Yet again I find myself in a warm bed, indoors. If I am not careful this might turn into a habit.
This week started in the lakeside town of Big Bear. I followed my usual intown program; grocery store, to swim hole, to library.
When I left the company of my paper friends, too heavy to take along with me, I was hosted by local trail angeles.
Papa Smurf warmly welcomed me into his home. That night we watched the world series, drank soda, I even got to wash some dishes! While that sounds banal it was novel to me.
With less than a month left on trail I am getting started on my transition back to regular society by partaking in those kinds of activities.
Leaving town I took a short mileage day. My hope was that if I only do ten miles a day for the first few days, when I pick up my pace to fifteen miles a day I will be light(er). Unfortunately this meant I had to pack out more food, resulting in a heavier pack. This process was self defeating but, while shopping for food the previous day I convinced myself it was the best of all possible options, thanks Russo.
Despite my needlessly heavy pack the first day flew by. I treated myself during the last few miles. Each step was a dance to Eric Clapton’s album, ‘I still do.’ I boogied into camp for an early night. After my routine yoga session, I started a new practice.
A few days ago some passing hikers left me with this gem of trail nonsense, “The amount of glory you attain on trail is directly proportional to the amount of suffering you endure on it.” Because I was not about to start hiking thirty mile days like them, I thought of something else I could do to up my glory levels. I decided 200 push-ups a day would do the trick. Living like Albert Camus smiling Sisyphus, taking delight in bearing the weight of the world.
My surroundings had other ideas, they wanted to enforce the idea of me having a relaxing time out here. Hiking the next day I stumbled upon a sofa, the queen of comfort and in home luxury, on trail. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use this odd setting to video myself messing around on the ukulele:
Aside from lugging my Ukulele this whole time I have also brought a set of watercolors. I started becoming bored of painting scenery, I sought a new direction. When I first started painting, years ago, I used acrylics to create a variety of colorful boxes on a canvas, this was my inspiration. I ended up painting, for lack of a better description, blobs of all colors and sizes. I was happy with the result, mainly because it wasn’t another vague outline of distant mountains and flat lakes.
Hiking the next day I stumbled upon an ungodly sight. Strewn over a patch of grass and dirt where clothes, heavy camping gear, and other miscellaneous items. It was the kind of sight you might expect to see in a post apocalyptic version of Manhattan, not 20 miles from the closest town in pure wilderness. These items had obviously been carelessly abandoned. From the looks of it they had been there for a long time, weeks if not months. Being in constant awe of nature, the remote beauty, and its untouched grace for the past few months, I felt an obligation to pack out this junk.
The next fifteen miles where painful. I jerry rigged my pack to hold everything, it wasn’t pretty. Eventually I arrived at a parking lot and properly disposed of my burden.
Much to my delight the harsh heat of the day eventually subsided with the sun. With 8,000 feet of elevation ahead of me and nearly a full moon I made the decision to try something new, a night hike. Prior to that night I looked down on night hiking, afterall I thought, you miss all the scenery and atmosphere of the day, boy was I wrong. Those three hours of hiking where some of my most delightful. With a warm breeze, a luminescent moon, and the distant landscape of a desert valley I practically floated up that mountain.
The next evening I night hiked again, this time not by choice. I had known for a few days that rain was headed my way, and being at a high elevation I was expecting it even more. As I completed the climb from last night I came to a stark realization, there was no flat ground to set up my tent.
I managed to find a precariously placed patch that was just big enough to fit my body laying down. As I set up shop and ate dinner I thought to myself, what if it rains tonight? The clouds overhead seemed to be taunting me. After dinner and with all my will power I forced myself to pack up and walk a bit more. Thankfully I found a suitable campsite in less than a mile.
Of course it didn’t end up raining that night. The next day I summited Mt. San Jacinto at 10,853 feet, it is the tallest peak in this section of the trail. Descending the mountain, following the Ernie Max trail, I landed in the town of Idyllwild. As you might have guess I am writing this from- a library.
Sending my bookish love,