Poets Must Ride Bicycles

Over the past three days, I have slackpacked 40 miles from Seattle to North Bend, on the I-90 Trail, the Mountains to Sound Greenway, the East Lake Sammamish trail, the Issiaquah-Preston trail, and the Preston-Snoqualmie trail. Much of the trail is lush and green, though nearly all of it is paved and near enough Interstate 90 to be gratingly loud; only the last few miles stray from I-90, as it passes through the small town of Snoqualmie and across Meadowbrook prairie. I’d intended to make the walk in two days, but my body had other ideas, and slackpacking allowed it the necessary flexibility. Even spread out, they were not easy miles.

Poet George Herbert wrote, “Where your will is ready, your feet are light.” After yesterday, I know two things with certainty: 1) George was not a long-distance walker, and 2) George was wrong. Despite a ready will, yesterday’s 10 miles were, quite frankly, 10 of the most difficult miles of my life. Most days, I point my feet in the direction I want to go and my body follows. Hills, valleys, mountains, streams, entire countries– I’ve willed myself up, over, and across them all. Sustained walking on asphalt and near so much noisy roadway has taken its toll though. Yesterday, I was so sore and bone weary each step required an act of extreme willpower. It required continually deciding to walk, conciously moderating my form, and insisting my feet land squarely on blistered heels rather than shying away and straining my knees, hips, and back. Every single step. Despite my will to continue, my feet were heavy and I barely plodded. At mile 9, an elk grazing across my path brought me to a standstill. It was close enough to smell. As it moved away and my awe faded, so did the last remnants of my energy. For the final mile, I sang aloud; I told myself: as long as you can sing, you can walk. I sang myself through Meadowbrook and all the way into town. My feet remained leaden, but I made it.

Rod met me at the Sunset Motel in North Bend where’ll we’ll base as I slackpack my way through Snoqualmie Pass. I have never been more grateful for a waiting bed.

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