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August 1-2 2023, Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to US Route 302:
I found out I hit the negatives in my bank account when I tried to make a food purchase at a store. I never found myself to take money as too serious of a perception. I often had the mentality that I would spend money if it felt inspiring, just the same as I would save money if that felt inspiring. I no longer budgeted myself nor did I put any kind of limitations on myself as I had seen that would backfire and seem to cause resentment in my mind.
In Hawaii we would say, “If can, can. If no can, no can.”
It really was that simple. If the means were available, then great. If not, that was great, too. Take it as it comes. I was aware that whatever experience I received was absolutely perfect for me. The perception of running out of money also excited a sense of ‘challenge accepted’ in me. I would look at it as a game to see how I could maneuver around without it.
In Hawaii, I found it was super easy. At one point, I was completely broke for three months there and it was actually one of the most happiest, liberating times in my life. I will say, it seemed very easy to be without money on the island because there was so much abundance. I remember being able to walk on the red road and just pick myself some guavas and mangoes off of a tree. The experience I was in now felt a bit different, but I didn’t feel worried about it.
I ran into a guy named Frozen Belt who surprise trail magic’d me food at the local coffee shop in town then gave me some of his leftover snacks. Then, we sat at a table and talked stories about hiking. I loved being in the presence of older gentlemen. I was so drawn to their energy. I found safety and comfort in them it seemed. I also cherished the innocence of sharing a simple conversation.
He excitedly pulled out a paper map and showed me the side trails he took on the AT, one of which led him to a plane crash site. Then, he shared stories about how he took a detour into a museum one time and accidentally got featured on TV.
After that, I took most of the day off so I could work on my writing, then hitched back to the trail and got back on near the base of Mt. Washington—figured I would actually hike it for real this time. I camped about five miles in so I could climb up Mt. Washington in the morning.
The following day, I started to climb early so I could avoid the heat and see some views before any possible thunderstorms came around in the afternoon. But, let me say, it was absolutely freezing, especially when I got to the top and the sun was still making its way through the clouds. Once I got above tree line, it was extremely exposed with high winds, but it just pushed me to keep climbing so I could stay warm.
I was so grateful that I made the apparent decision to summit the mountain by actually hiking it. I felt the experience was more rewarding in my mind. It could not have been a more perfect day to do so, either. Once the sun came out, it was still cool in the air and I actually got to see breathtaking views! It reminded me a lot of California—vast mountain ridges, neatly stacked rock cairns and exposed ridge walking.
The only thing that didn’t really resonate with me was the amount of people that were there was absolutely astounding. On the AT it seemed that where the solid views were, the people gathered in crowds. On the PCT and CDT, most of the best views were often times a few days hike into the middle of the wilderness and most of the time I would be alone, or at minimum, there would only be a few people.
On the way down, I ran into some day hikers who randomly asked if I was hungry. I excitedly said ‘yes’ and they trail magic’d me most of their food and snacks. Then, I visited the hut shortly after them and found they were giving out free oatmeal. I also loaded up on more snacks that I found in the hiker box. The trail always provided.
When I got down to the road, I hitched a ride by a woman named Kathy. She had already picked up another young hiker guy who was hitchhiking, so I cruised with them as she helped him take care of some errands. Then, he got dropped off on trail and I asked Kathy if I could please do laundry at her house since she lived in the area. She said yes!
At her place, we sat together on the couch and shared some conversation as I sipped on a coke. I found her to be SO cool! She had hiked the AT in 2014 and had been married for 30 years at the time. After she finished her thru, she realized she wanted to get a divorce. It wasn’t because of infidelity or anything like that, she just realized how much she loved being alone. During the hike, she also realized that she didn’t miss her husband or her house and that she didn’t necessarily want to come back home, which to her was a red flag. And when she finally did come home, she was very distant with him.
She expressed how her and her husband were very different in their personalities. He was very social and she was very introverted, so she felt a big clash when it came to finding common ground. She desired solitude and quietness, whereas he desired a loud environment and being around crowds. He would often make her feel bad or take it personally if she wanted to stay home and read a book instead of going out to a gathering.
She said that her husband was now married to someone who was much more extroverted and that he seemed really happy, and she expressed how much she loved being single, especially now that she was in her sixties.
She said she would be moving out of her apartment in North Conway and maybe living in her car “or maybe I’ll visit Alaska or something,” she would say. I smiled and told her how cool I thought she was. Honestly, she reminded me of what I would be like in the future and I absolutely loved being able to receive that vision from her.
I often found it weird the stigma that was placed on society to make it look like being alone, especially when you were older, was a dreadful thing or something to fear/avoid. I never understood that. In fact, I found in my experience, I would find more comfort experiencing a vision of solitude versus a vision of a man with me.
After my laundry was done, she surprise trail magic’d me a night stay at the CoHo hostel and bought me what was considered the ‘best burger in town.’ While we were sitting outside on the bench waiting for our food, we saw a car accident unfold right before our eyes. Someone apparently got t-boned, but everyone came out safe. I felt gratitude for the perception of human kind when I saw a bunch of people stopping traffic and getting out of their vehicles to help out.