Precious Day (April 24)

          Started the day today packing up a frozen tent with particles of ice on the outside, around 0600.  The tent was frozen enough that I couldn’t release one of the clamps connecting tent fly to tent body, so just stuffed it still connected in the holding bag.  That was a new one for me.  But it wasn’t quite as frigid as it sounds, the air was warming by the minute.
          I hiked with new friends throughout the day.  I always feel that pull between hiking with people and hiking alone.  When I hike alone, I stop often to look around, at where I’ve been and where I’m going, take pictures, take breaks when I want.  I have that increased awareness and sense of reverence for the surroundings.  When I hike with others, I know I miss seeing things in the same detail and don’t pause nearly as often, but the conversation and companionship are sometimes well worth it.  A mix is ideal for me, and on this day, hiking with these two hikers felt pretty good.

Often you could see the trail cutting into the mountains way far ahead and behind. So neat to have that expansive view.

          My friends and I took a long lunch break under a shady grove of trees where some other hikers had also gathered.   It was very satisfying to dry out our tents in the sun, and think that we would no longer be carrying that extra water weight.
           We had all eaten our hiker lunches- tuna, tortillas, peanut butter, beef jerky, snack bars- and were just relaxing, and I was thinking that now would be a good time to play my banjo, except I didn’t want to bother anyone, and one of the hikers said something like, “You know what would he good right now?  Some banjo music.”  No one seemed bothered by that idea, so I got it out and played some songs.  Everyone was so kind and respectful- they all listened in silence and clapped after I would finish a song.  On top of that, when I paused in between playing a few songs, one hiker pulled out a harmonica and started playing, without any prelude or introduction.  It was really something, just really free and whimsical.

Wearing so much sun gear to hike- that’s a new one for me.

Friends ahead, hiking along the mountainside.

          We all got back to hiking again.  I felt tired sooner than my friends and told them I was taking another break.  I stopped in a little patch of shade I could find beside the trail, and spread out my sleeping pad to sit on, took off my shoes, ate a snack, and made some instant coffee from a shop from home.  It sure tasted good.  Another hiker soon came up and said, “Mind if I take a break here too?” And he said, “I can’t believe you’re having coffee, what a good idea!”  He made himself a cup then too. Little things like tasty snacks and drinks mean a whole lot more out here!
          We had a good talk about his background and what brought him to long-distance hiking.  Then I got started again.  I became aware of some mild foot pain that seemed to be getting worse as I walked, enough so that I felt a need to step gently and then limp along.  I looked around at the evening shadows on the hillsides around me and thought, I loved being out here before, but now it’s all becoming even more precious when I feel this adventure being threatened by injury.  Already, the two days of hiking had been so different, climbing from a drier desert, up into greener desert hills.  I was hungry to continue seeing more.
          I tried not to get too carried away though because I just didn’t know what was going on just yet.
          I made it to camp and set up my tent near some others, then crawled in my sleeping bag and hoped that the foot pain would take care of itself with some rest.

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