Kennedy Meadows was like a weird bridal shower for me. Everyone there knew my story, including the locals, some of which had been on the search and rescue party for me (which I hadn’t known existed) when the helicopter couldn’t find me. I was given gifts, food, wine, and offers of assistance and companionship. In the end I had assembled a party of four and we took off together on a quest to find the spot near mile 719 that nearly absorbed my life into it. We didn’t that day but found beautiful messages written to me with twigs, pinecones, and stones from hikers in front of me that made me cry, and camped nearby sharing toasts and celebrations and enough laughter to nearly herniate my insides. The man who had saved my life had written me a letter and had it sent to Kennedy Meadows which I read to “bring” him there with me. In the morning, my friends made a trekking pole bridge for me to triumphantly walk under across Cow Dribble (formerly Creek) to a lip trumpet rendition of Chariots of Fire. Victory was mine! And then they trudged on ahead facing the 2500 foot climb in front of us, of a steepness that I can only crawl up. And then I found the spot. Or actually the two spots, one where it happened, and another where I was lain in wait for help. And I was alone. I was afraid I would panic, that a body memory beyond my control would take over my rational triumphant feeling. I was afraid that I would go from strong and vibrant to crumbled. And I would be helpless. But it didn’t happen. I walked. And the walking weaved it’s magic through that fear, as it does all other things, and I was fine. Truly fine. I decided it was appropriate to spend some time in that canyon and found an outcropping just above it all to sit and meditate in. The tears were quick to come in the solitude but they were tears if deep joy, of knowing I had done something truly right. Here is a small excerpt from my journal in that place:
“This land doesn’t want my life, it wants my joy and my love. It gave me the greatest gift I have ever been given, of embracing life and the bursting imperative to share it. The trail, and my life, are new and mine now, both infused with the happy crisp absorption of the second chance.”
There was gratitude and love, and a new life now dedicated to nothing but the sharing of both. It was an important event, the whole journey beginning from the day I was dropped off at the border in April. And now I can finally walk the PCT with the disaster behind me.
So you know that part in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy stops being tossed around in the air in a grey house in grey turbulent skies clutching her dog with terror in her eyes and finally lands and then opens the door and everything is in color and there’s magical plants and rocks and bubbling streams and an absolutely gorgeous woman in a white dress with a golden wand and there’s just giggles and twinkles for awhile? Well that is EXACTLY what entering the Sierras is like. I can’t describe it. What you need to do is buy an $800 beater car and drive to Kennedy Meadows, abandon the car to the really sweet teenager running the hamburger counter and pack up about 6 days of food and walk yourself right the hell up in there. Forget about leaving for about two months. Every 6 days find a new and interesting pass to walk down and get more food. Take all the side trails. Swim in all the lakes. Make stuff with the twigs. Take absolutely no pictures and get really stinking dirty. Your life will change and light will begin to shoot out of your eyes. It’s incredible and I want you to experience it without pretext. So that’s my “Sierras” blog entry.
Next stop Reds Meadow! Life is truly wonderful <3