Filled with doubts, I wonder if this trip is such a grand idea anymore. I still want to do it--I am determined--but my mind is filled with conflict about whether I should have just stuck to day hiking instead of a long-distance trek.
In Hong Kong, I focused on getting my visa and trying to organize some of my gear. I also had to deal with getting the last of my gear shipped from Chengdu to Kunming. Now, in Kunming, I've organized the gear that arrived from Chengdu, and forwarded that on to Dali. I've slowly been paring down what I will carry in my pack. The biggest challenge I face is weight and pack space (or perhaps, my own negative self-talk). The plan for this trek I am about to commence was birthed in 2013, when I lived near the Appalachian Trail, and began dreaming of a long-distance trek (and here I am in China, 6 years later, facing the precipice of that goal; about to begin the journey and about to achieve the goal! I want to feel excitement rather than worry!). In all my research about trekking -- which included reading numerous trek blogs-- I learned not to trek while overburdened with a massive pack. Ideally, the pack should not weigh more than 30% of one's body weight. I read story after story of people trekking with 50-70 lbs. of gear... that's insane! That sounds miserable, no matter how fit and strong a person may be. Thus, I am determined to keep my pack weight a maximum of 40 lbs.: 25 lbs. for gear and 10 lbs. for consumables (food and stove fuel). I simply don't want my days filled with drudgery and pain caused by a heavy pack. And to be entirely transparent, I'm not in top form physically at present, and a heavy pack will wear me down physically and discourage me mentally. It's going to take several weeks to one month to regain the strength and endurance I've lost this year. That is one of the reasons I am doing this: to get physically strong, fit, and thin again. I am seriously out of shape and overweight.
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Even in mordern times, despite the encroachment of Western commercialism, buildings are designed utilizing feng shui to enhance harmony with the elements, increasing that luck and prosperity.
I admit that I am adamant in having specific comfort items to make my days and nights more enjoyable during this journey: 10.1" Chromebook that weights only 1.9 lbs. for writing and reading, 5w solar panel to charge said laptop and phone, 1 lb. folding camp chair, down sleeping bag, 2 sleeping mats to keep me warm at night, .5L thermos that keeps fluids boiling hot for 8 hours, double-walled stainless cup to keep drinks warm, ultralight stove, ultralight cookpot, steripen water purifier... doesn't seem like much, but it doesn't all fit!!
I won't have to minimize gear anymore until I reach Dali, the next stop on my pre-trek route. I leave Kunming tomorrow on the high speed rail, heading northwest toward Dali. After a few days there of rest, final planning, and packing, I will have hopefully psyched myself up enough to leave on Monday or soon after. I still have to ship my old 14 in. Chromebook (the one I am using now) and a few documents to a friend in Chengdu and review the GPS, topography, and map apps I downloaded to my phone. I'd love to get in some pure relaxation days in Dali--at least do a little bit of sightseeing. I haven't had much of those and I've been "on vacation" since for 12 days now. Then again, I did the best I could with all that I had to do as I was preparing to leave Chengdu: there was still the stress of 5-day-per-week-holy-hell of school; packing my belongings for storage; communicating and meeting with buyers for the household items I was selling; packing, planning, and gear purchases for this trek; and all the other minutiae of leaving a job and a city while transitioning to being sans homebase until who know when. Yet if my personal history serves its truth, I am a savant at being sans homebase. Homebase-less sounds far better than homeless. Or, courtesy of the song Brandy: "No harbour is my home". Even my friend Andy's psuedonym "No Fixed Abode" is apropos. My self-appellation Gallivanting Goddess, is not for nothing.
I must remind myself Why The Hell I Am Making This Trek in the first place: relaxation, access to nature, health and fitness, adventure, meeting new people, anthropological and cultural curiousity, time to write, time to create a new career path, stress reduction, renew my spiritual practice, self-challenge, independence, desire for freedom, try something new... I need to remember that although I want to challenge myself to see how far I can trek, I also want to imbibe joy through exploration, experiencing culture, meeting local people (nomads and townies), and writing about my experiences. Somewhere in these next 54 days, I also want to be gain employ as a copy-writer and figure out where my next stop will be on this journey, now that I have realized I am not "homeless" (such a negative spin), but rather, homefree!
My birthday is 4 short weeks away -- I should be somewhere between Shangrila and Bathang by then. I don't have a specific trekking mileage goal, excepting my overall trek mileage of 1210km./750mi., but if I can work up to 10 or more miles per day, 6 days per week, I will consider that a win! With 200 miles behind me, more or less, I will walk into my birthday having completed about 4 weeks of trekking and accomplished an amazing feat! I have decided my reward will be a tattoo of a ________ , well, you will just have to wait and see!