close-in places because of the ease in accessing them. I can walk to the desert from where I am currently staying, and in fact have spent thousands of hours hiking those informal trails. Even if I never went up to the mountains, I still like knowing there are relatively untouched places, and that we as a people value them so much we will protect them.

Seems to me, such an ideal is always relevant.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

Grief: The Great Learning, Day 409

I’ve saved the letters I wrote to my life mate/soul mate after he died, thinking that one day I would write a sequel to Grief: The Great Yearning, the story of my first year of grief. I’d planned to call the sequel Grief: The Great Learning, and detail the lessons gleaned from the second and third years of my grief. Because I no longer want to keep revisiting such angst, there will be no sequel, so I’m publishing the letters here on this blog as a way of safeguarding (and sharing) them.

Please note that this particular letter reflected what I was feeling three and a half years ago. I am not feeling sorry for myself now — at least, not much. I’ve found a new love (dancing). Although I will always miss him, always feel a void in my soul where he once was, I have largely moved beyond my grief, which is a mixed blessing because I no longer feel connected to him in any way except for the place inside of me that echoes with his absence. And oh, how I wish I could go home to him! Or at least go talk to him, see how he is doing, feel his hug, bask in his smile. Luckily, because of my dance classes, I don’t have to spend so much energy trying to be upbeat. Dancing makes me smile, brings me joy and friendship, puts life into my life. I wonder what he would think of my dancing. Probably would be glad to know I found happiness.

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Day 409, Hi, Jeff.

It’s been a while since I wrote or talked to you. I’ve been trying to let you go, trying to get on with my life, but I’m tired of being upbeat. I just want to be me, however I feel at the moment. I’m tired of trying not to think of you just so I won’t be sad. I’m tired of not having anyone to talk to, which is strange because I now have more people to talk to than I have had in years, but we don’t say much of anything, just talk St. Simons Islandabout the minutiae of our lives. I’m tired of not having anyone who understands. For example, if I tell anyone of my small infirmities, they just tell me to go to doctors, and we know that’s not much of an answer. You often had an answer, and if you didn’t, you simply listened to my worries, which made me feel better.

I miss you, not just because I’m tired you’re gone, but because of you. I’m going to St. Simons Island to give a speech at a writers’ conference, and you’re not here to send me off, to see my new clothes, to wish me well. Odd to think I’m taking only a couple of garments you have ever seen. Most of my clothes are new since you’ve been gone.

I wish I knew why things worked out the way they did. Or maybe I don’t. I just wish . . . I wish . . . that you were here, happy, rich, and loving me. I guess that’s what I wish. But perhaps you’re better of where you are. If so, where does that leave me?

I know it doesn’t sound that way, but I really do try to be upbeat and not to be sad all the time, but it’s wearying. It’s going to be worse when I get back from St. Simons. I won’t be coming home to you and a hug and a smile. I’ll be coming back here to my father’s house.

Funny, I wasn’t going to write to you again, but it does make me feel close to you, if only for a minute.

I miss you, Jeff. I love you. I want to go home. Please?

Damn it! I hate this. Are you okay? Are you taking care of yourself? Do you miss me? I guess I’m glad for the upsurges of grief. At least I know I still remember.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Plenty of Sense!

More than two thousand years ago, Aristotle (supposedly) came up with the “five senses” model that we all learned as children — sight, sound, taste, smell, touch. Somewhere along the line a “sixth sense” was thrown in for good measure to explain all the unexplainable feelings we have. Current research, however, suggests there are more than twenty senses, including senses that used to be considered touch such as itch, pressure, ability to sense heat and cold, tension, pain, hunger, thirst. All of these have distinct sensors, which separates them from touch.

Other essential senses that have not been included with the five major senses until now are equilibrium, proprioception, and time.

Equilibrium, of course, helps us keep our balance, and allows us to perceive body movements, such as acceleration, direction changes, and gravity.

Proprioception tells us where each of our body parts are in relation to our other body parts. (Alcohol dims this particular sense, which is the basis for the hand to nose inebriation test.)

And time, as you might have guessed, gives us a sense of the passage of time.

As with all senses, these three essential senses diminish with age, which is one of the reasons we lose our balance more easily when we grow older, and have less ability to sense where we are in relation to our surroundings.

