It’s June eighteenth. Day 10 on the John Muir Trail. We hike down Muir Pass. Yesterday we camped at Mc Clure Meadow, watched the setting sun color the mountains in red, orange and pink. A group of deer grazing just a few meters away. Perfect!
The downclimb of Muir Pass southbound is the way I remember it… a bitch… beautiful but still… A bitch. I told you so I say to HQ. Ya but I didn’t expect thís he replies. We curse while we stumble our way down… It’s cursing with a smile on our faces. We’ve gotten fast though. I’m almost twice as fast as when I hiked the same path two years ago. Does it matter? I guess not. My ego do is kinda pleased. My hips are not. They don’t like the Sierra. They hurt. So instead of going fast I try to be disciplined in going slow. I’m not too good at it. Society has thaught me differently. Time is money, fast is good, higher, better, more more more. Maybe we should start learning and teaching ‘going slow’. Wouldn’t that be the best thing to teach our kids? To slow down, to see, to smell, to breath, to hear, to listen to the voices of their heart? It’s not easy in times like these. But it’s important. I think it’s a key to happiness (just like gratitude)!
We have seen a lot of unhappy PCT-hiker faces lately. Grumpy faces hiding behind growing beards… rushing by… running from A to B… from somewhere to nowhere… from lost till found?
They hardly look up, hardly say ‘hi’, and o no they don’t smile. They don’t smile at all. No I don’t judge. Cause I do understand. They are hungry and tired and are battling their demons (whatever those may be). Still I can’t help it, sometimes I would wanna ask them Why are you here? Where did you loose your smile? What do you need to put that smile back on your face? And: Have you seen the beauty around you? Doesn’t that make you smile? But ya… I get it… Hungry, tired, demons. Meeting those grumpy faces are not my favorite moments of the day but I still think it’s good these people are out here… cause at least… they are o.u.t h.e.r.e. They have stopped doing whatever they were doing and decided to go for a long walk. I firmly believe that spending time in nature makes us happier and better people. So ya it’s good those grumpy faces are out here. I hope they find what they are looking for. Themselves, love, selfconfidence, trust, happiness, absolution.
While we stumble our way down into the gorgeous Le Conte Canyon we bump into 2 wonderful women who we often thought of since we’ve last seen them in Big Bear Lake. It are Robin and Carla! The canadian mother-daughter team. They are nothing like grumpy faces. They smile and their eyes are alive with happiness. Carla is leaving the trail tomorrow and is perfectly happy with that. The trail gave her what she needed and now she can go home. Smart girl. Following her heart and her love. We take our time to talk with them. There is so much to talk about. About how we too often long to go home. We love hiking, we love the trail but more and more we came to realize we love home! We love our lives! We are so lucky and happy. Maybe we should go home too?! In a way we feel the 2 months that we’ve been here already gave us what we came for: To hike (of course) but also to gain some distance, to reflect about the past few years, to find out what we wish for in the future, to find inspiration… We found all that and more. O yes I’m sure there’s even more to be found and like the quote says “wilderness holds answers to questions I haven’t yet learned to ask”… but still… while we hike we keep on talking about how we would prepare our garden, continue renovating our tiny home, spend time with family, maybe start a littly family of our own. Yes we even look forward to start “working” again. That’s the cool thing about doing what you love and loving what you do… You never really have to “work”…
Carla tells us she stopped telling other hikers she’s going home, cause they keep asking ‘But you’re gonna finish right? Complete the trail?’
Finish what? A route between A and B? Between manmade borders? Isn’t the true the real accomplishment to follow your heart? It is people it is!!! Don’t hike because you and others think it’s cool to hike from Mexico to Canada… Hike because you love it, because you need it, because it gives you something, because it makes you smile!
Does it still make us smile? I think. Are we still happy on trail? O yes we are! But who knows where the path will take us tomorrow? Who knows what songs our hearts will be singing next week? I don’t know. But we will listen. Just like Robin and Carla. We are so grateful we met them that day… On that bitchy downclimb towards the beautiful Le Conte Canyon.
