CT Stage 1 – Denver to Breckenridge

July 20

Miles hiked: 20.3
Total trip mileage: 20.3

We’re at the trailhead by 7:00 for the obligatory starting photo.

IMG_1435

The first six miles are on a smooth dirt road, a good warmup. We’re lucky, the weather is cool; but even so, where the singletrack trail begins I hear a buzzing sound from underneath a bush. A rattlesnake! Continue reading

CT stage 0 – Vancouver to Denver

July 17

The line at the Blaine border crossing wasn’t as bad as I had expected for a Friday evening.

“Any egg products?” the border agent asks.

Good thing my scrambled egg and polenta concoction turned out to be inedible. I don’t have to lie!

We stop by Costco in Bellingham for nuts, Kind bars, jerky, dried fruit. Our lovely friends in Seattle have turned their dining room into a staging area for us: drop cloths on the floor, boxes from Amazon, campsaver, REI piled up on one of them. It feels like Christmas! I get a red puffy hoodie and a new pair of Altras, Marc gets a Marmot rain shell. There are socks, sun sleeves, freeze-dried scrambled eggs. Continue reading

Home again

I’m baaack!!

500 miles, ~90,000 vertical feet, 29 days …

We survived the epic adventure! We finished the Colorado Trail! Our bodies didn’t break, we didn’t get hit by lightning, and (unfortunately?) we didn’t see a single hungry bear.

We emerged in Durango on August 17, five days ahead of schedule. I haven’t written about the hike here on Gydle yet (UPDATE: yes I have, and you can read it all here) because it has taken me quite a while to 1) process the experience and 2) re-engage with regular life. When your existence is pared down to walking, sleeping and putting food into your mouth, normal life is so complicated in comparison. It boggles.

I don’t know if the hike “changed” me – but coming back, I feel the need for some change. So I gave Gydle a fairly major facelift. I hope you like the new design.

Because I found other peoples’ blogs about the trail so useful and interesting when I was planning, in the posts to come I’m going to tell the story of our hike, doing my best to leave all the interesting parts in and all the boring bits out. Plus a few photos. If you’re not interested, just bear with me. It will all be over soon and I’ll be back to my usual obsessions.

But first, a video:

Boy was I glad my man walked those 500 miles with me! And we would definitely walk 500 more!

An Epic Adventure

Eight rice and bean dinners, with dried kale, red peppers, onion and cheese powder from a box of Annie’s mac & cheese. Eight scrambled egg dinners, with dried green chile and salsa bark and more cheese powder. Three dehydrated green chile stew dinners. Twenty-eight one-cup bags of quick-cook steel-cut oatmeal, with milk powder, cinnamon and dried fruit. Four bags each of dried banana circles, apple slices, and sweet potato leather.

No, I’m not being prudent and stocking up in advance of the Big One that experts predict has a 33% chance of obliterating Vancouver in the next 50 years.

We’re heading for the hills. Continue reading

Revolutions and Revelations

This body I’m inhabiting has now accompanied the Earth on fifty turns around the Sun. Yes, that’s right, fifty years ago my little eyes first encountered our star and I began my journey.  Every summer, when the planet tilts its northern pole forward in homage to the fusion reactor that keeps us all alive, I eat cake in celebration.

(Can you tell I’ve been translating a book about astrophysics and space travel?)

It’s an epic moment, to be sure. On a number of levels. Epic enough that I have decided to finally reveal what Gydle means. Continue reading

Connection

After these first few months volunteering in the hospital, and now in the hospice, I am starting to come away with impressions. Things that stay with me, things I find myself thinking about offsite, things I am trying to learn how to digest.

The most important one is connection.

When you’re vulnerable like this, in the hospital or dying, things get pared down to the absolute essentials. Bodily functions, simple things. I got a good night’s sleep. A dish of ice cream.

The people whose suffering haunts me the most are those who don’t have anyone there for them. They are alone, navigating a system full of strangers, at a time in their lives when they are at their most vulnerable. Their suffering is amplified because of this. Continue reading

Thoughts on Baltimore

a house in Guilford

I was saddened to hear of Baltimore’s erupting into riots this past week over the death of a young Black male taken into police custody. But I can’t say I was surprised. Baltimore, where we lived for seven years as the century turned, felt to me a place of simmering racial tension, of fear and finger-pointing on the verge of conflagration. Continue reading

Listen up!

Arnold Lakhovsky, The Conversation (circa 1935)

Have you ever been talking to someone and had the feeling that they were just waiting for a pause in your narrative so they could jump in and start talking about themselves? Have you ever been interrupted in mid-sentence ? Have you ever had the feeling that the person you are talking with is completely bored by what you’re saying? Have you ever revealed something personal and important to you, and then told that you were completely wrong about it or that your listener had had that exact same experience and this is what you should do?

I’m sure you have. We all have. It’s called relationships.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, other than the fact that we will all die someday, it’s that everyone wants to talk about themselves. If you can really listen — listen so people feel heard — your relationships will be much deeper, stronger and healthier. Continue reading

Superpowers

Remember when I first got my hearing aids? I had such a hard time with the harsh, brittle, crashing sounds they made. I was so disappointed – I had been expecting things to sound more beautiful and instead they just crashed and bashed.

Well, now I take it all back. Continue reading

Volunteer

One of the things I have wanted to do since coming back to the land of English is volunteer with a hospice organization. Hospice, in case you don’t know, is caregiving for people who have a terminal illness. When there is nothing that can be medically done to turn a disease around, when there are no more treatments left, then patients and their families are eligible for hospice care. A hospice team – in a facility or in your home – makes sure that you are comfortable, as free from pain as possible, and supports your family as you make the transition out of this world.

Volunteers are a part of this team, doing nonmedical stuff like listening, bringing water or coffee or tea or warm blankets, wheeling patients outside for fresh air, and generally trying to be helpful while at the same time not making things worse than they already are. I just completed a 26-hour training program for hospice volunteers. My first shift at the hospice on the UBC campus is tomorrow afternoon.

The reason I wanted to do this? My dad.

Continue reading