Mountains and Magic: Contemplations and Introspection
Out of Town and Up the Mountain
It was fairly difficult leaving Wrightwood, CA. Two nights of big meals and relaxation are sure to make you lazy. I finally got moving and was on trail about 11 a.m. or so. Starting back up at Inspiration Point left us with roughly four miles to the base of Mount Baden-Powell. We now had to make our way up the 20-some switchbacks that take you to the peak. I was moving rather slow, and after eating lunch with Mr. Fox and Rampage, I ended up hiking the next few miles alone.
As I started to come across snow the trail was almost instantly lost and all of the footprints began to head straight up the almost vertical slope. I guess I had a yee-haw moment and decided that I could follow the maps and kick some footprints where the trail actually was. Although my intentions were good it was ultimately a bad move.
After about an hour I was faced with the gripping reality of having to follow everyone’s prints and head straight up to the peak. It was a learning experience that I am grateful for. Sometimes you just have to follow the herd. Eventually I made it to the top and decided to see the summit; after all, it was only . 1 miles off the trail.
Mr. Fox, Lionheart, and Rampage were there enjoying the view when I got to the top. We took some pictures and joked around for a while before heading back down to the trail. I bagged my first peak, and it was worth every second.
We were hiking for another few miles before we found a place to camp for the night. It was fairly exposed and quite rocky but it worked well. Another night above 8,800 feet.
Let It Grow
The days following our summit of Mount Baden-Powell were gorgeous, although mentally trying. We walked along the ridgeline while watching an inversion that stretched to the horizon. We descended the mountain as the weight of the clouds eventually proved to be too heavy. Fog turned to mist, and mist into rain. It was an entire day with the fog manipulating the landscape into an eerie, ominous unknown.
The forest came alive as the elixir of life dripped down the trees onto the grass, which displayed the most vibrant green I have ever laid my eyes on. I took a moment to enjoy this wonder. I close my eyes and feel the gentle mist of the falling clouds. Surrounded by the woods, the quiet, and the wet air, I could feel the beauty of the rain and all the healing that it brings. In this moment there is peace.
Do You Believe in Magic?
There is something to be said about the people who live and love here in the mountains surrounding the trail. I could have never imagined the depth of sincerity and hospitality of those we call trail angels. I believe I can speak on behalf of almost all thru-hikers and say that there is an eternal flame of gratitude burning for them. It is big and bright, and it takes a lot of fuel to keep it lit. I cannot express how imperative it is for us to maintain that flame. If donations are accepted, donate. If there is a way to help, do it. These people are angels and deserve all the repayment we can collectively give.
The Unfortunate Truth
The trail has changed, and with the ever-increasing number of hikers attempting this, it has made it harder and harder for people to help us out. The services they provide, whether it’s a place to stay, a warm meal, or a shower, all cost money, time, and energy. And all of these folks are doing this from the kindness of their own hearts.
After speaking with the trail angels I have deduced that many hikers have begun to take these things for granted, and at times, even taken advantage of them. I personally have witnessed what appears to be a sense of entitlement among some of us; almost as though they are expecting people to go out of their way for them. Which is obviously absurd.
I am going to put this out there from the bottom of my heart: to defend the kindness of the souls who help hikers we must maintain a sense of pride and respect. Trail magic is not a given and should never be expected, on this trail or any other. It’s called magic because it happens randomly and beautifully. Only when stardust passes through the moon beams at just the right time to reflect down upon our faces. You have to see it to believe it, and I have seen it.
To Roundhouse, Bonnie and Martin, Sue, the Sauffleys, the Andersons, and the Newkirks:
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I love you and appreciate all of your help. Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do.
This journey has forced me to look at myself, my thoughts, and my habits under a new light. I have been able to push my body and mind to do things I hadn’t previously thought possible and I feel good about the process I have made mentally and physically. I have been in the midst of a full self-inventory and I have to be honest, some things have been difficult to process.
There have been many events that have occurred in my life that I have unnecessarily allowed to define me. I am just now getting to the point where I am comfortable in my own skin as I am now, not a product of what I have been through. I continue to work through all of that every single day. It has been an ongoing improvement.
Conversely, there are aspects about myself that I truly love and feel like I should spend time expanding on. My friends on trail have also been kind enough to point those positive attributes out as well. Thank you all for that. I guess I’m trying to say that life is still here in front of me and I want to see it though. I want to continue to become a better person and learn from myself and others.
Apparently there is still much to learn, and it seems as though the older I get, the less I truly know. What a wonder this life is.
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