I wish we were on the trail, this late October day, and memorializing this last section of our summer PCT hike is bittersweet. Bitter because I want to be there NOW and sweet because the memories are fondly held.
The gang of four, got a ride from our Kennedy Meadow’s neighbor, Steve, to the top of Sonora Pass so we could pick up the PCT again. This saved us about 9 miles and a four thousand foot climb. It was a welcome lift and we were all really happy to be back on the trail.
You could see the expectation of a really good time ahead on our faces and in our body language. I led out and felt the pressure of being the weakest hiker and took off too fast and was soon gasping for breath from the climb and the elevation.
It was another day of turquoise skys, billowy clouds, red rocks, wildfowers and babbling brooks. 10 miles had us camped on the east fork of the Carson River amidst the forest and under a ghoulish carving in a tree that I didn’t photograph. It creeped me out! Mapster had this location chosen from the information he had acquired online, but we overshot it and Mark acquired his nickname of ‘Apster’ when he pulled out his iphone and opened his Halfmile’s PCT AP and pinpointed our location. (Great AP, highly recommend it to those hiking along the PCT).
I love cows! I think this one was embarrassed by her bell. I know our cattle at home would have been. 😉
It threatened rain all day and spit on us off and on. I kept putting on my rain gear and then taking it off again. We’ve gotten caught in downpours before and it is hard for me to recover warmth after a drenching, so I try to be safe.
This day was lazy and meandering and fairly easy. Some of the trail wound through forests, other along brush covered ridges and by rock jumbled points, lava as well as granite. We saw two huge mounds that were very similar to Devil’s Postpile.
End of day 2 had us at Wolf Creek were we sat around our stoves and talking. Conversation fell to marriage. We shared that the secret of our 32 years was, ‘lowered expectations’. We always get a laugh out of that, but acceptance is key to a happy marriage; we know that sometimes we will each fail to do our best, and that’s OK. We have high expectations for ourselves, but don’t expect too much from each other. We do what we do for each other out of love, and not out of a need to get something in return. At least on a good day.
And it was. While our plan was to hike to Lake Tahoe, Ebbett’s Pass was the end of our trail. Naked Dave’s sister picked us up (thank You!) and we learned that the Rim Fire was huge and the smoke not expected to blow the other way. Another case where an ability to lower your expectations comes in handy.
It is strange too how these things can turn out for good, if you have eyes to see. My mom, who had Alzheimers, had fallen and had a cerebral bleed. Because we exited at this time, Mark and I got to be with her for the last four days of her life. She held my hand, she smiled. We could tell she was comforted with us there. It was good, just as our hike was too. Even the smoke. I will never forget that smoke!
We had a lovely 24 plus hours in Tuolumne Meadows waiting to be joined by other hikers. We slept, took showers at Tuolumne High Sierra Camp, ate breakfast there as well and enjoyed the beauty of the place. Mark talked to all kinds of people and we also made friends with Shar, a John Muir Trail hiker. She had a lot of blisters and we shared our crazy glue and a box of wine.
I was a bit anxious to meet our fellow hikers as we only knew Dave. He’s our financial adviser and friend and this next section of trail was his baby. We were just tagging along. We usually hike by ourselves but were excited to try a group hike. More people mean more laughs and give a fresh perspective. We weren’t disappointed as it was an entertaining group.
*Here they are:
* Characterizations are obviously NOT exhaustive, but only this author’s snapshot opinion.
My mom would have sacrificed her life for me. She’s like that and I’m apparently not. I sit shaded by palms on a tropical beach while she now tries to adjust with her limited mental capacities to a care home. Her mind’s confused, disoriented, steeped in grief, like a black cup of tea. Mine’s trying to recover from being cloaked in a scratchy blanket of depression. I had too much to lose; my mind, my health, my love. She’s already lost those. Unanchored, she slowly floats away and I wave good-bye.
Death comes knocking on everyone’s door. Everyone’s. Recently my dad’s.
A year ago my dad became very sick. His lungs struggled. His body slept. Hospice came and we learned all about diapers and bed sores and end of life care. My dad fought death off and lost the diapers and bed sores and endless sleep. He walked and talked and made preparations. He called friends. Then death came knocking again and he answered the door and entered in.
Are you ready?
Most of us look away. It’s hard not too. But you need to look, to live. God’s grace is all around us. Embrace it.
Haven’t posted for a while. Our computer has had issues and we were away babysitting our grandson in Las Vegas. Not the world-famous strip. We just drove by the strip. It is fun to check out once or maybe twice, but since our daughter lives there we have long since tired of the bright lights. We spend our time at the house and the nearby playground with our grandson. Good times. Good memories
This little mare is a beauty and when riding with another horse (if she likes them) she is nice to ride. Otherwise she is a basket case. Lately I’ve ridden or led her, after much persuasion and patience on my part, a short distance away from her herd. There I will give her hay or grain and we will just hang out.
Even with her food in front of her she looks back. Never really content to just enjoy her meal in peace. She doesn’t seem like she feels safe or secure in her own skin.
In the beginning she totally freaked out by herself. I thought she was just an obstinate, psychotic horse and I’ve had her on Craigslist a time or two. We got interested phone calls, but no one came out. I’m glad now. I’ve learned she is just worried and anxious and she is teaching me a lot about myself and my lack of ability to sit quiet and do nothing while she eats.
It’s hard. There are lots of things that need doing and the energy in my body sometimes almost seems to have an audible buzz. While walking is the best way to soothe my mind and quiet my soul, I think it is good for me to learn to relax my mind in stillness. The seventeenth century philosopher Blaise Pascal even thought that ninety percent of the problems of humankind stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room all by ourselves.
The mare is improving. I have hope now that I can help her overcome her herd bound issues and she can help me learn to be calm, quiet and patient.
While autumn doesn’t officially begin until Saturday, we felt its presence creeping up on us this morning. We actually put on coats and turned on our kitchen heater. We aren’t quite ready for the rainy season to begin. Our woodshed is empty….. something about the cobbler’s child not having any shoes or the mechanic’s wife whose car doesn’t run.
When one plays poker they look for little changes in their opponents demeanor that might indicate if they have a good hand or if they are bluffing. California Buckeye’s might be the tree that has an easy ‘tell’ of the changing seasons. They are the first to bud in the spring and the first to shed in autumn. I believe they’re the first forest tree to bloom in summer too. Buckeye’s are a pretty and unique tree in our Humboldt county landscape.