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.
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.