Friday, March 02, 2007

Finally, a journal entry from the Arizona Trail

At long last, I am transcribing journal notes from the Arizona Trip I took over winter break. Enjoy!

Dec. 15, 2006

8 a.m.
Present moment. Present time. I am at Montezuma Pass. There’s a picnic shelter here with bathrooms and an overlook to the Huachucas to the north and the treasured Sierra Madres south.

Highlights from the past 24 hours (in no particular order):

Still in awe that I am surrounded by desert mountains again.
Saw my first illegal this morning, just a black-shirted back and head retreating into the brush. I felt sorry he had to flee on my account. I smelled his cologne before I saw him.
I camped last night on a saddle off the Joe’s Canyon Trail. Nothing much. Just a rocky flat spot big enough for me to sprawl out. Slept fitfully, but because the night is long I feel rested.
I think I like the idea of backpacking than actually doing it. I’d forgotten how much work it takes to hump 50+ pounds over these mountains.
The climb up the Joe’s Canyon Trail was a tough, switchbacky mo-fo. I begged for mercy with gasping breath.
I reached the U.S./Mexico border at dusk. I stashed my pack a mile back at the intersection of the Joe’s Canyon Trail and the Yaqui Peak Trail. I had a nervous moment at dusk, back at the intersection, when I couldn’t find my pack.
Monument 102 is bigger than expected. I thought it would be like the obelisk at the Canadian Border on the Pacific Crest Trail – about 3 feet tall. M102 is 10 feet tall. There’s a trail leading it from Mexico as well.
Mike, my driver from the World Shuttle Service, has a mullet. He talked the entire 1 ½ hour ride. I could hardly string three words together against his onslaught of verbiage.
Woke before dawn and saw 3 shooting stars – zip, zip, zip – quick like that.
I write this at a picnic table. I just got to use a privy. Life is Good!
All my planning and double-checking before I came out here leaves me prepared for whatever the weather gods can deal. But I forgot my spoon! Luckily, a National Park Service trail crew just parked nearby, and one of them had an extra spoon.
I left my trekking/ski poles at the California Street L stop in Chicago. I found them in the woods in northern Wisconsin more than seven years ago, near Butternut Lake. In all those years I never used them.
I have three books in my pack. The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho, The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven. They’re too heavy. I have to finish a couple by the time I reach Patagonia.

Here’s a few quotes from The Pilgrimage.

“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach more importance to the things around you because your survival depends on them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life.

At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive.” (35)

“That the Road was one along which any person could walk, that its significance could be understood by even the least sophisticated person, and that, in fact, only such a road as that could lead to God.” (52)

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