Miles today: 8.7
Trail miles: 702.2
Spinning on the turntable: Melissa Etheridge: Fearless love
I slept in until 5AM this morning and started hiking at 6AM. The miles would be small today, but I really wanted to beat the heat, so I still started early.
The trail was relatively flat so I knew this would be an easy hike that allowed for a fair amount of thinking. As I walked I thought about those hikers I’ve met that have hiked ahead of me on this trail, those that I’ve passed and those that had to drop off trail for one reason or another.
Why am I still able to hike when others have needed to drop out? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m incredibly appreciative that I’m still here.
At 702 miles I’m just starting to scratch the surface of this hike. I have 1952 miles left to go. I’m just starting to clear my head of the fog of war of life.
I saw yet another another dilapidated, empty dwelling. I’m so curious about the history of these buildings. Who/what/where/when/why? I’ll never know the answers so I can only speculate.
I paused at the 700 mile marker long enough to snap a picture. I suppose some hikers sit on the logs and contemplate their hike, but I kept moving forward, it was too dang hot!
Walking into Kennedy Meadows I was really digging deep to understand what I was feeling. In the end, I decided that it’s a feeling of loss. Loss like the last day of summer vacation and tomorrow I’ll return to school. I’m really starting to enjoy the challenge of the trail and don’t want it to end so soon.
Yet, while this part of the journey is over, the next chapter beckons. “Come on, lets walk a bit more, talk bit more and dig just a little bit deeper.”
As I was walked the final few meters to the general store in KM, the hiker hang out, I heard my fellow hikers begin to clap for me. I’ve now entered an elite club of long distance hikers. (Cash value equals zero!) They know how hard the past 702 miles have been because they’ve just done it themselves and they applauded my efforts.
I’ve run a bunch of marathons and the crowd always cheers at the finish line. In my mind the difference is that marathon finish lines are generally composed of spectators cheering, not fellow athletes cheering. This clapping was special and I’ll remember it for a long time.
It was as great to see Noelle again! We sat with other hikers at an outdoor table and cheered for other hikers as they made their way into the general vicinity of the general store. Cheering for our fellow hikers is a long-standing tradition at the general store.
So now the question becomes, where shall I hike? Continue north into the Sierra mountains? Bounce ahead to Oregon or Washington and hike north or south? At this exact moment I don’t have an answer to the question.
There’s no cell reception in KM and the wireless connection at the general store isn’t worth a poopy diaper. We’ll need to get out of KM for a day or so and start doing our own homework. We need to make the decision for ourselves about what’s best for us based on actual snow reports, trail reports, etc.
There’s a lot of peer pressure to head into the Sierra. The gear outfitters are specifically merchandised for that option, no other options are on their gear table. I understand this based on a inventory concept, but it chafes me none the less.
The snow pack in the Sierra is crazy high this year and I just need to think and evaluate. I’ve purchased an ice ax, bear canister and better gloves in case I choose the Sierra route now.
The only thing I’m absolutely certain of is that it was time for my shoes to hit the trash. After a small private ceremony I extracted the inserts and shoe laces and then dropped them into the trash. We traveled together for about 600 miles.
The left shoe had a hole in it that allowed small rocks to wander in and cause havoc. The right shoes front toe bumper had come unglued in the past fifty miles and was collecting sand and throwing it into the air in tiny little arcs as I walked. It was past time to say goodbye.
I saw one hiker sniffing her shoe before dropping it in the trash. The hard core hikers will pour a beer into their shoe and then drink it before discarding the shoe. Me? I’ll leave it up to your imagination.