Where other hikes have hinted at buds, new beginnings, springs, the coming of my Grand Enchantment Trail start date feels like an ending.
The cycles of light and dark are different from inside a house. Day and night lose some of their meaning as I push back against both – walls, roofs, curtains all conspiring to darkness in daytime, while switches everywhere await a near-effortless command to bring light in an instant at night. The power’s enough to cause a superiority complex; disconnection, above, beyond, instead of connection, one with, part of. Just one more reason, I think, to get back outside and stay a while.
Still, I’d forgotten how intensive preparing for a hike can be. Continue reading
I’ve spoken on this before, but I think hiking a long trail is an ultimately selfish endeavor. While I do my best to share my hikes and experience with y’all – on this platform as well as on Instagram/via email through the Contact form/in person at events – ultimately I’m opting out of most daily stressors, even if I can never really escape the implications of history, my gender, or the color of my skin. To offset this privilege somewhat, I like to raise money while I hike in support of a non-profit organization doing important outdoors work.
Earthjustice is a legal non-profit focused on litigation that preserves the existence and quality of our outdoor spaces. This non-profit come highly recommended by several of my environmental esquire friends, both those who are practicing lawyers and those who aren’t practicing at present – plus some of their colleagues, who have worked for the organization before1. They work on everything from clean water to preserving wild space to challenging oil and gas intrusions both on public lands and in places where it impacts everyday life. They also work to right the wrongs of environmental racism. I’m hoping they can use the law to do what all my phone calls and heated letters to representatives haven’t managed to do.
While over the last two hikes, I’ve raised over $3100 for Big City Mountaineers – a very worthy organization that gets underprivileged urban (and mostly brown) youth into the outdoors for a day or a week at a time – I’ve begun to worry that by the time this administration is finished, there won’t be an outdoors for them or anyone else to be in. You should totally donate to Big City Mountaineers as well, if you have the means – and if you’re interested in me starting an open-ended fundraiser for them too, let me know in the comments – but I’m focusing my efforts on Earthjustice for this particular hike.
I’m attempting to raise $770, a dollar for each mile of the hike. I don’t see any of this money – it gets to Earthjustice through an organization set up for such funds distribution. As in years past, any donation will get you thanks in a “Thank You” post on this here website after the hike’s completion, but those who donate $25 or more will get a hand-written postcard from yours truly. Due to the more remote nature of the Grand Enchantment Trail and my potential inability to actually find postcards along the way, I’ll be sending said postcards after I finish the hike. Each postcard will feature a photo from the hike, and be postmarked no later than June 20th.
So help me help Earthjustice. Because the earth *does* need a good lawyer.
 I’m finding this to be more and more important in organizations I support. No sense supporting an organization that doesn’t support the people who make the mission happen.
I walk the tenth of a mile to the end of the dock, a desire to be in this moment peeking like the sun over my horizons. I’m trying to feel the slight breeze on my skin, to feel vulnerable, to revel in the very strange feeling of being alone. I’ve had Spesh by my side for nearly seven months now, and I’m unsure I know what it is to truly be alone anymore. To be alone-with-him is a daily occurrence; to be alone-alone… it happens sometimes. But not like this.
It’s 7:30am, I’m sitting by myself above a saltwater channel, and today, I finish my 30th journey around the sun.
It’s been suggested of late that my blog is about hiking, not about race.
Um. What. Continue reading
It’s a lively entrance into the harbor – a few fishermen are chilling in the commercial channel, and seem entirely unbothered by the large passenger vessel approaching them at speed. They don’t move or really bother to look up before an unexpected blast from the ferry’s tooting mechanism and an adapted loudspeaker rendition of “hey you kids get offa my lawn” from the captain, after which they grudgingly make way. We put in and tie off with no further excitement, save the fact that we’re here, Isle Royale National Park at last. Continue reading
It’s barely the end of August, and the chill tendrils of fall are starting to push their way into Michigan’s upper peninsula. I’ve spent the majority of the day until now wrapped in my sleeping bag, first in the tent, then in the hammock, and I’ve been thankful for it – it’s our first day in five that we’ve been allowed to sleep in, to move in the morning of our own accord. Still, the cold of both the mornings and the evenings haven’t lent themselves to much movement; only in the stark sun of the cool afternoons are short sleeves, a skirt, tolerable.
