This morning started blearily early — at the sound of a tiny watch alarm cuddled up tight in a tiny twin bunk bed. We blinked at the darkness, gathered our things quickly, and slunk out of the hostel before waking up too many people.
The birds were going mad outside, and Ant pointed out the one pink cloud in the ocean of white clouds in the sky. The sun was making itself known.
We headed to McDonalds for oatmeal and coffee and some of the fastest WiFi on the trail. We chatted about some more logistics and tried not to be too sad, sipping away at the coffee and watching the bus stop.
And then, all in a fast jumble, we were rushing to the bus — throwing Ant’s bag and big stick in the back, and hugging goodbye, saying not for long.
Then I sat down at our table again and busied myself with Internet business. When I looked up again, Ant was gone. And just like that, waves of loneliness washed over me. The reality set in: I am hiking this hike alone, at least for a little while.
“Are you a thru hiker?” He asked.
Maybe I have a perpetual air of filth and wildness about me — I don’t know.
He was Whatever (his name, not my description), from Portland. Then the 16 year old thru hiker and his Kentuckian friend came in and we were a party. I rolled from there to the hostel, where I told the John Muir Trail hikers about the Camino and repacked my bag, dragging it out for as long as possible.
Then I called up a trail angel I met the day before at the post office. He drove me and Whatever up and up and up — all the way from 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet. Along the way, telling him about the amazing trail angels from Acton who had helped us find a friendly home to stay in later in Lone Pine, he laughed.
“Teresa?” He asked.
“No way!!!” I shrieked.
He was the trail angel that Teresa had put me in touch with. We wondered at the smallness of the world.
And then it was time to hike. My heart pounded with each upward step. It was hard to breathe. I noticed myself slurring words, tripping. My stomach dropped. I felt awfully sorry for myself.
But then, as if sent from above, I met a sweet brunette named Nutella, who told me Rainbow Dash was a mere ten minutes away. I rushed up the trail and found her, eating with her pack exploded, drying everything out in the sun.
She peered at me, unexcited.
“It’s Pine Nut!” I yelled, unhappy with her response (and knowing she is near sighted).
Blah! We both exploded in happiness — we wouldn’t be hiking alone after all!
I fell behind her familiar pace, watching the piles of granite rock mountains slope into meadow and turn back up again into stunning mountain. The sequoia were out in droves, twisting in their beautiful, dancing ways, turning lithely with the blow of the wind.
I huffed and puffed. My arches hurt. My pack was heavy. My heart thumped loudly, crying out with pain.
But I was in the Sierras for real. I was in the range of lore. This is my hidden treasure.
Sleeping in my new sleeping bag in my old bivvy under a ramshackle Tyvek face tent, I miss Ant, but am, at the same time, so thankful to have a new great friend with whom to trudge this road.