The trees, the tallest I’ve encountered on this trip, are high above me, stretching up into the ever darkening sky, waiting for the stars to come out and play.
Last night the stars were impeccable, the Milky Way wandering across its impossibly dark backdrop. I sleepily stared up at it, wondering who would capture that awe and share it with others. I wanted to get out my camera and snap a photo, a keepsake — the scrawny pine branches, only seen in silhouette, the sliver of a moon far in the distance, the stars! Oh those stars. But instead, I turned over and kept it inside, dreaming it into my memories.
We woke up late and got hiking when the mosquitoes became too evil to stand any longer. Packing was a mysterious thing at first, after three days of staying in one place, but then I remembered and it was a comfort.
The lake gave way to beautiful meadows and tralalaing streams, tripping over themselves with clear, pure joy. The granite mountains held the sky up, strong and proud, far, far above our tiny heads.
There were new wildflowers and new logs to cross creeks atop. There were new rocks to stumble over and new mosquitoes to swat. There was something graceful about the place.
We moved down a valley, down and down toward a junction that held our answer for the future: turn left and get Rainbow Dash out or turn right and stay the path.
At lunch Dash became so dizzy hoisting up her pack she had to take it off and lay down on the ground. After lunch she stubbed that same old toe and tweaked it again. I worried the whole six miles.
But then I stopped worrying for a moment to stare, quite overjoyed, at a suspension bridge right in the middle of the woods, nowheresville! It was a thing of beauty.
Huge steel beams bounded out of the ground, holding thick steel ropes taut against gravity. It was narrow and high, with small wooden planks lining the path across, swinging over a tiny creek babbling its sweet nothings far below.
“One hiker at a time,” the sign warned us.
What great fun!
As Dash crossed, I was disappointed my dad wasn’t here to swing right across. It pranced and danced, rocking and rolling her all the way across the bridge.
It was my turn, wahoo! I jumped and twisted and rocked and bumped my way across. It sprung to life under my feet — either excited or fearful of a wild child like me.
“Yehaw!” I yelled.
And then, on the other side of the glorious bridge we sat down and Dash had to make the tough call. Which way to turn?
She finally decided left — toward Fresno and possible friends, toward antibiotics for her Lyme flair up and rest for her foot. And I turned with her, at least accompanying her for a few miles down that last valley.
We were somber, walking through the perfect path between perfect trees next to the perfect, most rushing river or stream I’ve seen. She was worried and I was worried, about her, about her hike down, about my hike onward alone.
We have now walked together for nearly 700 miles — that is an eternity. And our hope is that she will be quick to heal and quick to find me trailside. I’ve promised to go slow — and stop and smell the roses (hopefully with Ant by my side).