We’ve been working hard since we arrived in the UP, first at trying to make miles with packs not purpose-built, then at making connections, first on Isle Royale, then here on the Keweenaw Peninsula. We’ve spent a week here, catching up from our week out of service, working with incredibly passionate people to protect the lands they’re slowly turning from private to public. The lack of any real break, combined with the emotional fallout from a return to a land of false equvalencies and attempts at public lands-grabbing, has meant a starker schedule for me: wake, work, succumb to the inexorable draw of a nap, half-wake, work late, dinner late, insomnia. Repeat. It’s only now, with a half-day to myself – Spesh knows I need recharge time, and has left me to my own devices – that I’m able to look back on the last couple weeks, to feel like I can do the Isle Royale trip any justice in words that, before now, stayed obstinately stuck inside. But here’s a taste, to be augmented in the coming posts. Continue reading
We’ve slept inside been doing a lot of sleeping inside in the last couple of weeks. It’s not that we haven’t wanted to enjoy the dregs of summer, but I’ve got friends all over, and given that tomorrow
could apparently bring nuclear war isn’t promised, I’ve been making it a point to see them where I can. I haven’t been too worried about it, mostly because I know that our trip to Isle Royale National Park is fast approaching. This’ll be the second time in as many weeks that I’ll have gotten out to hike, and while we’re trying to do 50-odd miles on this latter trip, any amount of time sucking wind and enjoying the outside feels good these days. Continue reading
Arriving to camp after six hours in the car is always a relaxing experience. It’s three minutes to nine o’clock on the eastern edge of Missouri, and I’m looking forward to stretching, eating, and getting horizontal post-haste. After a requisite full-body exhale of relief, I crack the car door – and am instantly assaulted by a cacophony of sound. I reel, and it takes me a few seconds to realize what the hubbub’s all about. Cicadas. Many, many decibels’ worth of cicadas. Continue reading
I’ve been incredibly sick and warring with myself a lot these days, about what I want the blog to look like while I’m on this hiking-hiatus-turned-driving-extravaganza, about what I want the blog as a whole to accomplish. I’ve been writing and writing the last few months, and I can’t help but feel that, in a sense, I’ve lost my way. It’s not that I don’t feel some connection to place and space and movement through this amazing opportunity I’ve been given; it’s not even that I’m unhappy, or that I don’t want to talk about what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. It’s just that I only have so much energy in a given day, and I think that energy would be better put to use in different ways.
So I’m going to change it up a little bit.
Some weeks, that energy is going to be best used talking about the cool trips I’m taking – for example, we’re going to get the chance to do three nights and four days of hiking on Isle Royale, and that is gonna be epic, and I’m already excited to share the experience. Other weeks – well, you know all those things that I’ve said I want to get back to, but haven’t? I think those things are important, and particularly important to me as a black woman outdoors, and I think that having my documentation of my week take precedence leaves me little and less energy for those important things. So I’m going to talk about being outdoors, and about myself in a tangential way – about what I see in the outdoors world and the outdoors community, and about what these things mean to me as a black female once and future thruhiker who wants everyone to get outdoors and care for our wild spaces.
I’m still going to (try to) post once a week. I’ll still be documenting mileage and talking about the cool stuff that’s happened in a Notable Accomplishments format, one that those of you who’ve joined me on my PCT and CT thruhikes will be familiar with. And of course I’ll still be posting rad pictures from the week, because I hope they speak to you as much as they speak to me. But I’m tired of skimming the surface. This format is going to let me go deeper into issues and events and occurrences that I think are important. It’s going to let me skip the things that are less-formative and cut to the heart of a matter, laugh about happenstance, or show you something awesome that happened.
So here goes. First one up later this weekend.