"What is the infatuation with 'est? Why are we beating our brains on a hard surface to be fastest, biggest, richest, on and on ad infinitum ad nauseam? I asked how many Audubon's warblers he'd seen or hermit thrushes he'd heard and he (JMT speed record inquirer and hiker) grinned sheepishly, looking down at his bootlaces. But this was an unfair question. Such a hiker has probably never slowed enough to notice, but I continued: 'Have you tried meadow sitting or cloud watching?' 'Anyone can do that,' was his response. There it is again. Machismo. This fellow is going to achieve, be a first, do things not everyone does or even can do. That becomes his goal. We're a restless breed, we moderns. Hardest it is to sit still and be attentive to our surroundings. Boredom comes to most of us very quickly."
This quote certainly was certainly on the forefront of my mind when I told Chris, "Sure, we can do it in 7 days. It'll just require us to hike all day long." The interesting thing about long distance backpacking or ultrarunning is that the pain experienced out there is quickly forgot. Chris had only seven days due to work and other arrangements but I knew we could be successful in that amount of time. Fast forward 7 months later and we're kindly being driven to Yosemite Valley by Elissa, Chris's wife. The first few days are always the more difficult due to the need to adjust to the routine of hiking 12-14hrs/day, having 25 pounds on your back, dealing with mosquitoes, eating dried foods, etc. I admit the first few days were quite difficult as the bottoms of my feet were sore and tired and that dragged on me mentally a bit. Chris was handling things quite well, especially for someone who has not taken a trip like this before.
Reflecting on this trip, the style of this trip is not something I would have interest in doing consistently. I enjoy hiking most of the day but love the moments sitting in the late afternoon reflecting, enjoying my surroundings, and just being. I didn't have time for that on this trip and I admit a twang of jealousy seeing the northbound PCTers stop at 4pm and lazying around until the evening. This isn't to diminish the accomplishment of this trip. I was glad to experience this, especially with Chris who was unflappable and an excellent backpacking partner. I remember most of the trip but the things that stand out are: the fading sun giving way to a spectacular vista on top of Mather Pass and the high we were both on, the amount of attractive single young PCT women heading north who DIDN'T read Wild, the storm to the east of Silver Pass as we were headed up, the lunch stop after Virginia Lake as we rested with our eyes closed in the shade with our feet up and a cool breeze coming over us, the stunning farts we both endured from each other depending on who was leading, and the climb up to Whitney, where a small storm cell was grumbling just to the west of us as we made our way to the summit where not one other person was present.
The fall and winter will bring exciting new adventures and treks: from the French/Swiss Alps to the South American Andes. Oh, and the Leadville Trail 100 in mid-August. Stay tuned! (Click here for the full photo album.)
|7 days later|