A Perfect Thing

I used to think ours was a dystopian world, a world where the rich own us; the corporations control us; the alphabet agencies spy on us and perform experiments on us; and the government keeps us in perpetual wars so that we never see the truth of what is being done to us.

Well, I still think that’s true, but now I wonder if we are more like the way Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

It’s possible we are living in the worst of times and living in the best of times. A dystopia for sure, but also a utopia. Our sphere of freedom might be narrowing, but within that narrow sphere, we can still find the freedom to be who we want to be, to think what we want to think, to dream what we want to dream and to try to make those dreams come true.

Notice I say we have the freedom to try to make our dreams come true. Not all things are possible. Sometimes we don’t have the money or the knowledge or the health or the courage or the willingness to sacrifice to make those dreams come true, but we do have the freedom to try.

My dream, the impossible dream that has me in its clutches, makes ours seem not such a dystopian world after all (as long as I stay away from political rants on Facebook, anyway).

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is not an impossible dream for many people — they have the strength, the money, the knowledge, the courage. For some, such as recent college graduates, it isn’t even much of a sacrifice because they don’t have spouses and children to leave behind.

In my case, even though I might have the time, the money (at least temporarily), and maybe even the courage, I have doubts about my fitness level even for a long section hike. To make the logistics work, I’d have to be able to hike at least ten miles a day carrying a pack, and I simply don’t know if that would ever be possible. And I don’t know if I have mental stamina. Last night before I fell asleep, a feeling of horror came over me. “You’re thinking of doing what?” I screeched to myself. “Are you out of your mind?”

Whether it’s an impossible utopian dream or a dystopian nightmare waiting to happen, a long saunter on the Pacific Crest Trail has truly captured my imagination.

The PCT is such a perfect thing in and of itself. As Danny DeVito said in Other People’s Money, “It don’t care whether I’m good or not. It don’t care whether I snore or not. It don’t care which God I pray to.” He was talking about money, of course (money and donuts were his two obsessions), but the trail doesn’t care. It doesn’t care who trods its soil, doesn’t care how fat you are, doesn’t care how slow you go, doesn’t care about anything at all. It just is.

Think of it. A viable walking path that extends all the way from Mexico to Canada. Isn’t that utterly amazing? The Appalachian Trail starts in Georgia, the Continental Divide Trail has not yet been completed, though experienced hikers do manage to find their way from top to bottom. But the Pacific Crest Trail is completed, and even neophytes can (and do) attempt to hike the whole thing. And we each, individually, own it. Or at least, we own the bit of land we happen to be standing on at any given moment. We own the dreams the trail engenders. We own the views we can claim. We own the experience of a wilderness that is still mostly pristine.

Sounds to me like utopia, a utopia that is available to anyone who wishes to escape the dystopia the media consistently foists on us.

Interestingly, in the past couple of days, I have found inspiration from two separate sources — and on Facebook of all places.

John Smith, a LASHer (Long A** Section Hiker) responded to my concerns about how PCT thru hikers treat those who don’t fit the usual mold of hikers. He wrote:

You are likely to find your ‘trail family’ out there but I have to be honest, you might not. Receive the gifts you find on the trail in those you meet, the sights you see, and the challenges you overcome. Add to the peace and joy of others as you connect with them and as you disconnect as well. In all that you do, on the trail or off, grow and stretch and grasp for the next life-altering experience. It will be challenging, hard, uplifting and at times tear you apart inside but as you close your eyes each night you can reflect on the growth of the day and the strength you can bring to the world around you.

I found those words so beautiful I asked permission to post them here, and luckily for all of us, John agreed.

The second thing that moved me is the image attached to this article, a gift from my dear and so very wise friend Nanna Murakami.

Whether I ever actually go backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail seems unimportant right now. What is important is that I walk with love in my steps and receive the gifts that each of those steps bring.

