Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 3 Over Donahue Pass

Ah what a lovely morning.  I am really here and I am really doing it.  My tent fly is dripping wet from the dew and I let it dry a little in the sun.  I have a cup of tea and granola and milk for breakfast.  Having milkpowder is such a luxury - all my previous hikes were just oats and water.  This is like being in a 5 star retreat.  I take my breakfast and find a boulder to sit on and just look, in awe and with gratitude.  As I pack up, I marvel at how little it matters to me anymore that I am packing up a wet rainfly.  I used to be quite worried about getting anything wet as I have aweful memories of wet tents and sleeping bags - now I figure, it will get dry again.  I pack it into ziplock bags and it works great.  I also construct a pouch out of a stuff bag to put my nalgene bottle into and attach it to the outside of my pack.  Another great innovation - that way I can get to it all the time and quickly.  I use drops to treat the water which saves me the arduous filtering. I develop my system right there:  pack the snack food for the next day into a small ziplock bag with the sunscreen etc. so I can just take it the next morning and put it into my pack. It takes me a long time to pack up - over time I will get much faster and be able to do it in the dark.  I experiment every day and finally get a good system down that works even as it rains.  

It rains that day and I get to test my rain gear - it all works.  Today is my first pass, Donahoe Pass.  As I put on my pack and it is so heavy again, I have to smirk at myself.  So typical, all that theoretical planning and pondering and research about needing 4000 calories a day.  Rather than experimenting more and trusting and remembering my own experience from previous hikes.  I never ever eat that much and the type of food that I packed is also quite heavy. I start to note each night what I ate to give me a more accurate picture for my resupplies.  I talk to other women and nobody eats that much and everybody has read about the 4000 calories and has packed too much.  A myth to be abandoned.

As I hike, I am truly concerned for the first time if I will make it.  WIth such a heavy pack and high passes, will my schedule work?  I just can't do the distances and speed so many others do. Then I teach myself a reality check which goes like this:  So what if you are not on schedule?  What if you are late at the Muir Trail Ranch?  What if you are late for the resupply on August 20th? Really nothing that I cannot deal with.  It is only day 3, a lot can change and I will grow stronger by then.  So almost everybody is hiking longer distances and seems to be faster - I planned for that.  What is important is to hike MY HIKE!  My speed, my joy, my distance, my pacing, my feeling in the moment of when to pause and stay and when to go.  What to do and not, what to feel comfortable with and what not.  Over time that is what absolutely makes the difference.  And so my hike is what life is really about.  Trusting myself, listening to myself, pausing to recenter and remind myself that this is above all my hike.  Every single decision I make on my hike will be right since I make it based on it being my hike.  I do second guess myself and debate and worry, sure, especially when I am the only one stopping for the night or camping far off or going slower or going earlier.  It is hard to go against the stream and only be able to talk it out with myself.  And it is alway always right.

I do well on this day.  Hiking up the long valley and over Donahoe Pass is a joy - with many stops to catch my breath and many river crossings.  I am so surefooted it works well and my poles help me.  I even guide some others across the rivers.  The weather feels unpredictable but it holds. Once on Donahoe Pass I am exuberant.  I discover reception and am able to share my first success with my friends - YEAH!  As I hike down, I revel in the gorgeous high alpine meadows.  Flowers, tarns, streams, rocks and boulders and a few small bushes.  I think I was born a cat - I always find rocks to sit on, eat on, lie on, perch on and take in the surroundings.  On shorter days, I quickly find 4-5 rocks and rotate among them so I can see different views and lighting.  As I get to a particularly beautiful meadow I decide to stop.  Everybody else is continuing on and I find a lovely pine needle covered spot under trees next to a small lake.  I set up my tent which dries fast, make a dinner of mashed potatoes and tuna fish and have my tea near the lake in my backyard for the night.  Nobody else is around and when a group of young hikers walks past in the distance with music blaring I am seriously offended.  They move on and I am glad.

I learned today how to protect my knees. I must never ever straighten my legs completely going up or down but keep a bit of give and bend in them and use my poles very much.  Crossing streams and going downhill requires a total focus and knowing at all times where to place my feet.  

My bed is so soft tonight, I fall asleep with the mountains turning from red to silver to black and the moon lighting up the landscape.

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