Posted by: GeekHiker | October 24, 2010

I Break For Hiking

It’s Sunday, which for the past couple of months most of 2010 has meant mental break day.  Grab lunch and go to a park, sit around and watch T.V., read something other than thick technical textbooks, attempt to go for a hike.  In other words something, nay, anything other than a) staring at a computer at work while working or b) staring at a computer at home while studying.

For some reason, though, I felt the need to sit down today and work on a hiking post, of all things, which I’ll put up online sometime in the next few days.  Yes, it’s on the computer, which shocks no one more than me, but at least it’s not work or study related.

Wellllll… that’s not quite true.  At the moment I’m also dialed in to work installing security updates remotely.  But I’m doing it from the comfort of home, so I’ll give myself a pass on this one.

As for the studying, it looks like I’ll be taking the second test sometime in the next two or three weeks.  This is a bit later than I’d hoped; I’d originally been shooting for mid-October.  Oh, well.

Funnily enough, I’m not really that afraid of failing these test on my first attempt.  One can take these tests several times until a passing score is achieved (although rumor has it that the test is set up with more difficult questions each time), and I’ve more-or-less decided that if I bomb the test on the first try, that’s okay.  This has the additional advantage of reducing my stress level about the whole thing.

So why no test in mid-October?  Because there’s a difference between being okay with failing a test the first time around, and knowing that one is completely unprepared for the damn thing altogether.

It’s in that spirit that I’ve been plugging away, working full time and studying for a few hours every night.  To be perfectly honest, it makes me miss the structure of college: self-studying for this stuff requires a hell of a lot of self-discipline.  Without classes, teachers, and formal grades, the temptation to slack off (i.e. “it’s okay if I skip tonight” several nights in a row) is palpable.

It’s kept me away from the distraction of blogging (my writing being less akin to the proverbial 100 monkeys as to 100 sloths sitting at 100 typewriters), save for keeping up with everyone else’s blogs (which save my lunch hours from tedium).  Luckily, many of my local friends are in the same boat: taking classes and doing other educational things, so everyone is understanding when someone can’t make a movie or round at the bar.

Well, mostly understanding.  We’ve been known to mercilessly tease, via text message, those who don’t attend.  What else are friends for?

* * *

As for the hike post to come, that occurred on a trip a couple of weeks ago.  I haven’t taken much in the way of vacation time this year, save for Vancouver last February.  A couple of weeks ago, though, I couldn’t resist one of my own traditions: the trip to Julian down in eastern San Diego county.

The trip was simultaneously horrible and spectacular.

Why horrible?  Because I’d booked the campsites in August.  Several of my friends were going to go, and we were going to have a grand old time.  Then, one-by-one, each and every one of them dropped out at the last minute.  I grew steadily more and more depressed as they did so, right up until the very last person had to drop.

And then?  Then the trip shifted to spectacular.

Literally, the moment the last person said they were unable to go, my mindset shifted completely.  Suddenly, my weekend was free, without having to worry about planning an itinerary for the group.  My time was my own, my campsite was reserved, and off I went.

Out went the old itinerary, made up of things I had seen and done before that I was looking forward to sharing with friends; in came the new itinerary, made up of things I hadn’t seen or done before.

In came spending little time in Julian itself, save for the traditional apple pie breakfasts early in the morning while the town was still quiet, allowing me to avoid the tourist crowds.  In was driving and photographing in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  In was hiking Stonewall Peak, one of the best trails I’ve ever been on.  In was random picnicking at an empty National Forest picnic ground next to a flowing river.  In was touring Palomar Observatory.  In was fantastic weather, the weekend slipping neatly right in between two storm systems that went through Southern California.  In were warm nights in camp, sitting next to the campfire, reading a literary anthology of California natural  writing.

In, in short, was a perfect solo sabbatical from the daily grind.

* * *

Now, of course, I shift back into work-study mode.  I may be okay with bombing the test the first time around because it eases the stress about the whole thing, but I’d rather not if I can avoid it, thankyouverymuch.

Yes, for the moment my life (and, by extension, my blog) is less than thrilling.  I’m starting, though, to see where 2010 is going, what role this time is playing.  I think, I hope, that the work isn’t just work, but groundwork.

For what?  I don’t quite know.  For something yet to come that I can’t quite foresee, I suppose.

Like Yoda said: always in motion is the future…

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Responses

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  2. I am glad that you were able to make it to my neck of the woods. I almost always hike alone for the same reasons you enjoyed your trip so much.

    It’s nice being on your own schedule.

    Glad you were able to recharge.

  3. I love how you embraced the greatness of being able to go alone at just the right moment 🙂
    Thanks for putting this post together!

  4. It appears your friends gave you the gift of space and time. Just what you needed to recharge your batteries.

  5. sounds like a great group of friends: understanding but always around to give you a hard time 🙂 I, too, miss the structure of taking classes. I find it really hard to force myself to study without the external pressure of a deadline. does not bode well for the rest of my life.

  6. You make camping sound delightful – sitting around a fire reading peacefully. I don’t know why I never really was able to fully enjoy it. Maybe I should give it another try. I love what you wrote about having the shift. I’ve had similar experiences where I’m at first like “oh no!” and then think “hey, I kinda like things this way.”

    Also, cracked me up: –> “my writing being less akin to the proverbial 100 monkeys as to 100 sloths sitting at 100 typewriters.” lol!

    Good luck on your test! You sound busy. Rooting for you. 🙂

  7. Derek – Thanks. Wish I had time to make it down there more often. I go back and forth on hiking alone or not… guess I’m good either way, as long as the group isn’t too big!

    Narami – Thanks, though I didn’t have much choice! 🙂

    Homer-Dog – Inadvertently, yep. The question is: when will I get to recharge again?

    Seine – Don’t worry. It’s different, perhaps even harder, but self-motivation is possible…

    Spleeness – Come out to CA, I’ll take you on a fun camping trip, promise! Thanks for the good luck wishes!

  8. Welcome back, stranger. 🙂 I like the turn at the end of this post – you have me all intrigued now! Where you heading, Mr.?

    Also, nice work turning lemons into lemonade on the camping front. Glad you got to get away and recharge after all the crazed studying.

  9. Camping sounds okay, except for the bugs.

    I think taking a weekend to relax is wonderful! It helps relieve stress, and protects your hypothalamus.

    Which makes me wonder, does a hippopotamus have a hypothalamus?

    Proud of you, buddy. You’ve been really working hard!

  10. it’s about time you got a break from the studying 🙂
    good luck on the test, though i am positive that you’ll do just fine.

  11. I can really relate to you, being a solo hiker / backpacker myself. There is just something about the solo experience that really awakens your soul. I am also in the process of studying from my GRE… or in the process of planning to study for my GRE, it’s a bit nerve wracking. So I know what you’re talking about with the whole test thing. Well keep it up and make sure you take that precious time to rediscover yourself in the wilderness!

  12. Mel Heth – If I knew where I was heading, I’d be much better off!

    MissMcCracken – Can’t say I saw many bugs on this trip. Except for a beetle that kept wandering around camp. I think he was following me at one point…

    BlakSpring – Hm. You may not like tonight’s entry…

    WildernessBackpacking – I only wish I could take more of that time. *sigh*


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