Total distance: 942.5
In January of 2014 I was pulled over in Missouri for wreckless driving and found guilty for drunk driving on highway 13 after my friends wedding. Two years ago I was given two years of probation, a number of fines and community service hours. I haven’t had a car since then and when I drive I feel a sense of paranoia in getting a ticket for anything that could then break my probation and cause all of the punishment for the DUI to come back to me. It would be on my record forever rather than these two years and I would have to serve a few days in county jail. I am so happy to say that as of tonight I am free from my probation and no longer have anything on my record. Not even the ticket for speeding or not using my turn signal. I feel a huge sense of relief and as if a new chapter in my adult life has began without some baggage from my former youth.
Today also marks the one month anniversary of starting the trail and it has been a doozy. I woke up this morning to the bitter cold air and had 33 miles ahead of me to complete by 5 in order to get my package and food to rest for the evening in celebration. I talked with Molly for a few minutes and slowly moved down the trail.
The trail followed a gorgeous river raging through a canyon and as I passed a bridge, two baby bears ran up a tree and I watched momma start up the hill next to me. I froze and slowly backed away while picking up a rock to see what would happen. Within seconds the bears climbed down and disappeared into the thickets with their mother leading the way.
- So many marmots.
I didn’t hike very fast today and felt soreness in my knee and butt from the day before. I felt strong, however, and made my way of the subtle incline to summit Island Pass, which is more of a hill than a pass. Thousands of islands scattered across the lake nestled in the valley below the summit and on the other side snow draped itself across the rocks and smeared its way down to the valley below. It would be a long hike over Donohue Pass, but I felt a peace about moving at my own pace and not forcing anything. I was so present in the day and the world around me and took so much delight in the contrast of the glossy, white snow and the rugged rocks poking out of their layer. I felt so free and every time the wind blew I smiled in being reminded of the freedom from my mistakes and the release of guilt for my stupidity in driving under the influence. This stayed on my mind all throughout the day and before I knew it I was sunmiting Donohue.
- Hikers coming down Donohue.
When I got to the top I realized I needed to book it the last 18ish miles to get to the post office in time so I began walking and wouldn’t stop once until I reached my destination. The trail was flat and followed a creek all the way to the meadow, but my body slowly shut down. I could feel my legs going into machine mode and using muscle memory and carrying my faded body through the forest. I have only been that tired a few times on the trail so far, but I kept thinking about my goal and about what today meant to me and it felt appropriate to push myself so hard.
- Long hitch down.
I showed up to the post office and they were closed and the woman at the store was very stern about being closed as well. I begged her to let me buy some food, but she refused. I sat down at a bench and laid my weary head down and felt defeated once again. Why today? Why couldn’t I get where I needed to be when I needed to be there? This theme seems to keep reoccurring and I’m not sure why.
- Mono Lake
I decided to put a thumb out and try and get into Lee Vining twenty miles away and get some food and celebrate my day. A young, indie couple picked me up and asked if I’d like to join them for a concert at a Mobile gas station called Whoa Nelli Deli. Of course I did. This was a blessing I disguise. The drive down the mountain was absolutely beautiful and we talked about Beyoncé and other topics in recent news until we pulled up to a huge gas station with a hundred cars spiraled around it and tons of people dancing to funk music created by a band called “Jelly Bread”.
We got out of the car and I saw Mono Lake before me and felt like I was where I wanted to be and had zero stress about the rest of the day or the next one to follow. This was my day to breath and relax and that is what I would do.
- The crystal clear water in the high sierras.
I ate a huge burger and talked with Molly for a while and finally got to use my phone to take care of some things I’ve been putting off before walking outside to see a huge party going on and music playing over the crowd. Tons of people had pitchers of beer they were drinking from and dancing on cars parked near by. I walked around for a bit and talked to a few people and had a few laughs as to what was going on before I found a stealth spot to set up my tent and close my tired eyes after a long day.
- Meadows and flat hiking is perfect.
I am almost 1,000 miles into the trail and over 1/3 of the way to Canada. 150 more miles of the Sierras and then supposedly smooth sailing until Washington. I am so happy to be here and free of my sentence two years ago. I am falling asleep listening to the sounds of people walking to their cars and laughing about the night they’ve shared. Everything feels where it’s supposed to be and tomorrow I’m going to take it easy and do whatever I feel like doing even if it doesn’t include hiking. It’s good to be free.