What's not to like?

You wake up at 1.30am to the pitter patter of rain on your face and on the ground, and overhead a rumbling sound. It wasn’t supposed to rain tonight. Quickly the sleeping bag goes into the pack so it doesn’t get soaked before the tent is up. You wonder what a passer by would think if they saw you, dashing to and fro, stark naked in the now pouring rain. But there’d be no passers by up here, not at 1.30am, not in these mountains, not in this rain. It doesn’t take long to get the tent up, but it takes even less time for everything to get wet through. Wet clothes, wet food, and a puddle in the tent, these things somehow matter both more and less when you’re exhausted. Problems for the morning you reason, and plummet back to sleep.

You wake again at 5am and still the rain is pouring. By 7am it’s only gotten heavier. Your hearts not in it today. Stretch the food another day? By 10am you’ve decided on a day in the tent. The whole world reduced to that single square metre. All day you practice for the circus, acts of contortion. Not too long laying on your side, it puts a crick in your spine. Don’t lay on your back either, you won’t be able to sleep tonight. The tent has sagged under the weight of the rain, so there’s no room to sit. Try child’s pose, bum in the air. Cat and cow to give the spine some relief. A whole day passes in this way, a damp book in one hand, a handful of sultanas in the other, the sweet smell of the mountains after rain — though if anyone else stuck their head in this tent they’d surely just smell stale farts.

A hundred pages of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, not so many of Basil by Wilkie Collins. Raynor and Wilkie, great names. You remember your own name. Simla. Ask yourself if you’re really walking all this way to reach that place. Talk about nominal determinism.

At 5.30pm you step out of the tent, there’s been a break in the rain and it’s time for a crap. Dig the phone out and see if there’s service for a new weather forecast, there isn’t; not that the last one was any use. Still, no forecast needed to see the fresh rain clouds peering into the valley, so you make the most of the reprieve, a proper stretch, the first in weeks. Your vertebrae creek loud enough to startle a bird up in the trees. You feel briefly incredible and make a mental note to stretch more often. That mental note is a mile long now; if I stretch twice in a month I call it a miracle. 6.15pm and the sky goes dark again, the first drops, you think about stripping off and having a standing wash but the ‘towel’ (spare t-shirt) is still wet from drying off last night, not worth getting cold. One last look up at the mountains before they disappear under their wet blanket, one last look up before I disappear under mine.

That was two days ago. Tonight I sit under a two foot awning, just enough to keep my torso dry, though my shins and feet can’t escape the rain. Here on the outside of a derelict looking building I give myself to the mercy of the electron. For reasons unknown there is a power socket here and, as I sit, trillions of trillions of invisible electrons are flooding into my batteries. A completely unknowable number, comparable only to other completely unknowable numbers, like, how many rain drops are falling in my field of view now?

It’s cold. My trousers are tucked into my socks, my head into a hat and that under a hood, hands under mitts, and them under pits. But it had been a good while since I last managed to get things charged, and it might be a while before I can charge things again, so here I sit. The sun has long set, soon I’ll go on the hunt for a place to lay my head, perhaps a bus stop, though that means rising extra early, no great joy in these depressed temperatures.

You can’t always like it, but that’s no bother just so long as you love it.