I mentioned in my last two blogs that I was reading the story of Cheryl Strayed. In her book,Wildshe describes herself as “The woman with the hole in her heart” She managed to endure a 1100 mile journey on foot from the Mexican Border to the Canadian Border, alongside California known as the Pacific Crest Trail .
SUN COMING THROUGH CLOUD was taken on my recent coastal walk near Torquay, Devon.
A different type of Wild
I feel like my wild years are behind me now but there is still something of the rebel in me that wants to steer off into the wilderness. My wild years were lived out on the streets of London and before that Newcastle Upon Tyne. Punk Rock and squats.
There was an innocence to it all and I remember giving up a boring job, I had worked in for less than a year. I was working for Lambeth Libraries in London; but desperately wanted to go to New York , where I believed all possibilities existed, as I did when I ran to London aged 17.
When I was in New York, after a few weeks I was running out of money and my return ticket was valid for one month.
I advertised my plane ticket for sale in the hostel I was staying at, known fondly by the locals as ‘The White House’ ; in the hope of having enough money to go to L.A. It was not to be, I took a volunteer job in New Jersey in a campsite for abused children ran by what I considered at the time to be Religious Weirdos.
It wasn’t for me. I had to get out of there and go back to NYC. I could not sell my ticket and returned to London and formed a band.
Ever since that trip, I never did manage to do anything adventureous in terms of travel anyway.
I came back and started a band, and that led to some fun and misadventures. At 30 I opted to take a degree as a amature student despite having no formal qualifications. Part of that did lead me to living in Galway for three months, which was very intersting.
Last post I talked about the book Wild and what motivated the author to think about walking the PCT. Her story interests me enough to want to write more about her adventure.
You might think it will be full of the right on hippies and happy campers! Eventually, you will come across two types of people; those you like and make your life feel better and those who make your life worse and you cannot possibly like.
Walking anywhere or not necessarily walking but in life, there are people who make life worth living and those who seem to make life difficult for us. Going off walking the PCT, I guess you might hope to find, happy, outgoing, people, but like anywhere there are arseholes on the roam!
Take a walk on the wild side
You either pay or you leave.
Whilst hitching a lift on a slight detour from The PCT route a campsite exists, she reckons a free nights camping is on the cards, before getting back on track. It is dark late at night, & she hasn’t any money her much-longed-for parcel hadn’t arrived at the last drop off post.
On the trail, there are points where you can pick up post, have a shower, make contact with other humans.
At times like this, you can only hope for human kindness.
Unfortunately, she comes across a mean couple who were monitoring the grounds and wouldn’t let her have a free pitch up for the night – despite it being a virtually empty campsite.
If a woman alone is hiking you would think they would have at least some comprehension of her plight.
They could have made some sort of deal, – you know, wash the dishes!, send us a cheque later. There you go, even in these types of places, you get Mr. and Mrs. Jobsworth, where a rule is a rule is a rule mam, and don’t you forget it.
Cheryl strayed is nothing if not resilient.
She survives and moves on in the dark fumbling about. It only proves her strength of character. At a further point walking she meets 2 ‘bow ‘hunters’ i.e. dehydrated dumb asses! They were asking her for water. She does the ‘filter trick ‘for them for them using their Pepsi cans. This involves the muddy water into the can (the wells are dry and they have been walking for some 20 odd miles in intense heat) into it then the iodine pills, this process takes about 30 minutes to filter and turn into something drinkable.
Although grateful, they were like typical rednecks leering at her and making suggestive comments about her being out there alone and how they wouldn’t let the girlfriend do that.!?
She did get a bit scared at this point, & made her excuses saying she was going to hike a bit further. Although she was terribly exhausted and wanted to sleep. She didn’t even get to put her tent up. She had laid out on her tarp and the two men later came over, to annoy her.
“I thought you were moving on you tricked us, you changed your clothes! I like your pants, etc.. She philosophically concluded that they were just creeps and eventually she left, shoved her tent into the monster (her massive rucksack) walked then ran…..!
I must admit as I was trying to figure out the actual distances she was walking. In my virtual journey on google maps, I ended up somewhere around Alaska where there are places such as Desolate Bay! (Sounds like a Bob Dylan song!) It was scary just seeing it and I instantly felt frozen.
“Imagine whirled peas! Has there ever been a serial killer who imagined whirled peas?
Luckily she meets a few more hippy types and comes across a driver with a sticker on his car stating.“Imagine whirled peas “A car sticker that states Imagine whirled peas, has to be a phrase a good person might stick in their car window! (Apparently they are a band)
Then still on a lucky streak finds a few Mexicans who see her as a Nature Warrior; a Swiss woman who wants to massage her feet in peppermint oil and sees her as some kind of spiritual pilgrim & tells her “the spirits told me to massage your feet”!!!!
Some people can be lifesavers! Others can wish you hadn’t been born.
I am looking forward to getting dirty boots again! In the meantime, I’m looking for a winter walk as I haven’t been on a proper ramble walk for a long time now.
This is the real walk on the wild side. it is a great read for anyone interested in travel or adventure.
The trial is a continuous wilderness stretching from the Mexican border in California to just beyond the Canadian border- along the crest of the Nine Mountain range. To walk on the wild side as Lou Reed sang is to break free from convention. It’s not just wildflowers and a pretty picnic, this is leaving everything behind and making new beginnings. I have always admired people who can do this. Her quest came from pain, but that’s often the energy needed to break free.
Walking With The Beast
Turning her idea into a reality She Started at a Motel a dozen mile from the start of Pacific Crest Trail with a newly required rucksack.
THE SACK MONSTER.
