Stuff did not come together until the absolute last minute. Up until 4am packing, waking others up at 5am to load equipment into Mani’s van.
We sorted the food at 9pm last night, but forgot to load any of the stuff that was in the fridge. Before the van rolled off I had to run in and grab whatever I could carry in my hands: some extra fruit, bread, salami.
Harmon dropped out. He rode with us to the statue of Balboa on the Pacific, and hopped into a cab to the airport. He was tossed into this crazy world of the tropics and the insane researchers living here. The people are on Jungle time, getting things done according to the schedules of animals. They are amazing, and we pulled off an incredible of amount in preparing for this trip. However, these biologist (especially during their busy summer field season), can only ever get stuff together at the absolute last moment. Three of them separately referred to my work getting everyone prepared as “herding cats,” and it has taken me three years to get good at it. So when Harmon is here, and it’s already 10pm and not a single person is ready for the 6am departure, and we spent the day getting the safety talk about the horrible jungle diseases you can contract, he seemed to have gotten uncomfortable with the trip. I had to give myself fully away to this project and know that I will never have all the answers or be entirely prepared. These methods may be stupid and foolhardy, but this is the deepest way I have found to learn.
To develop some arbitrary ritual or performance, one that excites you, and scares you with a fear of danger, exhaustion, and general incompletion. Then to accept the challenge of your past self and carry out this concept as far as you can go. Jumping into the river of the challenge letting it carry you to strange places and ideas, while you try to let yourself become part of the water, bending easily around curves, weaving through branches, but maintaining your own momentous force. Realizing that no matter how different the route and challenge becomes, the true success comes from not upholding some earlier mental construct, but by learning how the real world transforms man’s ideas.
The main question of this Hiking Hack is about how much the context in which you build a tool really matters. Will it solve all sorts of unknown problems, or give rise to new ideas, or it is just a really bad idea? Wild animal interaction is a high-level game we play full of interpretation. Can the context appropriately maintain the integrity of scientific tools in this shifting space? I will let this journey pull me and this idea apart and will hopefully know much more about this question at the end.
Our route is a Reverse-Balboa. We will cut across the this country a inverted conquistadors, seeking to understand the environment and people of this place while allowing it to conquer us. We will start with the imperialism of new digital technology, and let the wilderness tear it apart to uncover what is actually useful. In the city we clambor down strange artificial rocks to baptize ourselves in the first of the two oceans we aim to touch.
No one’s gotten any sleep, but we are powered by the rich energy of a fresh expedition. We stride through the city, around the mall, and into the suburbs while noticing how incredibly helpful all the locals are to our endeavor. Directing us to safe routes and construction workers cheering us on when we say “vamos al Pacífico.”
These suburbs, a former US army base, are where the entrance to the historic Camino de Cruces trail has been hidden. Our previous week’s scouting found it behind house 636 in a little subdivision. This is where we encounter the first main obstacle. Within the week, the entrance to the jungle has been locked. The people of house 636 let us setup a lunch camp in their backyard while Ummat and May hunt around for ways around or people to help us. More than an hour goes by and things are looking stupidly grim, how have we marched across a city to just be locked off from the forest? Luckily this fantastic duo finally found a person in this sleepy burb with more info. They told us there is a guy trying to make an illegal land-grab on the Camino De Cruce’s trail and he does mean things like put his on locks on public property. This nice resident then gave us a hacksaw and told us we should open it back up. This is when the Hiking Hack took on a more literal meaning than we would have thought.