‘Unplugging on the PCT’
A couple of nights ago at the hostel, disaster struck. My external phone battery wouldn’t hold charge. I panicked. How would I find water and camping stops without the GPS app ‘Guthooks’? How would I stay in touch with loved ones? Worst of all how would I entertain myself as I walked!?
I’d started the PCT with a practice of being quiet as I hiked in the mornings and listening to audiobooks-podcasts-music in the afternoons. And at some point the distinction blurred and I plugged in anytime I felt like it.
Thankfully my genius friend Blue Ox found a work around solution with his Android phone lead – and I was able to find a free lead of the same type in the hiker box.
But the sick feeling in my belly showed me something wasn’t right. I’d become too attached to audio whilst I walked. So for the last 2 days I’ve unplugged and only listened to the sounds of the trail.
I’ve noticed a music to the day, My body creates the bass with my footsteps and poles. My laboured breathing as I climb. Sometimes strong and steady- sometimes slow and inconsistent.
The melody comes from outside of me – from bird calls, from the wind waving through leaved bushes, from water findings its way, from twigs cracking as life scuttles past.
And the lyrics – they are the running commentary of my restless mind. Sometimes beautiful and kind and present. Sometimes judgemental and ruminating. I seem to shift from lyric, to bass, to melody. But at times they all meet and flow together.
When the lyrics get too much I can no longer plug in my headphones to distract. So I sit with the thoughts and the feelings they bring. And when I notice unhelpful ones I try and let them go. I try and use the bass and melody to help me. To remind me I am not my thoughts.
I feel more connected to self and my needs and more connected to this place. There’s so much aliveness in this place, hidden from the eye but visible to the ear.
What I’ve noticed is a harmony. Nothing shouts importance – it’s all part of the same wild orchestra. And this makes my struggles – my grumpy ankle and slowing less important too.