Day 45: Side by Side

The Pacific Crest Trail is typically an 18-inch bare stretch of dirt, the only barren ground in the surrounding wild (save the worn patches of lunch and camp spots).

They say the eyes of thru hikers are different than those of others traveling in the wilderness. We see water sources when others miss wet seeps in the ground. We see a plethora of camping spots when others are taking in the views of the trees. We see precious napping shade when others are identifying the trees. 

 I suppose this makes us sound more concerned with living outside than enjoying the majesty of it all, but we do that aplenty too.

The huge highlight of today was an unpaved road the trail followed for miles. An unpaved road or Jeep road or even untraveled paved road are scores in this life.

Ant and I were walking together, Rainbow Dash darting ahead to get warm or water, when we came upon the road. It was wide enough for two, and instead of happily going along behind Ant, we were able to walk side by side. 

 Before I describe the pure joy of getting to hold hands instead of watch the swing of Ant’s hat, attached to a strap on the back of the pack, I’ll back up a little. I enjoy following people. I love heading up the backs of lines of hikers. I love keeping everyone grouped together, like a sheep herding dog. I love sometimes not being able to hear the conversations ahead of me and just drifting off into my own thoughts, comforted by the companionship of the soft voices ahead of me.

Despite all of that, I’ve never understood, during trail rides, why horses are up each other’s butts. I have often wondered why they get so close they have to swing their heads up and over the hind of the horse they are following, chests almost flat against the first horse’s tail. However, out here I find myself doing it all the time. I am practically stepping on top of Ant and Dash, often stabbing their feet with my trekking poles. But even though I am now part of this strange habit, I can’t see why any of us do it.

But back to the Jeep road! 

 We held hands and walked and talked and sometimes were quiet. We walked through short pine forest and saw so many perfectly flat campsites. Our fingers, so long apart, had to relearn the stretch of the posture, remelding into each other. We sauntered through meadows with windmills slowly turning far ahead. We laughed and sang and looked at the other’s facial expressions while we walked.

Tomorrow Ant heads back to Mojave for a doctor’s visit, and we’ll meet back up in Kennedy Meadow, the beginning of the Sierras. It is all jolly, but we will miss our anniversary.

Today we soaked up the sun and love and trail built for two.