A sizable burden far outweighing that of her contemporary males she met up with at various stop of points. Cheryl Strayed was a practical person, she has her iodine pills and a copy of the Pacific Crest Trail Volume 1 (California) to name a few of the many items in the sack monster.
Newly discovered to me I was to realise during reading her story that The PCT is a popular trail in California.
Her drive and determination to’ do the PCT’ was that at 22 years old her mother died aged 47. A painfully prolonged death in which the author was the main carer.
About the vastness & discoveries during her journey she says.
Ihadn’t expected it to rain in the desert and certainly hadn’t expected it to snow. As with the mountains, there had been no deserts where I grew up. I didn’t really understand what deserts were. I’d taken them to be dry, hot and sandy places full of snakes, scorpions and cactuses. They were layered and complex inexplicable and analogous to nothing. My new existence was beyond analogy, I realized on the second day of the trial I was in entirely new terrain.”
I love her description, it says it all. There is something very hopeful about that especially under the circumstances that have almost forced her to make the journey; the death of her mother, a recent divorce followed by messy affairs and dabbling with drugs. She has left all of that behind her, with a great vastness and possibility in front of her. Despite the drama of her huge walk, there is always the ordinary tedium, monotony and crass people to deal with.
There is still always reassuringly, serious shit and assholes.
Life is rarely too good for too long! She certainly is not pessimistic nor overly optimistic, but a realist and has to be to do a walk like this. It is an inspiring read
No water in the Tank.
She is running out of water when the heat is 101 degrees in the shade. With 14 miles to the water tank, she reaches it only to see a sign saying, no water in the tank.
With five miles yet to go to the reservoir it turns out to contain undrinkable water. It is a murky pond grey and as warm as blood, this is where her iodine tablets come in handy. She dissolves them into the murky warm pond grey water into the water in her bottle. The water was dense with sludge she took out her iodine pills desperately thirsty. She drank 1 bottle down,
“Warm water tasted like iron and mud, yet seldom have I tasted anything so amazing.“
She then fell asleep too tired to put up her tent and woke up with hundreds of small cool black frogs over her body.
Until next time
RIP Lou Reed … (Walk on the Wild Side…) I have just found out at the time of writing, that Lou Reed has passed away.
It’s not always easy to go walking after an illness
I had a tumor taken out of my neck (it was benign but could have grown massive) it doesn’t prevent me from walking, but still has it’s side effects. My legs were fine, but it takes a lot of energy & planning to get out there. Although my legs were fine, I didn’t feel right. To go walking after an illness, it’s best to mentally prepare.
People can not see your scars. Usually, people are wrapped up in their own thoughts, and cannot see you are feeling a bit vulnerable.
It’s best just to have a chat with a walk leader, in case you feel unwell at any point. My ear and side of the face were numb the wound leaked when I ate. I had gone to my GP after my op, She thought it may be an infection after the op. I went back to the consultant, who so casually said, oh that’s just because we took your saliva glands out! that often happens. The GP wasn’t aware of that fact, neither was I.! Eating out with others, I felt worried that my ‘face would leak’!.
At home, I felt safe and it was good to catch up with what other people are doing on-line, other bloggers and in particular the 365 projects (photography)
After some time at home, I decided to make the most of the late summer good weather. I went for a really interesting walk with the South Bank Group. A really good bunch of people. We started at Bermondsey a linear 5-mile walk going through Southwark Park via Rotherhithe, some of which is by the river onto The Thames Path, with fantastic views of London. Of course, I didn’t have my camera, but I will go back.
Many "nooks an crannies" and historical reference points to the Docks; Russian Dock, Lavender Dock, good old Surrey Docks, to name a few.
So many references and stories were told and someone had some old photos of the Docks from 1969 which was quite interesting. The leader Roger Aylward had an in-depth knowledge of the area and has lived in London for 50 years and in Bermondsey for the last 10 years. It was a large group and a really sunny day, so we meandered at a very slow pace stopping at frequent points for historical talks about the Docks & just to admire the stunning city landscape.Continue reading →
Food For Thought has been my favourite cafe since the early EightieS
I have very few cafes that I frequent, but first on the list is Food For Thought. It doesn’t stay open too late, so it is more of a lunchtime café and can be a bit pokey. But if you get there early and find a seat it is a real treat.
Food For Thought based in Covent Garden, serves, delicious vegetarian food?
There aren’t nearly enough restaurants/cafes like that. Providing Good vegetarian food at decent prices. Food for Thought has survived and kept going strong but hasn’t branched out and turned into a chain. It has kept true to itself which is unusual in this day and age. The only café similar, I know of is Bonnington Café, but that is more of a community café, based in Vauxhall. I don’t live there but have visited on a few occasions. I do remember a morning breakfast of pancakes bananas and maple syrup. Pretty good.
When I was told that I had a tumour in my jaw a month ago I walked from London Bridge Guys hospital into Central London about and around Covent Garden-
I was running out of steam and I got to the Haymarket, hungry and very much looking forward to eating, and I was heading to the Stockpot another favourite of mine. I got there and was dismayed it had closed down. This was becoming depressing. They aren’t vegetarian but they have a menu that does cater for vegetarians at affordable prices. It was a bit too late to go to Food for Thought. Where are all the decent cafes in LONDON? Why is everything so expensive? What is happening to our city?
Anybody who has ever gone to the GP and come out being referred on a 2-week pathway ( possible cancer) will know the feeling.
The heat was on, the summer crowds were piling in and I was feeling stifled. I had a biopsy and was thinking about it being cancerous and what that could mean. I figured out whatever the outcome I had no control over it and I would have to wait and see. Of course, the thoughts of my funeral popped up and what I would do should my life be shortened!
The day wasn’t getting any better, and I decided to call it a day and to look forward to my up and coming walk along The Seven Sisters in Sussex.