"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Signs for the Seriously Stuck on Stupid

I’ve done some stupid things in my life.  I would like to say I’m the first to admit that, but I think others beat me to it, and they were talking about me.

I frequently failed to learn from the stupid things I’ve done in my life.  I was not the first to admit that either.

Here’s one of the stupid things I’ve done:

This was in 1973.  I was 32, certainly old enough to know better.  I’m at the gas station in Girdwood, waiting to begin a long odyssey down the Alcan Highway through Canada to Outside (the lower 48 states).  Yes, that’s an overloaded 1965 Mustang pulling an enormously overloaded trailer.

I stopped in Anchorage to say bye to my folks.  My mother was aghast.  My father laughed and shook his head.

I had to get towed up steep hills in the Alcan.  I almost burned out the clutch.  I barely made it to Oregon where I swapped the Mustang for a GMC pickup and my cousin transferred the box to the pickup.  All went well after that.

The moral of this anecdote is that it’s a good thing I didn’t know any better, because I never would have gone on that adventure.

Now I’m going off on another stupid adventure, but this time I know in advance it’s stupid.  Unless I change my mind, I’m catching a ride to Hope Thursday morning so I can hike the Resurrection Trail.  Attempt.  Attempt to hike the trail.

Every part of me but my feet is capable of this hike. Also my left shoulder.  And perhaps my right ring finger....and the right shoulder.  Maybe the right ankle, too.

I got the idea last Thursday when my friend Irene posted on Facebook that she and her three young children had hiked the trail over the Fourth of July holiday. 

By Friday night I had disabused myself of the idea.  I’d just walked three miles picking up litter and my feet hurt.  Stupid, I told myself, to think I can still walk 35 miles with a heavy pack.  I’d hiked it forty-plus years ago and since then did part of it by dog team and again on a snowmachine.  It isn’t new territory for me.

Sign:  a discernible indication of what is not itself directly perceptible.

Monday morning I received a sign.  My backpack, which had been hanging on a hook in the garage since May of last year, had fallen to the floor.  Obviously, it wanted to go hiking.

The backpack with its raincoat on the floor.

All right!  Nothing like a sign to help make up my mind.  Preparations began.  No problem with bears, I figured.  They’ll all be in Cooper Landing looking for salmon at the Russian River.

Monday, thinking I could save myself a trip to Seward, I went online to look for trail information.  When I Googled Resurrection Trail, up popped this link:

Okaaaaay, a year to the day.  Bear attack. 

Was that a sign?  Perhaps an ominous omen?  I got to thinking about that backpack falling to the floor after more than a year. 

Omen:  an occurrence or phenomenon believed to portend a future event.

Does the backpack really want to go?  Or is it telling me I’m gonna fall flat on my face for whatever  reason? 

Like, a fetal position to protect from a charging bear?

What do you think?  Is this a backpack that wants to go, or a backpack in the fetal position?


  1. My gut feeling is that you should abort your plans ASAP. But then, if you're like me that won't stop you. When I get an idea in my head, I mostly go with it regardless of how insane it might be.

    I think your backpack is telling you to stop, drop and roll for excitement instead of taking a 35 mile hike.

    How about a trial hike of 5 miles, 2.5 miles out and back to see how it goes?

  2. A trial hike sounds like a good idea. The bear attacks don't. You will have a hiking partner, won't you.

  3. I'm late reading this, so it's like I read the ending to a good suspense novel in reverse order. That newspaper article would have stopped me.