If yesterday was about the joys of hiking , then today was all about will. The trail got snowbound again .
The water flows everywhere , running down the rocks and paths making for beautiful and vibrant scenes .Lakes and pools dot the trail and provide serene moments of peace amongst the bustle of fallen trees and snowdrift . The going is getting challenging . Im following in foot steps . Sometimes momentarily becoming disorientated amongst the shadows of these massive pines . I have to check and recheck my navigation , often having to cut off trail to find better paths through the massive snow drifts .
I got my feet wet about an hour ago trying to leap across a boggy bank of moss and marsh . My wet feet squeek in my now delapidated shoes . I am weary of the slow going , and the constant focus needed to negotiate the slippery surface is starting to drain me . I sit and have a break . Take a breather . Put things in perspective .
My feet hurt , the bain of the blister is returning . What are my options ? Stop and rest ? Go back to Seid valley and have another big breakfast ? Push on into the unknown along this path to Etna ? I wheigh my thoughts . Im tired , my feet hurt . I listen with attention to my inner dialogue . I know my doubt is born of fatigue .
I make the decision to push on . Now that i have decided a kind of stoic resolution crystalises . I find a hardened place within , and allow it to be a fire , a definite amongst the doubt . A chipmunk comes out of his log and talks to me , in his way. I bet he gets a bit fed up with cold feet too. I feel the trail is my potential , and i know that there is nobody else here to do this thing for me . I have found my will. Or my will has found me .
The hiking doesnt get easier , infact if anything it gets a lot lot harder . Im slilping and sliding like an octopus on teflon . I have sweat in my eyes and my shoes are breaking apart as i have to continuously kick into the snow to ‘cut steps’ . Im traversing a 60degree slope and each step i take takes longer than the last , untill i come to a complete standstill. I tell myself to stay calm as i try and wipe the sweat out of my eyes . Its at this precies moment that the midges decide to dessend ,en mass , upon me . A swarm of tiny black flies up my nose and in my eyes , if it wasnt such a cliff hanger , i would laugh at this .. I curse .
Stay calm ! I breathe and apologise to myself for loosing my rag. Knocking off as many flies as i can , i put my best foot forward and kick another step in the snow . My will returns . I can do this .
The snows receed and im back on an even trail , heading towards Marten Lake , where Gus and i planned to meet tonight . Not knowing what is around the next corner is a real challenge . It could be five more miles of this damn snow , or it could be five miles of easy walking . I just do not know . And there lies the rub , not the one in my shoes , but the one in my life . What happens when I dont know ?
On the surface the answer is easy . I get filled with the ‘midges of doubt’ . Doubt swarms me like those little black flies , and clouds my happiness in the moment . So what is doubt ? Its accepting the possible future may not be as i expect it , or more importantly , may not be as i desire it to be . When i have an attachment to the outcome of the next bend in the road then i open myself to disappointment . A wise man once said “If you dont have any expectations you will never be disapointed ” it could have been Ghandi , but my Dad likes to claim that one . I can feel the anticipation , the expectation and the doubt all in one swirling ball as i approach each twist and turn on todays path. What can i do to work with these contrary emotions ? Im not sure if its right, but i opt to work with my will.
I come around a high-saddle, the view drops away on bothe sides of this narrow pass between what im experiencing , and what i dont know . Im between the worlds .My will has taken me once more into the unknown. On the other side …There it is ! Snow ,snow and more snow. My feet are on fire , the dampness they have endured for ten hours or more is screaming out now .I really dont know if i can go on.
I walk with the trail a while , disapointed ,cold,crestfallen , following footsteps , and then quite suddenly the footprints disapear . I look down and see that someone before me has had the bright idea to slide down the path on the seat of their pants. What can I do but follow . A rushing ellation of childhood freedom and wildness fills me , as im hurtle down the makeshift toboggan run . Yeeeehaa !!All the trial and tribulation of the day now cast aside i am a little boy again , carefree and to be honest also a little careless .
Two hours later the sun has almost completly disapeared , im still walking , but by now my will has reached a diffrent plain , where before there was doubt , now there is burning resolve , i feel invincible .I know that i could hike all night if i had to . My walking poles click in rythm and my feet beat out the heart of my power .
“Hey you made it!”
Im awoken from my revery by a familiar voice . Gus is standing on a bank of snow with a smile on his face . Relief and release flood me as I see that my day is done . Im at Marten Lake .We talk with real passion and presence of our adventures today. The slips and slides and the times i felt i couldnt go on .
As we eat our supper at the edge of a glorious lake the sun set casts orange and pink against the snow that surrounds us on all sides.
I cowboy camp at the very edge of the lake , its steady gurgle seems to wash away my tensions , and as the stars pulse out into the night I find myself crying . Tears of grattitude . Tears of a child . Tears that do not have a reason ,and do not have to have a reason . I am so grateful for this adventure today, it has shown me both my limitations and my potential, what i do with them is in my own hands . I gaze up at the heavens as shooting stars pierce the night ,completly contentented .Completely complete .