Occasionally, one comes across a cabin with a view of a distant, remote city across the glossy waters, at the feet of gentle, standstill mountains. After a week on the trail, when the sun dips below the mountain and the moon pulls out of the water to replace it, a mere glimpse of glowing orange blazing across the land can appear as a raging fire, tearing up old growths in its destructive, twisting path. This can be traumatic, as we have lived on these forests for our whole lives and rely on them heavily, especially now.
I left the food at home. It sits dumbly next to any valuables or technology that I own on my couch. I admit that it was a last minute decision to leave these behind, but I have not regretted it yet. Over the span of the 43km trail there are countless species of berries, most of them blue huckleberries. Berries and licorice root tea wake me as I sit cross-legged on a rotting wooden planks its rusting nails and chipping paint, staring at the gold as it pours over every contour of the landscape, saturating every puckered soul in the shade of overpowering pines.
In the morning, the sheer warmth of molten gold is great fully cherished, but as the day goes on, one can find themselves running from it. Everything it touches scalds, corrupts, shrivels, and gives in to its unbearable power. I have touched it before, it’s attraction to the human mind is unbearable. Maybe that’s why I’m here. Blinded, bandages smothering what is left of my vision, perhaps I made a decision I would not have made otherwise.
I enjoy the forest. I can say as much as I want that I am against deforestation, but I walked here on logging roads. I am burning the flesh of the forest that supports me for my own minuscule benefit. The smell of charred souls fills my lungs. It calms me. The flames infest the wood as it slowly crackles and turns to a black lump, smearing traces of itself everywhere it touches anything, to leave a reminder of it before it disappears. I curse at the stain it leaves on my clothes. It burns an angry red, like frost bitten noses, disturbed skin, and flushed cheeks.
I see the forest and the trees for just that. Through this lens, I do not see it as the home of the birds, reptiles, amphibians, the list goes on. I wish it was the home of me, somewhere to escape civilization and society by creating civilization and society. My solution to my disdain for these things is contaminating a place untouched by them. Is this not what I’m running from?
When the veil is pulled off of my eyes, I see myself in my home, in my workplace, in my mind, on the crumbling sidewalk. I uncurl my twisted, trembling fingers and bring them to my face. My wrist pops and crackles as I turn it to observe the back of my hand.  Knuckles red and chilled, skin creased and wrinkled, nails torn and jagged. I touch my face, wiping the blood and dirt from my forehead, feeling the grit and sediments find their way into my wounds, tearing at the tender tissues as they traverse through my skin. I test my muscles, feeling rejuvenation through my stiff limbs. I test my head, feeling thoughts travel through my brain. I test my memory- nothing.