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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

Day 73

November 15th, 2015

Nov 12 day 73 Slaty Hut 0 km (a snow day)

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So last night it started raining a bit, something the weather report had warned about. I was not too concerned because it was supposed to finish before morning, and the trails here are very dry, so a little rain would not have any impact. In the middle of the night, I went outside to piss and at first could not understand the strange light all around me: snow. It was still flurrying in the morning wth high winds. All the books say do not get near Mount Rintoul in bad weather as the passage includes a lot of rock scrambling and some very narrow ledges over steep drops. The Richmond Range might be the Tararuas all over again. I still have some serious alpine hiking ahead, much of it slow slog over scree; it will take a lot of time to get across to St. Arnaud. Spent early morning making a fire in the wood stove, reading Heidegger, and drinking coffee. In the back of my mind remains the possibility of running out of food or electricity. I have a back-up battery to keep navigation instruments going, but will have to suspend reading and writing if it starts to run down. Everything I do now requires careful deliberation. Mid-morning Darek arrived from the Starveall hut. It was still snowing a little and the wind was high, but the walk from Starveall is not technically or physically rigorous. The next hut –Old Man hut–is pretty far off the trail, and immediately after that is Little Mt Rintoul, so going on today did not make sense for him. The weather is supposed to be good the next two days, so we both decided to stay (plenty of firewood, comfortable hut) and take on the alpine scree tomorrow. Fortunately the wind dropped and the sun came out in the afternoon, melting much of the snow, so I hope tomorrow’s hike will be smooth. Got some pretty serious cabin fever by late afternoon though. Wrote a while about Thoreau, guess I need to get into his cabin frame of mind. By the end of the day, I was thinking hard about isolation, something quite different from solitude as the former brings with it a barrier and inability to communicate or engage. We may seek solitude for contemplation, relaxation, thoughtfulness, but isolation forces such modes upon us. There is a perverse pleasure in isolation, a helplessness that excuses a lack of sociality or even simple communication. It is pleasure and anxiety put together, a form of being that is both difficult and liberating.

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