I struggled today with a new and formidable opponent: boredom. Having capped my effort in order to rest my knee, I set a punishingly glacial pace for 19 miles but still found more free hours than I knew what to do with, and ended up just staring into space during rest breaks.
With so much time to meditate on my feet out here, you’d think that I’d eventually solve world hunger or something. But the truth is just the opposite: my best days are when my mind is absolutely blank – no worries, thoughts of home and civilization, or annoying songs stuck in my head, just the flow of moving forward. I never get bored while walking. Sitting is another issue, though, and one I haven’t dealt with much on this trip!
Anyway, I’m camped at Summit Lake, south of Diamond Peak, with a Common Loon swimming and yodeling out on the water. And my knee is definitely feeling better; another short day tomorrow, and then we’ll see…
It sounds like you need a book to read, Noah. Maybe something suspenseful that you will look forward to reading on your next break (like “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) or a hilarious escape (like “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, his account of his clueless quest to hike the Appalachian Trail) or a beautifully crafted novel ( like Mink River by Brian Doyle – set in an Oregon coastal town with many different factions – Irish descendants, Native Americans, fishermen, loggers – his prose dances as he reveals this community, too complex to summarize. Lots of natural history and magic)
or a very entertaining account of 3 months spent at an Antarctic penguin research station….oh, wait, that’s you. Ha!
Good to hear your knee is improving,
Pam, OSU Bookstore :-)
If you’re not already familiar with Patrick McManus, he has a lot of great things to read, such as “They Shoot Canoes don’t they?” and “The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw”. Might be just the flavor for such a trek as yours. Of course that’s just one of many possibilities, such as Option #2 which involves the use of your Binos, finding items in a pattern, such as starting with the letter ‘A’ and working through ‘Z’. No fair skipping. :)
Then again, Staring into Space does sound like it could have a certain relaxing quality we may all be able to make use of from time to time.
My husband David Bailey sent me a link to your blog. I hiked the PCT to Santiam Pass from Mexico in 1999. I got off at Santiam Pass because I was bored out of my mind. I was checking my watch every three minutes until I decided that I could only check my watch after sucking on a Jolly Rancher until it was completely gone – no chewing allowed. I wish I had kept on – my two companions (my brother and a long time friend) made it all the way to Canada.
My friend Judith said to me later, “Well, sometimes there is a time for action and sometimes there is a time for contemplation, and it sounds like you had finished contemplating.” She was a student of Buddhism.
Anyway, hang in there. Find a companion to hike with or a book to read.