I am just a vagabond, a drifter on the run.
And eloquent profanity, it rolls right off my tongue. (Lowell George)
With about two weeks until my hike and an abundance of local snow, skiing has been a great way to keep my legs limber, if not trail-ready. Skiing and hiking both involve moving through space, variations on the Americana ‘road’ theme I’ve found so seductive over the years. I am a wanderer who’s sentimentality for the road is as old and enduring as anything about me. I’ve noticed that as a hike draws closer, the old road stories bubble up from the depths as though awakening from hibernation.
Like those first few days of 1984 as I hitchhiked down the coast from the Dead’s New Year’s Eve run at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium to La Paz, California, Casar Chavez’s communal enclave in the Tehachapi hills.
Somewhere on a road near Bakersfield a pickup truck with a camping shell stopped to offer me a ride, the two hippie farmers in the cab yelling for me to hop in the back and “Feel free to fill your pack, man, we’re growers!” Initial disappointment when I found a heap of dried figs under the shell, but short-lived once I realized how long they’d last and how sweet they tasted. A month later I when I set out for the long hitch back to Minnesota I was still eating the last of those damn figs.
Thirty-five years later I’ve got no idea what stories I may accumulate hiking the Continental Divide, but if they bring me as many happy recollections as that mountain of figs in Bakersfield, I’m in for some fun.