It’s been a while

I’ve been lying on my friend Sue’s couch whose house and rabbit I’m looking after while she’s down in Mexico, re-reading Wild which I picked up again last year as a fix of trail nostalgia. I’ve been picking up on so many details that hadn’t jumped out at me before I hiked the trail, and no, I still haven’t seen the movie, though I seem to be saving it like a bottle of wine or a block of cheese that I’m hoping will improve with age.

The reflection of raindrops outside the window was casting shadows across the pages as I read, and as Cheryl arrived at Crater Lake, which seems to be such a turning point along the PCT for many thru-hikers, my mind turned to Otter, and I immediately jumped up to see if there were any updates posted on his website.

I’ve been in contact with his sister Miranda recently, and I know she’s planning to post an update shortly as the conditions will soon allow hikers wishing to participate in the search to access the trail. I will post these updates on my blog once they’ve been published, but I recommend remaining updated via thesearchforotter.wordpress.com or their Facebook page.

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Probably the longest stretch since I started blogging before the trail in January of 2013. I received a wonderful email recently from one of my readers who clearly didn’t want to pry, but was curious as to what I’ve been up to this year. When January 1st ticked over I asked myself why I needed to post my life online for other people to read. I’m sure there’s many deep seeded reasons behind it which could be analysed to death, but I was doing it because I wanted to, because I enjoyed sharing what was going on inside my head and recognising through people’s comments that I wasn’t alone in my complexities.

This year I haven’t spent as many lonely nights sitting in front my laptop brewing on philosophies about what I’m thinking and feeling. I’ve just been living and working hard on various projects, while my world has become increasingly simple and small. I exist mostly within a 10km radius of Vancouver, and although I recently bit the bullet and purchased a car, I’ve only sat behind the wheel twice as I still much prefer to ride my bike around town. I know I’ll use it for trips outside the city once the weather improves, but for now the best thing about owning a car is that I’m no longer searching for one.

On a reconnaissance of the Vancouver Marathon route last night, (which I’m working on NOT running in), I discovered parts of the city around UBC (the University of British Columbia), which I’d never explored before. There are miles of trails through the preserved forest hugging the shores of the Georgia Strait, and I couldn’t believe I’d never thought to visit the area before. Pre-car, if an area was too far to bike to, it remained off the radar unless someone else was driving. But all of a sudden I realised my 10km radius has now expanded with infinite possibilities (within Canada), and truthfully it actually made me nervous.

My mum described me as a bird with clipped wings last year because of my residency requirements, which are forcing me to remain in Canada until I can renew my permanent residency. At times I guess I’ve felt like a caged bird, especially not being able to go back to Australia for Christmas or my best friend’s wedding later this month. But after almost a year I’ve started to get used to my surroundings, so much so I don’t feel like I’m in a cage anymore. It feels more like a safety net, where I can predict what’s going to happen and what I’m going to experience around each and every corner.

What I find fascinating about this analogy is now that the door of the cage has been pried open even just a little by the reality of owning a car; I’m hesitant to break out of my safety bubble. For someone who previously had almost limitless boundaries, I was shocked to admit to myself that I’ve developed some form of clipped wing syndrome (which is my own definition of a condition I’m sure exists), and was so astonished by it that I was compelled to write it down. I know this will disappear the moment I venture out beyond my regular boundaries, but it amazed me that I could experience such a thing, and it made me realise what adaptable creatures we are to our environments and routines.

My theory is that it takes one month to get used to a new job or environment, and three months to actually feel comfortable. After a year that job or place becomes the norm, and then to change it again that cycle just repeats itself. I love now having a place I call home and a job where my colleagues have become friends. I love working in an industry I’m passionate about and also, though I sometimes panic about the deterioration of my bank account, I love that I’m forced to live simply and that I’ve developed a heightened appreciation for everything life offers me.

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To answer the question of what I’ve been up to this year, I’ve shared a video below of the most magical field trip I experienced with work last month (outside of my 10km radius!). We hiked to the summit of Rainbow Mountain from Whistler Olympic Park in the Callahan Valley, and it was the first night I’ve ever camped on snow and slept at -15 degrees. I’m not in a hurry to do it again, but experiencing sunrise during our climb to the summit was breathtaking, and well worth the restless night of sleep.

