The Sierra Diaries- Spirit Visits, Space Wolves, and Summit Stories

It is the end of May-early June time of year and we have begun the Sierra section, which fast proves to be somewhat spiritual.

I have smaller but sweet memories with my grandad, who I know was a fellow walker of long long paths and a lover of the mountains. This evening I wonder what he’d make of this. A little girl he once taught how to swim and be kind is walking from Mexico to Canada over some of the most beautiful ranges. He’d probably wonder why I didn’t just stick to the Lake District in Cumbria, UK.

Spirit Visits

Myself and a few other hikers have had visits from birds or mischievous small animals who have no business sitting next to us other than to check in and say hi.

A single bird flew and rested next to me for all of half a morning.

A beautiful bright yellow butterfly came to say hello when I was having a swim in a fairy hole, followed by a happy gang of dancing dragonflies. This was the same day an old school friend had to say what I can only imagine was the hardest goodbye to a beautiful soul close to her heart and life.

Some dark and eerie clouds loom over the miles leading up to Forester Pass. I don’t know why, but I get a lump in my throat and an urge to turn back around and wait for friends. Around a week later, I find out the saddest news that a fellow hiking friend had passed away just before this summit a few days prior to our group being there. I immediately sob and know that those angry clouds were her, telling me to turn around and wait for others, to feel safer. Riddles, you have left us all with a riddle we will never solve, why you?

Its June 1st

The month of the summer solstice, Hike Naked Day, pride, and my birthday!

We camped on what must have been Mars.

A rare flat scape of land amid jagged rocks and twisted bristle cone pines that look suspicious of holding the secrets of those who wander past.

A lid, an offering of a secluded yet spacious campsite for new and bonding families of hikers.

We woke to the sound of what we could only conclude to be space wolves- sending their devilish chimes echoing into the walls of the Sierra.

We likely hike among them, maybe side by side, but unnoticed and busy with our not-so-dissimilar human-animal routines.

Its June 2nd

Mount Whitney is forever etched into my brain like a warm hug.

We wake at midnight, hike at 1 a.m. under the Milky Way, up up and up into the treasures of Mount Whitney- the tallest peak in the lower 48 states.

I can’t stop thinking about the way the sun lit up the neighboring mountains- pink and golden, icy blue but also a crystal white, defrosting for the day’s eyes who are lucky enough to gaze upon them.My mouth wide open in awe, heart warming quickly to an idea of an untouched, unbothered natural world.

The mountain and its surrounding land have hundreds of lifetimes of stories tread upon them and I wonder if it keeps them

It stores the beautiful ones and the hard ones and turns them into the goosebump providing a light show each dusk and dawn

It is the People, After All

One man summits knowing he will ask his love for the most important and beautiful promise of a long and joyful life together- she says yes and we are all bubbling over in tears and congratulations.

Another summits in anticipation of a long nap up top and a whisky, body aching from the biggest climb yet and lungs burning, demanding more oxygen.

One girl summits and simply gets naked, in what appears to be an impulsive and funny confidence-building exercise (OK that one was me, guilty).

Another summits and immediately calls their love back home- the distance between them on this long adventure finally made that bit closer by the sounds of each other’s voices.

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