Adrift a few more days

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(I’m in the labcoat) When in doubt, jazz hands?

Well.  Time for ending my contract with six days at sea.  Even though I’ve actually been quite lucky with this contract (awesome and unusual destinations for a cruise, including places with good hiking, nice colleagues, no crazy managers, never hearing anything from the acupuncture department people/regional sales managers generally equaling less stress.  Although it also means no help at all as I was told there would be, and also I’m less than a week from returning to the US still without any idea about my flight details back to NJ.)  I am so.fucking.ready. to be off of this ship.  I know it was necessary to make money, and it was a pretty sweet setup to be basically a guaranteed hire, and not to have any startup fees other than the money for medical exams needed to get on the ship, but man, I really feel like I mostly put my life on hold for 7 months.  I don’t feel like I learned much about treating patients, I don’t feel like I learned much about public speaking/giving seminars even though I did a ton of both of these things.  I guess some of this is due to growing up doing a fair amount of public speaking, and having some good professors in school that I super paid attention to how they spoke about medicine, both to us and to patients.  Acupuncturists/Chinese herbalists can get really stuck in their particular jargon and I think it very important to use the words people know, although in this case it’s basically Western medical terms.  But I know how to translate things, generally.  Will I do another contract?  The temporary nature of it is certainly appealing but damn, 6 months is a long time.  Alaska is really the only other place I’m interested in going to.

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A photo record is crucial on the ships as you may not recall what happened in the AM (I was busy sleeping during this particular party…)

Socially, life on the ships is not really my bag.  I DO have standing offers to sit in with the various bands on the ship, which is definitely unique, but I don’t really know a lot of pop or whatever you call this music, and I don’t like most of it, and it also means I’d have to stay up late AND get up early for work.  Well, maybe if I do another contract I’ll bring a Real Book.  I never really played straight ahead jazz, I’m honestly not really interested at this point, but I also was pretty bored as well and it would be a useful skill to have, something new to learn.  As my friend put it, in order to survive on ships “one becomes either an alcoholic or a cabin recluse, or gets one a fuck buddy”.  I selected door number two, folks…altho there was this random body-builder 21-yr-old type down the hall from me who super sweats older women that I could have probably pulled a James Brown with whenever?  I just couldn’t get excited about that.  Actually, to be honest, overly muscular men make me nauseous a bit.  If I have to pick a physical type to be attracted to, it’s somewhere between soccer player and emaciated starving artist.  Besides the fact that I just can’t get myself to hook up with people unless I am into having a relationship with them and I feel (always in my life, misguidedly) that they might be interested in that also.  Also also! this would mean I am officially a cougar if I hit that, I’m not ready for this.

Speaking of that!  It’s a hiking blog apparently.  I have this idea in my head that it will be much easier for me to find a compatible partner in Trail Life than Real Life.  I have no idea why I think this.  I hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in a dress, and probably even the last 1/3rd with no underwear whatsoever (f the chafe, yo).  There are supposedly many more men than women on that trail.  I got hit on an approximate zero times during this 4.5 months’ time.  The only thing that can explain my empty love life, I am convinced, is that I have some sort of rare pheromone disorder.  It’s really the most logical answer.  So I plod on, clad in another merino dress and my unusual personality (conservative-seeming activist-aware hippie-hipster travel-hacking ex-musician Wunderkind eclectic quasi-autistic genius who belongs in a Waldkindergarten).  Will the PCT be the time I meet some soul-mate person?  Based on my life to date, no, but I try to remain unjaded and hopeful.  Certainly it’s more logical to meet someone here than say in corporate ‘merika.  I just wonder, again, Universe, what exact lesson am I supposed to learn from all of this sort of experience.

In the meantime at least I will keep my health somewhat ok.  Desert heat to dry out my acne-prone skin and prevent edema!  Mountain breezes with negative ions!  Pure spring water that may or may not have strange pathogens lurking in its midst!  Avoiding the scourges of Modern Life, insulin resistance…diabetes…obesity!  I look at my parents’ generation in my family, I’m not willing to settle for that.  So in my own way I plod towards health or the small weakening of the scythe.

God, I’m so dramatic, aren’t I?  I promise this whole blog won’t be that way!

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5 Reasons Why It’s a GRRREAT year to hike the PCT in 2017

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Thanks, Tony.

Well, with all of the [mostly rational] fear-mongering going on about Sierra conditions, I once again am having a little bit of self-doubt.  Or, to be honest, laziness?  Fear of the Cold and Damp?  So I thought I’d do a little pick-me-up article on why it’s imperative that I [safely] hike this summer instead of putting it off for another time.

 

  1. Water? No worries!

 

This year is unlike other years in that water is the absolute least of anyone’s worries.  So far the PCT water report is listing most sources (even those generally dry) as hunky dory.  I tend to do well in dry conditions, but hey!  One less thing to worry about, and my back is definitely a fan as well.

 

Speaking of that…

 

  1. Only the tough will survive.

People are already bailing from treacherous conditions.  Not that I want to see people not succeed in something they’ve always wanted to do, but if there are less people out there, you get to have the wilderness more wild.

