Location- Horseshoe Meadow
Elevation- 10,600 ft approx
Distance Traveled Today- 13.7 +
Distance Traveled Total- 744.5 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s 70s
Injuries- sore feet
Pain level- moderate
Spirits/Morale- overwhelmed still
Days without shower- 5
Every now and then, you cross paths with individuals who end up having a profound impact on you, no matter how brief the interaction.
My day began fairly mundane; Luckily, my feet felt more or less normal, which was a huge relief. I didn’t eat a good dinner last night, so my energy levels were sapped this morning. To be honest, I haven’t had an actual meal since I left Florida. On the bus ride, all I did was eat chips and doughnuts from gas stations. Everything happened so quickly once I landed in Bakersfield, I never got a meal before hitting the trail. My store of energy, and sleep has been running on empty; which is the last thing I need ahead of this endeavor.
So when my internal food energy stores are low, then my muscle energy is low, and then my moral is low, because my body isn’t doing what my mind needs it to do. It’s truly nobody’s fault but my own, but when you’re flying by the seat of your pants, it’s not hard to forget to do the things you really, really, need to do; in this case eat.
So I began the day with a steep 4 mile climb that I was really suffering to push through. After finishing the climb and making my way across and down the mountainside, I heard a voice singing up ahead.
I got closer and noticed a man perhaps in his mid to late 50s, dancing around in a worn out lather hat, with curly brown hair snaking out from under it, singing to an audience of about 3 other hikers who were sitting on the side of the trail.
I didn’t know if this was a group, or what was going on, or if I was intruding, so I said my “hellos'” as I walked up and gave them all a nod. “I’m “legend”” the middle aged man said, “what’s yours?” “I’m Mayor”I replied. “It’s nice to meet you Mayor, have you got a story for us?”
I was thrown off by this sudden request for a story, and I was silent for a moment, torn between thinking of a story, and worrying about how much of a hurry I was in. “Yeah, I’ve got a story,” I said as I dropped my pack and sat down on the side of the trail. I then proceeded to tell the tale of my whirlwind journey taking my dog back home and the nightmare bus ride back across country, finishing up with my last few bus rides, the hitchhiking attempt to Kennedy Meadows, and my insane deadline to finish the Sierras.
By the end of the story, Legend remarked that they’d have to change MY name to “Legend” instead.
There was so much more to 15 or so minutes of interaction that I had with Legend; way too much to type out in its entirety on my cell phone. In short, it was filled with more singing, dancing, engaging conversation, invaluable advice to be applied to the trail, and life, and an overall vibe that this gentleman was living directly in the present moment at all times.
He had done the entire trail 9 years ago, fell in love with it, and now section hikes and provides trail magic for about 7 months out of the year. He was hiking south, so I only got to speak with him during that brief passing.
Before parting ways, he informed us that his truck was parked at a trail access about 2.5 miles off the PCT, in a campground called “Horseshoe Meadow.” This is what he said… “It’s a red truck, the passenger door is open, and the keys are in the ignition; feel free to take it into town. You don’t have to bring it back up if you’re staying there, just pass it off to someone else who’s trying to get back to the trail. Also, there’s drinks in a cooler in the back.”
This man just offered complete strangers to use his truck. I was floored. I also realized that this was the universe speaking to me again, in more ways than one. Getting rides into town in the Sierras can take an entire day on its own. There are no roads here; in order to get to them, it requires a great deal of sideways miles up and down other trails that branch off from the PCT. At 2.5 miles off the trail, Horseshoe Meadow is the closest access to find cars. Even still, it’s more than 20 miles from that campground into the nearest town of Lone Pine, making finding a ride still incredibly difficult, since there is no thru traffic for almost 20 miles, until the mountain road hits a highway, 8,000 feet below.
I had no previous intention of going into Lone Pine, but in all honesty, I needed to. I needed more food than what I had, if I wasn’t going to get stuck having to spend an entire day trying to get into another town a few days from now. So my future logisticsal, transportation, and food problems were suddenly solved; but more importantly my day was completely turned around. Looking at how carefree, happy, and in the moment this man was, made me realize why I was so miserable and out of it today. I wasn’t living in the present; I was to busy worrying about my timeline, as well as the miles, terrain, and food woes that I had yet to encounter or face. I was stressing myself out over things that didn’t exist yet. This revelation hit me very shortly into my interaction with Legend, and my day was fixed from there on out.
“Have you got any parting advice, Mayor?” Legend asked as we shook hands and prepared to go our separate ways. It took me a second, but it was already right in front of me. “Be here; now” I said, as we turned away from each other.
I’ve already written quite a bit, and there is more to this story that I’ll have to tell at a later time. I’m way to tired to continue writing. Long story short, I got into town and back to the campground via that truck, ate more McDonald’s than I should have, and got a resupply that’ll keep me on the trail for the better part of the next 200 miles at my current pace. I didn’t do as many miles as I wanted today, but this shorter day will save me a ton of time in the long run. What needed to happen, happened, right when I needed it most. Now I’m caught up on my internal energy stores, and I have enough Ramen to last me a thousand winters.
Tomorrow…it’s back to the grindstone.