As I come back from the arduous trip, head in a daze and muscles aching, all I feel like doing is plopping down on my bed and throwing on a movie. There has been this one documentary gnawing at my side for me to watch for some time. It’s the riveting tale of an ordinary man, infected with a passion to do something unthinkable. Something impossible and dangerous, yet, extraordinary. An infection for which the only cure lies among the clouds, in a void between two monsters.
His dream spawned in his creative mind and was inspired by a newspaper ad before the object of it was even created. Something about this looming construction gave him an itch that he knew he could not yet scratch. And he knew that he would be waiting for quite some time. But before I get into the romantic tale of a man’s balance between these two ferocities, I will need to go back, back to another tale nearly forgotten and now splendidly awoken from its hibernation by the fondest of connections, transformed into something new and vibrant.
This tale also begins with a dream. But not the kind of dream you have in the night-time, when the moon is smiling somberly over your slumber, nor the kind you have when thinking about some possibility for action in the future. This one, is a dream born under the sun, where the birds sing a song of chipper excitement… a daydream, of a young man who’s head finds solace in the clouds and who’s feet find the feeling of the dirty earth more comfortable than the softest of carpets.
Have you ever felt your reality turn into a mechanized routine of predictability? Day falls away to night, night pushes up day, again and again in an almost rhythmic percussion of the vibrations on a string. Only difference is that this song is monotone; it’s the sound of the flat-line of a heart in cardiac arrest, of a once chaotic and curiously energetic wire shaken by the inner child without a care.
What sound does the whisper make, that leads you into the forest? What say the feet to the neuronal web when it orders them to walk over three million steps in a summer? I can only imagine these were some of the hidden queries of a Daydreamer who embarked on a journey with the Appalachians as a GAME-er. Then later to manifest itself into a similar journey, northbound, in the company of the sharp personality of the Rockies only the length of a tightrope away. What void persists between them? Might it come along for the ride? How do feet “shake hands” with such an arrogant sharpness?
Inspired by the dream, I set off to bear witness to where these ferocious feet would take me. With feet so close to the Earth they’re almost buried by it, it was hard to imagine they would steer me in any wrong direction. They first brought me to meet the kindred presence of old Katahdin. Every step of the way stole a slot on a disposable roll (rocks are much more interesting in person). With the marker reading “0” on both memory boxes upon reaching the summit, I was delightfully forced to take in the moment through organic lenses. I can still feel the ridges, etched into my brain by the “Knife’s Edge” that followed, like the graffiti left behind on the walls and tables of Yesterdog, a local hot-dog eatery. A blissful void, littered with mountains of ripples in space-time of the quantum realm and covered in a blanket of clouds that I return to, every now and again, in my (night-time) dreams.
What song does the moon sing to tuck the sun in bed? What trail of grain is left behind the sun as it hops over the hills? At what aperture does the soul begin to see the stars?
The journey and dream continued onward like the Amtrak on the opposite end of the slack-line, with an old friend and the eagerness to complete a 74-mile slice of an oatmeal crest pie. No matter if it ended up a little bit burnt… the real joy came from preparing the ingredients.
After all the necessary preparations and planning of meeting points, my companion and I were off on our adventure! We were not yet sure when or where we would rendezvous with our fateful Daydreamer and the one they call Shutterbug, but we knew it would come. For this is the way of the trail… everything is tentative, no absolutes! We continued this way, in a daring balance between doubt and faith, with minimal communication and a growing hunger to realize our reunion.
The beginning of the trail met us with a wonderful rocky riverbed… our first glimpse of “Trail Magic”. We had only been hiking for a short while when this gem first fell upon our ears. “D’you hear that?” exclaims Toke. “Whooosh!” The roaring waters penetrated the drums of our ears eliciting a reverberance that fell profoundly onto our skin, cleansing any lingering presence of the artificial world. After our pupils were filled to the irises with awe of this spectacular display of nature’s showmanship, we quickly set aside our turtle shells, removed our feet clothes, hiked up our pants and put on our wading hats.
The water chilled our bones and invigorated our souls. Understand that this river was ordinarily unusual. There were deep parts contrasted by behemoth type boulders flattened by a millennium of the steady shaping liquid katana. These places were only covered by a thin sheet running away. This led to mini waterfalls and miniature life-giving rock bowls that scattered the oasis. The place was a sanctuary, shaped for thousands of years, just for us to share that moment.
What clever quip holds the water to enter the unbreachable walls of the toughest rock?
After some acrobatic leaps from one rock to the next and a few snapshots for the album, we both enjoyed the relaxful roaring of the whitecaps in our own ways. Without the usual distractions of electrical stimulation, one may find themselves curiously occupied by the oddest of objects. While Toke was off on his own mental meanderings, I preoccupied myself with an ordinary log not quite the size of my forearm. I was first curious as to what path it would take if I let it loose in a narrow catch-pool where the water finds a nice reprieve from its long journey. After just a few moments, I determined its path along the at first, very unpredictable route and rescued it from the stream before it was lost and gone forever. I repeated this several times along the now (somewhat) predictable route to see how consistent the flow of water was. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with larger and smaller sticks that I heard a faint call from Toke trying to get me to come back so we could resume our voyage. After one last calculation (okay, maybe two), I promptly made one last toss of my new found toys and bid them farewell on the rest of their journey.
What fun awaits the most unassuming of objects? When will the things we discard forever, come back to greet us again?