Grand Enchantment: Walking Away (4/6)


Albuquerque, NM – 4/6

The last few miles were nothing but a formality. I hit pavement and caught a bus across town to a hotel near the airport.

“Car license plate?” the clerk asked.

“None,” I said.

“No car?” the clerk said.

“No,” I said. “How do I get the airport shuttle in the morning?”

I stripped down in the room, leaving my ragged, dirt-crusted clothes where they fell then turning to the mirror. Purple bruises ran along each hip, scabbed deep by the hip belt. Raw, red skin ran up each shoulder. Dirt caked my legs, arms, face.

Thirty pounds had burned away in the desert. I stared at muscles and bones, thin on top with trunks for legs. My beard stretched off my chin, ragged and full. Broken and cracked skin covered my lips. But my eyes glowed, fierce, ferocious, and alive.

With a hint of sadness at the edge.

The shower was the first in five-hundred miles. I turned it as hot as it would go and washed the dirt away. Scrubbing, washing, scrubbing, watching dirt swirl down the drain, watching the trail disappear in layers.

I stared at it until the water ran clear, until the trail was gone, until there was nothing left and I missed the dirt.

“Don’t worry,” I thought. “There’s more dirt somewhere out there.”

10 thoughts on “Grand Enchantment: Walking Away (4/6)

  1. Those are exactly the same eyes I saw in Glacier NP on your Continental Divide adventure. Thanks for sharing all of this D.

  2. Dirt is the best, and I don’t care how hot you got that shower, you didn’t get it all off you. Thank goodness 🙂

  3. Long live the dirt! It is what sustains us in this insane world. Thanks, Daniel, for sharing your walk once again.

  4. I want your eyes to ” glow[ed], fierce, ferocious, and alive,” but also calm and sure inside as you hike a difficult trail, a trail with a trial by fire.

  5. 500 miles without a shower really speaks to the level of immersion you allowed yourself. You became the desert and the desert became you. There are levels to this game, but none so deep as the one where that fateful stare into the mirror – seeing how internal changes manifest physically – becomes a soul-apprising revelation. Thanks for documenting your journey in such an essential, moving way. Here’s to the next adventure and many more. Cheers!

  6. Hey;
    I do not know you other than a stellar recommendation from Sam Cook, writer and good friend. I hike/commute to work every day and can in tiny ways relate, but your comments are a cool, fresh wind, and are ever so welcome.

  7. Write, Daniel. Definitely write!! I began the journey with you and then life intervened and I got lost. And when your posts came again, I just tucked them away for another day. But today I “binged” reading page after page, day after day. Your courage and stamina always amaze me, and your way with words fills my mind. I love the way you see the beauty in the world despite all its failings. Hope to bump in to you again some New Year’s Day.

  8. Such a treat to share in your adventures through your thoughtful, well-chosen words that help those of us in cubicle-land escape with you, one post at a time. Thanks for making the effort to finish the trail for us, even though it must feel like a lifetime ago now. Hope it won’t be too long before we get to join you in the wild all over again! I second those who have told you to keep writing . . . you have a unique talent for it!

  9. There is nothing like leaving dirty footprints in the shower… bought and paid for. Here is to the next adventure my friend. Cheers!

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