Wednesday, June 26, 2013

California Wilderness: The Last Leg

Packing up for our final journey into the wilderness was a surreal feeling. Did two months really just pass? Are these 11 people surrounding me really still relatively new friends? I shake my head and laugh with wonder at the ability of humans to adapt and thrive in their surrounding environment.

I look at my stockpile of food that I am planning on putting into my 70 Liter pack. How did I get so much food? This has been a recurring theme throughout the entire trip. Since I know that there will only be one hard day of hiking, I throw off any preconceived notions about how much I should carry, and end up adding a minimum of 10 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for my trip. Granted, I have been getting stronger throughout the trip, but it seems that my pack has been getting proportionately heavier too.  I feel a knot of dread as I am forced to admit to myself that it just won’t fit into my backpack.

My old practical self would have abandoned some of the food and carried in what was reasonable, but this is my new self: limitless. A dreamer with high hopes. A Bear (coincidentally my trail name) that has learned to embody its inner strength. I will carry in the 5 onions, 3 carrots, head of cabbage, basil, flatbread, parmesan, 2 salami sticks, 3 avocados, 8 apples, 2 lbs. of trail-mix, 3 pounds of coconut raisin granola, powdered goats milk, cookie butter, grapefruit, pancake mix and bottle of syrup. But first, I have to ask Autumn Fox if I can borrow his 110 liter pack for this hike. He said yes, and I managed to fill it to the brim.

I wasn’t the only one who went all out for our last hike, but luckily we all survived and landed on a beautiful  grassy hill on a cliff by the Eel river.  The sky threatened rain, so we set up our tents before going on with the day. Somehow we got a window of sunshine warm enough for us to lay out in the sun by the river. The mixture of feelings that swarms through my body and mind are overwhelming and intangible. I am happy to be here, in a beautiful place, surrounded by beautiful people, but the future is becoming more and more inevitable. There is anxiousness tied to the excitement of hugging my friends again, and the nervousness of what will become of my current relationship, and the reality of concrete and metal and manicured nature as my next home…

We have become so comfortable in the backcountry that we co-exist with all of the elements and each other. Our last leg is filled with play in the sun, tying up the loose ends of our course, and reminiscing on the experience we all had together. We are all sad to leave this adventure, but at the same time, ready for the next leg: Life.

-Hannah Bangs (aka Alder Bear)

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