Monday, December 21, 2009

Walk #356: Have Backpack, Will Travel...

In my favorite Ed Abbey essay, "A Walk in the Desert Hills", which is about a solo 110 mile hike through the desert in Arizona not knowing if there would be water along the way, Ed Abbey writes:

"Why do I do this sort of thing? I don't know. I've been doing this sort of thing for thirty-five years and still don't know why. It's not logical--it's pathological...."

I can relate.

I'm always looking to attempt the impossible. Build an addition out of straw and mud in two months? No problem. Survive the Sierra winter in a cabin close to Donner Summit--where nobody had attempted to do such? No problem. Walk across Wisconsin? No problem.

Never mind that a couple of these projects ended disastrously (and we shall see if I actually do complete this addition someday). I have more heart than common sense; more will than brains.

Ian was kind enough to e-mail a description of the Costa Rica hike. I read it briefly last night--ignoring the nasty bits. This morning Joni and I sat down and really read the description of the hike. It felt like my stomach dropped out of my body when I read about: "careful on the precarious bridges" and "handholds" and "cliffs" and the "green wall". The description doesn't mince words at just how dangerous and strenuous this ordeal will be. The hike starts at around 2,700 feet...and ends at over 10,000 feet---with two mountains to climb (it is silly to climb two, don't you think?). If I didn't feel led to do this hike (damned Jungian Synchronicity!), I would chuck the whole thing, open a bottle of wine and devour a plate of brownies.

Time to get real serious.

Raining today. So I put on the loaded pack and did the Long Loop. It took fifty-two minutes and twenty-five seconds. We intensify our efforts now. I might do the Long Loop a second time today.


lph said...


Yes I do believe it is time to get serious. Precarious bridges, handholds, and cliffs. Sounds like something that will challenge your mental toughness maybe more than your physical toughness. I'll be thinking of you from the comforts of my home...and wishing you luck...and toasting a Guinness to your journey.

I'm excited for you!

Walk On(ward)!


Allan Stellar said...


Actually, living up here, off grid, with an 8 and 9 year old in 350 square feet of usable space challenges my mental toughness too. :)

Ian Woofenden said...

For the record, It was not my strategy to send you the description only after you committed. ;-) I sent it before, but apparently you couldn't open the large file with beautiful photos.

I don't expect it to be THAT arduous, but it's all relative, and I tend to just take things in stride.

Did you walk across Wisconsin???

Allan Stellar said...

True, Ian. It was all my fault. :)

I'm hoping that one person's "steep" is another person's gradual incline. Although I suspect the trip is as lung busting as advertised.

Wisconsin. 1981. Had some free time at the end of the summer so I headed out with a gal friend. She lasted one night when we had to sleep in a park. I continued on. Walked from Mpls to Ladysmith (I think). Then I hitchhiked home. All this because I read about a guy who walked across America. Moral: becareful what you read.