Late morning, clear day. The sun is shining, the wind is whipping fast; I’m sitting in the bed of a moving truck on a little-trafficked backroad in Molalla, OR, thirty-and-some miles outside Portland. There’s a dog in my lap. A local couple had done me the favor of picking me up as I walked back into town from the campsite. This memory has a glowing haze around it; it’s burned into me because of the quiet reflection bought with that moment of silence.
I’d bemoaned passing so quickly through the Bay Area the prior day, and since I didn’t have to be in San Jose for my Winchester Mystery House tour until 2PM and the Bigfoot Discovery Museum wouldn’t close until 6PM, the thought struck me that I could spend the afternoon exploring my favorite literary generation in the very city it was born in: The Beat Movement in San Francisco.
When the fog and rain cleared, suddenly the entire landscape was glorious. The final stretch of the trail between my camp spot and Lost Lake followed along the pinnacle of a ridge that allowed me to see out over the whole mountain range on either side of me. I felt like I was on top of the world. I think about that sometimes now, when I’m staring at four walls - how strange it is to know that such places exist, all on their own, all the time, without you there to behold it. Just waiting with open arms.
I'm sure a hardcore thru-hiker or a mountain climber has completely different needs. If, like me, you're not that impressive but still feel like half-assing your way into total freedom, know that for a few unpredictable months on the road/trail, interspersed with hostel stays, my Bugout Bag always serves me well. I keep it stocked with the following items at all times…..just in case: