The last few days of a hike usually stand out from the rest in one’s memory. Last days are the time for both looking back and planning ahead. For this journey our last days were spent with hiking buddies who came out or the purpose of sharing this time with us.
My first long distance hike was of the Appalachian Trail, where northbounders spend their last few days hiking through the 100-mile wilderness in Maine, the most remote part of the trail. Those last few days stood out in an unfortunate way for me, as a poor diet throughout the hike caught up with me near the end. Most of my first thru-hike was like a long stay at an amusement park, while the last days were pure drudgery. Perhaps that’s why I did not spend the time dreaming of doing any other long distance hikes in the future.
That changed with the PCT hike in 1977. Having had my moment of truth in the High Sierra I no longer had the illusion that “one long distance hike is enough” for my adventurous spirit. Ironically I spent those last days similar to the first for that journey, separated from the group because of a wrong turn I made. Rotunda tell I had a guidebook this time and getting back on track was not a problem … and I had plenty of alone time for dreaming about future journeys.
I had plenty of reflection time towards the end of the Continental Divide Journey in 1985, having tackled a 16 day stretch near the end alone. I only encountered one other person out there that whole time. Cindy and I became engaged right before the hike, nothing that transpired for those seven months on the trail deterred us from following through with marriage. Long distance hiking is as good a test as any for a young couple to know whether they should spend their lives together. My thoughts turned to our future as a family rather than more journeys, though more still there would be.
The most recent before this one was the year long American Discovery Trail. Charissa joined us for our last four days of walking home. Her presence alone made those last few days special, though she claims we were trying to kill her with a 22-mile day thrown in there. That was just 2 1/2 years ago, but seems much longer considering Cindy’s current condition. At the time I made no plans for future journeys, not even for hiking the PCT, as Cindy’s future at that time was uncertain
After picking up Dave at the airport we spent two days in the San Jacinto area. First we did a four mile hike up to the ridge south of Tahquitz Peak and back (though Dave wants to claim it was five miles). Then we took the Palm Springs tram up the northeast face up to 8400 feet. From there we hiked nine miles to the PCT and back (don’t believe Dave when he tells you ten).
Kirk and Bret joined us after San Jacinto for an out and back hike on the PCT in the Anza-Borrego Desert. That was followed by a 10.8 mile hike through the Laguna Mountains (Dave might tell you it was fifteen, according to his method of rounding up). That left us a few miles to do around Lake Morena and the final miles to the border and back from Campo.
Dave, Kirk and Bret
Now there is more certainty about the future, but not for more journeys together with my long time hiking partner. Instead, my plans these last few days revolve around a networked approach towards improving brain health, based on a journal article I read while out here. These plans are for both Cindy and myself, as my family history involves Alzheimer’s as well. These plans may benefit our children as well.
If things work out perhaps there will be more journeys to plan someday. We will just have to see.