July 2012

Wait on a bench outside to watch him motor up your drive for the first time.? After he arrives, take him for a walk through the dusk to the beach filling up with stars and a few families shooting off the last of the weekends fireworks and sparklers.? Come home to tea and talk that goes on late into the night. Forget your cups until the morning.

Take him on your favorite hike up the coast, from the creek through redwoods and out into the sunny blue views north and south. Feed him the first early huckleberry you see. Promise to bring him back in the fall when they are ripe.

Let him find you a frog.

Notice the magic of the afternoon light as it comes in sideways through the forest, each slanting glance slowing your steps and breath down to a whisper. Duck out to an overlook to avoid chatty hikers coming up from the rear. Join his perch on a rock over the coastal terraces, listening to the ocean far below and the sweet, lazy breeze dance through the fir trees up the slope. Watch him taking all this in just as it is.

Drive homeward past red tails perch-hunting on power poles while the fog shadows chasing you south paint contrasting lines on the landscape. Stop at the Roadhouse for a beer, a beet salad and scallops in a corn basil sauce. Talk face to face across the table, unexpectedly shy after the day’s side by side conversation. Let him hold your hand and smile, not looking away, as you say that. Let the exquisite night, and all that follows, unfold from there.

Send him this post of happiness, too, so he remembers it was real.

On Tuesday, just 36 hours away, Peter and Donna will pick me up for our 31 day hike on the John Muir Trail. But the hike really started years ago, when Leisyka and I dreamed of going, then invited Donna to join. It started when Donna agreed to go and became our trip leader in itinerary planning and answering all-questions-gear-and-food related.

It started here when I began hauling heavier packs all around my neighborhood and bouncing up and down my harbor steps with Lauren Hill in my ear.

It started here when I began dehydrating most of the food I will eat in those 5 weeks.

It started here as I weighed all my existing gear and got some new stuff to lighten the load.

It started here when I spent two straight days packaging and organizing my food into 15 one-gallon ziplock bags.

It started here when I went to Donnas to pack our resupply boxes and double check our food inventories to be sure we had captured everything, then headed to the post office with a “phew!” to get that shipment in the mail to 3 backcountry ranches and a mule packer who will meet us at Big Sandy Flat where the Kearsarge trail meets the JMT.

In the next day I’ll be wrapping up a few last minute packing things, and lots of other tasks to set life in order before I leave. I am reflecting with a grateful heart for a few folks who really helped me get myself ready for this. Donna Thomas, of course, and Martha Jordan (rolfer), Maya Lev (yoga guru),? Jocelyn Dubin (nutritionist), and Shelly and Nick at Downworks.

Be sure to get outside in July, sometime around dusk. Watch the colors change on whatever surfaces are around you. Send a quiet evening thought my way, because chances are, I’ll be looking at the same sunlight up there and thinking about you, too.

I found a room to rent for the next month.? Its spartan, but cheerful.

Some unique features include outdoor plumbing…

…. and views that change every day.

This weekend its location was the Deadfall Lakes Basin, just under the face of the serpentined Mt. Eddy (9,025) in the Klamath Mountains. Janell graced me with her presence, her botanical enthusiasm, and her ear as I worked through my gear and plans one last field time before my JMT trip departure July 10th. I’ve been backpacking solo so many times the last few years, it was a pleasure to have another human to share the experience with.

Moving in will be like moves always are: from chaos…..

..to order.??

This hike is a wonderful one to do. It follows the PCT for three miles if you leave from Parks Creek Trailhead (you can also pull up from the meadows below, beautiful and shorter but steeper).The hike in is on contour through forested and open slopes, with views over the headwaters drainages of the Trinity River and into the white granite heart of the Trinity Alps. At three miles in it intersects Lower and Deadfall Lake.

You can curve back up around the basin another mile or so to get to Upper Deadfall Lakes.

Mt. Eddy’s peak is less than mile further up an established trail and offers commanding views down into Deadfall Lakes Basin, over to Lassen, way out to the Central Valley, into the heart of the Trinity Alps and, of course (and only as you summit) big momma Shasta looming overhead to the east.

Thanks to Janell for her iPhone Lightbox shot which captured how I felt when I crested the summit trail and felt Shasta!

And the extra sparkle on the trip were the amazing athletes we ran into along the way. Half an hour in we saw a smiling, lean, tall, tanned, blond gent in a smart chapeau with a light daypack.? Thinking he’d hiked the peak, I asked where he was headed. “Canada”, he said. Turns out he was at that moment the maybe #2-in-front South-to-North PCT hiker of the season, looking to set a speed record this year. Stats: 43 miles per day average, base pack weight 8 lbs, 2.5 lbs of food per day, 4 days between resupplies, pack never heavier than 30 lbs. Tuna Helper is his trail name if you wanna see how he does against the current record, amazingly set last year which was a big snow year! We were honored to get 10 of his minutes to hear his story.

We also had a nice lunch snack with Charlie (Wisconsin) the next day at Deadfall Lake who was averaging 32 MPD on his third PCT trip (he gets itchy around April and figures, “hey, I have a week, I can pull this together!” and off he goes). He showed us his entire wardrobe: button down short sleeve shirt, thin wind jacket, thin down sweater, shorts, and wind pants. It was enough for him to survive a 16 degree hailstorm night in Tuolomne Meadows (helped by a bit of wine and a can of chili).? So fun to meet a few of these guys in person after reading Wild and hours and hours of ultralight backpacking blogs.

Full Deadfall Lakes trip pics here.

The room rental ad promised some amazing views for the next month, a bit further to the south. There will be a few stairs to climb though (46,000 feet of elevation gain in that 31 days).

John Muir Trail – here I come!

You get there by realizing you are already there.? ~ Echart Tolle