Central California: Sierra City to Belden
July 3, 2003.
A morning in town in usually a lazy morning. Five thirty came around far, far
too early and by 6 everyone, minus Stone, was in the PCT Express, speeding back to the
trail. I let the others go out in front and began the slow, nearly 4000 foot
vertical ascent along the flanks of the Sierra Buttes. I would not have to
worry about solitude today, as Glory would surely be attached to Walt and Floater,
at least for a while. The trail climbed up switchbacks so gentle that a sweat
was barely broken in the cool morning. Yesterday the gentle switchbacks down to
Sierra City were my nemesis. Today, they were my friend. Leaving the switchbacks
after a few miles, the trail entered into the open terrain that I had come to love
so much. Having the world at my feet always made me feel special, and it was
with joy in my heart that I slowly moved around the buttes, with the others in
clear sight in the far distance.
Cresting out and leaving the sun and the views, I had to take a break just to look
back and remember it all. By the side of a jeep trail, in the sun and with
the mountains stretching back for miles upon miles, I was again struck by how
fortunate I was to be out here. This was something that could not be purchased or
prepackaged or otherwise diluted. The same experience could not be had by watching a
DVD or a fancy photobook. The best experiences in life are, indeed, free for
the taking. I began to move around the
other side of the buttes, winding along a trail that could only be described as
easy. I found all of the others resting not far off, sitting next to a patch of
snow that they warned me was difficult. Being able to see the trail on the other
side of the three foot snow patch, I recalled to them my wise decision not to
send home my ice axe. Stepping out onto the snow, I slipped and slided a bit,
my new trail runners providing little traction. While my old Asics were light
and not terribly protective, they also had phenomenal traction. The New Balance
806s on my feet were protective and stiff, but had as much traction as the
dress shoes I wear back in Indiana.
Lunch found Sharon and I together, with the others somewhere in front. I had been
alone most of the morning, the others powering past, except for Sharon, who had
caught up to me at a confusing trail junction. I was trying to cut the strings to
Glory and was hoping that Walt and Floater would provide her with the kind of
company she was looking for. Sharon and I sat next to a bit of snowmelt for
a hot lunch, discovering that the others were just down the hill in a
meadow that we could see. It was nice talking with Sharon, as someone who
understood something of the problem that I was going through. She, too,
was confronting it. We separated soon after leaving lunch and I again
took up the position of the rear-guard.
Thirty miles after leaving Sierra City, Walt and Floater were done. Glory had
slowed down for some reason and the end result was that we were together again.
Given her strength as a hiker, I could not believe that she had slowed down
because she was tired. Rather, my ego told me that she slowed down because she
wanted me to catch up. I wanted to be alone and when we came across Walt and
Floater setting up camp, I tried to assert this right. I put my pack down
briefly and Glory went to check out Floater's hammock. Shouldering my
pack, I said my goodbyes for the night to Walt and Floater and headed out,
The ease of the trail ended. It was replaced by a bucking beast, or at least it
felt that way after thirty miles of hiking. I wasn't tired so much as lethargic.
It was only 7 in the evening and it was still warm. The sun was just turning to that
yellow shade that indicates that the day is beginning to end. The yellow shade that
is sure to soften to orange and pink the lower the sun goes. It is a shade that
demanded of me to sit in it for a while. Just sit. Contemplation could come
later, but the light wanted me to enjoy it a little more. Sitting at the
turn of a switchback, my back against a downed tree, I just sat and admired how
the world looked. For most of central California, by 7:30 it was cold and a break
was not comfortable usually. Today, for the first time since leaving
Kennedy Meadows, I had the luxury of a warm break late in the day. It was
so luxurious, this lounging in the sun. I closed my eyes for a while, not
wanting to sleep, but just so that my eyelids could scavenge a little
warmth from the sun.
Will came by and wanted to know if I was alright. Yes, I nodded. Everything is
cool, I said. Everything, my voice trailed off. He continued on. Glory came
by five minutes later, repeating the same questions that Will had asked.
Mumbling something that seemed to resemble an answer, she, too, set off
down the trail. I could not stay here, in this place, tonight. I had to
hike somewhere else. This did not disturb me, however. At a time like this,
I was in a state of grace and Providence would bring something my way.
I found Glory resting about ten minutes further up the trail and said hello.
