Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 8 Along the lakes and down Cascade Valley

The next 2 days will be my hardest ones.  I get up and help to pack up the tent I shared and get myself organized.  It is still raining and I cook a cup of tea in the rain and just keep plugging along with chores.  I head out before the others and figure that the best thing to do is to keep moving.  So much for the weather in the Sierras being dependable and sunny.  Some hikers say there is a storm that has moved in, they speak of a monsoon and of this being very unsusual.  I thankfully recover quickly from my internal complaining about why me and why now and am I not so terribly unlucky and all those woe is me loops.  I remember to stop and take in the beauty that is all around me despite the rain.  Drops forming on leaves and in moss, clouds racing overhead, a melancholic, fall-like mode everywhere that I like so much and no other hikers in sight.  I guess everybody is moving faster now, nobody lingers, some may have stopped hiking or are racing to the various resupply places to get a roof over their head or be with others.  This is my time to be alone out here.

I walk pass beautiful lakes and stop to drink and listen to the silence.  Well, it's actually never silent, there is always air or water moving, birds and insects singing and leaves and wood moving.  Along Purple Lake and Lake Virginia and down to Tully Hole.  The young woman I share a tent with comes towards me and has decided not to continue.  It is a very emotional decision for her and I hug her and wish her well.  That's what we need other human beings for. For comfort, support, safety, hugs.  I am glad I am here now with her.  Nature and solitude gets us in touch with our innermost core feelings, beliefs, values and instincts.  She found out what was right for her and her and her friend, heard it, listened to it and acted on it. Such integrity.  She would not have been able to continue hiking if she had ignored her inner voice, I am sure of it.  She would have continued to ponder, slowed down, been in pain, not enjoyed the hike.  Our bodies tell us so loudly what is really going on with us - out here we can hear ourselves and cannot afford not to listen.

I had planned to stop at Tully Lake but it is marshy and wet and I decide to continue.  Cascade Valley is just that.  A cascading RIver running down this sheer granite face, bouncing, rushing, swirling.  I keep stopping in awe.  By the time I cross the bridge I am tired, wet and just done for the day.  It has continued to rain all day and 3:30 pm is the end of my day.  I find a good spot among the trees and a soft pine needle ground to sleep on.  I know the next day will be a tough hike up to Silver Pass and down to the next camp site.

As I snuggle into my tent, having done all my chores I break into a huge smile and surprise myself.  I feel great right now.  I am snug, dry, warm and the rain is pattering on my roof.  Rather than worrying about getting wet and all the possibilities of what might happen, I feel warm and dry right now and am able to just enjoy this moment.  I remember one of my favorite poems about visiting Paris first which is a metaphor for the place that we most fear and that restricts our world if we let it define the boundaries of what we explore and seek out. I feel in some way that I have visited and will continue to visit Paris first so I am free to go anywhere in the world having faced my strongest fears and gained confidence and trust. 

I feel safe under the trees and I look at the maps and write in my diary.  I have a moment of doubt as I look at the miles still to cover, the rain that might continue and the many passes still ahead.  What is if continues to rain?  Will I continue to hike?  Should I hang in there and see what happens?  Tough it out?  Or change my plans and go to the coast or completely change my trip?  It would be harder for me to stop hiking than toughing it out.  I decide not to decide and to see what happens in the next few days.  And again I sleep well.

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