The very aged often have trouble defining where they feel pain, sometimes pointing to the left side when the pain is actually on the right side, and sometimes unable to pinpoint the pain at all. Because they no longer have a sense of their own body’s geography, they only know they hurt, not where they hurt.

old manI always thought that as we age, time seemed to speed up because an hour is a much smaller ratio compared to the time we have lived than when we were children, but apparently, that isn’t true. Or if it is true, it isn’t the whole truth. Numerous experiments have demonstrated that people are born with the ability to detect accurately the passage of time. When people are in their twenties, they can sense within three seconds when three minutes are up, but by the time we reach our sixties, we are pff by forty seconds, so compared to our sense of time, the actual ticking of the clock seems faster. Just another sense that loses its effectiveness when we age.

What shocked my father so much about the last three or four years of his life is how different he felt. For more than ninety-three years, he always felt the same. Not as strong or energetic as he was in his twenties, perhaps, but he always felt like himself. But then, as these additional senses wore out, along with his sight, hearing, taste, he began to feel not like himself at all. Which makes sense if he no longer could tell where he was in relation to the world or even to his own body. He also became obsessed with time, constantly looking at the clock, always feeling as if he were late for . . . something. It used to make me feel sad and a bit frustrated that at his advanced age he could not relax enough to just let time pass, but apparently, that was something he physically could not do.

We writers are always told to set the scene and involve readers with the use of sense descriptions, and now that we have plenty more senses to choose from and to torment our characters with, those descriptions could be even more compelling than when we had a palette of only five senses.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Dreams of Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

mYAMAdventure.com is sponsoring a fund raiser for the Pacific Crest Trail, and they are looking for five thru-hikers to do the fund raising for them. (A thru-hiker is someone who hikes the entire trail in one season.) In return, the hikers will get some gear to help them offset the expenses as well as advice from experienced hikers. I promised a friend I’d apply, and so I did. For me, it’s a win win situation. If I get accepted, I’ll be finally following the dream of an epic adventure. If I don’t get accepted, I won’t have to follow through on such an idiotic idea. Here are my responses to the application questions:

What draws you to the Pacific Crest Trail and to long-distance hiking?What do you find attractive about it?  Is there something you seek?  Something you hope to get out of the experience?

About twenty years ago, my life mate/soul mate almost died. I was so grief-stricken at the thought of his being gone that I knew only something as challenging as walking the Pacific Crest Trail would help me through my grief and perhaps change my life to such an extent that I could survive the loss. He survived that crisis, and although he continued to be sickly, he lived for another fifteen years. When he died four and a half years ago, I came to look after my nonagenarian father. The only things that kept me sane and stress free were my walks/hikes with the local Sierra Club and dreaming about big adventures. Now that my father is gone and I am basically alone, I still hold on to the dream — not just about meeting the physical challenge but undergoing some sort of transcendental experience — but my age and level of experience (or rather, non-experience) make me wonder if it is feasible. But maybe . . .

What about the mYAMAdventure program attracts you?  What do you most hope to get out of it?

Help with gear and planning. When I researched the possibility of hiking the trail a couple of years ago, the number of gear choices was so great that figuring out the right products to take seemed an insurmountable task. It’s not like shopping for a casual weekend camping trip — when you hike such a trail, your very life depends on those products.

What are your biggest concerns about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?

Carrying a heavy pack (even 30 pounds seems out of my range) and enough water. Especially water. Now, if I could dehydrate water so I would have plenty, I’d be much more sanguine about my chances of finishing the hike. (I do have a lot of hiking friends near the waterless Mojave part of the trail. Maybe they can be my trail angels to ensure my hydration.)

Please describe your level of hiking and backpacking experience.  Have you ever attempted a long-distance hike?  If so, tell us a little about it.

I used to hike three to five miles every day in the nearby desert until I started taking dance classes (I take eight classes a week by last count), now I only average about two miles a day. I’ve gone on several three to five mile hikes on the PCT, which fueled my desire to go the whole way (and also made me realize what a challenge it would be). No backpacking experience.

How far along in your PCT planning are you, if at all?

No planning. Just a little research as to what I could expect.

Have you ever fundraised before?  If so, please describe:

When I was a kid, I went door to door collecting money for March of Dimes. Does that count?

What do you think is a realistic fundraising goal for you?  How do you think you’ll go about raising the $2,000 for the PCTA?

I have a bit of a following on my blog, Twitter and Facebook. I would blog, of course, and do updates on both Facebook and Twitter. Maybe check with my walking group to see if any of them would know anyone who would help. And perhaps talk to local sporting goods stores to see what they would suggest.

