Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day 60 : A Day of Change

30 miles today
1633 miles to go

Up early, which isn't really early for me. Started hiking at six thirty. I'm hiking using my new hiking method. Picture a batter about to bat. Or a goalie defending the goal. Or a soldier on patrol. Or an American Indian stealthily moving through the woods. That's how I am trying to walk now. I feel like I am leaning forward. Leaning in. Brene Brown talks about leaning in to difficult conversations. I had a hard time picturing what leaning in looks like. Now I have a visceral picture of it. I think it might be a big attitude change for me too. My hiking stance before was more upright. Leaning away from the hill reaching out with my foot but always able to pull back. Not really fully engaged in the hike. Now I find I'm all in. Committed to the next step. I feel differently, like I am boldly moving through the forest. Perhaps it is getting in touch with my roots, my ancestors probably roamed the northern forests in much the same manner. I feel like I should have a club, or a sword, maybe a spear. I feel primal, feral, wild. I move with a purpose. Fords? Who needs logs or boulders. I stride right through the water. Trails acting like streams, not a problem. I feel alive and bold. Unfraid. It's weird how a chance of hiking stance can change so much in how I feel. No twanging. That's for those posers who live on flat streets and sidewalks and only occasionally venture into the wild. I live here. I can't walk upright without hurting myself. I crouch, I am elastic and prepared for the unexpected. 

I pass one thousand miles today! It took me one thousand miles to figure out how to walk in the woods. I keep a fast pace. Up and over the mountains south of Sonora pass. I exit Yosemite National Park, in so doing I no longer am required to carry a bear canister. Yay! This is now my hike. I am not trying to catch up or wait for anyone else. I am hiking for my own reasons. I reach the one thousand mile marker fully alert for it. I found it right where the half mile app said it should be. The day was spent mostly by myself. Although I played leapfrog with a new set of hikers, Not Guilty, Obiwan, BFG to name a few. The last water source is in Kennedy Canyon. From there north the PCT is filled with drama. The trail climbs into the snow. The trees are gone, hiking on exposed ridges with views to the horizon. Huge clouds to the east, massive thunderheads brew. The wind on the ridges a constant thirty knots or so. Steep snow to cross. Rocks and shale to clamber over. With food and water available as I walk there is no need to stop. All happening at ten thousand feet above sea level. Parts of the trail have long downhill snow sections where I slide. There is a really steep section where I need to cross snow between two rocky outcroppings. I follow the steps of the last person but this seems so sketchy. I look below at the sharp jagged rocks wondering what kind of horrible things might happen if I slipped. I keep on moving. Over the outcropping is the coolest glissade. A deep slide likes bobsled run. I clamber down the rocks and step into the run. I sit and away I fly, down, down, over little bumps that make it all that more exciting. Down, down, to a long run out on a flat section of snow. I reach Sonora Pass and my plan is to hitchhike into Bridgeport. I meet a couple of Thru-hikers that have been trying to do that for that last four hours. I join them in their efforts. There just aren't that many cars going in that direction. 

A car pulls up from the west and four hikers get out. The driver says I got room to take you to Kennedy Meadows. Not Guilty says, I'll go. That was where he was planning on going. I say, “I'll go too.” This means that I'll have to figure out how to bounce my Bridgeport box to somewhere else and I'll have to resupply for the next section by buying food at the Kennedy Meadows store. I learn from the driver that they have just restocked so they have a lot of selection. They also have a restaurant so instead of standing on the side of the road waiting, I can be eating. 

I order a cheeseburger and fries. So does Not Guilty and Data. Obiwan and BFG show up, they get the cheeseburger and fries too. Obiwan tells of how he slipped on the steep section that scared me. He tumbled down the hill towards the rocks, somehow missing them by inches. He lost both of his trekking poles on the way down. Dinner is great, especially great because I didn't need to cook it myself. After dinner I head over to the store and buy a bunch of food for the next few days. I also buy a soft serve ice cream cone. More of my ice cream ends up in my beard then my mouth. I can't figure out how to take a bite or lick of ice cream without smearing it all over my face. After I finish messing with my cone I go back to the store and buy a pint of ice cream and sit out in front of the lodge and eat it while talking with Obiwan and BFG. We met a search and rescue trainer who told us a whole bunch of cool stories. He also suggested that we could stealth camp by their training camp. That's where I head. I set up camp next to the creek which is flowing like crazy. I fall asleep to the sound of moving water.

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