I think she understood what I needed just then and let me pass on by. Climbing
and descending in the now yellow-orange light, I came upon Bunker Hill Ridge. The
trail ran along its spine, much like the long ridge leading toward Donner Pass
just a few days ago. The weather was perfect, and I knew I was home. With Will
ahead, I speculated that I might be able to camp alone tonight. Alone wasn't
the right word, I thought. I was never alone out here, even when others were
not around. This is a living thing, this earth of ours, I thought. It could not
be given human qualities, except by the short minded. But, it was nonetheless
alive and had quality. The sun, the moon, and the stars gave wonder, the flowers
and shrubs and tree scent and texture and sensory stimulation. The wind brought
hope and promise. Even the dirt and rock seemed alive. They would be closest
to me of things when I slept.
I found a sheltered place behind a large clump of bushes with a vast view off
the ridge and into the distance. Although only large enough for one, I knew that
Glory and Sharon might be tempted to camp here, and I could not do that. Not tonight.
Providence would provide, I kept telling myself. A few minutes later, the trail
began to divert and descend off the ridge. Looking up the ridge, I saw a few
solitary, wind beaten trees up on top. A steep climb, but there had to be something
aesthetic and comfortable on top. God does not place dice with the Universe,
Einstein once said. With that thought in mind, there was going to be something
good up high if I just took the trouble to climb up. Ascending through the wind beaten
sage plants and other smaller shrubs, it only took a couple of minutes to make it to
the top. On the top was a large, lonely and gnarled pine, at whose base was a
plush carpet of tall grass. Three hundred degrees of views while I sat up, and
wind protection from the tall grass and the tree when I lay down. It was a
soft bed, and it was perfect. I was camped by myself for the first time since
June 7th, the day I climbed out of Walker Pass.
And so I sit here, with the sun going down and the world moving about me. The sun
is still warm and pleasant, even in its fading light. A Milky Way, used as a spoon
for peanut butter, is in my hand. My mind is quiet and content, my heart still and
happy. There is nothing but contentment here, in this peaceful place. Glory had
declined to climb up here, leaving me on my own, as I later found out. There is nothing
more important for me to do right now that to finish my snack and watch the
sun go down and then the stars come out. I was wrong in my thoughts at the
start of the day. This journey, this moment, does cost something tangible. It
costs time, the one resource over which we have no control.
I am spending something important right now: A part of my life.
But, unlike time spent in front of a television or sipping beer at a bar, this
time will be forever etched in my being. It is time well spent. When I die sometime
in the future, I will not remember the hours I've spent watching TV, nor would it
ever occur to me to do so. No, I will remember this place and this light. The
way the grass moved about in the wind and how its texture changed with the light.
The softness of the wind, blowing in from some distant place, bringing the hope of a
new day. I will remember something of value.
Will, Sharon, and Glory were camped perhaps a quarter of a mile from where
I left the trail to find my Eden last night, in the process of packing up
when I strolled by a waved good morning. I was feeling more refreshed
and relaxed than any morning I could remember. Even on zero days the
rush for breakfast or some other delight seemed to take precedence over
peace. Last night did me a lot of good and as the day would go on I would
crave more. Today was July 4th and it was truly feeling like summer. The
heat was up as I made the long descent toward the Feather River and I was
actually sweating while walking downhill, in the shade. This was an experience
that I had not had before, even in southern California. On the long descents
there, even when exposed to the full sun, there was usually a cooling breeze.
Here, I was in the middle of a deep forest and no breeze was felt. Will, Sharon,
and Glory had all gone by me early in the morning, due to my slower pace
and my insistence on taking breaks every few hours.
The small group that I had called a Family for so long was beginning to break
apart, perhaps for the better. We would definitely see each other again as the
summer wore on, but now more as individuals meeting, rather than a group
rejoining. At least I hoped so. Glory had seemed content for most of
yesterday to hike either by herself or with others and I hoped that this
was a sign of good things to come. Will and Sharon were, and always had been,
committed to hiking in their own way. Even if Sharon was madly trying to
keep up with Will for his birthday (two days from now), I knew that this
would not last and that she would settle into a more natural mode of walking
soon. A spring, pouring out of the mountainside, gracefully appeared to me just
before reaching the river. Hot, sweaty, and thirsty, the icy water was
a boon. Cupping my hands to catch the flow, I drank long and deep. Even
now I took pleasure from drinking untreated water in the woods. I'd been doing
this since leaving Kennedy Meadows with no ill effects and was determined to
continue, at least until I reached cattle country in southern Oregon.
