Date- October 25, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 5,341 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 9.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,486.3 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s 70s
Injuries- fungal toenail
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- grouse
Days without shower- 9
Days without laundry- 9
Today ended up being a very strange, but ultimately good day. No matter what, I always end up meeting some strange character that towers above all other strange characters (from the rest of the hike). Well, today I met that character.Jetpack and Fuzz were both out of the campsite and hiking before 8:30 am. I told them I’d take care of the trash we accumulated from yesterday and find somewhere to throw it out. The small campground didn’t have any trashcans, so I ended up walking almost a half mile back to Doc’s to use their trashcan.While up at Doc’s I decided to dry out all my gear in the empty parking lot that was awash in sunlight. The temperature had dropped into the low teens last night, and everything I owned was covered in ice or frost. So I thought I might as well dry it out now while I had sunlight and open space. I had no idea what the canyon would be like once I dropped into this new and final section.While I was sitting around waiting on my things to dry, a red Prius pulled up with an upper middle aged man behind the wheel. Almost immediately he struck up a conversation with me, and before I knew it, this roller-coaster of a human being was speeding over the tracks…I honestly don’t have the energy or time to recount absolutely everything in detail. That will have to wait for a later time. However, I’ll give you the short gist of what went down…
Wayne, is That You?
The man’s name was Wayne. Within a few minutes of talking to him, I got a strange impression/feeling that he was alluding to using psychedelics or channeling beings/aliens from another dimension. He never said any of these things directly, but he seemed to imply it in a very round about sort of way. Mostly in the way he mentioned he was writing a book that was a “collaborative effort”– and then went on to say that he’d been living in the area by himself (out of his car) for 3 months. I asked him a few pointed questions, and away he went with a deluge of personal revelations!He got out of his vehicle and came over to talk to me. Well, mostly he just talked “at me.” When he started, he didn’t stop for nearly 3 hours! As I’ve said in the past, when I meet individuals like this, I just let them go. They are what story teller’s dream of.
So, Wayne came out pretty quick with the claim that God and Jesus speak directly to him. That the only people he meets are people dying of cancer, or people who are capable of bending spoons with their mind. He told me that I was a “Spoon Bender” and that I just didn’t know it yet. This was a relief, because if he’d told me I was dying of cancer, it would have unsettled me.Anyways, there’s too much detail to put this entire encounter into a story format, so here are the more fantastical highlights: Wayne said we lived past lives. He said there was a heaven and a hell. He said he’d killed thousands of people in a past life. Said he’d spent centuries in hell before being sent back to be a vessel through which God worked. He said he’d lived a bad life this time around too, but only began speaking to God after he’d been legally dead for 36 hours and then came back. He said there was “sex” in heaven. He said the angels were androgynous warriors. He said this world is doomed and that 75% of its inhabitants were going to die very soon.
Wayne Continued to Say…
He said he could cure cancer, and had cured his own cancer five times, as well as the cancer of many others. He said he was one of the few people in the world who could stare directly into the sun. Said he’d stared at the sun meditating for 133 minutes the other day. He said in my past life I was a great strategic commander. He also said my soul was a high ranking — “level 9,” just below his own highest ranking — “level 11.” He said he knew the secrets to existence and why and how absolutely everything happens. He said my eyes had a great deal of “crystalline” in them, and that it was evidence of my soul’s great age and rank. He said that those who were meant to get closer to God and be saved had to become more “androgynous” like the angels. He said God had a sense of humor. He said Jesus comes back to earth as a woman, and that he’d met “her” and tried to have sex with Jesus before he realized it was “Jesus in drag.”
He said God was a woman. He said the entire earth needed to embrace the feminine and become more feminine, as it had been ruled by the masculine for too long. He said almost everyone in the world had cancer due to the corruption of belief and the straying from the teachings of the holy texts. He said the two of us were meant to run into each other. That I was to become a great Spoon Bender and a messenger of God. Many other things were said by Wayne, but I think what I’ve shared gets the point across of what those nearly 3 hours were like…
I’ve come to find in my older age that when people tell you they hear voices… you believe them. What you remain skeptical of, is the source or identity of those voices that the hearer claims. Wayne didn’t strike me as unintelligent. He didn’t even strike me as completely crazy, despite the crazy things he said. I believe that he believes everything he claims. But then again, perhaps he doesn’t. He never asked for money. He never asked for a favor. He only asked that he be heard. So I listened, and took note. And even out of all the outlandish and outright seemingly crazy things he said, there were little snippets that did make sense from a spiritual standpoint, at least through the lens of my own personal experiences. I have not shared any of the more nuanced things he said – only the more outrageous things, which is unfair to him. However, that’s what makes for the most entertaining read at this moment. The rest can come later.
