I had intended to retrace my 2003 trip in the summer of 2013, but I had knee trouble which prevented it. Looking back now, it just wasn’t “the time” to do it. So this trip is a numerically lop-sided, 11th anniversary pilgrimage of a “first-of-it’s-kind” trip I took through the Olympic National Park. I followed the same route, camping in the same places with a only one exception.
I brought with me copies of “The Book of the Dun Cow” by Walter Wannegren (a last minute inspiration to re-read the book which introduced me to the concept of living monastically outside of a monastery), “No Man is an Island” by Thomas Merton, the Celtic Daily Prayer, a copy of my journal from the 2003 trip and the Bible.
Sunday August 31, 2014 – Mary Falls, Elwah River
11 years later and I read familiar words. The fear. The shame. Feeling ridiculous. I feel like a faker. My “breakdown” hasn’t been like other trips, though. About 4 hours in something DOES hit me just like last time. This time, though, it had a quality of feeling “trapped”; committed to the next 6 days with NO alternatives. That feeling is incomplete, though. There is something beneath the feeling of “trapped”.
The fear of being alone, however, has nearly vanished. I didn’t realize that until I started writing just now.
When I say “breakdown” I refer to what has become for me a predictable, consistent experience when I first depart on these kinds of trips, eloquently described by Anne Morrow Lindbergh:
“It is a difficult lesson to learn today, to leave one’s friends and family and deliberately practice the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week. For me, the break is most difficult…”
Rick and I spoke about journaling as we drove out here. He talked of how he had once written to himself as if he was 10 years in the future – a thought exercise in which he asked, “what would my future-self say to my present-self?
10 years later, he read that entry again – from the time his future self had supposedly spoken.
Rick said, “I realized that the guy from the future (whom I thought would be so much wiser and together) was really pretty much the same guy I was 10 years ago!”
I feel that to an extent. This anxiety is familiar – but it HAS changed. It’s less intense.
Certainly, relationships and circumstances have changed. I think I will populate a list of significant changes since the last time I sat here at Mary Falls on the first night of the trip and cried, back in 2003. Though, even now, as I write – I know these tears are made of different stuff. Who knows, maybe I’ll be told what this “stuff” is before I’m done with this trip.
Changes: (in no particular order – just stream of consciousness)
Kellie got married
Travelled to Brazil 3 times
Travelled to the U.K. twice
Traveled to N.Y. once
Became an ordained minister
Celebrated 15, 20 and 24 year wedding anniversaries
Brenda and I survived the “Shit Storm of ‘06”
B and A left
M came…and left
Alick and Jeanne married
Caperoons and Lindholms arrived
Recorded with TWBA
Had a band with Brenda and Jeff for 5 years
“Found” the Northumbria Community”
Started gardening again
Hiked the desert alone for a week
Hiked the Pacific coast alone for a week
Hiked the North Cascades alone for a week
Logged around a thousand total miles of hiking
Embraced simplicity and monasticism as lifestyle
Lots of babies were born
Robyn was baptized
Lots of new people arrived
Lots of people DIDN’T leave
I’m wearing reading glasses as I write this
Using walking sticks to hike
Taking pictures with a very powerful, portable computer (still called “phone”)