Avocados? Packed. Beer? Drank. Fuel? Yes. Electronics? Charged.
Heading back into the woods from being in town for a night is always a wonderful feeling. It's becoming home out here. Rain falling from the sky made me both happy to have an umbrella while hiking, and excited to set up camp early in the day to just sit in the warmth of my sleeping bag and tent while the rain settles for the evening. We knew the forecast, but didn't stress at the 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms. You just deal with it, and honestly, I freaking love the sound of thunder when it barrels deep through the valleys below. It makes me smile and become aroused by the energy of the clouds. It's a rush. Staying dry can be a daily struggle, but it becomes normal to be taking precautions on a hour to hour basis. Gore-tex shoes make jumping in the sloshy snow and sludgy mud a pretty fun pastime, and the Golite umbrella rules for both sun and rain.
The Sierras are fucking incredible. Beautiful passes that climb a few thousand feet and then quickly drop thousands of feet reveal pockets of California's incredible forests. John Muir Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Saphire Lake, Evolution Lake, the Golden Staircase... These places take my breath away on a normal basis. Seriously, I am always saying, "Jesus Fucking Christ" or "Oh God Damn" as I drop my jaw and trip out on the epic and monumental landscape. It's fucking unreal how beautiful it is out here. There are times where I am walking for hours, literally hours, uphill nonstop - switchback after switchback. I find my mind completely clear when I'm fighting exhaustion and focusing on my breath, pace, hydration level, and each step. Then flashes of thoughts roll in my head and then quickly out again. And then back to clear. It's like the world's greatest meditation stair master workout plan. My legs are fucking nuts. Super strong and lean, but also beat the fuck up from ice, snow, and twigs. I am climbing over fallen trees, hopping on rocks and balancing on logs to pass over rivers frequently.
Shit, fording rivers is not a surprising daily thing either out here. The other day, I wanted to make it to the Muir Ranch hot springs, and after a long ass day (26 miles) down from Muir Pass (where I stealthy slept to avoid bad weather and melted snow), and then afternoon showers, I finally made it, but didn't know you had to ford a river to get there... Shitty. Fording rivers is kind of sketch, and lame when you wear slow drying shoes and the level is high. Luckily that night, even though the water current was strong and up above my thighs, I was going to get into the hot springs quickly after, and would be okay... So the silver lining? Crossing back over the next morning, when the temperature was cold and so was my body. Luckily, the 8 miles of uphill immediately after the river helped. Every up has the down out here... And it's all up and down in the Sierras. Lots of balance. It's been good for reflections and thoughts.
It's an incredible feeling to stand on top of a mountain pass and look back at the thick forested mountain range you either just crossed, or are just about to cover. Rivers and waterfalls flow from the snow melt up top, and fall loudly into the lakes and streams below. Wild onion grows near water beds, and marmots and chipmunks quickly travel throughout the terrain. No sign of bears... yet.
Everyone I meet and pass are each so inspiring and loaded with a warm heart and positive outlook on life. We say you can't be an asshole and hike this trail... You wouldn't make it. Attitude is a huge part of one's success. Hiking in the rain for hours... Fording rivers at fucking 6am when it's fucking cold as balls... Cowboy camping next to your bear can... Getting your feet soaked right after changing into clean socks... Carrying the extra weight of four avocados because they make every meal better... Missing a sign and getting miles off trail and having to backtrack... Post holing up to your waiste and having to crawl out of the snow and ice... But this is what I came out here to experience. This is the challenge I knew I would face. It's been everything I dreamed and more.
My attitude and the attitude of the other hikers make this trip so solid and loaded with endless smiling and laughs shared. Daily, I am breathing so deeply from my lungs and laughing so deeply from in my stomach. Since we battle the same challenges, everyone is instantly connected and bonded by humanity, courage, and perseverance. It's fucking beautiful. We share ideas, hobbies, memories, dreams, goals, and accomplishments. They are trail-family to me, and have so much charisma, charm, and beauty. Surrounded by those who inspire me to never stop growing and acquiring knowledge through experiences is amazing. This shit is amazing.
Mosquitos suck. Hiker-hunger is real. Mammoth Brewing rocks. Balance is critical. People are amazing. The earth is huge. The universe is magical.
Stoked on life.