There is more than a bit of utopia in that.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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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Researching the PCT

I had an interesting realization this morning — my dream of a long, long, long walk doesn’t necessarily mean a thru-hike. (Well, the realization was interesting to me, anyway.)

In hiking jargon, a thru hike is from end to end, from the beginning of the trail to the end of the trail, though it doesn’t have to be done that way. Because of the immense throng attempting thru-hikes on the iconic trails, the starting point can be insanely packed, so some people are splitting the trail in sections, maybe beginning in the middle, going to the end, and then getting a ride back to the start of the trail, and hiking to the middle where they began. Apparently, as long as you finish the trail in a year, it’s considered a thru-hike.

It sounds good — taking a year to hike the trail. But there isn’t really a full year for the hike when you consider the heat of the desert in summer, the late snow packs and early snows in the high country, streams swollen with melt-off, fires, and a thousand other weather related issues. The hiking season is usually six months, which means a lot of miles per day when you’re talking about a total distance of 2,650 miles.

It would be nice if I could do a thru hike, but I’m not an athlete, and I have no aspirations to be one. I am a saunterer, off to see what I can see, out to be what I can be. If I get strong enough to walk a lot of miles, that’s fine, but I’m satisfied with five to seven miles a day. Which means approximately 442 days for me to do the entire Pacific Crest Trail. I bet taking it slow and easy, and not having to push through heavy weather or harsh aches and pains would make the trail a lot more like a walk in the park than an endurance test.

One other realization that showed up this morning, and a big change from other times I thought of doing the trail, is that the logical place for me to start would be at the beginning. The southern part of the trail is desert. Hmmm. Desert? Aren’t I getting myself acclimated to hiking in the desert?

Whenever I’ve thought of doing a long distance hike on the PCT, I thought about starting after the desert — the desert section frightens me because of the need to carry extra water. But now that I have gotten to like the desert so much, hiking the desert section sounds wonderful. Well, except for the water situation. Perhaps it would work if I hiked the desert section in the fall, though by then, some of the seasonal water sources will have been turned off.

If the desert sections were simply desert, that would be a perfect long-distance hike for winter because although water would still be a problem, there wouldn’t be as great a need for hydration as in the heat of the summer. But those desert sections contain mountains, too, which means snow.

How do I know all this? Oh, the internet is a wondrous thing! I spend way too much time reading articles about the trail, about gear, about survival, about the various dangers and wonders.

It could be that because of all this research, I will have mentally spent so much on the trail that my mind will believe I have already hiked it. Then it will stop urging me to go adventuring, and I can stay inside with my feet up, reading about those people with blisters and swollen feet and worn-out shoes who actually are hiking the trail.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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 Gift is in the Preparation

I woke this morning to the sound of wind squeaking through my ill-fitted bedroom window.

(Hmm. Wind. Window. Is there a relationship here? Be right back; I need to check the etymology of window. Yep. They’re related. Window comes from Old Norse words vindr meaning wind and auga meaning eye. So a window is a wind eye, or a wind hole. The earliest mention of window came early in the 13th century, and it meant an unglazed hole in the roof. So originally a window let in the wind and now it keeps it out?)

But back to the matter at hand . . .

I snuggled under the covers, thinking that I’d take a zero day today. (A zero day in backpacking terms is a day when no miles are gained.) Then I remembered my weekends are supposed to mimic a backpacking trip, and if I were really out in the wilds, I’d have to keep on the move. (Or not. There is that zero day thing.)

I remembered also that I only have these three days each week to condition myself to carrying a pack, since I have dance class the other four days. (I still hope for grace and balance from dance. It could happen.) And I need all three backpacking days to get used to carrying extra weight.

So, I got dressed, shrugged on the pack and headed into the wind. Yikes. Cold! And gusty. Some of those gusts were so strong they almost blew me over. But I did it — trudged four miles, teetering in the wind, with twenty-two pounds on my back — and I realized that though the goal might be to backpack on the Pacific Crest Trail, the gift is in the doing. It was hard going today, but what a thrill to be on my feet, moving through the blustery air, racking up the miles. Admittedly, four miles isn’t exactly “racking up the miles,” but still, to be able to walk any distance is a true wonder.

