People often talk about what a thriving and diverse ecosystem the intertidal or littoral zone is, but I’m just as struck on my coastal wandering by what a realm of death the strip between the low- and high-water marks can be.
Doctor is coming, the nurse thinks sweetly Turning on the machines that neatly pump air The body lies bare Shaved and hairless, what once was screaming Now lies silent and almost sleeping The brain must have gone away ~ Velvet Underground, ‘Lady Godiva’s Operation’ — covered by our first band in the mid-80s Here’s to Lou Reed!
Hey, all. It’s been a while, eh? Well, first the bad news (with me, you always get the bad news first): my significant other is no more. Relax, not Kate — we’re doing fine! At least, we were last time I checked. No, my once-trusty MacBook Pro bit the dust yesterday, a crippling blow to the world of medium-quality blogging. She just up and died after a mere three years of (admittedly heavy-duty) service. Suddenly I feel like the Lone Ranger without his Native American trusty steed.
Well, it’s all over. My job, but more importantly, my version of the Thousand-Mile Challenge I started in August.
OCTOBER, 2011 It rained briefly in the night, destroying my third or fourth Moreton map, which I’d left outside the tarp. No worries, I could almost draw one from memory now. I slept quite soundly on my casuarina mattress, and woke early to put the kettle on and stash my gear. The sun crept over the surf and the spinifex…
The South Coast Track, Tasmania # 1: Melaleuca to Louisa River I got back to Australia in early 2003 after three years in Japan. Got myself qualified to teach over here and landed a job in the same school that still, defying all logic, provides me with a place to spend my working week. My sights were already set on the Appalachian Trail the following year, so I got saving. Several hundred Korean students later, with Christmas approaching, I started getting antsy.
Vermont. Les Verts Monts. The Green Mountain State. I can’t sum up hiking there any better than the mysterious Mr Hammonds, whose book I found referenced in a Vermont shelter, as described in a previous post: There is room enough for civilization in regions better fitted for it. It has no business among these mountains, these rivers and lakes, these gigantic boulders, these tangled valleys and dark mountain gorges. ~ S.H. Hammonds, ‘The Vagabond Spirit’
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has a new feature on their website* that allows former thru-hikers to revisit one of the highlights of their journey. For many years, hikers stopping at at ATC headquarters at the “psychological halfway point” in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia**, have been made welcome by the volunteers inside. Dumping their packs on the porch, they pose before the ATC sign for a polaroid that is labelled with trail name, dates and details and stored in a bulging album:
This happened during my second stab at the A.T., Day 34 to be precise. I like to describe the A.T. — well, any long walk really — as a “corridor of chance”, and this was probably my favourite chance encounter along any trail anywhere.
SEPTEMBER, 2006 “You alright, mate?” A Landcruiser has pulled in behind me as I lie back among the other driftwood, gazing at a pair of seabirds combing the water’s edge, envying their progress:
JUNE 2006 Day 46, Little Rock Pond Shelter, VT, 18.2 miles ‘Cedar Moe’ and I are being mauled by very aggressive mosquitoes. We’re the only ones here — the others must have pulled in at one of the previous shelters. Today was another good day and my love affair with Vermont continues. People complain about the mud but I’ve been to Tasmania.
Japan suffers from a severe case of “pave and build” mentality. “Pave and build” is the idea that huge, expensive, man-made monuments are a priori wonderful, that natural surfaces smoothed over and covered with concrete mean wealth, progress, and modernism” ~ Alex Kerr, ‘Dogs and Demons’
A landscape, like a man or woman, acquires character through time and endurance ~ Edward Abbey, ‘A Voice Crying in the Wilderness’ Walking to the station today, enjoying the blazing morning sun, I happened to glance into a local’s cactus garden. And that got me thinking about deserts, and old Edward ‘Cactus Ed’ Abbey, and cacti, which transported me back to the first days on the Pacific Crest Trail last year.