Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 24: Hiking with kids - our 200 mile summer: Comaraderie on the trail

Day 23: Palidades Lake to Majory Lake, 8 miles over 12,000 feet Mather Pass

Leap frog was the theme of the day.  We were one of the last groups to leave Palisades Basin, all heading to Majory Lake in a scattered line, dotting the trail like an army of ants.  Palisades basin was truly stunning.  Close in rugged peaks hugged the basin that housed rolling hills of granite and grasses and a sparkly lake.  

We’d fall into pace with one group, answering the same questions around our success at hiking with our kids.  One group we passed, whipped out their cameras, once again. For proof for their own that kids really can do this.  And as we ascended over the pass, the many groups gathered and paused to take in the view cheered Bekah and Cade on as they arrived.  I felt a little embarrassed by all the attention and truly felt that the grey-haired folks sitting on this 12,000 foot pass had accomplished more than we had, but it’s not too kosher to congratulate a 55+ hiker: “Wow!  It’s so good to see older people like you are out here!” So, I settle for a smile and light conversation.

But truly, I love seeing the age range on this pass today – healthy, active, adventure seeking Americans.  I would love to sit down and talk to each person as I know, in a group this big, many have had to overcome adversity – and dis so to have chances like this to take in sweeping vistas that require the heart to pump and sweat to flow in order to see.  Later on I’d learn a few of the stories of the people I sat with today: bummed knees and multiple heart stents to name a few, were part of the full story contained in these kind hearted fellow travelers of the trail.

Yes, these happy, easy-going, fellow hikers who are cheering on our kids indeed our inspiring me.  May I be going strong well into my gray-haired years, loving life and living it full like these amazing people are doing.  Earlier in our hike we met a lady in her 80s, backpacking along with her family, like she’d done for many years.  “Don’t tell me I inspire you,” she warned us, “I am just doing what I do.  But you little darling,” she said, as she bent a little to look in Bekah’s eyes, “you inspire me!”  These are the moments I love the most about being out here.  In  our independent, hurried world, we live indoors, isolated from anyone we don’t purposefully decide to interact with.  On the trail, everyone lives outdoors.  When we pass on the trail hwy, we literally bump shoulders.  Unlike in our cars, on the trail, every person you pass you make eye contact with, smile, and often exchange a few words that sometimes leads to a full 10 to 20 minute conversation.  I will indeed miss this natural camaraderie created out here.  A natural community.
We got into camp at 3:45 after walking in rain for at least an hour today.  It was a chilly and wet afternoon but at times, as we walked through the valley beyond Mather Pass, the sun would break through the clouds and warmth would flood our bodies.  Eventually, the clouds parted and clustered over the peaks that surrounded us, but right over our trail, the sun shone.  Due to the unpredictable weather, we set up camp earlier then planned, close to Majory Lake.  Within an hour of setting up the tents, the thunderstorm officially arrived, sending the kids and I into the tent by 5:30.  Evenings like this seem to pass slowly, as 5:30 is a very early time to have to begin a night of tent living. 

But it’s all a matter of perspective.  As we sat in our tents, unable to see out, Cory hung out in the meadows surrounding our lake home for the night in awe of the light show.  “This is the most beautiful campsite!  We can see 360 degrees of peaks!”  It delivered one of his most spectacular photographs of the summer with pinched light illuminating the rugged peaks as crepuscular rays aimed up, out of dark clouds.  

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