It seems funny that I’ve been thinking, writing, talking about the Pacific Crest Trail for so many years — four-and-a-half years since my first mention of the PCT, four years since my first hike on the trail — but until this very year, I never actually strapped on a backpack to try to train myself for such an epic hike.

I still don’t know if I can do any long distance sauntering, but as I discovered today, the PCT is the goal. The gift is in the preparation. And that, for sure, I can do — even on a windy day.

I still remember seeing this sign and taking the photo when I was on a different outing (to find the San Andreas Fault). I was so excited to see evidence of this mythical trail that I walked up the path a bit, but then I had to turn around because neither of my companions had any interest in the trail at all. I’ve done many day hikes since then, but still no overnights. That fearful joy is still to come.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Refreshment

I had a great day yesterday, but then, I always have an especially good time when hiking. Hiking is my therapy, my peace, my freedom. And when I have the perfect companion, hiking is bliss, even when the temperature hits a hundred or more.

Although my cross-country road trip was supposed to include a lot of hiking, I wrenched my hip at ballet class shortly before I left. And driving — all that sitting — only exacerbated the matter. I still managed a few good hikes along the way, but often the pain kept me from long treks. It was only after I figured out that the pain came not from the sciatic nerve but the accompanying piriformis muscle that I was able to find the proper stretches to help heal the muscle. And now, finally, I can hike again.

When a neighbor invited me to go on a hike with her on the nearby Pacific Crest Trail, I jumped at the chance. And oh, how sublime! The part of the trail we walked was fairly easy with no severe elevation changes and only a couple of treacherous spots where the trail had degraded. We ended up at a lovely tree-shaded spot by the golden Deep Creek where we lazed so long, I missed my dance class. But a hike, a new friend, easy conversation, and a creekside idyll were things not to be missed.

The hike back seemed even easier because we were prepared for the bad spots.

Although it can be dangerous hiking in the desert heat, which is why I always carry plenty of water, there is one factor besides the obvious joy of being out in nature that comes from such a trek — the feeling of deep and abiding inside-out cleanliness and freshness that results when one finally gets a chance to shower away the sweat.

Refreshment. Means a whole lot more than just the simple snack we enjoyed beneath the trees by the side of the creek.

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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.”)

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A Time of Preparation

The lazy days are flowing one into the other, and it seems as if my life has come to a standstill, as if the stagnation I fear has already set in, but however I feel, the truth is, this has been a year of unprecedented adventure, change, and awe.

I started out the year in my father’s house, dealing with grief for all my dead while I cleaned out his “effects” and readied the house for sale. I gathered all my friends together for a Pre-Probate Party to celebrate the last days before his will went into probate, the last days I knew for sure I would have a place to live. Since then, I have never been without a place to live, though I stayed on couches, lived in a camper, house-sat a few times, and even rented a room for a couple of months. (Oddly, I am ending the year in this same precarious position as I started because my current room is in a house that’s for sale, and soon I will again be Stepping From The Known Into The Unknown.)

Sometime during those last days at my father’s house where I tried to imagine Unimagined Possibilities, I found myself with a new philosophy: Either Things Will Work Out Or They Won’t, which allowed me to stop worrying so much and instead let me enjoy the uncertainties of my new life. If things work out, obviously, I don’t have to worry, and if they don’t work out, there’s nothing I can do about it now because I have no idea in what way they won’t work out. Or things might work out in a way I couldn’t even fathom, which is what usually happens.

