Good Memories (August 18-20)

I finally caught up to some people to hike with!  This week I’ve been hiking with a group, two brothers (Big Friendly Giant and Ling Ding) and another friend from before, Rocket.  I’m so thankful to have good company to hike with again.  All of them are jokesters, so nothing is too serious for long.  This is a good way to approach the end of the trip.

8/18 Rocket and I hiked over the Saddleback Mountain area today.  I’ve heard countless times about the stunning views from these mountains, but our day was foggy, windy and cold.  The conditions brought about their own amusements, though.  Rocket is a huge Star Wars fan, and now hikes with a hiking stick with a bright green plastic light saber attached.  He also hikes in the rain with full length, bright red rain skirt, sleeveless shirt and cloth headband.  I couldn’t stop laughing at this costume- he literally looked like he could’ve come off the set of any of the Star Wars films.  When we got to the summit of one of the mountains, I said, “Stand there, I want to take a picture of you with all your gear!”  He said, “Do I look that stupid?” and I just had to laugh.  Not stupid, but definitely unique!  When we reached the shelter, the Western Brothers laughed too, and said, “Hold on a minute!  We have to get a picture of this!”  This was really something, because they’re reluctant to take any photos.  Big Friendly Giant even stepped out of the shelter into the rain to capture the picture.  It was noteworthy attire, that’s for sure!

As amusing as Rocket’s attire was, I also appreciated him for his company throughout the day.  There are some times when you just appreciate hiking over something tough with someone else.  At one particularly steep rock, Rocket pulled me up a rock by my pack!  That made me laugh.  Towards the end of the hike, Rocket decided to invent a creative new game, “The Banana Slug Game”.  So simple it almost goes without saying- see who can spot the most banana slugs.  This was an amusing way to pass the time and finish up the hike for the day.

8/19 This morning I was hiking along the path, when I looked up and saw my old friend Grey Eagle!  It was so good to see him again, and hear of his adventures since we last camped together in New York.  He hasn’t had it easy- several falls and a lightning strike since I last saw him!  He was headed southbound on this day, but I’m hoping that we’ll meet again before the trip is over.  He told me his wife said, “Isn’t it kind of funny you might summit alone and not with any of these hikers you’ve known or met along the way?”  That’s something that’s been on my mind too.  It does seem kind of sad.  I guess you just have to hold on to the memories you have with different people, even though you might not be together at the end of this trip.

The Western Brothers caught up to me and we hiked together throughout the day.  We took a long break at a stream, just relaxing and snacking.  We all decided to make use of the stream and wash out some clothing, rinsing and wringing out until the water ran out clear.  Big Friendly Giant laughed and laughed and called out, “Hobo laundry!”  It was one of those moments so specific to trail life- truly appreciating a water source by the trail, making do with what you have, and not caring so much about how you look.

Rocket and I camped out together in the evening.  We got to camp early, so it was a relaxed evening.  I slowly cooked my pasta, gave it time to cool, eventually ate it.  I thought about how slow-paced it all was, over an hour just spent watching my food cook and enjoying sitting at the end of long day.  Maybe this is something I’ll miss after the trip.  I can’t imagine that it won’t be an adjustment, going back to a faster paced life style.

8/20 Hiked all day with Rocket.  This was a long day because we hitched into a nearby town to get a good town lunch.   Evening brought us up to Bigelow Mountain.  This was one of those places where you could look to mountains ahead and guess where Bigelow Mountain was, where we were going.  We could see we were in for a climb, as usual.  We hiked into the dark, ascending Bigelow Mountain just as the last traces of light were fading.  Looking down, I could see a wide expanse of green valley with beautiful lakes spread out below.  Everything was muted with the soft colors of a late sunset.  I almost felt like I was in a movie set, scrambling up over the exposed rock in the near dark.

As we approached the next shelter, we could see the Western Brothers, just sitting by the trail, gazing up at the star filled sky.  I was glad we had caught up to them.  The sky was particularly beautiful and clear on this night.  Rocket and I plopped down beside them and ate dinner by headlamp.  A good way to end another adventurous day on the trail.

It’s been a good couple of days!


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