Noxious weeds, tumbleweeds. Everyone who lives near their habitat, which is just about everywhere the soil has been disturbed in arid zones, will agree on this point. I live in such a zone. They grow in my yard and blow in from the thousands of acres surrounding my yard. They can leap tall fences in a single bound and block the entrance to the house within hours in a good wind. They get hung up on the fences they don’t clear, creating a fire hazard. They prick the hell out of you when you try to eliminate them from your life. Full grown they take up too much space to haul off to the dump in a truck so have to be burned. They burn hot and fast so the fire has to be monitored very carefully. On no burn days/weeks you just have to sigh and wish for an opportunity to come soon. Once the yard is cleaned up another wind comes and tumbleweeds clog the yard and fences again. When you are out walking your dog a gust of wind can send tumbleweeds hurtling into your path like something out of a roadrunner cartoon. They can make driving downright torturous in a high wind. Tumbleweeds are a real pain in the ass. Ask anybody.
Before leaving to hike the PCT I surveyed my back yard with it’s abundant supply of tumbleweeds and thought on that as a trail name – briefly – then when all those negative thoughts entered my mind I rejected it. Why take on the name of a noxious weed just because my life is surrounded by them for most of the year every year. Nope. Not going to happen.
But it happened, as all good trail names do, right on the trail, and amazingly it happened within my first hour of hiking. It takes awhile to get to the trailhead at Campo, CA from San Diego so by the time I hit the trail I really had to pee. I had my handy dandy pStyle, a funnel type thing that allows women to stand up to pee, and was outfitted in a skirt for ease of execution. My hiking partner was close by taking notes, as we were both new to this and hungry for info on real time execution. It was really just gear testing afterall. Well I got bashful bladder and couldn’t do a thing. Finally I said, “Oh hell. I’ll just squat!” forgetting that I still had a 30 pound backpack on. I toppled bare ass over tea kettle and got my trail name immediately. Tumbleweed. There ya go. It was just meant to be.
In the next 800 miles I had plenty of time to reflect on my actual similarity to tumbleweeds. Yes I can be prickly but mostly only if people get too close and try to control me. I bounce along and leap happily with whatever change of wind comes along but also can get hung up on various attractants from time to time. I am quite capable of lying around waiting for the next gust to take me wherever, whenever. Mostly though while I may appear to be simply drifting along, as viewed from the usual cultural paradigm, I am tenacious, hearty, cover a lot of ground and sew my seeds everywhere I go.
By the time I was finished on the PCT at mile 800, I was indeed very connected with my tumbleweedness. I AM and I am happy to call myself Tumbleweed.