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And so I drifted through my days. I continued to take the dance classes, which I love, but I dreamed of . . . more. Something epic. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or the as yet unfinished California Coastal Trail. Perhaps stepping foot on the Appalachian Trail (which a friend recently told me is pronounced Apple-atchian. Okay. Got it. Now I know the most important thing about the trail if ever I decided to hike a bit of it.) I also considered a more realistic venture since I do not think I have the ability to carry a heavy backpack for many miles — visiting national parks and day hiking to sample a variety of trails and terrains.

WANDERLUST

A friend, who knew my dreams of adventure, invited me to stay with her and volunteered to drop me off at trail heads and pick me up when I was finished with my hike so that I could experience adventure in a relatively safe manner. And so began two magical months of hiking along the ocean, losing myself in the forest (not getting lost geographically, more like letting the forest take me over), becoming one with . . . myself, perhaps. I am usually of two minds about everything, so I am often beset with doubts, worry, and internal discussions. But not up in the redwoods. Not by the ocean. There, I was simply me. Simply happy.

One of the things I had been of two minds about centered around my ancient VW bug, A Forty-Three-Year-Old Lemon. I considered replacing the iconic car with some sort of van I could turn into a mini-home, considered getting an automobile big enough to sleep in, considered, oh, so many possibilities, but in the end decided to keep the poor old thing a little longer. After all, how many people can say they have only owned one car in their whole life, a vehicle they bought new and kept going through the decades? And the way I figured, if I bought a new car now, in five years, it would be old. If I bought a new car five years from now, five years from now it would be new.

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Still, if I were going on a long trip to visit parks and meet online friends, I would prefer to look like a near-classic lady in a near-classic car rather than a homeless woman in a rattletrap, so I found someone who would do the body work. All I wanted was a couple of holes patched and enough rust gone so it could be painted, and six months later, six months of learning to do without a vehicle, what I found at The Great Reveal!! was a full body restoration. And because the outside looked so beautiful, I had to have the inside reupholstered because it truly looked pathetic in relation to the lovely body. And then, when I took it to my mechanic for a tune-up before my cross-country trip and he expressed concerns about the engine lasting for all those miles, well, now I have a new engine, transmission, and a lot of other new parts, and Oh, My, My Erstwhile Lemon Is a Beauty!

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Despite the awesomeness of this year, it seems to me as if it is . . . was . . . a time of preparation, not just for the coming year, but for a new way of living and thinking. I can’t go on a cross-country trip until I have put 500 miles on the new engine and have all the kinks worked out, but I am ready to meet the changes and challenges of both the trip and the coming year.

At least, I hope I am.

 

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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.”)

Visiting Heaven in Hell

(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.”)

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Going with the flow is taking me interesting places, most recently to heaven in hell. (I’m trying to be clever, and probably not succeeding.)

A friend had a conference in Palm Springs, and she let me hitch a ride with her. The weather was hellishly hot, but the scenery was heavenly and made up for any discomfort.

We wandered through the botanical gardens — a veritable treasure trove of cactuses. We admired the statuary arrayed around town. We feasted on old fashioned hamburgers and utterly fantastic malts at a fifties-style diner and nibbled our way around the edges of a casino buffet that featured a huge assortment of vegetable dishes.

And we took the tram to the top of Mount San Jacinto (an ascent of two and a half miles) where I stared at the tops of the trees and wondered if I could ever traverse the nearby Pacific Crest Trail.

Do I really have the courage to live an adventurous life? I honestly don’t know. I haven’t really dived adventure yet. This weekend was more like dipping my toe into a tide pool while the whole of the ocean beckoned to me.

But still, tame though the trip might have been, it was adventure of a sort.

“Wild” is Tame

I never had any intention of reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. — I didn’t want to be a me-too, living someone else’s adventure in case I ever decide to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and besides, I almost never read books that everyone is reading. To me, reading is a very personal thing, and the hoopla surrounding such books diminishes them for me.

