The repetitive drum of the phone alarm blasted away the silence of our dark room at the Mountain View Motel. “BACK TO TRAIL. BACK TO TRAIL,” seemed to take the place of the normally obnoxious, robotic scream replacing it with the urgency of our next task. We stumbled out of bed and into our hiking clothes. With full packs, we made our way back to trail leaving the small town of Lima and its eight glowing Tesla chargers behind. Once on trail, we began climbing back up to the ridge-line. We were then among the open land of rolling hills and beneath the red-tint of Garfield Peak.
We arrived at a pipe spring just in time to stop for dinner while we filtered water for the next day. After sitting our packs down in a dry area, we hopped across the swampy ground balancing on small rocks before finally climbing up onto the rail around the spring. Leaning over the rail, we took turns filling up our Sawyer bags before carefully stepping our way back to dry land. We had more miles we wanted to get in before dark so we ate a quick dinner and then headed on down trail.
The trail traversed the ridge as we climbed up to the top. Surrounding us were mountains and their valleys down below. The sun was beginning to lower in the sky casting this world in a golden light once more. Listening to the magic of Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album as it was powered by the magic of the land around us, we moved with ease no longer restricted by the weight of our packs. Gravity’s pull did not even seem to be a limit instead our connectedness to the earth came from our own free choice. So, we dug in deep.
During the sun’s final moves below the horizon, the colors in the sky began to display what could only be but a grand finale. We climbed up high away from the traversing trail and sat to watch, when two shadows appearing as tiny specks appeared down trail. As they grew closer the colors of the sun grew richer, and then as they approached us they too stopped to admire the show. We watched in silence. In the sun’s final stages, when the colors began to die out as the sun made its exit behind a mountain peak, we turned to the new hikers and before we knew it we were lost in conversation. They too were climbers. They too were interested in all of the side trails and alternates. In fact, Garbelly had met one of the two, Hot Mess, on the PCT two years earlier. As we laughed and carried on, an owl swooped in for a listen. Flying about, he did not go far during the rest of our time together, and even when we could not see his shadow we knew he was close by. By the time we began to wrap up, darkness had completely fallen and the coldness of the cloudless night settled over us. We had not even noticed that our faces had been reduced to silhouettes, to shadows in the night. Our goodbyes were more like “until next times”, and we ended up not wondering far to set up camp. We could still see the fluttering lights of Lima tucked into the layers of the peaks and valleys below, and we could see the headlamps of Hot Mess and Om Gee navigate South down the trail.
Cheers to the comfort of the night,
Garbelly & Critter