Sunday, June 27, 2010

We be-Trail Angels

… trail dust is thicker’n blood
~ Louis L’Amou

June 24-June 26, 2010
Leavitt Meadows-Fremont Lake-Cascade Falls-Hidden Lake-Out, Trailhead located about 5 miles east of Sonora Pass in Humboldt-Toyabe National Forest.

Total distance: 27 miles

Jacob and I went into the Pinecrest Ranger Station in Stanislaus National Park without knowing where we wanted to go. Our intention was to get into the Emigrant Wilderness for a couple of nights, and see if it was a possible refuge away from Yosemite. Turns out this place is a quiet oasis, away from the crowds, and walah. You can get away from people in one walking day. Helped that we left during week, missing the weekend crowds.
After getting our permit and a topo, we drove to the trailhead, in Humboldt-Toyabe National Forest, just east of Stanislaus at Leavitt Meadows- which is just off the 108 past Sonora Pass a few miles. Just before the entrance to the trailhead were, none other than a couple of hitchhikers- very very dirty hitchhikers. I saw the beards from about a mile away. I had just been asking Jacob if he thought we'd run into a couple of thru-hikers, and low and behold, there they were. A couple of angels, just waiting to be picked up. There were three of them. The tanned/dirty faces, scraggly beards, and full packs were a clear give-away. I looked at Jacob and was like "They're PCT hikers!!! Stop, we have to talk to them!" With star-studded eyes, and celebrity-awe, I asked them if they were on the trail. "Yeah, we're trying to get into Bridgeport. Can you give us a ride?" Man. I really wanted to. "No, sorry, we're going in here. Would love to if we could." After some brief pleasantries, we went into park. As we started to head toward the trail, Jacob looked at me and said, "you think we should give them the truck into town?" Without hesitation, and with enthusiasm, I said, "Yeah! They could just take it for the night, bring it back, and leave the keys in the back. No problem!" We looked at each other for maybe a second. In that second I think we were both trying to assess how crazy that is to give someone our truck. The second passed. And that was it. They needed to get to town. We were going to be in their shoes in about, well, less than a year. "You wanna just take the truck?" "REALLY? Are you serious?" "yeah, we'll be out for a couple of days, you guys need to get into town. Just bring it back in one piece." "Wow, yeah, you guys are awesome." Doing something nice for other people does make you feel good. I had that lovely butterfly feeling in my stomach. Being a trail angel is neat. I guess this helped me realize how much I miss being apart of a community of people who actually trust each other. Sure you may not always like the people in the community, but there's a network of people who aren't only caught up in themselves. College gave me a built in community-through basketball, through my major.  Peace Corps gave me a very unique community, with an ingrained sense of mutual purpose and direction. It's been hard to find that in a big city upon return. It's been hard for me to get outside of my cocoon. And the fact that I live with someone going through a similar readjustment process makes it less of an incentive to make the effort to connect with people. I used to be much more gregarious. Before living in Africa, I would go out of my way to connect with people, with anyone actually. Upon reentry into the US I've been much more hesitant, and closed. This trail magic has instilled a new-found sense of hope.  It gives me hope in the backpacking world-that trail dust IS thicker than blood. The mountains aren't forgiving, or relenting. But people are.
Jacob and I started our journey into the woods light-footed, ready to enjoy the bliss around us. We went into that Range of Light with full-hearts, knowing we were able to help out a few other travelers on their path. A path we want to be on in about a year. So, here's for being a trail angel. And here's to Beaker, Lakewood, and Mike (I forgot his trail name.)- Thanks for bringing the truck back, thanks for allowing me to enter your community, if for a passing moment. And thanks for the beer. It was delicious!

I really can't wait to be on the trail.

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