Wild was a last-minute birthday gift from a friend who knew my feelings and so knew it was a sure bet I wouldn’t already have the book. During the last nights in my father’s empty house, I was desperate for something to do — there is just so much websurfing, blog writing, solitaire playing one can do, especially sitting on a very uncomfortable stool — and I happened to find the book I’d tucked away and neglected to pack.

Oddly, I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t particularly like it, either. I have heard so much about it, but much of what I have heard is wrong. (People have recounted episodes that simply are not in the book, which makes me wonder if they are in the movie.) Some people hail Strayed as a hero, though she is not. Some members of the hiking community vilify her, though she is no villain.

What she is, is a good character for a story, in the same vein (and vain) as Scarlett O’Hara. She wants something desperately, if only to be other than she is. She is willing to do anything and use anyone to get it, and her own imperfections create drama and tension. If she were what the hiking community wishes she were — responsible, a great hiker, someone who prepared and trained for her mission, someone who tested her equipment ahead of time, someone who followed the rules of “leave no trace,” someone who was sane and sensible — who would read her story? No one. Or only those members of the hiking community who read.

Although some people would pay to read a book written by me if I were to undertake such an adventure, it would reach only a fraction of the readership Cheryl’s book did because any book I write would not stir up controversy. I am not foolhardy. I am not desperate. I have nothing to redeem, no self-destructive tendencies to overcome. I am prudent and would not undertake such a mission unless I were prepared, training myself to carry a heavy pack (though the filled pack wouldn’t be anywhere near as heavy as hers). I am responsible, try to do the right thing, try to follow the rules if only because they make it easier for everyone, and so I would learn the rules of the trail, such as packing out toilet paper and digging holes for body waste. (That’s one of the things the hiking community was upset about — that she didn’t dig holes to defecate in, but the ground was frozen. I’d have done the same thing she did — cover it up with rocks — and so would everyone else.)

There is a saying among hikers — “hike your own hike” — and that’s what she did. Seasoned hikers are upset with all the amateurs who will follow in her footsteps, but I don’t think there is anything to worry about. Amateurs quickly learn or quit. I doubt many people who are inspired to try long distance hiking because of her story will have the implacable desperation to do what she did.

One of the problems with the book is that it was so obviously written long after the fact that it loses it’s immediacy and jerks me out of what urgency there is. For example, she talks about the snowpack being extraordinarily heavy that year, and that it wouldn’t be as heavy for another then or twelve years. There is no way she could know that as she was hiking. Yes, I know it’s a memoir, but still, it’s jarring.

Also, more than any other relationship, her relationship with her pack drives her and drives the book. Her hike was what it was because of the weight of the pack. In fact, the pack was so important, it was almost like a character, and yet she never really described what she carried, seldom mentioned using most of the things in the pack (and those she did mention would not have added up to the 50 or 60 pounds she carried).

And then there is the whole pain thing. Wild coupled with 50 Shades of Gray, which was out about the same time, seems to indicate a new trend in the world where pain is admirable, especially pain that is avoidable. Um . . . no. Not to me.

Mostly, though, the book seemed tame and not worth another thought.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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 Last Few Days of a Settled Life

Such a strange transitional state, these last few days of a settled life. I’m at my computer, perched on a stool at the kitchen counter, which is the only table-like surface in this empty house. (I’ve never quite got the laptop aspect of a laptop computer. Too much heat on my legs, and too hard to type.) Because of the uncomfortable stool, I have to get up every few minutes to stretch, which makes it hard to think. It’s a good thing, then, that I have nothing to think at the moment.

I had lunch with a friend this afternoon, who half-jokingly told me I could stay at her house when she took a trip, and as soon as I accepted, the joking tone disappeared. She’s delighted to have someone stay there when she’s gone. An empty house is an unstable house. What if a pipe breaks? What if the plants die? Well now she doesn’t have to worry. (Unless, of course, the plants commit hari-kari to get away from my black thumb and what they might see as a tortured death.) The dates are unspecified as of yet, but it will be good to have a plaangelce to alight for a couple of weeks.

