Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CT: David Hanson's Recollections

When my ankle forced an abrupt and disappointing end to my thru-hike, Dave and I split up at Marshall Pass just South of Monarch Pass. And while most of my hike had ended, Dave's journey continued without me. Below are excerpts from his Notes on events that transpired during my absence from Marshall Pass till Kennebec Pass.

Hey my friends! What a trip... I have been going solo for a hand full of days now. My friend Tyler had to leave the trail at Marshall Pass after days and miles of pain in his ankle. I certainly miss my trail partners... but there are some good things about the solitude I have been experiencing. It is something I have never known, to be alone for an extended period of time. I have learned a lot about myself that I could not have learned without solitude. I gotta get back to the trail, but I will update anyone who is interested when I finish the trail in little over a week. I miss all my friends and I can't wait to talk to yall. Love to you today.
Just arrived late last evening after a wet and rainy day hiking through the Weminuche Wilderness. That is some gnarly country. Everything is extreme and vertical. It is not very hospitable, but maybe the best stretch of trail thus far.
Leaving Creede, I had a truly beautiful experience. I was leaving the Snowshoe Lodge and heading to the post office to drop off a MASSIVE box full of excess food and provisions. I had my backpack shouldered up, and my hands full. I stopped at a gas station to look for methyl alcohol for my stove. I met a guy named David who offered me a ride to the post office, so I gratefully hitched the 4 blocks. He seemed very eager to assist me. He waited for 15 minutes while I mailed my package. I mention I wanted to use the internet before leaving town, so he suggested I come to his house and use his computer.

When I stepped inside I noticed over a hundred mounted animal heads on the wall... Deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, moose everything you could imagine. I chatted with him and his wife Rhonda. They made me a sandwich, gave me some German chocolate cake. It was great. It turns out they are Christians who see part of purpose is to have an open house to anybody at any time. They live by a philosophy of hospitality. It was so good and pure to be taken care of by complete strangers.

After enjoying their company, David drove me in his 1979 Scout all the way to the trailhead. This beast crawled past all the other parked Jeeps and 4X4's that were parked at the end of the normal road. He continued up an impossibly steep trail and drove me to the top of the Continental Divide. It saved me an extra 2 mile hike. It also added about an hour to his drive. On the way up we also ran across April and Thatch, two friends from the trail. So he picked them up and was taking them into Creede. Overall he spent about 5 hours catering to me. He went way out of his way to meet my needs. I am very grateful for the experience. It has challenged me deeply... I am very grateful to David and Rhonda, they are truly beautiful people. I'll post more on them later.
Dave couldn't stop talking about David and Rhonda's hospitality when I met up with him in Silverton. They must have been special people. Here's another musing of Dave's on material things and freedom:

Life on the trail gives one an interesting perspective on necessity. While hiking there are very few things i NEED. I need water primarily. I had a stretch of 25+ miles without any water sources and had to carry all my water for two days. Food is also a NEED. It is amazing the amount of food I can consume now that I have been hiking 15-24 miles a day. My body is now a carb processing machine. I get hungry every hour.

The last necessity is shelter. Flat ground is at a premium in certain mountain areas. So it is always a trick to find a spot near water that has a patch of 6X3 smooth ground. My pack has a few important items, an alcohol stove made from half a Pepsi can, a pot, headlamp. But I also have discarded many items that I once considered necessary. Extra underwear, gone. Kit that turns sleeping pad into chair, gone. Redundant clothing, gone. I have hiked every day in the same pair of shorts and T-shirt (I keep one change for when I role into town). The reason for keeping my "stuff" to a minimum is simple, every added luxury weighs one down. It is a hinderance. The saying goes, "an once in the morning is a pound at night".
Reflecting on the concept of need, I am more free with less. The more I accumulate the more stationary I become. The more I have to care for my possessions. It is impossible to own more than my fair share when I am required to carry it. On a tangent, everyone I meet in town says, "oh I wish I could do something like your adventure". Then they complain about their job or mortgage. But the reality is, while it may be hard to make certain sacrifices in order have the freedom to do nothing but hike for a month... it also does not require that much money.

The point being, it is easy to let the things I possess OWN ME. I need to find a job when I get off the trail to pay for my car. A car offers freedom, freedom of mobility. But the cost is a loss of freedom as far as what I do with my money.
My decision. I want to learn to live with less so that I may live more freely.

The pictures also belong to David Hanson, and was taken at some point between Marshall Pass and Silverton.
CT: The Last Segment

The Colorado Trail Story

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