Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oh, they tell me of a home

View from Lookout Mountain
Inchworm

I bought a new pair of shoes, Vasque Mindbenders, trail running shoes. Vasque evidently sponsors a 100-mile ultra-marathoner, so if they’re good enough for her, they’re good enough for me. Joke nalang--I don’t really buy things based on who sponsors them, but it does give me confidence. The real reason was that they were on sale at the outfitter in my size, and my AT hiking companion wore Vasque Velocities for 1000 miles. So I know they’ll stand up for the duration. It’s the first new pair of hiking shoes I’ve bought in six years. I even wore my second-half AT pair of New Balances for my full 900 miles of the PCT in 2005.

That’s exactly why I want to do a solo hike this year. I feel like I’m waking up all those old joints, all those old feelings of anxiety, adrenaline, excitement. I love hiking, and I also hate it. I went and reread my trail journals from June of 2005, and remembered how much of hiking is sheer pain. That’s okay, right? Maybe not at the time I’m hiking.

Anyway. I’m trying not to make my expectations too high. I know it’s a high-snow year in the Sierra, and I know (from a friend) that there’s still snow at 7000 feet. Evidently Donner Pass, where I begin, had a freak snowstorm last week that dropped twelve inches. And it’s been in the twenties at night all week. Yikes.

I’m also trying to remind myself that I’m fairly comfortable in the snow, that I have the equipment I need, that I’ve done this before, and I’m much more experienced with snowshoes and crampons than I was five years ago. And I’m trying to remember that I can always cry uncle. Maybe the best thing for me would be to get a quarter-mile down the trail, realize I can’t hack it, pitch my one-person tent, and hang out for three weeks. By myself. In the woods. How cool does that sound? It blows my mind that I’ve even given myself permission to do that sort of thing.

Maybe I’ll bring a copy of Dharma Bums, just to give myself an air of authenticity.

Back to my new Vasques. I half-thought about dropping a line to Vasque and asking if they wanted to sponsor me, but this little tiny hike isn’t nearly epic enough. Corporate sponsors are fascinating to me. They remind me of the medieval Medicis, that corrupt Italian family that kept artists as pets. And in the best possible way, although that sounds awful. I love the idea of medieval patronage, especially because it reminds me that artists (and adventurers, in this case, although I know I’m stretching the metaphor) have always needed patrons. They’ve always been forced to participate in the marketplace, and a lot of times the way they’ve had to do that is by finding people who believe in what they do and accepting their financial support.

So, does anyone want to be my patron? I think I’ve asked this before. But now I’m being specific: Prana (tank tops that lasted 3000+ miles), Vasque, Salomon (best AT shoes), New Balance (second best), Duofold (tee-shirt that lasted 3000+miles), Smartwool, REI (tent and hiking shorts), EMS (best long underwear), North Face (fantastic fifteen-degree sleeping bag), etc...

Is that in bad taste? I don’t know. If I had the funding, I’d jet off to South America in a heartbeat. I’d wander around Mongolia and write about it. Maybe I’d spend six months a year here on my five acres, but I’d go as far as I needed to go. Maybe what I’m saying is that I’m not as distrustful as the corporate impulse as most hippies are. I believe in old-fashioned capitalism: good people selling a good product that they believe in and that does a good job, what it says it does. What I don’t belive in are government-sponsored Medici/Walmart-style monopolies. I do realize that artists and adventurers have to find ways to sell their work, their stories. That’s the work they do. Maybe, some day, my art will fund my new shoe purchases.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love that you asked this question. I would like to support you with $100 for starters. I will write a check and send today, but you need to let me know where to??? You could even consider starting a fund for a specific adventure project that we could all experience vicariously thorugh your blot (similar to your other adventures). I am curious if you will be comfortable with receiving the funds and though I say no strings attached, if that will ever be something you have to grapple with. I believe in you and your work and want to support you in any ways I can.

Sonia

Melissa said...

Sonia, you're amazing. It makes me so happy that you believe in my work, and it blows me away that you would actually consider supporting me! You've officially turned me into a "professional" adventurer, and I love you for that. If you're really serious, you have my address...

I do feel guilt accepting financial support, even though I am doing what I believe in. I'll have to wrestle with that inside of my own conscience.

wfrenn said...

"They remind me of the medieval Medicis, that corrupt Italian family that kept artists as pets. . . . . Artists (and adventurers, in this case, although I know I’m stretching the metaphor) have always needed patrons. They’ve always been forced to participate in the marketplace. . . ."
Artists sell their skills to patrons who feel honored to be able to patronize troubadours, poets, jesters, musicians and artists. You have just such a skill, albeit in a popular culture society, but do not underestimate you singular talent or let the philistine responses undermine your sense of worth.
Keep the faith--in self, service, sacrifice and the search for something meaningful.

The Capt'n

Amy said...

Do it! Write the letters to those companies a propose an adventure they might like to sponsor. Seriously, they'll get a lot of marketing bang for their buck. It wouldn't be a donation.

By the way, I just got back from a quick trip to the Philippines for a wedding. I love that you used "joke nalang" in your blog.

Love you,
Amy