Trail Angels near Donner Pass (July 3-4)
On this morning, my steps were lighter than usual. I hiked with the knowledge that a friend was coming to meet me at a road ahead, at noon.
I hiked over steep, slanted, pretty mountainside meadows, full of Mule Ears flowers, on the way up to Tinker Knob. It was absolutely beautiful up there, with a morning haze over some of the blue valley below, including Lake Tahoe. I felt, as I’ve often felt on this trip, that I was hiking on top of the world, hiking up on these orange-brown mountain ridges, exposed for quite a while.
I hiked steadily on, wanting to meet my friend by the time we had agreed on. The sun was rising higher in the sky, and I felt thankful to descend into some cooler pine forests again.
I followed the trail down to a parking area, and sure enough, pretty soon my friend drove by. I thought again about how remarkable it was that this meeting worked out. My friend lives in Arizona, was visiting family in California, read my posts about this trip, reached out to me about meeting, and the next day drove over 2 hours, through 4th of July traffic in a touristy area, just to meet me. (And then drove 2 more hours back to her family’s house!) I thought it was just about the most generous thing anyone has done for me, this entire trip.
She was so kind and generous, about everything. Not only did she bring me a burger, fries, 2 shakes, and coke, she brought extra sodas for any other hikers who might pass by us as we sat. We saw a few pass by, and got a big kick out of offering them a good cold soda at the base of an exposed summit. Those sodas were definitely appreciated gifts, on such a hot day.
It was really good to eat some hearty food, but even better than that was seeing my friend again. I am so touched by her enthusiasm about my trip, by all the questions she asked me about it, by the time she spent with me. She’s a true friend.
We visited a while, I ate, then we said our goodbyes and I started hiking again, feeling uplifted.
The next day, July 4, was another beautiful but hot one.
All afternoon I had been thinking about how great a cold soda would taste, on such a hot day. I hiked into the late afternoon, crossed one clearing, and absent-mindedly noticed a truck parked somewhere nearby, then a man called out, saying, he and his wife were packing up, but if I wanted, I could have a cold drink. Turns out it was a couple I had met before, and he recognized me too and said, “Old Soul!” and gave me a hug.
This couple has a reputation on the trail, for those of us who passed by their trail magic canopy a few weeks ago, further south on the trail. Not only did they offer hikers burgers, they also had sodas, pizza for vegetarian hikers, and all kinds of other thoughtful touches they offered- new darn tough brand socks for those of us walking around in socks with holes in them, snacks to go, homemade kombucha, camp chairs to sit in, ice cream, and on and on. Even more than that though, their kind words and ways were so evident each time I met them.
When I walked up to them the first time, I told them, wow, this is such a gift, something like this is such a boost for us hikers. The man told me, “Oh, trust me, we get a lot out of this too. I get tears in my eyes when I think about it.” Any time a hiker accepted something from them, they seemed satisfied by it. Whenever a hiker got up to leave, after eating and chatting a while, all the trail angels there, including this couple, gave that hiker a hug goodbye.
On this afternoon, just as before, they were so kind to me. I was given a quinoa mix, offered some to take with me for dinner, given a soda, and asked if I wanted one ice cream bar, or two.
We had a really nice time reconnecting, as I had seen them a bit earlier in the trip, so they knew me. I could just feel their kindness, like when we took a picture together, they had me stand in the middle, and they put their arms around me, almost protectively. It was touching.
So this week, my spirits were lifted by an old friend, and two strangers who have become friends. I remain thankful for the opportunities in this adventure, to reconnect, to make new connections, and the kindness I’ve witnessed and been inspired by.
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