Some Food for Thought
Anyhow, throughout his rapid fire sermon, where random information seemed to be flowing through him from every conceivable direction, he did say many synchronistic things pertaining to me and my own experiences that genuinely intrigued and even resonated with me. Sadly, so much of what he said only served to discredit the more plausible things he said. In this case, when you make such fantastical claims, it’s either all true, or none of it’s true. It’s all true to him, so it’s up to me to decide for myself. Unfortunately, I have to mostly discredit the things I actually liked that he said, simply because the other 80% were blatantly unfathomable – at least to me.Beware of those who claim to have all the answers. They are either of unsound mind, or preying on those in search of any answer – while in a state of extreme vulnerability. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
Back Into the Canyon
Eventually Wayne began to wane as vehicles pulled up in anticipation of Doc’s noon opening. I bid him goodbye and good luck as I shook his hand, and he did the same.I’d already been at Doc’s for so long, I decided to just stick around and eat a light lunch before heading out. I ended up hitting the trail around 12:30 pm. After a mile and a half on the highway, the trail drifted off the road and descended back into the canyon.Very early on, the trail was nearly nonexistent. I couldn’t find where it crossed the river in most places, or where it exited the river. Sometimes it was obvious due to cliff walls, but there still wasn’t trail. Instead of trail, it was endless ranks of sticker-filled weeds to wade through. I nearly had to put socks on due to the amount of stickers finding their way into my shoes and stabbing my ankles and feet.
Dang that Hurts
The going was monotonous, and the river was consistently wider, faster, and deeper than it had been at any other time. Despite that, I was at times so sick of the prickly stickers that I would wade down the river in the cool water for sometimes hundreds of feet at a time. It was slower, but it beat the pricklies.
I’d gone a little over 9 miles for the day and crossed the river 33 times when it was almost 5 pm. I was ready to go as far as I could before dark. I only had 7.5 more miles to finish the river and ascend the canyon for the last time, when I heard a loud “SNAP” come from the forest (furthest away from the river). It sounded like a deliberately broken branch, so I gave a sharp whistle. A voice called back, “Hello?” I responded, “Is that you, Fuzz?” “Yeah…”I’d almost passed him, but he was about 150 feet off the faint path, making an early camp. Actually, he’d already been set up for hours, he was just collecting wood for a fire.Fuzz is a very soft spoken, thoughtful, and introverted individual. He worships his solitude and disdains almost anything that involves other people. He can’t stand the superficiality and dis-ingenuousness of the vast majority of modern society. He’s lived as a train hopper, thru-hiker of obscure trails, a voluntary homeless person, hitchhiker, and an all around hobo for most of the past decade. He’s the kind of person who can get along with no job and no money and still thrive. In fact, he hasn’t eaten out or stayed anywhere but his tent for this entire trail. He’s incredibly disciplined and steadfast in everything he chooses to do.I hung out and talked with him a bit at his campsite, but wasn’t about to invite myself to stay. I knew he liked his solitude. So I was very surprised when I was about to leave and he asked if I’d like to camp there. I was honored he asked and was happy to do so.
I helped collect more wood and we got a fire blazing a little over an hour before dark. We ate dinner and listened to spiritual entertainers such as Alan Watts, Terrence McKenna, and Raam Daas before contemplating the nature of death, the afterlife, souls, synchronicity, conscious creation, the mind, reincarnation, higher dimensions, and far out subjects such as those. Not untypical campfire subject matter for thru-hikers.Fuzz is in the process of drawing his hike out. It’s the only reason we caught up to him. He truly and unequivocally loves being out here, like most of us thru-hikers – except I think he enjoys it on an even deeper level. I think it has a therapeutic affect on him that many of us aren’t receiving. Throughout New Mexico, and especially this section, he’s been doing barely 10 miles a day. In fact he’s drawing this 46 mile section out across 4 days because he doesn’t want to leave the canyon.
On the Ground Again
We talked until after 11 pm. He retired to his tent, and I’m laid out in front of the fire, watching the orange glow on the tree canopies as the stars gleam above. I forgot to mention the other day, but I couldn’t fit the carp in any bag I had, so I wrapped it up in my polycro groundsheet like butcher paper before putting it in my pack. As a result, the groundsheet was slimy and rancid the next day so I threw it away at Doc Campbell’s. As a result… I’m just going to forgo a groundsheet for the rest of the trail. This means I’ll simply be throwing my pad down on bare earth. If I roll or shift off it, I’ll be in the dirt. Bugs will also have free reign without a bath-tubbed groundsheet to redirect their crawling progress across the ground. The silver lining? I’m now even closer to the earth than I already was!I’m going to aim for a 36 mile day into Silver City tomorrow…
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