A cold drink

Day 74,    26.5 miles


Mokelumne Wilderness and Toiyabi National Forest

Sweet and I leapfrog, passing each other, and occasionally hike together.   Mid morning she caught up to me at a stream.  She looked sick.  She has a cold now too.  She curled up into a ball on the side of the trail to take a nap.  She assured me to go ahead and she would catch up to me tomorrow.

Up and over mountains, up and over more mountains.  Staying between 8,000 and 9,000 feet elevation all day.  Blue sky, not a cloud in sight.   There is more wind on top of the passes,  but it gets hot where it’s sheltered.  So hot.  What I’d give for a chilled drink other than water.

In the afternoon I met Quite Nice and Pumpkin on the trail.  It was great to see them again.  Pumpkin said,  “There is beer on the trail in 5 miles.”  I blurted out, “You’re lying!”   We’re in the mountains how could beer get here?   They assured me someone left trail magic for us hikers near Ebbets Pass.

As I hiked on I met more hikers and they confirmed there was beer near the road at the pass.  I quickened my pace.  Talk about dangling a carrot in front of a donkey.

As I hiked on I didn’t pass any more northbound hikers.  I started to panic.  I imagined lots of northbound hikers had stopped at the trail magic.  I was an hour away.  There will be none left.

I thought about putting my beer in the snow to chill.  I have potato chips.  I imagined how good the beer and chips were going to be.  But what if there was none left?   I felt crazed.  Let there be beer, let there be beer, let there be beer, my mind said over and over.  I thought sadly, if there is no beer then I’ll break open my emergency Snickers bar to make me feel better.

I finally get to Ebbets pass around 5 pm  and there it is.  The Rubbermaid.  I open it.  It’s filled with snow and beer!  Soooo good.  I ate my Snickers bar anyway.  No other hikers were there, as I had imagined.  I left a note on the trail to let Sweet know I was camping a mile and a half ahead.

It was dark and I was camped at a beautiful tent site on a sheltered plateau with views of the surrounding mountains.  I heard footsteps coming down the trail.  I recognized that gait immediately.  “Sweet, you made it!”  She didn’t even bother putting up her tent. Mat down, into sleeping bag, lights out.



4 thoughts on “A cold drink

  1. Hi Sally,

    So glad you got that cold one! Ahhhhh….I was worried for a sec there…”let there be beer, let there be beer.”

    You have been such an inspiration to me these last few months. Your strength is contagious. I hope it’s ok to share a story with you on your blog. I don’t know how else to reach you.

    This past Sunday, July 3 was the one year date of Holden’s passing. I don’t know where I got the idea…where do ideas come from anyway? But we decided to be up high and close to heaven for that day.

    Cam, Lyla and I hiked up to Garibaldi on Saturday and stayed over at Elfin Lakes. We hadn’t expected all the snow but somehow that made it even more beautiful. It was a long and challenging hike ( I thought of you many times as I sloshed through the snow) but nothing harder than living through this year. I wore one of Holden’s t-shirts with Fidel Castro smoking a pipe on the front. He loved a funny shirt.

    We had to shovel off some of the platform to put up our tent. THey’d had 15m’s of snow this season. The lake we thought we might be swimming in had icebergs in it. Nothing unusual for you but for us it was a little surprising. Before we went to bed we lit a candle outside the tent for Holden and all night long I could see it’s flickering light in the wind and heavy freezing rain. I mean, it was raining reallllly hard and our tent was fluttering in the alpine wind. At one point I though “it’s gone out now, in the night storm, that makes sense” and was really sad.

    But there it was in the morning, still burning outside in the open. It was the weirdest thing. I really felt him with us.

    We made a small ceremony in the morning. Lyla drew a colourful mandala, for her brother the artist, with chalk on the big rock Cam chose so we could always find the spot in the alpine meadow. We all read messages from loved ones, spoke of all the people who miss him and read some passages that have helped me understand the importance of fully experiencing sadness. Of being able to experience both sorrow and joy together in this life. That is where the richness lies. Then we scattered some of Holden’s ashes up there in the mountain heather.

    It was hard Sally, but I also feel like it was a powerful ritual for the three of us. I feel so much better for it. It’s so important to mark the dates and acknowledge our grief. It was so good for the soul just to be up high and tired and to feel everything openly and fully. You of all people know this so well.

    Then we hiked back down and had a burger and a beer. He would have loved that too.

    Keep strong Sally…you are amazing.

    with love,

    xx Tara

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