Someone else told me about a “trail angel” job opening up. The usual trail angel (someone who helps those who walk the long-distance national trails) can’t do it this year, and he is looking for an angel to fill in. I don’t suppose I could be called an angel under any circumstances, but what an interesting experience for a writer — a completely different point of view about thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I can’t commit to the whole time (because of the afore-mentioned house-sitting situation) but maybe he’d be willing to let me do just a few weeks.

A nomadic life, at least for now, seems way more exciting than simply renting a room or even an apartment. Every week or two, circumstances would change, and perhaps new choices and challenges would present themselves, including teaching myself the rudiments of camping and backpacking. (There are all sorts of programs and books available, but only I know the circumstances of my needs, and in the end, everyone has to hike their own hike.)

The same friend (the one I had lunch with today) told me I was so very brave to go camping by myself, and I had to remind her that I am still all talk. I have yet to step into a tent or climb into a hammock, though I did sleep on the floor last night because I felt too lazy to drag the old mattress from the garage (where it had been stored) to the bedroom. Besides, sleeping on the ground will be good practice, though the half-dozen or so pillows I used to prop myself up probably defeated the purpose. Maybe a hammock would be better than a tent, but how does one hang a hammock in the Redwood Forest?

So many things to learn! So many places to go, trails to walk, parks to visit. And dances to dance. (The good thing about housesitting for my friend is that I would be able to take classes again!)

All of those things are still just words on paper, but someday . . . someday . . . the tug of adventure will call me beyond words to the reality.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Five Miles on the Pacific Crest Trail

I went for a hike today on the Pacific Crest Trail. It might not have been the sort of epic adventure that thru-hiking the entire trail would have been, but it was a lovely experience nevertheless.

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Practically each foot of the trail had a uniqueness of its own, whether rock stair steps,

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hidden caches of water that I was so very glad I didn’t have to drink even if I had a filter,

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tiny baby blue eyes flowers peeking up us from the side of the trail,

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bush poppies entwined with manzanita berries

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vibrant surprises of color painting the path

and stunning panoramic views.

I still dream of traveling long distances by foot, but for now, it felt good to get back to a comfortable house with clean water to drink, a refrigerator full of tasty food, and a cozy bed upon which to collapse.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

A Desert Revelation

Ideas of an epic adventure of my own seem unreal at times, and yet, in my researches, I’ve been coming across the blogs of many older women who have undergone great losses and great grief, and are now finding solo adventures in their latter years. Living in RVs, stealth camping, kayaking in all 50 states, thru-hiking various national trails, pumping iron. It’s as if once women have been set free from all ties, we become bold and adventurous, treating the whole world as our own back yard.

desert knollsToday, out walking in the desert, I had an interesting revelation. I was thinking about these women and their great adventures, thinking about the possibility of my own adventure walking or living on the road. I was wondering which I should do first, get a van conversion or go walking, when it hit me — do both at once.

I talk about thru-walking the Pacific Crest Trail, maybe walking across the United States, or some other epic walk, but such an athletic feat is beyond my strength and knowledge, at least for now. Even if there weren’t the problem of carrying enough water to get me through long dry sections, there is the greater problem that I don’t like backpacking. I do, however, like seeing the world at a walking pace of about 3 miles per hour.

I know people who would like an adventure but don’t have the financial or physical resources for an epic journey of their own. What if I got the van or camper, let these people use it, even paid for their expenses, and all they would have to do is meet me at the end of each day with my gear and supplies. The rest of the time, they could loll on the beach, enjoy the scenery from a mountaintop, maybe find the inspiration and the time to finally write again.

Meantime, I’d be just walking along, nothing in my mind but the next step, nothing in my pockets but enough water and food to get me to the rendezvous point.

I could even go to where such a willing volunteer lived, and find somewhere to walk around that region.

And if I had extended periods between walks? Come back here and take dance classes, of course.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.