Scratch that post on dying in the backcountry. I woke up today to hear someone saying my name in the other room, and apparently the scheduler (who seems to be completely incompetent and whom no one likes) had called one of our housing supervisors to tell him I had been taken off the backcountry project and put on a local project because there was no space in the truck, which didn’t make much sense because it was my roommate who had been added to the project late and was sick to the point of needing antibiotics to boot. My roommate called the scheduler, and he admitted it was probably best for her to stay on the local project while I went on backcountry. I continued preparing my pack and water, although wasn’t too confident in my survival abilities when it felt like it weighed 50 lbs. even before food. Our crew leaders showed up and I trudged to the truck with the rest of my crew. About to put my bag in the trailer, one perplexed crew leader asked if I had gotten the message that I was to stay behind. I said yes, but I switched with my roommate. He said he was confused because we have similar names, but nonetheless, there was still not enough room in the truck. My roommate must have been an extra extra addition. I happily agreed to go back to the local project, despite one of my crewmate’s insistence that he would take my place (he wanted to be able to come back to the house at night and drink).
It turned out to be a good choice because we were picked up late for the local project and had so little to do due to lack of supplies (we were repairing split rail fencing but didn’t have enough new logs) that we were told to take extra breaks, then extra long breaks, and eventually packed up 3 hours early and left rather than sit in the cold doing nothing.
Even though it was a relatively happy ending, I’m still fed up with the lack of organization and communication in this conservation corps. Maybe it’s because I’ve been stressed out figuring out where I’m going to stay until my flight (I found a couchsurfer to host me so it’s all good now) and how I’m going to get to Phoenix (my parents offered to pay for the direct shuttle to the airport), or because a couple friends have been fired and the general mood of our house is one on the verge of mutiny, but I’m not even sure I want to come back for another 6 months. I’ll see if I get offered any position (I’m pretty sure it would have to be the March one, because competition was fierce for the 6 spots in January and my interview wasn’t the best) and then make my decision or start looking for other jobs.
As I prepare to succumb to the elements
So my next and last project leaving tomorrow was switched to backcountry yesterday. I have never been on a backcountry project and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. It’s a 4.1 mile hike just to our campsite and we have to carry our regular gear plus food for 8 days plus tools. Does anyone understand how much I eat in 8 days while working?! I can hike 10 miles up and down the highest mountain in Arizona- albeit with no pack. Hiking 4 miles with a 40+ pound pack? (I’m tiny, that’s about the recommended 30% of my body weight that a pack should be). In 20 degree weather? I will die. Of exhaustion and hypothermia and dehydration and frostbite and falling off a cliff and whatever else we’ve been warned about in our time here. I may be getting a little worked up because of how snowy it is in Flagstaff right now and my terribly memories of my soggy time in Tonto National Forest, and general despair at the thought of camping in shitty weather far from the safety of a van and an easily prepared warm dinner.
Maybe I should just be confident and tell myself how awesome it’s going to be and how fit and capable I am? My only consolation is that I had a beautiful person in my bed last night (who shared their bacon with me in the morning, a surefire way to my heart) and maybe I can cling to that memory as I slowly freeze to death in the Mazatzal Wilderness over the next week.
For all that I thought I was doing incredibly well and feeling that happiest I’d been in a while, my bubble burst two nights ago and I had a pretty bad alcohol-induced breakdown that required intervention from friends and resulted in a talk from a close friend informing me that I’m destroying myself and my relationships and I couldn’t even see it. Which I now see is completely true; I’ve been running away from my internal problems and mental health issues to the point where I’ve ended up spending half my time camping out in the wilderness, which is about as far as I can get without becoming a mountain man living in the backcountry. I need to get professional help, stop drinking, and figure out what’s going on with my partner and I, and if our relationship can be repaired or not. I knew I needed help when I was in Korea but never found a therapist my insurance would cover who also specialized in what I needed help with, I knew I needed help when I was in Austria, and in Puerto Rico- hell, I’ve been dealing with anxiety, depression, and transgender issues since I was 13 but nothing ever seemed like more than a temporary fix, and I was tired of medications that made me numb, psychiatrists whose solutions were more drugs, and parents who decided that they couldn’t deal with it anymore. I’m disillusioned, but I have to try again, for the sake of the people in my life, if not for myself (and my liver- just because it doesn’t leave scars doesn’t mean it’s an acceptable form of self harm).
Not how I wanted to spend Thanksgiving-time, but hey, better deal with it now than when it’s worse, right?