|The Strange Loop - 15,674 miles of walking (cyan lines) and bicycling (magenta)|
"A strange loop, arises when, by moving only upwards or downwards through a hierarchical system, one finds oneself back where one started."
As I discuss the nature of my Strange Loop we may see similarities with the above definition. Interestingly enough, the idea of a Strange Loop also can be an abstraction:
"And yet when I say "strange loop", I have something else in mind — a less concrete, more elusive notion. What I mean by "strange loop" is — here goes a first stab, anyway — not a physical circuit but an abstract loop in which, in the series of stages that constitute the cycling-around, there is a shift from one level of abstraction (or structure) to another, which feels like an upwards movement in a hierarchy, and yet somehow the successive "upward" shifts turn out to give rise to a closed cycle. That is, despite one's sense of departing ever further from one's origin, one winds up, to one's shock, exactly where one had started out. In short, a strange loop is a paradoxical level-crossing feedback loop." - Douglas Hofstadter
I am fascinated with time travel ( kind of a joke really, since what I do is so time consuming and anything but fast or efficient ). The notion put forth above interests me with regards to that. That we may sense departing and moving further from the starting point only to find out that we have arrived right back at our starting point. Couldn't be more fitting a name for the Strange Loop. In addition to that, the Strange Loop also has implications with regards to human consciousness.
"Hofstadter argues that the psychological self arises out of a similar kind of paradox. We are not born with an ‘I’ – the ego emerges only gradually as experience shapes our dense web of active symbols into a tapestry rich and complex enough to begin twisting back upon itself. According to this view the psychological ‘I’ is a narrative fiction, something created only from intake of symbolic data and its own ability to create stories about itself from that data."
I have become aware of the fact recently that what I am really doing with my life is just that. I am inputting a "dense web of active symbols". My symbols happen to be landscapes, wildlife and cultures. It is interesting to note though that my symbols are disappearing. What I am inputting may not be there the next time I go looking for it. I am nothing more than a reflection of the very landscapes, wildlife and cultures I have had the honor of experiencing. Without them my narrative fiction wouldn't be as meaningful to me. Without them I don't think my life would have any meaning.
|MC Escher was all about the Strange Loop|
|Micro w/ Reno in the distance. In 15 miles of pretty urban walking one can access the Mt. Rose Wilderness|
|Micro in the heart of the Mt. Rose Wilderness looking west into Martis Valley|
|Micro on the Tahoe Rim Trail with Lake Tahoe as a backdrop...if I am lucky Micro will pace car me into the Strange Loop|
|Micro on the Tahoe Yosemite Trail which runs west of the PCT|
|typical view on the Sierra High Route which I prefer over the JMT/ PCT|
|Pretty much sums up the 700 miles south of Kennedy Meadows along the PCT|
|which isn't to say there isn't beauty to be found...although that haze to the middle right of the photo is smog. Imagine breathing that every day while you hump your gear over mountains in 100* weather.|
|New England in fall on the AT? You betcha!|
|on the AT looking south into GSMNP (the Smokies). The Smokies will be formidable in winter.|
|prolly enjoy an ice cold frosty and take this in... the Chisos Mountains|
|starting at the border of Sonora and climbing to 9,000 ft day one? AZT looking north into the Miller Peak Wilderness|
|On the AZT looking south into Sonora. Parker Canyon Lake is in the distance.|
|typical Grand Enchantment scenery... one may walk with their ancestors here|
|Near the Northern Terminus of the CDT in Glacier National Park|
|some of the scenery I will be inputting near the end of the Strange Loop...PCT in the North Cascades|
"and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. " T S Eliot
This will be the first time anyone has connected the 3 major long distance trails ( PCT/ CDT/ AT ) in America under ones own power. There is a catch and that is the 3 times I will need to use vehicles: San Diego, Baxter State Park and Sierra Vista, AZ. The entire Strange Loop will connect and be traversed under my own power though. In addition to these shuttles that are made necessary by the nature of the route, I will most likely need to hitch to some of my resupplies on the CDT. So, I make the claim to navigating the entire route under my own power, but without the distinction of some of my prior adventures where rides were entirely refused.
What is the reasoning behind the route and the adventure? I have always wanted to connect the 3 major long distance trails contiguously, but I was confused on how to do so under my own power. My wife mentioned many times as an idea splitting the PCT into 2 distinct segments based on the location of our home near the midpoint. After years of pondering possible itineraries, I finally figured out that this route of the Strange Loop was very doable. Another reason for the route beginning and ending at my front door has to do with my commitment to leaving as small a footprint as possible while here on planet Earth. I don't need to travel to some exotic locale or fly half way around the world to experience the wildness that beckons right out my front door. In addition to that, connecting the trails by bicycle and walking proves to be the perfect speed to continue to collect data for science. I will be collecting data for an additional study too, but more on science and all the technology I am going to lug in another post.
I would also like to take a moment to underscore the reason why I choose to share my adventure with as many like minded individuals as possible. I am not trying to self promote. In fact I have taken back seat to what I am observing. I am simply a vehicle for the story to be told. I hope I may share with others how quickly our world is changing. As the years pass by, I am becoming more aware of the fact I am nothing special. I have been humbled by my experiences as of late. I hope that comes through in what I share. I am no more entitled to my planets resources than the very creatures I have been migrating with. I am no more self important than someone who never ventures further than their mailbox. In this day in age of social media and what not, it would really bum me out if anyone thought I am just all about the "me" show.
Time to wrap up this post! Ok, so lets finish off with some fun facts!
How long is the Strange Loop? How much walking? How much bicycling?
15,674 miles (give or take a few hundred)
8,628 miles of hiking
7,046 miles of bicycling
What are some of the major long distance trails it traverses as well as bicycling routes?
Pacific Crest Trail
Tahoe Rim Trail
Tahoe Yosemite Trail
Sierra High Route
Benton MacKaye Trail
Georgia Pinhoti Trail
Alabama Pinhoti Trail
Grand Enchantment Trail
Continental Divide Trail
Pacific Northwest Trail
Grand Canyon Connector
How many states and provinces does the Strange Loop visit?
35 states and 1 province:
How long will it take to complete the Strange Loop?
Lastly here is a rough version of the Google Earth route I have made. Yesterday after I got all the route finished, I about lost it when it proved to be to large to load into Google Earth. I then took a break and realized that I could simplify the route ( less points ). So compared to my other maps I have created when you drill way down into it, you will notice the route isn't clamped directly to the true route all of the way. I just needed it to fit onto one map and load fast so people may see the route. I hope again to have this linked up like my routes in the past with regards to having it tied to my Spot messenger. That way the proof is in the pudding, that I am out doing what it is I am saying I am doing. Got to keep track of the time traveler! Another note on the map below. It is interactive. WOAH! Yeah I know. Pretty LO - FI. So if you want to drill down and look at what trail is what and some of the notes on each route by all means get learned up!
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