Today was a perfect day.
I woke early and before I knew it I had hiked the six hard miles that came before Muir Pass. I got lost a little and confused a lot through the intricate twists and turns of the trail, but I nearly jumped for joy when I saw the hut atop the pass.
It was built in memory of Muir, and the beautiful stone work made the entire thing up, even the roof. It was so intricate and so spacious inside, with a stunning fake fireplace and an antler holding the fire’s place.
I sat down to eat with a new gaggle of PCTers and looked at my Delorme — a text had come from Ant: the Supreme Court had made gay marriage (or just “marriage,” now) legal nationwide. I burst out into a huge grin, keeping that great joy inside (I try not to get political with strangers in wild places).
I spent the rest of the long decent to the magnificent, grand glacial blue lake beyond the pass in a massive joy cloud. I am engaged to be married — not just in Washington State, but everywhere! And I will be married, just like everyone else. Just like that, there is no longer a state by state fight for my happiness. It is just “marriage.” I will be married!
The afternoon kept me tripping along, and I was thrilled that I had the end of The Secret Garden to be with me in my happy place. If you, like I had been before, have not read the book, drop this blog and go get it now. Better yet, get the audio version free for you right now on Kindle Unlimited. The narrator is a genius.
The book is about being healed by green things and the great outdoors, and is perfect for someone who feels the wilderness does just that. The three children who find themselves bound together find Magic in their sweet hidden garden. And they work that stunning force, until it grows and infects everyone with its sweetness.
Here is the quote I loved from today:
“Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us.”
Magic, the universe, God, grace, angels, science, the proverbial doorknob, it is all the same name in my book: the same special thing that causes joy and happiness and sparks of insatiable passions.
I finished the book, which ended quite suddenly, to my great disappointment (I could live inside that book, I do believe) and felt such a bursting of Magic in my heart that I couldn’t help myself: I wept with joy.
I have never, not being one who cries all that easily, wept for happiness. I never understood what happened when people did that in movies, or wrote about it in books. But today, just for a moment, I experienced that deep, guttural frolic of the spirit that simply can’t be contained in tear ducts. It escaped from me.
Next two women came along, as I was trudging down a steep decent (from the incredible Evolution Lake), asking for food. Without much thought, I said “no,” and then realized, after they had wearily walked along, that I did have extra food! I kicked myself and scolded myself, and felt just awful. I had been given food before on the trail, and now I hadn’t paid it forward.
I got to asking that Magic feeling for some help, or forgiveness, and three young chaps bounded up the trail. They sweetly accepted my offering of tortillas, and solemnly promised to find those young ladies and give them the sustenance. Then I could bound along again, full of life and love.
Today was also so amazing because I was given the gift of unlimited Delorme texts, and I could message Ant and Dash to my heart’s delight. I had flopped down on a rock, quite as comfortable as it was a couch, texting when an older ranger scrambled up the trail. We chatted about all the other rangers I had met (I just am in adoration of these backcountry folk) and before long I had a dinner invitation!
I called it a day (an hour early!), got my chores done, and headed down the trail to his house with some small offerings of food. And what resulted was the most pleasant visit I could have ever imagined.
Dario is the oldest ranger on the force out here, and he has worked for the park for 31 years, 28 as a backcountry ranger. He answered all of my inane questions about being a ranger, let me ooh and ahh over his house, fed me homemade minestrone and bread, and allowed me the happy task of doing the dishes (it is amazing how nice these little things are after months away from home). After we got that out of the way, he told me about his wife, his home, his family, what he loves most about the job (meeting people and being of service), and even the draft for the Vietnam War.
When it finally looked like it might soon become too dark to get to camp without a headlamp (rookie move), I had to go. He gave me a big hug and told me I was “precious,” as he fidgeted with his too large sweatpants, his wild spray of grey hair standing quite up away from his head. I told him I planned on coming back for the John Muir Trail, and I better see him in two years. He smiled and said he hoped so.
Magic is all around, I do believe, we just have to remember to look.