Days 20-21Mileage: 45.6
Total distance: 612
Tonight I am camping on top of a ridge right before the trail begins to descend to Kelso Rd. where there is a cache I will get in the morning. I am perched on a gorgeous rock structure with a view to the north and the clouds are beginning their evening display. Tomorrow begins a 42 mile waterless stretch so tonight I am pounding as much as I can to get ready for a long day. Off to the west there is a red tailed hawk soaring and blaring a call over the valley.
Yesterday Molly and I ate a massive breakfast at the Best Western before heading out to do an 18 miles hike to golden springs where we would camp. The first few miles were uphill at a steady grade and with little effort we made our way to the top. It is an incredible thing getting to hike with someone you know and love and can talk to endlessly about anything. Time passes so fast and before I knew it we had summited the mountain.
Most of the day went like this for us. We would talk and talk and laugh and discuss news stories I have yet heard about and we would crush miles in the blink of an eye. I have always thought Molly was a strong hiker, but for her to come out and blast up a mountain without breaking a sweat is extremely impressive. At times I was struggling to keep her pace just walking on an even path.
It was so great to have her out here to see the things I only attempt to describe. Like the beauty of the spiky yucca, or the majesty of the pinon pine forest, or the hilarious way lizards run in a million directions when you walk up on them. We even got to catch a couple of horny toads and laugh at how chill they are just sitting in your hand.
After a couple of hours we got to our camp spot and went to refill water at a pipe that was dripping a litter every three minutes. It took us forever, but we got to meet some other hikers to pass the time. Our camp spot was gorgeous with golden grass swaying in the breeze behind us on a hill and a golden sky where the sun set just beyond the field. We rehydrated our foods and went to watch the sunset with damn telephone poles and radio towers hindering the view.
The next morning I woke up and the flood of emotions hit me as I tried to contain the pain of having to say goodbye to the woman I love. We got our things together and spent a while saying goodbye with tears and snot running down my face. I love that I don’t have to pretend to be strong or fake my way through things in this relationship. I felt sadness and expressed it only to be met with care, understanding and affection. I’m horrible with goodbyes in general, but having to come to the realization that I will be alone again on this trail was an extremely difficult thing to muster.
I stood and watched her walk away and let myself feel the sadness for a few minutes before some hikers walked by and I pulled myself together to get on with it. Getting motivated to walk was a struggle, but eventually the therapy of movement on mountains began to do its magic. I felt back in the saddle and kept my head forward. I hiked for ten miles straight and tried distracting myself with a podcast, but when I sat down to eat it was as if the emotion had been following me and the caught me to bring me back down. I sat for a long time trying to figure out how to do this head thing and get myself in the right space to move, but I couldn’t figure it out. So I just let it take me and didn’t fight the hurt and fear of solitude.
I struggle with having a desire to repeat the past or to live in the past as if I am trying to uncover something I’ve missed or a feeling I really identified with, but it’s a huge trap that will never be figured out. You can’t spend so much time dwelling on what was, but you can remember it fondly and embrace the joy you’ve felt so that you can get back to the present. I began to look around and took the advice and things I have learned from Molly in this relationship to stay present and to be in the moment and to not dwell on what has been before. I am so incredibly grateful for the time I’ve had with her and with that memory and experience I will move on to finish out this journey alone. Rather than trying to feel those things I’ve felt again, I’ve chosen to look back and cherish them and use them as motivation to keep going. Solitude is a bitch, but it is so healthy at times and this time has already done so much for me and I’m only a quarter of the way done.
While I was having these thoughts and getting myself in a stable mindset, I looked up towards the rocks in front of me and the wind rushed past my body and I lifted my arms to take in moment and as I opened my eyes, just beyond the tallest stone a kite had appeared in the air and was hovering above the formation. A tear built up in my eye and I felt a peace sweep through my bones. I am not alone. I am comforted by the presence of all that surrounds me. Whether it be the birds, the wind, the trees or the force behind all things that abides in every living being, I have companions. With that treasure of a moment I took a deep breath and felt the wind flow past my body and took another step towards Canada.