The Pacific Crest Trail winds, climbs and rolls through over 2,600 miles of the American west coast. Every summer people come from around the world to hike, photograph and backpack on the trail. I don’t think I am alone in dreaming about casting off the 9-5 and the stress and strain of my life to spend a season wandering the wilds. And, unfortunately that isn’t a reality for most of us. What I have found is joy in all the ways of getting out after work, before work, or before the weekend chore list starts.
Just recently I have been doing some product testing for our new cook stove, and using it has made my evenings more fulfilling. No reservations required. A few miles off the highway, and down a gravel road with no name is a sweet little bend in the creek. Wading across the creek to our Dining Room Du Jour my mind is focused on the trout and crayfish swimming around my toes, not spreadsheets. Like many people lately I work remotely. I greatly appreciate the flexibility, and yet, emails, zoom meetings, deadlines and headaches of work have a habit of making themselves at home. Feeling the cool water and the slippery stones under my feet is like “vacation tapas”, not enough to fill me up, but it is dang enjoyable.
Prepping a meal outside can be as involved as you want, and with the limited surfaces and utensils I feel like part Macgyver and part Gordon Ramsay. Once the oil in the pan is hot and the food starts to sizzle, a new thought makes its way into my consciousness… Were those bear tracks? (yes!) Am I going to have to fend off Yogi for my dinner? (not today!)
Dragon Flies, fading light, bird calls and a cooling of the day are a welcome reprieve from the climate controlled artificially lit life I am all too plugged into. And while the omnipresent phone is still nearby, when I pick it up, it is to capture photos of my time as memories, not to scroll vacantly as a way to kill time.
Hunger being the best spice, the effort to brave the bugs, and bears was well rewarded, a meal that would have been taken for granted eating at home felt like a lesson in extravagance with an easy enough change of scenery. And as the time came to turn my rudder home for the evening I was able to find another advantage: this mid week escape has over months on the trail. I will sleep in a real bed tonight!
Every time I find a way to substitute nature for habit I am grateful. Taking the small moments rather than always dwelling in comfort is the essence of Carpe Diem.To all who call the trail home, for a season or an afternoon, Salud!