Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Backpacking Chronicles: 2

posted by Melissa
There's Nothing That the Road Cannot Heal
(Lyric taken from Conor Oberst's song Moab)

Hiking down.
We hiked five miles out of the Eightmile Lake area, and yes, it was a hike.  Jamie seemed to think it didn't count as a hike.  Why?  Because it was downhill?  Last I checked, whether going uphill or down, if you are out in the wilderness (bear country backwoods wilderness) and you are walking, it is technically termed a hike.  Anyone else care to argue this point?

As I stated in the previous edition of "The Backpacking Chronicles" , the joy had begun to flood back into my sissy ass soul.  By the time we were in the car, driving down around steep cliffs at every curve on the gravel road to get a sausage in Leavenworth, I was thinking that the exposure therapy had really had a lasting effect.  I was not as afraid as I used to be.  Was I looking forward to another hike?  No.  All I am saying is that the drive was not as scary.

We came upon another big decision in the road.  Where should we go from here?  Camp outside of Leavenworth?  But the mosquitos.  Drive up into the Methow Valley?  Seemed far enough that the dream of no mosquitos could exist.  We all opted for the drive and  I love a good road trip.  The wind blowing, the music playing, the sun and a smile all over my face.

We quickly drove from land filled with pine trees and craggy mountain peaks, to a land that was softer and dry, with brown rolling hills.  Maybe it is because we live in such a damp place, but that dry air felt so good.  The arid land comforted my weary heart.  Or maybe it is simply that we were driving away from the mountain.
The pier we jumped off of, Lake Chelan.

We stopped along the drive at Lake Chelan.  It was nearing 4:30pm and we all knew we had to make a choice of where we were going to sleep that night.  I tried as hard as I could to telepathically send messages of sleeping at a hotel to the rest of the crew.  Apparently nobody got the memo.  Our choices boiled down to an overcrowded state park camp site, with our option being site 109.  We drove around, and it didn't exist.  It soon became the title to a horror film in which campsite 109 swallows people up into their worst nightmare.

This not seeming like a good option, we chose to drive on.  As our charmed trip would have it, we came upon a city park where we could swim for free.  Ahhhh.  Lake Chelan.  We all felt reborn in it's clear and refreshing water.  Happliy, we drove on, knowing another good decision was made.

I tried my supernatural mind powers again as we neared Twisp.  I really, really wanted to sleep in a hotel in Twisp.  No such luck.  Again we drove and drove, searching for a campsite that was supposed to be down some road in the middle of nowhere.  We never found it.  Campsite 109 jokes and comments filled the minivan.

Winthrop, WA 
We set our sites on Winthrop.  Bob knew of a campsite outside of town that was free, and he had been there, so it truly did exist.  It wasn't much further up the road, and I relieved myself of the grueling mind games that weren't working.  Yes, we were going to camp outside again, in the tiny tent.  Fine.

Plus, we got to drive through Winthrop.  "Holy F*#king Cute!" I exclaimed, as I drove through the town at about 5 miles per hour.  Can I get an HFC!  Damn that place is cute.  I didn't care that I had to sleep in a tent, I was going to be outside of this f*#king cuteness, and that made everything OK.  It also meant that perhaps tomorrow I was going to get to eat at a restaurant in this cuteness and walk around and dream about living there.

Campsite, not 109.
Yes, a road trip can heal a lot of things.  You drive away from your pain, and again like birth, the further away you get, the less traumatic the memory becomes.  You start thinking of the wildflowers you somehow collected in your memory, when at the time, you didn't think you cared to notice them.  You remember the feeling of being finished, and the sense of accomplishment, finding out that you had it in you to do something you didn't think you ever could.

We set up camp along the Methow River, ate our freeze-dried packets of food, and sat around the campfire already reminiscing on the fond memories we were creating on this trip.  There were a few mosquitos, but nothing like Lake Caroline.  There were just enough to remind us of how lucky we were to be here, and not there.

"Washed under the blacktop, gone beneath my wheels
There's nothing that the road cannot heal."
-Conor Oberst.



Unknown said...

Really nice! HFC!

Unknown said...

HFC! Nice one.

Melissa Baumgart said...

Thanks, Unknown! It's my new fave. HFC!

Bob Redmond said...

I loved hearing (for the first time) that Conor Oberst song playing in the van. Now it will always bring good memories!