The route from Ebbett’s Pass to Carson Pass is almost completely clear of snow. The snow existing has easy to follow tracks and in no way interferes with the route. Wild flowers abound in this section as it is lower in elevation than previous sections and they have had longer to grow. Not only are they beautiful, but they smell heavenly as my legs brush lightly against their leaves. There is a form of mint here with large fuzzy purple flowers.
Other fun aspects of today are the gathering clouds and the rolling thunder. Throughout the day dark clouds are forming along surrounding ridges. From time to time I thought perhaps a jet was passing overhead, only to realize the growing roar was thunder.
Of course the PCT winds over ridges, around and through valleys and canyons. This winding action allows a hiker to play a game with the gathering storm. Sometimes you are walking right into the darkness of the thunderheads and sometimes you may be walking into the narrow gateway of clear sky; the game is dodge the storm. It’s not really a game though, because no one has control over the path. We can see the gathering storm and only wonder if or how it will impact us; we cannot control it. Life often has similar situations; we have not been promised a struggle free life, only that we will have the strength, through faith, to manage the struggles. I had a good tent and an all covering poncho and so did not worry about this storm.
There are several beautiful pictures to share from today. The ever changing, but ever beautiful landscape, my constant companion.
About midday, from across a canyon, I saw a steep snow bank covering the trail. My first reaction is always to scan for the brown track of hiker’s shoes crossing these banks. Sometimes it is lower, sometimes higher, than the trail, depending on snowmelt pattern. Here, from this distance, I saw no track. Nearing the bank, there was a large pick axe. Traversing the steep icy bank were beautiful flat and even steps, leading directly from trail level to the opposite side. They were fresh, clean, and white. This is why I had not seen them from afar. Someone had cut them only a short time ago. As I crossed, gratefully, I looked up and saw two Rangers taking a well deserved rest in a small clearing on the opposite bank.
The Rangers, Dave and Jeremy, had been out scouting and working all morning. We can all thank them for their hard work.
As evening fell my path wound into the course of some raindrops at the storm’s edge. They were refreshing, the kind that dry quickly. The trail continued to wind into darker clouds and the frequency of drops continued, as did the roar of thunder. With miles yet to go it was poncho time.
I was headed to a waypoint at 1073 that said, “creek, campsites nearby”. My pace and energy did’t quite make that spot but in this year of high snowfall creeks were everywhere. I found a high dry spot at mile 1071 with a small creek and a flat spot previously camped in (I found a dime and a small piece of candy wrapper, both of which I took with me).
It was about the perfect stopping time and just enough time to set up camp and make dinner in the fading light. Then, sweet darkness and sleep. No more thunder, no more rain, just the “ribet” of one very determined frog.
You know I had some fears about today. I had taken three unplanned days and done really nothing but regearing, resting, and eating.
You know that I had stopped taking the Ibuprofen. From time to time I have mentioned my joy at being able to hike these amazingly beautiful trail miles when only last year I had a devastating break of my right femur. Truly the love and prayers of all of you have taken me this far on the trail. Two surgeries through a 12-inch incision into my IT band had affected all the muscles in my thigh and glutes. See Pages/ The Broken Femur. I’m also 63 years old, not as an excuse, but we tend not to heal as quickly as we age (David will laugh here as I am always saying we should not use age as an excuse for lack of activity, LOL) I knew that I was not anywhere near my former strength when I started, this journey, but I hoped that this trail would help me to recover my strength as I traveled north. My blog title having a double meaning: literally walking home (to Washington) and figuratively walking home (to my former strength).
Somewhere between Kennedy Meadows and Lone Pine the limp in my right leg became more pronounced. Unable to recover strength over night I began to increase my daily intake of ibuprofen to compensate. Two days off in Mammoth did not help, coffee was no longer giving me the afternoon jolt I needed to get into camp . . . and the doses of ibuprofen were starting to have a negative effect. It was a bit of the perfect storm. Not quite enough nutrition was causing weakness, and maybe over stressing a not quite healed leg.
So when I came off at Ebbett’s Pass, there was so much more going on than just needing more nutrition.
I started after three days of rest with every hope of being fresh and trying to summon the vigor of those first days on the trail. Digging deep and praying for the energy and strength to complete this beautiful journey. The pain in my right leg started almost immediately, the weight of the pack and the uphill hiking were aggravators. Also, I still did not feel as strong as I had when I first started. I felt a disconnect with God. Where was the strength and energy all you dear people were willing to me?
Towards evening, I began to accept that sometimes God’s answer is not our answer. We are all mortal. While glaringly obvious, this is all something we humanly want evidence to deny. We all want, somehow, to beat the odds of our mortality.
I believe this is a natural drive and generally positive. But, in the end, we have nothing to fear; that battle with mortality has ultimately been won for us by our Lord. Somewhere along the line we must all, perhaps many times in life, face straight into the fact that these bodies, as we know them, will not live, or be young, forever.
“to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go”
― Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Volume One
I hiked through the wonder of the rolling thunder (hmm I made a rhyme there, ha!) coming, not without tears, to some peace with the fact that I was harming more than helping my body at this point. It was not serious but it was real. I was almost halfway home. Tonight I would camp comfortably at the first creek/flat spot I found after mile 1070. Tomorrow I would go out at Carson Pass.