I feel like a fish brought up on shore: my mood flip-flops so often and so violently that I can’t catch my breath. I revel in feeling strong, then despair ten minutes later when a slight uphill leaves me wheezing and muscle-locked. I feel intensely lonely, then feel ill at ease in company and long for solitude. I am awed into stunned wordlessness, amazed at my blessings and the mighty works of my God, and five minutes later I’m groaning about how tired and sore I am, how heavy my pack is, and how much I wish I was home.
I did have some good inspiration today, though. I was slogging up a pass, berating myself for my weakness and slow pace.
And then I ran into Mike.
It was a little creepy. Mike looks like me in 20 years, though he has a soft Texas drawl. Mike’s pace made mine look positively rocket-like. Having recovered somewhat from earlier leg injuries, he wanted to do the JMT while he still could. His pack was huge, and he plodded along, grunting with each step up or down, slowly levering himself over his trekking poles to step up every stone. He’s been on the trail for two weeks already (most folks take 3 to do the whole thing), and will probably be out for three more. He is a friendly fellow, always willing to chat and help someone out.
Though he’s moving very slowly, Mike knows the secret. If you just put one foot in front of the other, you will get to the end. Why is it so hard for me to remember this?
I do think having companionship would make a world of difference. I’d stick with Mike, but I’d run out of food before we got done. I’ll try to keep his inspiration with me as I go. [I left Mike behind when he went to the Muir Trail Ranch to resupply, but his example helped me to keep moving through some difficult time in the following days.]
Came down from Silver Pass today, getting water at Squaw Lake, then trekked onward to Marie Lake. Crossed Selden Pass, hiking down along Heart Lake and camped just below the Sallie Keyes Lakes; headed for more big, pointy mountains tomorrow. The scenery is spectacular beyond all reason.