Two-thousand six-hundred and fifty-three miles is the official length of the Pacific Crest Trail. It stretches from the Northern border of the US and Canada shared at Washington State to the Southern border with Mexico at California. And has been, for a long, long time on my bucket list of things to do.
Given my hiking pace of about 3+ miles per hour that’s about 900 hours of walking, which is no small investment of time. If you turn that into a job, hiking a mere 40 hours a week (the union ensures you get an hour of lunch), that’s 22½ weeks of walking. Nearly half a year. Most thru hikers prefer to do their walking not-buried-in-snow so they speed things along, putting in much longer hours, day after day.
So, knowing what I know about myself and my abilities, I’m probably good for an average of 60 hour weeks, plus nearos and zeros. Let’s SWAG it and go with 4½ months if I can avoid getting hurt and everything goes to plan. May into September isn’t too bad actually, but it’s still quite a long time to leave my family high and dry.
While I was recovering from the radiosurgery someone mentioned to me how she thought it must be nice to never have to talk to anyone. Like this whole muteness thing was somehow wildly freeing. At the time, her comments made me angry, although all I could do was walk away from the situation. I hadn’t energy to argue with her about my disability and I was even less willing to convince her that her words had been somehow deeply hurtful.
Now I’m beginning to understand a lot more about why.
Never being able to talk to anyone means always being stuck inside your own head. It’s very difficult to explain what this means to anyone who hasn’t experienced it before. I imagine that they’re nothing alike, but right now to me it feels very much like being in solitary confinement. There’s a clunky simile. I’ve only ever got my internal monologue for a ready exchange of ideas, because at least 50% of any exchange externally is short circuited.
In the space of time most people have an idea, they can voice it, let it out into the world. If it sounds stupid, well too bad, right? They’re just words and the in the act of giving them sound you instantly understand your own foolish intent and can discard the idea before it does you or anyone else harm. No spell check. No auto correct. No charades. No stopping to explain a sign. No backing up a text-to-voice message because your thumbs are too fucking big and your eyes are getting old.
I do, on the other hand, get the undeniably privilege or working out all the details, mathematics and logistics of my tomfooleries before they’re posted to the internet as rational as concrete. Like this here plan to thru hike the PCT which I’ve been thinking about consistently for months.
Knowing this about my thinking I look at the whole idea, marching alone between Mexico and Canada, and wonder who am I going to hurt? What part of this is a dumb idea I’m too blind to see alone? Should I just be content to section hike the damn trail? Will I ever actually do it then? Maybe I wonder to myself they singed more than your taste and smell center during the surgery and you’re not thinking straight? How the fuck would I know?