Of My Own Making – Day 97: China Beach to Harris State Park

July 27

We don’t get washed away by high tide, which is good, so we get walking. I am not feeling it this morning. My body is still saying no to the PCT and I few confused about what I’m supposed to do. I’m running scenarios through my head, paying attention to the feeling in my chest. It’s making me slow.

“What’s wrong?” Dexter asks.

“I don’t want to hike,” I say.

“You could catch a hitch,” she says.

“No… I don’t mean today.”

“Well, you’ve been trying to find a way out of hiking for a while now,” she says.

I don’t like the way she says it. It doesn’t feel true. I realize I want to be alone.

We get to a picnic area and take a break, but I want an even longer break. I tell Dexter and Energizer to go ahead. I stay behind to make lunch but my lighter is broken. I feel stupid and like I’ve proven to myself why I keep grouping up with people, like I’m incapable. The feeling is sloshing around in my chest. I try to breathe. I manage to figure out how to use the flint I’ve packed.

I look over at the parking lot full of beach-goers who could take me back to town if I wanted to. Finish the OCT? I ask my gut. Okay, it says. So I get up and head to the trail. Still, my brain spirals as I try to hike. It’s exhausting. I see beautiful views and don’t really see them. I take a wrong turn and end up backtracking walking an extra three miles. This is why you have to be in a group, a nasty voice repeats in my ear. I hit my head hard against a branch.

I think: I want to feel human again. Brush my hair. Wear a bra that fits. Smell good. Be around people who like me. Sit in a cafe and write.

When I get to the roadwalk I call Mark and chat with him. I get to camp and take a shower and eat with Dexter and Energizer Bunny. My plan had been to take the bus tomorrow, but instead I’m going to hike to the border. I tell them not to wait for me in the morning. I might get breakfast on the way, I might lay around camp. But I want my last day to be of my own making.

2 responses to “Of My Own Making – Day 97: China Beach to Harris State Park”

  1. Hello. You don’t know me, but my name is Coleen and I am Kathleen/Rawhide’s mom. I’ve been following your journey, your ups and downs. I haven’t known what to say, but I do keep reading. A friend just posted this and I thought I should share it with you:

    The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.
    I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

    From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.

    – Thich Nhat Hanh, in “No Death, No Fear”.


    1. This was such a beautiful thing to share, Coleen – thank you. I’ve had so many dreams with my mother in them and so many times have looked at my hands and seen my mother’s hands. I also really enjoy Buddhist teachings like this one. Rawhide was such an awesome lady to hike with and I’m so glad I had a chance to meet her. You raised an awesome person 🙂


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