13 thoughts on “It’s been a while”

  1. Hi Muk, missed your posts lately, and just saw you pop up. Made me smile. Like your video, and wish our snow here in socal was something more like that. I’m untangling gear for hike up one of our freeze thaw icy snow mtns tomorrow. Blah a friend just fell off another 1500 ft to his death, third of Mt Baldy in 3 weeks. was so strange, saw news of third and we canceled our trip up same mtn for that weekend, and 2 days later found out it was a friend, and far better on ice than I. Weird feeling. Well tomorrow I’m excited for the hike, it’s higher, but not as exposed.

    1. Hey Gromit, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Such a tragedy and no doubt a tough reality check. Take care on your hike tomorrow and enjoy those views. Great to hear from you again!

    1. Huh, I’d never heard that tune before. I particularly loved the instrumental sections! Thanks for sharing! I actually drove to the forest out near UBC today to run along the trails. As expected it was magical to venture out of the cage finally! Love to you both.

  2. Well, as an old gal living in South Texas and NOT doing what you are – I totally enjoy reading your posts and following your life experiences. So keep it up girl – this 60 year old is living through you the fun – and it’s FUNNNNNNNN.

    1. Thanks Carol. It’s messages like yours that continue to motivate me to share my thoughts and experiences with this community of readers (many of whom have been following for more than three years now!) I’m always astonished that after so long people are still actually reading (considering most of my friends changed the channel once I completed the PCT!) 🙂 Thanks again for touching base!

  3. Snow Camping looks fun! Did you ever try putting one of those emergency blankets that are reflective of heat on the bottom of your pad to help keep warm and prevent the cold on the ground on your back? It might help. Nothing is worst than sleeping on cold ground.

    1. Hey Linda no I didn’t think to try that but moving forward I’m going to invest in a much more insulated sleeping pad before camping on snow again. Though I much prefer the comfort of camping in the summertime, you can’t beat the beauty of winter!! I’d like to test out the emergency blanket next time too! Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I love your analogy of clipped wings syndrome….I can see how Ive done that a bit, deliberately…I was sometimes completely invested in something until I was completely over it, and the switch was black and white…I was in my 10k bubble until I was 1000k on a flight, swearing I needed adventure…I never saw this gap in-between …As the buddha says, a guitar who’s strings arnt too tight, and too loose, but just right! Im starting to find that rhythm, and even in the 10k we can fit a lot…If a photo can have 1000 words, how many stories, people, new things can you find in your neighbourhood…For the first time I went down kingsway to the asian area and went to these thai bakeries and tried all this stuff, I am new to having this perception! Thai was for thailand, accept when once in a blue I would cook red coconut curry…Adventure is in the soul long before the continents! Im happy you got a car, I think for someone that doesn’t have wings, and who needs more then just roots, I’m happy you have feet…

    Ill leave you with a quote, and thanks as always for sharing your heart through words…I really connect with it each time! 🙂

    When you hear dirty story wash your ears.

    When you see ugly stuff wash your eyes.

    When you get bad thoughts wash your mind.

    and Keep your feet muddy.

    —Nanao Sakaki

  5. As always, I was so happy to see your newest post in my in-box ! An instant smile hit my face.
    😜

    I loved the Whitebird song that was posted on March 5th. I too had never heard it . The lyrics were I particularlly pertinant and enjoyed the images. Made me want to get out my paints and get painting.

    I was also struck by your caged bird theme. It made me think of migrating birds and butterflies. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano every year or the Monarch butterflies, whose nomadic journeys take several lifetimes to go full circle.

    Here in Alaska, we have our eyes on the sky for the return of the Sandhill Craines. What appears to be the same mating pair…has returned to our yard every spring for years now.
    (the female has been tagged, so we can follower her on the internet) Flying thousands of miles and able to set down anywhere they like…still, they freely choose the same place to spend their seasons. As if their own gilded cage was safely waiting with an open door (and safety net) for their landing.

    I hope you continue to find the joy in your comfortable surroundings and even more happiness as you spread your wings. I hear the view is terrific from up there
    🐦
    Lyndella

    1. Thanks for your poetically written comment Lyndella. It made me think of one of the most beautiful and fascinating documentaries I saw years ago called Migrating Birds. I just found it on YouTube, I think you’ll love it! https://youtu.be/5pFiuUUBKoY

      1. Wow,
        I finally got my chance to watch this awesome video of bird migration. Truely spectacular footage ! Absolutely mesmorizing.
        Thanks for the link, I will share it with everyone.

        Lyndella

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