Shortly after the refreshing spring, the trail split in two with no
blazes to show the true path. A arrow made of rocks pointed downhill,
toward the river. Without any other sign, I followed this down to the
river, where I found Will, Sharon, and Glory eating lunch. I
had not planned on stopping at this moment, but with the river there
it seemed like a reasonable enough place. Will had built the stone arrow
to indicate that that was where he was having lunch. Glory frolicked
about in the warm river while I started my noodles cooking and rinsed out
my socks. It was hot here in the gorge, and the afternoon promised to be
tough. There was a long climb out of the gorge and the temperature would not
begin to abate for several more hours. Walt and Floater arrived, apparently
making the same mistake I did, and decided to stay for a break. We swapped
stories about the difficulties of the stretch of trail immediately after
their campsite, although I did not mention my encounter with the yellow
The bridge. The climb. The heat. The dust. It was 3000 vertical feet to the
top of valley walls and Lookout Rock and the heat of the day was hurting me.
My pace slowed to a crawl as I went up the never ending switchbacks in
low gear. I could hear the voices of the others high above me, echoing
down the mountainside. They seemed to be unaffected by this new heat. I
was unsure why I was, as I had gone through southern California with no
real problems. I wasn't breathing hard and my legs were not hurting. I was
just a little tired and moving slowly to compensate for it. With 6 o'clock
nearing, I was almost there. Traversing through a forested gully, I heard a loud
squawk. Then a series of them. Paying no heed to the upset bird, I took a few
more steps and heard the flutter of wings and more shrieks. Becoming slightly
annoyed with the bird, who was no doubt annoyed at me, I stepped up my pace a little.
The bird seemed to follow. More cries and shrieks and squawks, followed by a
much louder swoop of wings and a rush of air past my head. The damn bird! It
dive bombed me. I looked over to a close by tree and saw the bird sitting there.
A good sized hawk, it seemed to me.
I stopped, to show that I meant business. I gave it a good, solid threat,
cautioning it to keep quiet and not to swoop me any more, or I would do
grievous bodily harm to it. The threat was somewhat more colorful and the
bird seemed to understand: It sat on its branch, quiet, and watched me
walk off into the distance.
I thought this an altogether funny story at the time, or at least it was amusing
to myself. I have a good way with animals it seems. Speak to them in earnest, as
you would another human, and they seem to understand what you are getting at,
if not the details. Just like another human. I found Glory less than a mile up.
She, too, had been attacked by the bird. Only, the hawk had not stopped with
her as it did me. Glory ended up crawling along the ground with her sleeping
pad over her to try to protect herself from the bird's talons. That, I
thought, was much more comical than my story, given that she came out of it
unhurt. I told her of my encounter and she recalled hearing my threat.
Continuing the last bit of climbing, I came upon a bit trickle of water coming
out of the mountainside and stopped to fill up my water bag, with the intention
of hiking on for another hour or so. Glory continued on, where I heard her
talking with Sharon. Odd. They should have been almost an hour in front of me,
I thought. Sharon made her way over to the spring with a clutch of water
bottles, her face deeply scratched in two places and bleeding.
At first, I thought she must have take a branch in the face. No,
she told me. The hawk. The hawk had attacked her as it had Glory.
This time, though, the hawk had drawn blood, or at least caused it to
flow. Sharon had been wearing her sunglasses at the first strike and it
was unclear if the scratches were from the talons or her sunglasses being
ripped off her face. She seemed to be okay now. My story was no longer
funny. We talked for a while and it turned out that Will was somewhere
ahead, while Floater, Walt, Glory, and her were going to camp on an overlook
below Lookout Rock, just ahead. She was sure there was space for
another. After my night before, I was heading on. I would hike until I
found something pleasant and secluded and would see them tomorrow.
Having filled my water bag, I walked up the trail with Sharon to see where
they were camped and return a scrap of a data book that I found on the
trail and was probably Walt's. When I saw the camp, there was no
going on. My mind vacillated between staying and going, but my heart
was set. The overlook was a island of rock, jutting out into the air over a
deep, deep valley. Part of the valley, in fact, that we had climbed out of
this afternoon. There was a pleasant breeze blowing and one could see forever.
