Mile 2484.2-2513.2 (29.0)
Just as I was nodding off last night I heard a southbounder tell the couple who camped nearby that she just saw a cougar about a mile back. Then I fell into a deep sleep.
In the morning I got going quickly to make up the miles I had put off yesterday. Five miles in, I had climbed up to a beautiful vantage point cutting alongside a steep mountain. Bright sun, trees and grass a deep green color, distant mountain peaks dyed blue. Wildflowers. I was in awe. I stopped and spread out my tent to dry and stared out at my surroundings in wonder. I can’t believe I have so little time left on this trail. How can I give this up?
Sometimes I am glad to be almost done. When I open another packet of “food,” when I feel the sharp pain in my right foot, when the bugs bite and the sun wears me down and I’m covered in grime–at these times, I am eager to reach Canada and transition back to regular life. I want to be reunited with my patient husband, to make a home together, with my fat cat and maybe soon a big dog and one day a big garden I can tend. There is a lot to look forward to.
But then there are moments, hours, out here in the wilderness that I can barely describe, that resonate with the very core of my being. These mountains whisper to me to stay. To swim in glacial lakes and wander dirt paths forever, subsisting on berries and meltwater.
As I hiked today, every turn opened up another stunning vista. Distant peaks capped in snow, dramatic valleys bordered by steep mountains, hillsides dotted with wildflowers and granite. Streams where the water looks invisible.
I followed the trail down a valley, into the living breathing forest, across healthy creeks, then back up to the ridge. I found a beautiful, quiet place to camp between streams, watched the orange sun disappear behind the mountains, went to sleep.