From a fluke of cartography to a fluke of geology
October 18, 2012 5:20 PM   Subscribe

A beautifully written saga of a long-distance traveler's in-progress kayak journey from the Northwest Angle to Key West.

From the About page: A long time ago, in a parking lot on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, my mom and I were about to begin a hike that would take us down to the bottom of the canyon, across the Colorado River, and up the other side. In four days, we’d be on the distant South Rim.

I tried to quit before we started. I didn’t want to leave the parking lot. My mom handed me the keys to the car and $100.

“I’m going,” she said. “If you don’t want to come with me, here’s some money for food. Sleep in the car. I’ll be back in a few days.”

I was eleven years old.

So I went. I followed my mom beneath the canyon’s rim. I remember the heat most of all. It felt like an oven and wrung sweat from my skin. We joked about baking cookies on the rocks. I vomited from exhaustion halfway through and the taste lingered in my mouth for hours.

My mom carried my pack on top of hers as we climbed switchbacks up the south wall of the canyon. I trailed behind her with my burning and my lungs sucking air. Then we were there; we’d made it across. My mom grabbed me in her arms and gave me a huge hug.

I remember looking back at the North Rim from the South. The gaping maw of the canyon opened up before us with specks of buildings clinging to the far edge. I thought about where we had been four days earlier and our car parked among those distant specks. We’d done more than hike a trail. We’d moved across the earth.

Perhaps it was then that I became a long-distance traveler.

(Via the always fantastic News Cut.)
posted by Ickster (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I see that the writer also documented a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (available in the archives).
posted by mr. digits at 5:26 PM on October 18, 2012

I haven't gotten as far as reading about his other long-distance trips, being engrossed in the thread I highlighted, but I fully expect to read everything he has posted.
posted by Ickster at 5:35 PM on October 18, 2012

posted by mr. digits at 5:39 PM on October 18, 2012

Mom was kind of a dick.
posted by jscott at 5:51 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I actually think mom was pretty cool for forcing the issue with a kid who was being kind of whiny, as kids that age are wont to be. I read it as her knowing it wouldn't hurt him, and thinking he'd probably get something good out of the experience.

Which he did.
posted by Ickster at 5:56 PM on October 18, 2012

> Mom was kind of a dick

If Mom had actually let the kid call her bluff, she would have been a dick (and in trouble with the law). I presume she wouldn't have actually let her 11-year-old sleep in a car, alone, for several days.

Not that that's the important part of the post.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:43 PM on October 18, 2012

I'm not terribly proud to admit that in my brief glancing over the first line I somehow came up with "Kanye West"
posted by mediocre at 7:13 PM on October 18, 2012

Dan was my roommate in college. He's a pretty fucking incredible guy, and he's created a pretty fucking incredible life for himself.

(If you read this, Dan, Jimmy says what's up. Say hi to Carlos for me.)
posted by penduluum at 7:39 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Paddle-to-the-Sea wrote a memoir?
posted by orange swan at 7:40 PM on October 18, 2012

I just read through the entire thing, thanks for the link. I'm now a bit worried he's well on the wrong side of time, but I suppose he only really needs to make it as far as, say LA before December to not have to worry about winter.
posted by maxwelton at 8:43 PM on October 18, 2012

I had never heard of the Upper Angle before, kind of neat! I wonder how many states have a non-contiguous area - as in, you have to drive out of the state or go over a bridge to reach the other part? (Islands don't count.)

Apart from Minnesota and the Upper Angle, I can also think of the Michigan Upper Peninsula, and Rhode Island's East Bay. Maybe Arizona north of the Grand Canyon...
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:22 AM on October 19, 2012

Great read and fun to recognize the places in many of the photos. I've paddled all those same northern lakes, circumnavigated Isle Royale and have been to all of the Apostles. I've only read the posts as far as Duluth but looking forward to the rest. I've long wondered about the Savanna Portage and it has figured heavily in various point A to point B scenarios.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:19 AM on October 19, 2012

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