Thursday, January 06, 2011

Heaven Camp to Clairmont Spring

Tired trail dog

13.4 miles

Before I left on this trip, I showed some friends at my job a map of the trail, told them my plan. “Better you than me,” was their attitude. Today was one of those days I know what they mean. Half the day was spent walking through a “rock garden,” with each step unsure beneath my feet, jagged stones throwing me off balance, wrenching my ankles, my knees, my shoulders.

The concept of adventure has been something that’s haunted my thoughts this entire trail. What makes this an adventure, and not just a walk in the woods? I’ve risked frostbite and hypothermia and coyote attacks, but does danger alone make for an adventure? Is adventure merely a conscious choice to expose oneself to physical discomfort, to pain?

What’s an adventure to one is not to all. One of the things I love to do is built small adventures into my everyday life. Visiting a restaurant I’ve never been to before. Going to the park all by myself. Driving home from work on roads I’ve never explored. So are those adventures? Solely the thrill of the new?

I’d like to call myself an adventurer, but it’s a title--like poet, like yogi, like prophet—that’s difficult to bestow on myself. Whatever the discomfort, though, the life of an adventurer is the one I want. Adventure makes me see the world through new eyes. I feel like new scales are dropping from mine with every step I take outside the status quo. Even when I’m gasping in pain, I can breathe fully here. Van Gogh said: “Our only job is to breathe as hard as ever we can breath.” Keats said: “I want to clamber among the clouds and exist.” Eliot said: “In the mountains, there, you feel free.”

I don’t know what it is that makes an adventurer adventurous. But whatever it is that makes me feel this feeling at the end of the day—beaten, broken-down, exhausted, and happy—it’s what I want.

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