I love rocks. I love all their various colors, shapes, and sizes. As I hike the trail I get to see lots of rocks. Not only that, but I get to step on thousands and thousands of them. I love to step up on big embedded ones until my thighs ache. I love to step over, around and between middle size ones causing me to loose my concentration. However I especially love the little inch ones. Stepping on one with the ball of my foot as I climb causes me to stumble forward. To regain my balance I have to very quickly compensate with my absolutely-required hiking poles. But that’s not as bad as stepping on one of those rounded ones as I descend. Then my foot flies foreword and I stumble even faster backwards. Again my poles need to rapidly come to my rescue. It’s amazing that I haven’t yet fallen off the trail and over a cliff. Other than the shock to my emotions I don’t feel anything in either case. Yet if I unknowingly step upon a rock with the outside of my right or left heel, then the resulting stumble can be like one of the above along with a piercing pain as the new blisters I have recently developed are squeezed to the extreme. Yes. I love rocks. I love them here. I love them there. I just don’t love them anywhere under my feet.
There are things along the way that you have to see. I’m not a big sightseer, but this was just a hundred yards off the trail. A group of us all heading to Warner Springs stopped and took pictures. I had skipped breakfast when I broke camp so I let the rest go on as I sat in the shade and ate my cobbled together breakfast of cold water, hot chocolate mix, powdered milk, and pecans – yummy. After a few minutes rest and now in solitude I hiked in Warners Spring for a shower, laundry, and real food.
I have a healthy respect for heights. I feel like I’m going to fall off when I’m near the edge of a precipice, for example, the Grand Canyon. Now I’m not a complete scaredy-cat, but with my “weak” balance I need to be careful. What I’ve found so far is that I am concentrating so hard on the trail that I am oblivious to the fact that the trail falls off for hundreds or thousands of feet. Also maybe I’m getting used to it because THE TRAIL IS WAY UP THERE MUCH OF THE TIME.
It’s fun to look back as you’re hiking and realize you’ve made progress. Sometime after Lake Morena and before Mount Laguna I went under a highway. A little while later I turned back and realized that I had climbed a bit. I went under on the far left.
My daughter asked if the trail is hard to find/follow. Not at all. It is generally well marked and obvious. Here is the trail just outside the campground at Mount Laguna.
It was a long day, but I made it to Mount Laguna, or maybe I should say that a bunch of us got to Burnt Rancherio (sp?) campground 1/4 mile away from town, and tried camped there. The place was closed, the water was off, and I heard the front gate was locked. After a bunch of us got all settled on a site or two at the back the campground manager came by and told us we had to leave because they weren’t open. We tried to pay, but he said no. (They open next weekend – sheesh!) It was about 7 PM when he told us and it was getting dark. He told us we could sleep anywhere that was 150 feet from the last “structure” so we packed, moved, and resetup next to the trail outside the campgrounds. I cowboy camped (no tent, just under the stars) and at 4:30 AM it started to sprinkle a few drops so I got startled and got up quickly, packed and started hiking. Luckily it didn’t rain any more, so I just continued to hike.
I still have plenty of food and hiker hunger hasn’t set in, so I skipped my resupply in Mount Laguna. It was late in the day, I was tired from hiking all day, the next day the store opened at 9 AM, and I wanted to start early. So I might have to conserve a bit for the next three days until Warner Spring. Adapting on the trail is all part of hiking. Hopefully this choice won’t hurt me.
As a traveler, a stranger in a strange land, I’ve had to depend on others to get where I needed to go. The generosity and kindness I’ve received on this journey so far has been eye-opening. People talk about how isolated and uncaring we have become. Well from my point of view it’s the opposite. Total strangers have taken time and energy to support me on my pilgrimage. I have a hard time expressing my appreciation for what they have done for me so far. From driving for hours to get me towards my goal, to sheltering me, to giving me a warm meal and comfortable bed for a night, but most of all to accepting, talking with and listening to this solo sojourner on his journey. For these offerings of yourselves I thank you. I am in your debt forever.