Do you currently maintain a blog?  If so, please provide the address:

http://ptbertram.wordpress.com.

Do you have any samples of your photography (available online) that you wouldn’t mind us checking out?  If so, please provide links.

This is my photography blog: http://waywordwind.wordpress.com/

Do you plan to carry a mobile device with a data plan?

Yes

Do you have a ball park figure of how much you think this hike will cost you?  What is it

$6,000 (I really don’t know — that is the number my research a couple of years came up with. Apparently, the number one reason for quitting a hike is running out of money.)

Are you planning to hike the trail regardless of participation in this program?  Describe any possible issues or conflicts you might have regarding a commitment to hike the trail.

Not now. Maybe someday. I am planning on walking additional miles once my life has settled down a bit, in the hopes of one day experiencing such an epic adventure.

What is your level of certainty for getting the time off work/school/whatever to hike the trail? (you’ll select at 1 – 5 type rating on the application)

Absolute certainty

What sets you apart from the other applicants?  Is there anything special you can offer the program?

I am a published author — four novels and one nonfiction book about grief. I also have a loyal blog following. (I’ve been blogging for seven years, and for the past three years I’ve been posting every day.)

What is one question you’d add to next year’s application?  Any that you’d remove?

No changes

How did you hear about mYAMAdventure?

A fellow walker/hiker

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Do You Dream Of Walking The Pacific Crest Trail?

Do you dream of walking the Pacific Crest Trail but need a push to get you going? Is so, then check out http://myamadventure.com/program-details/. The program, sponsored by Yama Mountain Gear, a company that manufactures and sells ultralight tarps and tents, is primarily a fundraiser to help benefit the Pacific Crest Trail Association (and indirectly, Yama, too, I’m sure). The five applicants chosen to take part in the program will be expected raise $2000 for the PCTA, to blog, and to be willing to share their stories and photos with the public and the various sponsors of the hike.

Although some gear will be provided, as well as mentors to help the winning applicants prepare for the hike, the hikers will hike their own hike. Eek. A daunting idea, just as daunting as when I considered doing it all on my own. The main problem for me has always been the sheer bulk of materials and supplies that need to be carried for 2,660 miles. And water. Now, if water could be dehydrated, that would solve a major issue for me, but apparently, dehydrated water is no water at all.

Still, I promised a friend I would apply before the November 15, 2014 deadline. Now it’s just a matter of coming up with compelling responses to the following questions:

  1. What draws you to the Pacific Crest Trail and to long-distance hiking? What do you find attractive about it?  Is there something you seek?  Something you hope to get out of the experience?
  2. What about the mYAMAdventure program attracts you?  What do you most hope to get out of it?
  3. What are your biggest concerns about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?
  4. Please describe your level of hiking and backpacking experience.  Have you ever attempted a long-distance hike?  If so, tell us a little about it. (You don’t need any experience to participate in the program.)
  5. How far along in your PCT planning are you, if at all?
  6. Have you ever fundraised before?  If so, please describe:
  7. What do you think is a realistic fundraising goal for you?  How do you think you’ll go about raising the $2,000 for the PCTA? (We’re not expecting a well thought out plan here, just trying to get a general idea of how you think you might approach the fundraising aspect of the program.)
  8. Do you currently maintain a blog?  If so, please provide the address: If you don’t have a blog or website you’d like to share with us, skip this question.
  9. Do you have any samples of your photography (available online) that you wouldn’t mind us checking out?  If so, please provide links. For example, a link to your Instagram, Flickr, or Tumblr account.
  10. Do you plan to carry a mobile device with a data plan? (yes/no/not sure)
  11. Do you have a ball park figure of how much you think this hike will cost you?  What is it?
  12. Are you planning to hike the trail regardless of participation in this program?  Describe any possible issues or conflicts you might have regarding a commitment to hike the trail.
  13. What is your level of certainty for getting the time off work/school/whatever to hike the trail? (you’ll select at 1 – 5 type rating on the application)
  14. What sets you apart from the other applicants?  Is there anything special you can offer the program? Some skill?  Something about your personality?
  15. What is one question you’d add to next year’s application?  Any that you’d remove?
  16. How did you hear about mYAMAdventure?

Feel free to enter! If you get accepted, I’ll do what I can to help promote your hike.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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