This morning we had a leisurely time of it, saying goodbye to our hosts, having breakfast and then lunch before finally setting off for Sandpoint. Road construction and closures meant it took us more than a half hour to get out of the small sister city to Spokane that we were in, but the rest of the journey went smoothly and quickly. The roads were marked as scenic on the map, but somehow we found them disappointing compared with things we’d already seen.
Perhaps some of it had to do with our direction: East. We’d officially hit our furthest point and turned around. Somehow there’s always a sense of letdown at such times, even though fully half of the journey still remains. It’s as if the furthest point is the climax, and everything else is all downhill after that. Ridiculous, of course. We’re not even following the same path back, but completing a loop. But there’s no messing with human psychology. The Journey is an archetype, and going Back Home is as fundamentally different from going Out There as you can get. We’ll just have to fool ourselves as best we can (playing at temporary amnesia) to get the most pleasure out of the trip back.
In Sandpoint we checked into our motel and set about making preparations for our backpacking trip. We bought food and juggled our case and pack contents. We’ve been travelling admirably light on our motorcycles so far, but it’ll be nice to be one step lighter still on the trail, carrying everything we need on our backs. And leaving the road and all mechanical contrivance behind. It takes the separation of a day’s walk into the woods for me to truly feel connected with nature and disconnected from civilization. Not that I am anti-civilization or am not happy to come back out afterwards. But on a backpacking trip (in the right places) there is absolutely no dispute that the here and now is pristine nature and not human meddling or intercourse.
One of our friends on this trip likes to take this even further and leave the trail behind as well. I don’t have this need myself, and prefer not to have the extra hassles of navigation and uncertainty, but I guess to him the trail represents something similar to what the road does for me: connection back to civilization.