I’m awake at 3:30 – my initial reaction is “what fresh hell is this”, but I’m actually feeling better than I have any right to be, considering I didn’t eat last night. Not that I intend to eat now; I’m writing for the blog, taking notes from yesterday for the water report, generally reviewing the day to see what’s in store for us. I should do this more often. Continue reading
Day 2 – Trending to Difficult
My alarm goes off at 4:30, but I lay there in the light-enough-to-see-by until 4:45, just watching the day begin. Our plan was to make it out of camp by 5:30, but the fact that it’s so bright already at 4:30 is unnerving; yet another aspect of this trip I didn’t prepare for. I don’t know if I want this – it’d be easy enough to just turn around, head out the ten miles we headed in and what is this, what are these thoughts that I’m having, wanting to end something that’s scarcely begun. That’s not how we do things with this human. Get it together. Continue reading
Day 1 – Hydrate or Die
I check the clock, fearful of waking my hosts. It’s 3:11am. I think I’m going to have a hard time getting back to sleep, but by the time I’m done thinking it it’s 6:25 and my alarm is going off. I hit the snooze button and once again time twists changes slows, for me, for this moment; the ten minutes to 6:35 try to give me a few last moments of peace, of comfort.
Once I start walking, that’s likely to change.
Where other hikes have hinted at buds, new beginnings, springs, the coming of my Grand Enchantment Trail start date feels like an ending.
Supplies and Supplying
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
Hiking = Fundraising
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.
So this year, while hiking the Grand Enchantment Trail, I’m raising money for Earthjustice.
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.
Missing the Point
It’s been suggested of late that my blog is about hiking, not about race.
Um. What. Continue reading
Isle Royale, Day One: Kinetic Memory
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
Falling UP + Isle Royale Beginnings
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