That was hard. Arizona Trail hard. Putting together Ikea furniture hard. Trying to get the bank to forgive an overdraft fee hard. I went over 7 mountain passes in 6 days, going from 8000 ft to 12000 ft and down again in the same day quite frequently, crossing and fording a bazillion creeks and rivers, bouldering over snow fields in my little sandals, sleeping in below freezing temperatures while trying to orient my elevation inspired brain through the hallucinations (wheee!). But every little exertion and discomfort couldn’t even begin to diminish the excellence of being alive the Sierras offers. I’m flushingly in love. I’m vulnerable, shattered, and soft to them. They may do what they want with me. And they still have many many miles to decide.
I’m currently in Mammoth taking an extra day off in honor of both my exhaustion and my birthday. I must wrap my animal mouth around some raw meat so a big fat plate of sushi is in order. They have that here .. And a health food store and a bakery that is going to make blueberry scones on my birthday morning. Mostly there’s a bed.
Here’s a short list of some of the heavens and hells of the journey so far;
HEAVEN: Cowboy camping (no shelter) in the desert or at high elevation under a rich deep sky..
HELL: Wet shoes. In the cold they freeze your toes into numbness, in the heat they create a boiling cauldron of fungus soup.
HEAVEN: Seeing the light shoot out of the eyes of other hikers as you pass them and knowing your sharing an experience as intimate as sex without saying a word.
HELL: Having your stove break and having to rehydrate your food by soaking it in cold water in a Baggie for a few hours. Yum.
HEAVEN: An orange.. A big fat melon sized orange with my name on it at John Muir hut 5 days into a fresh food free section. Just wow.
HELL: Taking a toothbrush and some hydrogen peroxide to a splitting callous to get the gravel out..
HEAVEN: Turning a corner in a burn area to find a lush rich little haven of life in which to sit in..
HELL: Burn areas. I know they can be natural and needed, but they are still a pretty big bummer.
HEAVEN: Clean soft soapy smelling socks, especially the ones where each toe has its own little grit free pocket of sensual bliss in which to nestle.
HELL: Below freezing nights when I have all my clothes on including rain gear in my bag and still stay up all night shivering myself off the sleeping pad while fully knowing I have a 4000 foot climb in front of me the next day I need to be perky for.
HEAVEN: Realizing I’ve “flown” up a 4000 foot climb without having had any sleep and have thought happy satisfying thoughts the entire time.
HELL: Going to town just when you were really starting to belong to the wilderness again.
HEAVEN: Belonging to the wilderness.
HELL: Really needing a break and knowing you’re miles from the nearest trail town.
HEAVEN: Listening to dance music on a monotonous stretch of trail and/or singing your heart out at volume.
HELL: Getting a bad song stuck in your head … or a particularly disturbing train of thought that won’t let you go..
HEAVEN: Doing this .. And saying yes to all it contains …
All is well.. In 3 days I’ll reach Tuolumne ..