Day 8–18.0 miles hiked
I woke up last night to the sound of footsteps quickly after approaching my tent. In my sleepy haze, I thought it was a bear and almost yelled out, but then I heard human voices attached to the steps. It was the girl camped next to me and a guy. They were walking through my site to get to theirs, probably oblivious that I was even there!
I actually got a semi decent night’s sleep and woke up to a chilly morning. I headed out of camp around 8:30 with lots of water since this was another long, dry stretch and it was forecasted to be warm.
There was quite a bit of activity on the trail and I met lots of day hikers out for a Sunday stroll as well as encountering lots of mountain bikers.
One man I met was thru hiking the trail in the opposite direction. I really enjoyed talking to him and wished we could have hiked together for awhile. He told me he had thru hiked the John Muir Trail 2 years ago and spread some of his son’s ashes on Mt. Whitney’s summit. I didn’t learn how his son died but I do know he was 27 years old. Today, he had spread more of his ashes on the top of Relay Peak, the highest mountain on the TRT. He said he had not seen a single ladybug on this entire journey, but when he put the ashes on the ground, several ladybugs landed on them. You see, his daughter has always loved ladybugs and she was supposed to be on this trip with him, but she got a promotion at work before they left and couldn’t take the time off. He called her from the peak to tell her what happened and he said they both cried together. I also cried with him.
So what do I think about out here for all these hours, some of you want to know. A lot of times nothing other than putting one foot in front of the other and getting up a mountain. It’s a very meditative place for me and the only time when my brain truly gets a rest. But I also think about things like this man’s story and how we’re all connected in some way. I can’t even fathom his pain of losing a child, but I suspect like me with Mama, these wild places connect him in a very primal way to his son. Through all the pain that loss brings, the natural world gives me hope in some master plan orchestrated by the Universe, God, whatever you want to call it, that it’s all going to be okay. So I try not to think about much at all, and just let the simple act of experiencing the world through my senses guide my thoughts. It’s not always easy though and there are times when I get caught up in the to do lists of my brain, but even that seems more manageable when I think about it out here.
I’m camped tonight at 9300 feet and it’s incredibly windy. Sleep ain’t happening (especially since I forgot to take my Aleve PM before hanging my food which at least helps me fall asleep–doh!)!
I was able to call Larry tonight and we talked for over and hour and a half. I miss him and the kids like crazy. This trip has been so good for me in so many ways, but I can feel my heart being tugged back home now. I will savor the next 3 days but I’ll be very excited to board a plane heading east.
Thankfully my body still feels great. With the heat, my lower back is chafing pretty badly where my pack hits, but as long as I take pack off breaks to let it cool off a little, it’s manageable and I’m fine otherwise. I’m really grateful for that, because this is the longest backpacking trip I’ve ever done and I had no idea how my body would behave.
Oh my gosh, this wind is insane! It’s literally blowing dust through my mesh. I hope my tent holds up!