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Soft transition into the wired world. The sun peeking early over the jagged crests. One last boiling of water for morning tea, one last packing up, the last 1600 ft downhill over 4 miles. Close to our exit point we met a local acquaintance who just started her ascent! Wonderful coincedence. Coming full circle on the trail.
Fresh food, the mt Williamson hiker motel, a real bed, a head full of impressions which will certainly color future writings.
Thank you to all of you who have sent your good thoughts and encouragements.
Transformation is inevitable, make it your own!
Bishop pass, 11,984 ft high is one giant last climb! 2600 ft, 5 hrs of climbing to get to the top. Glorious, all elements of wild beauty and hardship present. Steep staircases hewn in granite, waterfalls tumbling down, cool shade from rock walls, idyllic meadows on Duse flats for resting and the merging of breathless views, trail and thin air as our bodies haul ourselves, pack laden, up the ridge in one last effort, step by step.
Passes are mere passages, a way to another side.
This trip had been a passage to another side in our life. As Robyn Davidson says in her book "Tracks": Trips like this don't end, they continue in another form
There is a nakedness about being out in the wilderness, a vulnerability that stares at me from tipping rocks on the down trail, rushing, slurping water I cross, gathering clouds overhead. The temporary relief is mine for a moment when the trail turns sandy, parallels the pounding, slurping head waters of the San Juaquin river, sparkling under dispersing clouds and lets me be in awe of the surroundings, the beauty. I am a visitor on this planet which exists in its greatness. I am like the little gray pica scurrying among the rocks finding shelter for now.
Despite the beauty and soaring spirit, the rocks are getting the best of the aging knees. The decision to exit the trail at Bishop pass was made- cutting the trip short by 30 miles. How many more passes do we need to get to our essence?
A day of grace, sun and cool temperatures. Ever widening mountain ranges create space and a mood of openness. We climb, we breathe, we listen, we rest, we climb some more. All there is, is sky, mountain, rock, sunshine and movement. Thoughts are minuscule stirrings that take endless steps on the trail to complete themselves. I am becoming part of the emptiness of things.
Transition into the second half of our journey. Re-supplied with 8 days worth of food, we chose to use pack horses for the first 8 miles up La Conte canyon. Climbing without a pack set the tone for optimism, despite the threat of rain. It remained just that, a threat! We parted from our friend Clyde who needs to go faster to meet friends further on. We miss him already. An easier schedule allows us to listen to our bodies and mood.
The rock walls all around me get under my skin: hard, powerful, the structure of this wilderness. Endless force make me produce forces from within to master this trail.
No stress, household day, doing laundry in a 1930 Maytag washer with hand wringer, rest and eat MTR ranch delicious food. Sitting in natural hot spring overlooking the river. What more can you want after hard physical activity?
From sopping wet gear at day break to gourmet meal, a shower, hot springs and a bed at night fall. This is a trip of peaks and valleys in all regards. An exercise in equanimity, be happy when the sun shines, detached when the rain comes down.
Beautiful steady climb to Seldon Pass at 10,898 ft and relaxing downhill along lakes and through forests, allowing time for contemplation, what a treat!
Steep climb in the sun, pelted by hail and rain on the downhill marks this day. Second day in a row, more than the mind wants to deal with. Winter Wonderland is no fun when you are cold and wet. (too cold to take pictures even). Survival mode kicked in. Gear is important. Every piece is weight on your back, so what we brought is limited. We are staying dry and warm at night, semi dry during the day. I love my R-5.7 sleeping pad. It's like a little heater under me. Sleep is still an escape from the elements.
There is a way to turn an arduous task into a delight. During a long ascent up to Silver Pass I remembered a rowing buddy's advice on nose breathing during hard workouts (thanks Leah W.) I adjusted my pace to breathing through my nose and felt like I was on a stroll with my little granddaughter chatting in my ear (thanks H.!) Her spirit stayed with me and turned a long arduous climb into a delightful experience, step, breathe, step. As the world around me changed from green to white and silver. Sun shine, vistas of the Sierras al the way back to Mt Banner and Ritter. How far we have come!
The afternoon downhill was an exciting run in hail storms, jumping over gathering rivulets, sopping wet feet and having to cross a cataract (flash flood river barreling down the rock sides turning our trail into an over the knee raging river) We crossed it, kept our packs dry and felt like heros in an adventure movie. Clyde lost his water bottle that was all. He said we were the smart ladies to wade instead of trying to jump big huge boulders.
News of boat rides to Vermillion resort kept us going way past our leg comfort zone.
We did get to and almost dried up lake Vermillion. An exhilarating boat ride thru the water channels brought us to the resort, hot shower, a camper trailer with beds for the night and a good meal with a glass of wine. Classy! What a day!
All day the boulders were on my mind. The forces of magma 700 million years ago that threw these rocks as big as houses all around me pushed by ice and snow, slowly, oh so slowly turning into this soft silky pumice sand that now forms a path for my feet. Here I am this creature wandering this immense nature with only a few basics to protect me from elements so much bigger than me.
Every day the hard work of another high pass to climb taunts me, brings out the forces in me that do battle and throw rocks in my mind. It will be awhile before I will earn the soft sand of transformation on this journey.
Sorry no pictures, not enough bandwith in this location.