The Internet is a strange beast. With the anonymity of a computer screen and keyboard there are many people who are not what they appear to be — a counterfeit persona. Along with this there are many people who collect “friends,” “followers,” or “likes” as some sort of ego fulfilling stamp collection.
In spite of this electronic universe, a diligent person can recognize the sincere and honest people on the World Wide Web. But these folks can only be acquaintances. Friendship requires face-to-face real world interactions. At the end of October I spent a few days with some Internet acquaintances who I can now say are friends.
It took over a year to document this trip in 8 parts, something I could have done in one afternoon sitting in front of a computer. It wasn’t an epic trip, but for me it was an adventure. It wasn’t presented as a trail journal or daily diary, and it isn’t full of insights or as a “how to” guide. There are no gear or equipment information. Just short daily summaries of a month in the Mojave. It is mostly for my kids. They probably don’t remember that I took this trip and I may not have even mentioned it to them. But what I will share later will jog their memory. As I normally operate, I didn’t bring a cell phone with me. In 2000 cell phone coverage was just about nil in most of the places I walked. Today, fortunately, there still is no cell reception in Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave Preserve – this is a good thing. But in 2000 phone booths were common and I did make a couple calls to my kids when resupplying in cities. So, are there any learnings, conclusions, or insights to be gained from all of this?
When you are in the forest and see a forest fire, it is disheartening. But wildfires are a natural phenomenon and normally healthy for forests. But there are times when wildfires are destructive and cause irreversible damage. Such is the state of affairs in California. For someone on a long distant backpacking trip of several weeks or months, forest fires are often considered by backpackers as a minor inconvenience. One has to re-route their trip, sometimes walking on roads, until they can get back on the trail. However on a short trip, a forest fire often ends the trip, which happened to me last week when I was forced to turn around and bail when a fire that broke out on Wednesday grew out of control and moved into the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Currently the fire, which is near Big Bear, has consumed 27 square miles and is about 20% contained. Already it is the largest fire in this area in over one hundred years. Smoke from this fire has traveled all the way to Arizona and reportedly is visible in the Grand Canyon.