PCT Mile: 91
A special thanks goes out to Steve Jobs and whoever invented portable solar. And the honorable mention goes toooooo…Wet Wipes!
I woke up this morning at 4:45 totally rested. Mr. Tatum, the Advil PM was money!!! We had 4 miles to walk back to the trailhead and about a 1000 foot climb ahead of us. In all, we had about an 18 mile day to our first confirmed water cache. On our way back to the trail we talked about our favorite movies , quoted our favorite lines and told our favorite jokes. Very entertaining! When we got to the trail, I left the group and pushed the cruise control button. I had hiked 10 miles by 10 AM yesterday and was anxious to do it again.
Here comes the “feel good” story.
On Thursday night, I had met John and his father, Galen, while setting up my tent. They are hiking 702 miles to Kennedy Meadows together. I thought the father/son thing was really cool, didn’t think much of it, and continued with my evening camp chores. Friday, on my way down the hill, I passed Galen and noticed his tremors as he was navigating rocks on the trail. I briefly chatted with him and he asked me to tell his son that he was ready for a break. About 30 minutes later, I caught up to John who was waiting at the paved road for his dad. Turns out that four of us were going to the same RV park for some much needed R&R.
We ate burgers and hung out by the pool. Later, Galen confirmed what I had suspected. He has early onset of Parkinson’s and is 54 years old. His father and grandfather both died from this dreadful disease. This morning I thought, how special it was to be doing something like this when you know what lies ahead of you. What’s really cool for me? Whether I hang 1 day or 1 week with them, I will have been a part of their journey.
Immediately, I started thinking about my mother. She lived a difficult life. She’s a mother of 4 children and financial pressures took an emotional toll on her through our years growing up. She was forced to start a career in her 40’s, and to her credit, she retired with quite a little nest egg…only to get Parkinson’s disease. I’ve seen her slowly melt away over the years and I feel so sorry for her. Life gave her lemons and she didn’t learn how to make lemonade.
As I was going over all of this in my head, the “Circle of Life” from the Lion King started playing in my earbuds. I came around a bend in the trail and saw this…
Now this photo doesn’t come close to capturing the moment. The thoughts of my mother, Galen and John on this very difficult journey, the song, and this incredible beauty unfolding in front me was so overwhelming that I choked up…big time! They were tears of happiness, sadness and contentment. A perfect moment in time where everything fit together as if it was intended. I just looked all around me and said “Thank You…thank you”. I’ve said that I’m not a religious man, but I am spiritual. Mom, today I went to church. I love you!
I floated on an inspired adrenaline rush for about 3 hours before the heat and the miles started redirecting my thoughts. I stopped and had a snack waiting for Galen, John and Andrea to catch up. I decided to hike with them for the rest of the afternoon.
We heard that there was a water cache at mile 14 and we were very tired. Galen and John are fighting some nasty blisters on their feet so they were done. We arrived at the cache only to find hundreds of empty 1 gallon jugs smashed into a wooden bin. We hiked further down the road to a cistern that must be 100 years old. A homestead used to be there and this was their water source…literally in the middle of nowhere! We filtered 2 gallons of water and headed back to find a campsite. Dinner is done and we are tucked in for the night. We have another 19 mile day in the desert tomorrow.