Back in June I discovered what the theme of 2012 would be, and wrote “The modern delusion, fostered by vehicular transport and synchronized schedules, that all hours and days are equal is easily done away with. That the particulars of our experience create experience itself, rather than daily routine being poured into minutes like water into ice cube trays, never seems plainer than 5/6ths of the way through an all-day walk.” The rest of 2012 has, thus far, concerned itself with doing adventures for the experience, with others, rather than doing adventures to have them done.
Megan, who now lives in Whitefish too, crossing a creek at the height of June melt-off. When I crossed this same creek after a full day of fishing, towards the end of August, this spot was almost dry.
Patagonia has a worthwhile series going, written by surfer Dan Malloy about a bike/surf trip along the California coast. They found what they were looking for, but as Malloy writes “In the last month I have learned more about the people and places along the California coast than I had in 34 years and a thousand trips by car. Maybe slow is fast. We have been on the road for five weeks now and we are thoroughly convinced that we have found the fabled confluence of old California and new California. The bummer is, it’s not a physical place and the only way we seem to be able to track it down is by bike.”
When I think about all that I learned this summer, especially the 7 week stretch after I returned from Alaska and before we started moving, the examples flood in. Few of them are things, and none of them can be easily articulated. I now know what Aurice Lake looks like, especially the twisted strata and wandering sod-rimmed pools near the outlet. I now know where the goats use the trail through the Hole-in-the-Wall cirque, and where they deviate and tread their own. I better understand how rivers and rapids differ in my eyes versus M’s. My ability to spot a fish, either directly or by knowing where one will be in relation to the swirls of the surface and the placement of rocks, is very much improved. My mental map of Glacier has fewer holes than it did six months ago, and my inventory of ideas for outings this winter is exponentially bigger than at this time last year.
Not things, really. I remember how I found them, but I have only a vague idea of how I’d show someone else who found their rumors interesting.
I found them by slowing down, both literally in terms of speed and more substantively by traveling through the woods and mountains at a pace other than my own. In July, when M and I hiked up and through Iceberg Notch, I automatically took the route up through the meadows along the stream. On the first and only other occasion I had gone that way, I didn’t know about the trail 200 yards away in the trees, and though I had walked past the sign at that particular trail junction before, I had always been looking the other way.
Walking at another’s pace wasn’t just important because it let M come with me, and it wasn’t difficult just because walking slower than your optimal pace is harder (which it emphatically is!), it was revelatory and challenging because this simple alteration had me looking at things and how I moved through and around them in an often vastly different way.
The only regrettable thing about this process has been that going different has almost always meant going slower, and that by practicing going slower for most of the year, I have gotten slower. Fatigue was part of it, but the 20+ mile days on our trip last month felt much harder than they had any right to. Partly because of new habits, but more wholly because of my arc the last four years, I’ve gotten fatter and slower in 2012.
My fitness high point was probably the spring and summer of 2008. Particularly the Coyote 2 Moons 1ook and KMC 130, though my May cycling road trip with Steve stands as an accomplishment as well. Each year since has had it’s highlights, with finishing the Devil’s Backbone 50 and DNFing the Markagunt Enduro one week later as a particularly proud moment, but with grad school and an increasingly serious career it has been all too easy to let fitness slide.
My resolution for 2013 is to go hard in the other direction, while still maintaining the various extra-athletic gains which have made life recently so rich. Those rare readers who have been around since the Arizona days know that I put more time and effort into writing here than I did before, and the hours in the day are finite. How will I have my cake and eat it too? By continuing to cut much of the fat out of my daily life. It’s important to have mindless hours reading nothing of great consequence (often online) and drinking tea; that is usually the only way to get my mind back after harder days of work. But it’s also important to run in the wee hours of the morning, and that gets shoved aside more often than as of late. As of now, that will stop.
The advantage I carry into my goals for next year is more experience and confidence, much more than I had in 2008. I know what I want to do, and I know what steps will get me there. The later part will be pretty uninteresting, as I’ll be starting the base phase next week very much from scratch. The end result in nine months will be pretty entertaining. At least, I think you all will enjoy it. For now, a big storm is forecast for the weekend, and I’ve got a backcountry permit and a plan to kick of the ’13 season with some solo time and cold feet. I’m not planning on it, but the holiday skiing might actually be decent this year. The winter quiver is mostly assembled, mounted, and waxed in anticipation.