PCT Section – Bridge of the Gods (Colombia River) to Snoqualmie Pass
Distance: 250 miles
Elevation Gain: 6600+
Date: August 3 – 13, 2014
Duration: 10 days
This was my first Pacific Crest Trail section hike – a good opportunity to get out of the city for a few days and do some research about trail conditions on the PCT while deciding about thru-hiking next season. The PCT was the convenient option for a multi-day directional backpacking trip with Seattle as the hub… I could catch a ride with Harpo down to the PDX area, and she was willing to pick me up a few days later at Snoqualmie pass.
Trail conditions were, for the most part, superb. The PCT is well maintained and, since it’s stock graded, a true pleasure to hike – the miles are buttery compared to the AT, allowing me to clock 30 mile days (and even 40+ with minimal night hiking). Overall though, with meals and swimming in some beautiful alpine lakes, I averaged about 25 miles/day.
After finishing the Saint Genet show Paradisiacal Rites, which I had been working on for over 3 years, I was experiencing a creative lull, and sinking slowly into an uninspired stupor. I sold a major commission earlier in the summer, and helped New Mystics launch an ambition bike based kinetic sculpture show (Natural Movement) and curate a series of summer concerts featuring new electro-acoustic audiovisual performances with Seattle University (Dream Cargo), and, with Harpo, participate in the Henry’s Summer Field Studies show. I was tired of answering emails, filling in spreadsheets, attending meetings, and exhausted after a prolong stretch of creative work. I needed a break.
I ended up getting more of a break than I expected. Harpo and I had many conversations on the AT about the insidious nature of mediation – especially as it related to smartphones and other screen media. These devices – the next generation of personal content delivery, curated experience, and hyper productivity – all propagate the myth of connectivity, yet actually move us further away from immediate experience, from reality, each other and ourselves. It seems ironic using an iPhone as my primary device to capture and communicate my PCT experience… fortunately that was not an option, as my phone died the first night out and I wasn’t able to charge it until 150 miles later at White Pass. Then, on the second night, my pen ran out.
This left me thinking more deeply about mediation and how it creeps into our lives, creating boundaries between our immediate, emotional selves and our experiences – whether with nature or others around us. Even the considerations “Should I take a photo of this mountain?” or “Is this best time to shoot this sunset?” move us further away from the mountain, the sunset. When what we seek is really there, we are often distracted by a glowing screen, a device demanding attention, a subconscious desire to record, archive and name – a subliminal need for affirmation.
So what was I really looking for – and did I find it – that’s always the questions I suppose. I experienced a few beautiful moments, none of which I felt the need to record. Or maybe I was more present not photographing them – but that brief time, outside of insular, time based world of urban life and mediation, seemed like a waking dream…