My sister had a great idea the other day, and I believe it is worth documenting: the small difficulties I encounter almost daily. Although I do love it out here, and this is something I have always wanted to do, but there are times when I have to embrace the reality out here. The following are some common items off the top of my head:
1. Sometimes it is hard finding a spot to rest my head at night.
This is especially true if you are trying to squeeze in an extra hour of walking and you find yourself in an area where it is really difficult to find a somewhat suitable place to setup a tent that isn’t in a wetland, or you have to put on climbing shoes to get over the rock walls that line the road! Coincidently, these difficult locations always occur when I am tired and just want to stop and sleep. This usually results in a less than ideal ‘camping’ location, where I have to just settle. In these situations my first criteria consists of being out of sight from vehicles on the road. Second, a suitable land surface that is large enough and is somewhat level (0-25% slope), surface water free, and gravel/debris free. In an ideal world, a location well away from the cacaphony of the highway noise that is level would be great, but those locations are a luxury, anyways, I have really good earplugs!
Above: Can’t find a picture of a bad situation, but here is an easy one. When I need to be in town for more snacks, or to pickup packages, I ‘camp’ at discreet locations. Remember, leave it the same or better (pickup some errant garbage if it’s around).
The title image was taken a few meters from my campsite, but this was where I enjoyed a great breakfast. This scene gives you an impression of times when being close to the road is the only option because there is just nowhere to pitch a tent in the dense, rocky forest stand on both sides of the highway. Unfortunately, I was tired that night, and had to erect my tent on a steppe at the edge of the forest. I forgot to take a picture, but I really should of taken a photo of the slope my tent was on! Nonetheless, I still slept well on that stormy night.
2. Hanging my bag of food/scented items on that ideal tree branch is difficult.
I always hang my food and scented items in a bag away from where I am camping, since that is the ‘bear smart’ thing to do. However, my ability to find that textbook branch that can hold the bag still eludes me most evenings. Ideally, a fallen tree resting on another tree, or a small bridge far enough off the ground/water are the two quickest locations, with the bridge being the best option.
Above: Hanging bag off leaning tree.
Honestly, the frustration might not be over once the bag has been hung up. When you wake up in the morning you have to get it down, and hopefully it doesn’t get stuck under some odd improbable situation when you hung it, but don’t worry, the bag only contains all of your food, first aid, cooking, etc. supplies! Even better, when you are 3 or 4 days (30-40 km/day) walk from the nearest town these moments will test your ability to stay calm. The solution is easy: stop, take a deep breath, and take a good look at the situation. Most times you can wiggle it free after ten or twenty minutes, or fashiniong a long stick to prod it free. Don’t worry, I will never climb, or put myself in a dangerous position to get it free.
3. Finding non-brackish water for drinking.
Wetlands along the side of the road are great, but many of the basins are full of weak to very brackish water that clogs up my water filter. I will only draw waters from these locations based on absolute desparation.
4. A time and place to write after all the small tasks are completed.
I thought the evenings would be filled with long stretches of writing and self-discovery, however, most evenings are spent dozing off and sweet dreams. Most times I stratch something out in point-form before it escapes me, then expand on it later. I hope what I write is decipherable, and will provide enough detail for future reflection.
5. A place to sit that isn’t the ground or my cart beside the road.
This isn’t such a big deal, but you really take it forgranted in daily living. I am now thankful for picnic tables, couches, chairs, or anything that is situated off the road and can be converted to a seat.
As of today (July 28th, 2017) I am becoming more accustomed to life out here, and I am content and comfortable for the most part. In reality, these are very small things, and I should be thankful that these are the only difficuties facing me on a regular basis out here. Remember, I am living my dream!