While it would mean camping on hard, solid rock, this was as aesthetic as it
gets. I found of spot near Floater and plopped down, trying to think of
my favorite campsites so far. Last night was the best one, and I was having
a solid argument with myself as to whether or not this was the second
best. At worst, it was the third.
It was only 7:15 and my body was still feeling strong. Will was apparently
pushing hard for a road that led into Buck's Lake, where there were some
stores with some food. Pat would be there and Will would be able to get
a ride back to the trail, if he made the 5.5 trail and 3 road miles
The effect of the others around me diluted the calming sensation of the
world around me, somewhat, but only by a
degree or two. The Sistine Chapel is still the Sistine Chapel, whether you
are there alone or with a hundred others. As the stars came out and the
land grew dark, Floater wondered whether or not we might see a fireworks display
from up here. How perfect would that be, I thought. Alas, I was never
to know if there was or not. The stars were the last things I saw through
my eyes until morning was to come.
I hate racing. I really do, but nonetheless I found myself racing this
morning. The PCT express was going to be waiting at the road to Buck's
Lake for Walt and Floater and their was talk of going into town and
having some breakfast. A cooked breakfast was perhaps the supreme
luxury out here. I usually started my day with two sleeves of
pop tarts or three granola bars or four yogurt and cereal bars.
While providing enough energy to get me going, the thought of an
omelet, hashbrowns, and pancakes, with cup after cup of coffee sounded
really good. Maybe I'd tack on a pint of ice cream after breakfast.
Plus, I could buy enough supplies to get me to Old Station, thus skipping
Belden. Belden was right on the trail, but had a rather poor reputation
among PCT hikers. The store was supposed to be very tough to resupply
out of and hikers seemed to get weird vibes at times. Hence, I
Walt is in the his 60s and Floater in his late 50s and I was having to push to
keep up with them. I was pretty sure that if they went in for breakfast,
they would wait until I had shown up. But, thoughts of Roy just kept
driving me forward, not wanting any excuse to come between me and the
eats in my mind. Sharon and Glory were far behind, as we sped through the
woods, chatting away. No profound thoughts or even simple observations
could I make at the rate I we were moving. I could keep up a conversation
and move my legs, and that was it. In a most odd turn of events, Walt and
Floater slowed to examine a bush or a sign or something that passed by
my interest, and I kept sailing along. Coming out onto the road, I saw the
PCT Express, and a very sleeping looking Pat sitting inside. She had just
been woken up by some day hikers and some motorcyclists, but was as cheery
and friendly as ever. Would I like a pastry? Perhaps some juice?
Munching on an apple pastry of some sort, I told her that the others
were not far behind. we chatted about the terrifying drive she had the
other night on a small backroad, and I told her about the hawk attack.
Pat told me that Will had made it in to Buck's Lake last night,
but didn't find the supplies to his liking. So, he spent the night and
pushed on an hour ago.
Walt and Floater arrived and announced that they didn't need to go into
Buck's Lake and so were pushing on also. I would not get my breakfast.
Trying not to appear crestfallen, I sat on the ground to eat another
pastry and drink some juice. A banana came my way, as did an offer to
pick up some food by Pat. All of us had the same impression of Belden, and
so Pat offered to buy some food in Quincy for me if I would write out a
list for her. Unlike at home, where I can think out my meals for a week
easily, make up a list, and then go to the store, it was hard to visualize
what I wanted sitting there in the parking lot, with Lassen staring at
me. Stage fright, I suppose. I settled on a motley collection of
foods, then changed it, and gave it to Pat. A few things were added
and the list returned. I looked at Floater's list and added a couple
more things. The agony of buying junk food without being able to look
at its pretty packaging.
The day was hot. Hot like the Mojave, but with humidity. In the Midwest
and South, summers are very humid and would never have noticed the
faint water in the air here normally. But, after the bracingly dry air
of nearly two months of hiking, even the slightest wisp of water vapor
was suffocating. I had long since separated from the others and was,
as usual, bringing up the rear. Will was vastly far ahead, I assumed,
and Sharon and Glory were enjoying hiking with Walt and Floater. I
was not going to race anymore, I swore. Just like I swore a few days
ago. The heat of the day and the humidity coupled with a general lack
of trees, bringing the full power of the sun upon me, to stimulate the
lethargy that everyone who walks through a hot countryside must feel.
I had loved the openness of California before, for it provided long
vistas and sweeping views, but now it was punishing me.
