May 19, 2011

Letters from the Pacific Crest Trail #3


One Month – Aqua Dulce

May 18th, one month on the trail - the days have flown by like minutes, the miles which have passed under our feet total almost 500, our break-in blisters are callused over and new ones are forming under those calluses. Bluegrass (formerly Ben) and I are finding our way north, finding our routine and learning from one another every day.

We wake early, with the sun, and head out to see another stretch of trail before breakfast and our first break. The days are getting warmer and we have been enjoying the cooler hours of the morning - watching the sky change color, the animals come to life and the breeze, still refreshing at this point, pass over our shoulders and cool us as we crest our first hill of the day.

The desert is hot, dry, and full of chaparral and chemise, a few cactus, yucca, lizards and snakes - and although it holds a beauty of its own, we are excited about the steep graded climbs that take us up and over peaks such a Mt Baden Powell, (9,399ft) to snow, cooler temperatures and views of the rolling hills that make up the landscape of much of Southern California.

After 3 days of 95+ degree weather, little shade or water and socks full of sand, we found ourselves waking up to the sun rising over Vasquez Rock, just a few miles outside Aqua Dulce and the home of Jeff and Donna Saufley, the two most generous, well known trail angels on the entire PCT. We walked through town and up the hill to the Hiker Haven where we were greeted with outstretch arms and warm smiles (this all the more impressive given that a shower is a distant memory and we have been sporting the same clothes since our last town stop over 100 miles ago). There were fresh towels, directions to the guest house and shower, instructions to leave your dirty laundry by the washer (Donna would take care of it from here), loaner clothes to wear while your stinky ones where being washing, and the list goes on. We were in ultimate trail luxury.

As I stood under the hot shower and tried in vain to get the dirt out from between my toes, I had to reassure myself that this was not a dream. The hospitality and kindness found on the trail is unbelievable - the level of honesty and trust is like none I have ever experienced. Fellow hikers, strangers in the morning, become confidants and friends by evening. A day spent hiking in almost silence ends with a level of understanding between two individuals that can be found nowhere else. My mind is filled each day with dreams, desires, thoughts, questions, fears, expectations - but above all I am filled with a sense of peace with all the chaos that is somehow stored in my ever more confusing mind.

Today we are resting, tomorrow we will head out in to the desert, just 150 miles until the start of the Sierras. Already so many memories, stories, faces, experiences - I could not have imagined the reality of trail life and all its magnificent treasures. I do miss you all, my family, my friends, my morning runs in the forest with my girls, fresh produce, clean sheets, and of course, my morning cup of coffee, but I am loving it out here - much more that these words can express.

Thank you all for taking the time in your day to share a little bit of life with me - my love, thoughts and smiles, Scarecrow, S1, Serena, Leo