 

  1. Seeing shit you don’t usually get to see.

Having everyone else bail means you have this landscape all to yourself.  And that’s pretty epic, as you will see some things that have been more rare on the trail in recent years.  Giant blankets of snow!  Obscured sign posts potentially forcing you to use a compass!  Rushing stream crossings!  It will be challenging, but rewarding.

 

  1. Total solar eclipse

So if you can manage to make it through California, and can get thee to Oregon, you will be directly in the path of a total solar eclipse.  Can I say this again?  Sure.  YOU.WILL.BE.DIRECTLY.IN.THE.PATH.OF.A.TOTAL.SOLAR.ECLIPSE.  Guess when the last of these bad boys passed through the lower 48?  In 1979.  Before I was born.  Even more fun facts from Wikipedia:

 

The August 2017 eclipse will be the first with a path of totality crossing the USA’s Pacific coast and Atlantic coast since 1918. Also, its path of totality makes landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country’s independence in 1776. (The path of totality of the eclipse of June 13, 1257, was the last to make landfall exclusively on lands currently part of the USA.

 

Who else is getting an astronomy hard-on with me?

 

And the number one reason to thru hike the PCT in 2017…..

 

  1. Don’t put off the future

 

Again put in perspective this year by working with tons of retirees on life-dreams who are traveling the world, but too frail/in pain to do half of the things they want to do, I’m simply unwilling to put dreams off for tomorrow at this point in my life.  I can honestly say that while I haven’t exactly lived a secure life, I don’t really have regrets about it (mayyyybe not learning a foreign language when I was younger, but I acknowledge it was/is still not high enough on my priorities list, and I’ve mostly gotten over it).  So just do what you want to do, as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone else.  You will make unexpected memories and connections along the way.  Not much more to life than knowledge and experience anyway.

Couple training hikes

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Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in ‘Nam anymore…

So…right.  I seem to do my training hikes in the conditions least like the trail I am going to hike afterwards.  Such as hiking in Central Asia and Nepal before hiking the Appalachian Trail.  That’s called cross-training, right?

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Hiking at 3000m in Kyrgyzstan July 2015.  Pretty much exactly like the AT, right?

On Monday couple of the boys and I tackled the Cross Island Track in Rarotonga (Cook Islands).  Because the best way to train for crossing a country in 5 months, is to cross a country in 4 hours.  Super awesome hike with a nice little rope/scramble up to “The Needle” with amazing views.  The waterfall at the end was out of water though which was a super bummer.   However, we did get to take a little dip in the ocean at the other side of the island, the water was transparent and just perfect temperature.  Then we almost immediately got a hitch back to the boat in the cab of a cement truck.  Why have I not had adventures like these more often?  Mostly people on the ship don’t like to do stuff like this (two of the guys were newer).

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After a day in between we took another hike (minus the guy from South Africa, because Holland America are jerks and wouldn’t go to the hassle of applying for a visa, which they wouldn’t even pay for, for people from ZA like they have on other ships, so they could get off in French Polynesia).  This time it was Les Trois Cascades to make up for the  missed waterfall on Rarotonga.  Typical tourist-French-Euro BS, “You can’t possibly get there on your own, you need a guide”…”There’s no way you can find it by yourselves” etc.  It took forever for us to get a hitch out of the main town of Uturoa, and we ended up roadwalking most of the 7 km to the start of the trail.  Two ladies picked us up with a km or so to go and they were super nice!  Also, they let us know that apparently we just missed the Obamas (and perhaps other people like Oprah, Bruce Springsteen, and That Guy Who Owns Oracle) in the marina.  Hob-nobbing with ex-presidents…that’s how we roll, people.

Anyway almost immediately upon finding the trail we acquired two super friendly dog guides, who led us on the way and also protected us from some other dogs belonging to another farm we passed.  There WERE a couple stream crossings, but nothing gnarly, certainly not in a warm “dry” (it was humid as a hammam) environment, and the trail to the waterfalls was easy enough to follow.  One of the guys who luuuuuves taking pics of everyone, especially himself (cue Carly Simon) actually got some cool shots of me, which I’m thankful for as I am only remotely photogenic when in an action shot I don’t know about.  After taking a swim in the pool at the base of a pretty epic waterfall, we found out there were some type of crawdiddies in there.  And eels.  Sorta hangry-looking eels.  Who tried to jump out of the water.  I got eaten up by mosquitos and continued to be envious of the skinny guy from Belarus who managed to be unscathed yet again.  Anyway, all in all another really great day.

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Eat your heart out, Herbal Essences shampoo

Unfortunately the guys didn’t want to hike again in Bora Bora (at least on day one), then there was drama later on with someone’s purse getting stolen from a five star resort, but I did make friends with two lovely ladies who were just a breath of fresh air for me.  Talking about careers as musicians, and politics, and travel, and life in your 30s-40s, and making strange noises, and shite.  I was pretty tired though and also revved up from another colleague who almost got fired that day, so I just took a lie-in and read old posts from blogs I’ve downloaded.  Which meant by the time I got around to it, it was too late to hike on Bora Bora before going to work.  Well, hopefully some more hikes await on the next few islands – I’ve off on Moorea, Rangiroa, and Nuka Hiva.  The end is near and getting off this boat will really make the reality of thru hiking in less than a month more real.