It was with relief that I saw the trail finally reach the edge of
the rim. The rim of the valley where sat Belden. Five thousand
feet below, on the banks of the North Fork of the Feather River.
Yesterday's jaunt down and up to the Middle Fork had been tiring
enough, but this was going to be too much. Looking down the
mountainside, following the switchbacks, I saw nothing but open fields
and burned out trees. A fire had swept through here several years ago
and the land had not yet recovered. The shade had not yet returned.
I could see that somewhere near the bottom trees returned, but it
would be a long walk. On the other side of the valley, I could see
the trail switchbacking up the other side. It climbed and climbed, until
it topped out at an elevation approximately equal to my own. Five
thousand feet down, a mile across, then five thousand feet up. Damn.
With the gently graded trail and my desire to be out of the sun and
resting, I would normally have expected myself to sprint down the
trail. The lethargy was upon me, and I moved down the trail slower than
I would normally have walked up it. No wind, not even a breath of
cooling air was coming up from the valley. This just isn't possible,
I told myself. There are laws of thermodynamics being broken here!
Why isn't there wind high above a valley? My pace slowed. Every forty
minutes I found some shade under a tree and rested.
Without realizing it, I bottomed out. I found the train tracks and found
the campsite. I found the road and the cabins. At each of my breaks I had
read the guidebook and had memorized the features that I would see
before reaching the bottom. I had missed them all, but now that I was
down I did not care. Straggling in the heat, I entered the town of
Belden. A few shacks with numbers on them passed by. A long building,
or rather sequence of connected buildings, seemed to be the only
real structure in town. A covered porch of sorts, like you might see
in a ghost town out West, graced the building and underneath was
everyone, including Pat and the PCT Express. They were eating something
out of boxes, but I did not really care at this point. I wanted something
to drink and a share of their shade.
The store looked pretty good for resupply. Most of the basics and a few
luxuries. I bought a soda and went up to the cashier, who proceeded
to do nothing. I was standing at the register and he sitting on a
stool a few feet a way. A few seconds passed, with him looking at me
and sitting on his stool. I waited patiently, in silence, for a
minute, with nothing happening. A young man returned from a corner of
the store with a case of beer and put it down on the counter. Apparently,
he was in front of me in line. Maybe 18 or 19, no ID was asked for and
the man took the kid's credit card with a snatch. The machine didn't
seem to be working. The kid ran to his car for some money, but didn't
come back with enough. I was about to pay for the beer myself, just so I
could pay for my soda and rest, when the credit card machine flickered
to life. But, now the kid wanted to overpay for the beer and get some
cash back. A short argument ensued and the credit card machine stopped
working. More fuss, and still no soda for me. Honestly, I thought, all I
want is a damn soda! Is that so much to ask for? Memories of Richard
Skaggs came back into my head, and I told myself it was of no use to
get aggravated. Twenty minutes after coming into the store for a soda,
I finally left with one.
Pat had gotten to Belden around when Will came into town and, finding that
the grill closed at 3 pm, had bought a large collection of food from it
for us. A bacon double cheeseburger with fries was waiting for me and,
even though I was not hungry, I was really pleased that Pat had thought
of me. I wolfed it down while the others went over to shower. I stayed on
the porch to eat and rest a little before showering, and was treated to
a most odd spectacle.
Chewing away at an ice cream bar that I had bought from the store after
the burger (ok, thruhikers are never not-hungry), I heard someone shout,
"Go home nigger!" Looking about, I didn't see much of a commotion,
but I was sure that I heard the words. A minute later, the same
phrase was repeated. A heavily bearded man was walking down the
street. I had seen him about town, but was unsure if he was the
one who had shouted the offensive phrase. Looking around, I could not
see who he could have been talking to and was a bit puzzled. A few minutes
later, the ice cream bar all gone, he came back down the street, stopping
at a shack with numbers across from the store and grill. "Go home
nigger! We don't want you here!" Assuming he was yelling at someone in
the shack, I figured the mystery was a solved. When a white guy came
out of the shack, followed by his girlfriend, I was more than a little
surprised. "You don't deserve the air you breathe, nigger!" The
bearded man shouted at the shack's occupants. "Nigger go home" came out
of his mouth, as he kept going. The shack's occupants seemed to be
conferring with another man-about-town as to what was going on, when the
bearded man returned again, this time very irate. More racial slurs
echoed through the hamlet, followed by a scuffle which was initiated when
the bearded man put out a cigarette on the white guy's shaved head.
