For the Middle-Aged

Day 13

Mileage: 24.8

Total distance: 369.3
Tonight I am sleeping on a cozy couch in Wrightwood, CA that belongs to some very generous trail Angels in town. I am showered, my laundry is done, I ate a huge dinner and some cheese cake and now ready to pass out. 

I woke up this morning at 4:30 and saw the subtle glow from the east and forced myself up to get started on the 15 mile climb up the 8,000 foot mountain. There were no water sources between here and 25 miles away so I was going to need to stay out of the sun as much as possible. I popped an excedrin because of my left foot acting up and for the caffeine and I was off by 5 am. 

Not even 4 miles in I come to a water cache and fill up and rest for a minute to make sure I’m hydrated. I also poop and after my time with McDonald’s yesterday m, this was no quick, ritual morning poo. It was a huge pain in the ass. Heh heh. 

  • Saw this last night a little while before bed. 

The climb was gradual and slow moving, but every time I had exposure to the sun the temperature shot up 20 degrees. I loved those moments in the back side of the ridge where the sun hadn’t reached yet. I passed a few hikers on the way that I met yesterday and got to share water with some and feel like a hero before entering poodle dog bush territory to boost my karma points. It’s true that you can smell it before you see it, but all of it was dead today and folding back to the earth until the little demon bushes decide to rise again. 

  • Dead poodle dog bush. 

At mile 13 I came up to a jeep road and hear classic rock playing out of a grey Toyota Tundra where there was a blue tarp and two middle aged men sitting around waiting for hikers. They both greeted me and were incredibly nice. I got two snickers and a Gatorade and sat in the shade while we discussed the trail and gear, a classic favorite amongst middle aged men. I can dig it. Two other hikers showed up and after a while I decided to get back on the road to finish the climb. Before I left one of the men told me to enjoy my hike and that I’m a hero. I brushed it off as a strange compliment, but then he said, “I wish I would have done something like this when I was younger, but now I’ve got a career and family. So do it for us man.”  I felt a sense of pride and validation in thru hiking from his sentiment and realized that there are probably tons of people who feel stuck in careers or life and see adventures like this and think, “damn, I wish I did that”.  Well, I wish that I could do it for those people, but the truth is its all an illusion until you get out and free yourself from whatever chains you feel locked down in. Maybe I can inspire, but beyond that is just a head game. Anyways… Cool dudes. They both had some real love for nature and flowers. Especially flowers. 

  • Magic. 

Almost immediately after leaving the trail became breathtaking with views of the summit down to the desert floor and the terrain became slate rock and low grade. It. Was. Beautiful. After about three hours I found myself walking through pines and stumbled upon yet another trail magic location and laughed at today supposedly being one of the most difficult days to stay hydrated and in 20 miles I had three different Angels provide water and rest for hikers. Humans are unbelievable. Generosity is infectious and just getting to sit in the kindness of the people who did these things for me today made me feel like being a better and more kind person. 

  • My hand swelling from altitude? 

I got to highway 2 around three pm and got a hitch almost immediately into Wroghtwood. This nice man from Garlinburg who was on a work trip to test new plane innovation picked me up and took me to the hard wear store to get a list of angels who might get me a shower and some laundry. This guy was willing to wait around and take me wherever I needed to go and was really into discussing gear in the hard wear store and so was I. Some older gentleman at one point as I was walking out the door motioned me over and whispered, “you want some pot?” I chuckled and said, “nah, but thank you so much for the offer”. He grinned and and nodded as he walked away.  Finally I got a hold of a woman and drove to her house to say by to my new middle aged pilot friend. On the tour of her home I felt uncomfortable with the state of her space, but was willing to overlook it for the kindness she was showing. However, she was leaving soon to drink wine with a friend and when she left I grabbed my things and dipped. Quick. I called another angel and her husband came to get me. Whewwwwww. 

When I got in his car I saw MercyMe CDs and knew I’d be in the home of some good, kind Christian folk. I got to their house and was greeted by this incredibly sweet motherly woman and was instructed to make myself at home asap. I fell into a great rhythm with the family quickly and began joking and laughing with them about hiker stories they’ve heard or Ive experienced. The husband was really into connect the dots, adult version, and sat for log periods of time before completing a sheet and then would come over and show his wife his work. It was very cute. There were two babies in the house that belonged to the daughter in law and they were very thrown off by everything about me. They only ever called me “hiker”. When they went to sleep they both said, “good night, hiker”. I love them. 

  • Posing in my borrowed clothing. 

I got to shower and do my laundry and by that time dinner was ready. At one point the woman was telling me about a man she housed who was a hiker and as she was describing him she says, “and he was a Christian so I really like him for that” and I started to get the sense that she was very particular about her religious beliefs. Not in a spiritual sense of finding significance in a creator, but in a religious way where morality and appearance validates worth. After that I began looking around and seeing things in that lens and just felt like I was in a movie with people who play a role because they are told to and not because it is real to them. Or maybe it is, but only because they are terrified to mess up and experience the consequence they have come to believe would happen to them. This didn’t ruin my evening and I ended up having a wonderful time with the family, it just made me realize that Christianity isn’t always just faith, but now it’s a culture and those are two majorly different things. It’s scary to think that people may get lost in a fear based structure to keep peace and morality, while giving up their individuality and truth. Maybe I’m speculating too hard or being too harsh on the culture because I’m jaded, but really there are some jacked up things about Christian culture in America and a lot of it makes me skeptical. 

All that to say, I really am thankful for this place to stay and these people and I have had a wonderful time enjoying their company in this home tonight. I wasn’t planning on staying long, but I felt so comfortable in this space I felt like I could just lay back and rest and take some time to relax. So that is what I have done. 

Thought of the day:

I love today. 

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