04 May The Noise in my Head
I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but sometimes I just feel a bit “off”. Sometimes I feel frustrated with simple things that I can’t control or stressed about petty problems and overwhelmed by the “noise” in my head. The noise constantly tells me what I need to do, where I need to go, who I need to contact, what I need to achieve, and who I need to be. Sometimes all of those things seem like they are fighting with each other – each demand pulling me in a different direction, until my mind is fragmented like a shattered stained glass, and I’m left trying to put the pieces back together.
This past weekend, my husband and I took two days to backpack up the Washington Coast from Ozette to Shi Shi Beach. This was only my second coast backpacking trip, mostly because I tend to incorrectly assume that hiking on a beach is “easy”, when it is absolutely anything but easy. We had, quite possibly, the most spectacular weather that I have ever seen in the month of May on the Pacific Northwest. To say that I “needed” this trip, is probably a little bit of an understatement.
Hiking the coast is an entirely different experience than hiking on a mountain trail. For one, walking on sand is difficult. Walking on sand with a heavy pack is even more difficult. It might take me 15-20 minutes to hike a mile on a trail, whereas it takes nearly a half hour of laborious plodding through a loose sandy beach. I also find that hiking on a trail has the effect of causing “tunnel vision” – I end up focusing so much on where my feet are going and staring at the trail head. On the coast, there is no trail, so your eyes are free to wander – at least until you have to precariously scramble over seaweed covered rocks while trying to avoid stepping on any sea anemones. And then, of course, there is the added challenge of the tides – and timing the hike appropriately so as not to get stuck in a perilous situation with the unforgiving, unrelenting sea.
We didn’t hike too far our first day because of the tides, so we set up our campsite in the Seafield Creek area. It was unbelievably warm, so we spent the day wandering around on the beach looking for sea glass. At night, after eating our dehydrated Pad Thai out of a bag, we sipped on tea while we watched the sunset.
One of the things that I love about the wilderness is the silence. Lying in a tent in the middle of the mountains, you’ll never hear a car or a siren or your phone ring. You won’t get a Facebook notification. You don’t think about work. You don’t get annoyed by the little nuisances that somehow throw wrenches into our lives. When you lie in the tent at night, all you hear is the wind against the tent and your own breath – in and out, in and out. But the coast is different – the ocean, especially at high tide, is crashing over and and over again – a constant pulsing roar. If you stop and focus on it, it can be deafeningly loud, but when your mind wanders, the noise seems to melt into the background.