The scuffle only lasted a minute or so, and was ended by the white guy being
tossed out of town by other town dwellers. The evicted man seemed somewhat
confused and kept saying, "But I didn't do anything. I don't understand."
The town inhabitants kept telling, "He doesn't want you here. Get out."
And so, he drove away and the street was quiet again. I was not
staying in Belden tonight.
The store tried to
close an hour early, stranding Glory, Will, and Sharon who had not yet
resupplied. Glory was able to talk her way into the store and got Will and
Sharon in as well, but the register worker seemed most put out by not
being able to close at 4 instead of at 5. I ambled over to where the
showers were to rinse off, sure that there were some hidden cameras
inside and that my picture would soon be making the rounds on the
internet. Clean and well fed, I decided that maybe I was being too
hard on Belden. Maybe the bearded guy was just the village idiot and
the others were only humoring him. No, the was not the case, when I
described the earlier events. The bearded guy, she told me, owns the
buildings and runs the "Belden Resort." He was the one who opened up
the showers, she said. The keys were missing and he had to take a
screwdriver to the locks to get the doors open. Sorting the food
that Pat had picked up for me, I was unsure what to make
Clean as I was, I might as well get a beer from the bar. A Sierra Nevada
cost me $2, and two motorcyclists, of the HD variety, joined me, while the
bearded man worked on one of the keg machines and kept up a running
dialogue with the two scholars next to me.
perfectly nice to me, but I had a bad feeling. It was as if there was
some secret here in town and the inhabitants were waiting for the
hikers to leave. There was nothing
inconsistent with the bar or the town. I was just out of place. The feeling
in the air, the feeling that crept up my spine, was one of incongruity:
I was not supposed to be here, and the longer I stayed the more the chances
were for something bad happening. I finished my beer and left the bar to
With my pack ready to go, I was not planning on walking very far. Maybe until
7, then dinner. Will had set out a few minutes before. Sharon, Glory,
Walt, Floater, and Pat were all going to stay in town tonight and
camp at the national forest campground I had walked by to get to town.
I said my goodbyes to all, and especially Glory, and walked out of town,
crossing the Feather before gaining the highway. I did not think I would
see Glory again. She seemed happy with Walt and Floater. We had spent
enough time together and I needed to be on my own for a while. I was
sure that I would see Sharon the next day, as she was planning a
birthday party for Will like she had given to Glory before, and she
would have to go by me to get to Will. Moreover, I had told her that
I would make sure to celebrate with Will and her. Tomorrow was
his birthday. He would be all of 20. The summer when I was 20 was
spent welding in a factory in Tennessee.
The sun was going down and I wanted to cook some dinner before going to
sleep. Simple, I thought. It is a little after 6 now, so why not get
some water, walk for an hour, and then camp? Even with the long break in
Belden, I would still have hiked nearly 30 miles today, so why not
stop early? The plans vanished in the face of the climb up and away from
the Feather. Steep, long, and wooded, the trail clung to the mountainside,
never deviating into a meadow or field or leveling out as it transitioned
from one mountain to another. Up and up and up I went. The heat of the
day was gone, and the hiking should have been pleasant. But, once I
had an idea of what I wanted to do, it was very hard to persuade me
that it was not to be. I wanted to stop at 7, so every second past
7 I felt like I was working overtime. Every step upward that I
took was accompanied by a glance around to see if maybe there
was some place to camp. I only needed about 4 feet by 7 feet of
flat ground. The trail wasn't even flat, and on my right the
mountain rose up steeply, and to my left the land dropped off
to the valley below. Nothing was to be done, and I should have
accepted that from the first.
At 8:15, I found my flat ground just before Williams Flat. Will
was camped there for sure, but I just didn't feel like hiking for
another 10 minutes. There was a little pull off from the trail that
was just large enough for me and was perfectly flat and covered in
pine needles. A soft, fragrant bed for the night and the first
flat ground since leaving the Feather more than 2 hours before.
Munching on some summer sausage, rather than cooking, I
watched the world grow dim once again. Sitting and watching
this change had become one of my favorite activities on the
trail. Just sitting and watching the light change. Such a
simple and seemingly stupid pastime, but one that always
made me feel better for partaking in it. There was nothing out
here except for me and the mosquitoes, the trees and
the rocks. I was not alone, I thought. I never was out here. And I was