June twentyone. Day 13 on the JMT. It’s hard to get up after a 20 mile day in the mountains. Yesterday we hiked over Mather and Pinchot Pass. We actually only wanted to hike Mather but then it was only lunchtime when we found ourselves at the foot of Pinchot, so ya we tackled that one too.
I’m tired so tired walking towards Dollar Lake. And I keep thinking of home. Too much beauty, too much memories, too much people. How can I keep everything in my head? I need to let go. The trail forces me to let go, to let everything blur into one, everything and nothing and the inbetween. Glen pass is waiting for us today. I think of Ninja who fell down Glen Pass a few days ago and had to be airlifted out. She’s fine now but boy that girl has a strong guardian angel. I hope she recovers well and soon. She makes me think of a best friend I once had. Beautiful girl, so alive, good karma full of energy, but giving her guardian angels lots of work haha.
Glen pass isn’t as tough as I remember. We are up in no time (ya the legs… the pct legs!) and it’s windy as fuck up there so we quickly head back down. We had hoped to finally see some bears in the Rae Lakes Area (which do is just as beautiful as I remember) but na na. Zero bears so far.
Shal we climb another pass today? Since Glen was easy peasy? Heck yeah, bring it on! Kearsarge pass here we come. We run out of food so we need to get into Independence or Lone Pine as soon as possible anyway. I find out why everyone keeps telling the sidetrip over Kearsarge is so beautiful. Cause it frikkin is! The views are absolutely breathtaking!!!! Starting with my favorite view along the JMT (the view on East Vidette and Center Peak!), we work our way up to the pass, admire Bullfrog Lake, the Kearsarge Lakes and Pinnacles,… It’s wonderful. Except that my hips are hurting… A lot. Each time they hurt like this I get scared… A lot. I even don’t care no more how much further I can go on the PCT. In those moments I don’t give a fuck about the PCT. I’m scared that I’m using the few steps I still have left to go in this life. I’m scared of the surgeries. I’m scared of the pain. Of what is awaiting me. I know it doesn’t help to worry, so I unbuckle my hip belt and carry the weight of my pack on my shoulders. It helps a little. I go slow, very slow. It’s the constant changing of up and down that kills my hips. Fuck you Sierra but ya I still love you. Cause your beauty still makes me smile, is like a band aid to my soul.
By the time it’s 6pm we are waiting in the parking lot of the Onion Valley Trailhead. Hoping for a ride. I immediately ask the first people I see coming down from the trail. I’m good in asking for rides. 5 minutes later I sit in the backseat of a car, inbetween HQ and the daughter of a music teacher couple and underneath a huuuge beautiful dog called George. While I sit in that car I forget about the pain in my hips. I hug George. Animals are band aids too. Band aids for hurting hips, long mile days and homesickness.
June twentyfive. Summit day! Whitney baby I am coming! Today I am gonna complete the John Muir Trail. Again. What a different walk it has been compared to almost two years ago. Hiking the JMT together with HQ has been a healing experience for him and for me. It closed some holes and wounds. It made us stronger and in a way more complete. We are grateful while we climb Mount Whitney. It’s easy. The hike up and being grateful. I bet we are higher than Obama right now I say while we sit and relax on the highest point of the lower 48 states. Except if he’s in his airplane flying to a meeting with Merkel. It’s completely irrelevant. Cause ya sometimes it’s wonderful to say irrelevant things and do irrelevant things. Like taking stupid pictures of us jumping on Mount Whitney. Sometimes irrelevant things create happiness (which does make them kinda relevant haha)!
Back down at Guitar Lake we have lunch and eat an avocado to celebrate (ya an avocado in the backcounty is celebration), take a nap, and then decide to hike further down to Lower Crabtree Meadow. In the evening we see the sunset making Mount Whitney glow like gold. Busy marmots are doing whatever they need to do at 8:30 pm and six deer are grazing in the meadow. It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. It’s life!