The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker
So I might have a trail name – Singet (pronounced ZING-it) It means sing as in Singet dem herrn ein neus lied! Sing to the Lord a new song, with ‘new’ meaning refreshed, reinvigorated, renewed. It means a lot to me because I love how Bach uses the words in his motet, ‘Singet’ zinging around the choirs, I love to sing and do so almost every step of my walk and I am trying to sing a new refrain in my life. There’s the added benefit that ‘zing it’ sounds like a sassy approach to a thru-hike.
I test it out as we stall our departure from Mark and Laurie’s perfect space. Klaus gets up late, then has to make a phone call and pack. I sit in a rocking chair on the patio in the morning coolness with coffee and almond milk, absolute bliss!
I talk to Richard one more time and debate inviting a friend to walk the end with me. I’m ambivalent as this has been a deep soul-searching time, but the desert could use support, especially dealing with big water carries – as well as having two sets of eyes and ears for cougar and rattlesnakes. We’ll see; it’s months away still, nearly 1,000 miles of walking.
I also receive notes from friends helping me feel brave and understanding why I share so much of my inner life. Maria sends this quote from Ram Dass
Start from where you are…The work you’re doing becomes your path.
It reminds me of something a very wise woman said – that I don’t have to be ‘fixed’ to lead my life right now. It helps when I feel stuck and broken. All of you help me and I am grateful.
We finally say goodbye. I give Azul a kiss on her soft snout and she returns a few doggie kisses. This stay was miraculous, reminding me of the incredible kindness from strangers in New Zealand. We all really clicked – once moving past some tears – and the stay was relaxing and energizing. I am so happy I met these two lovely people.
Mark drives us back up the rutted dirt road to the spot where he picked us up yesterday, passing land owned by the Hearst and Levi-Strauss families. He offers to take us straight rather than turn and cut off almost thirty miles of trail. Nope! He also offers help should we need anything as we move south. Just knowing the offer stands gives me peace of mind.
Today is mostly uphill through a heavily wooded crotch in the mountains. Klaus takes off ahead, talking to himself loud enough for me to hear way behind. When I catch him, I ask who he’s talking to. He says he’s working some things out, but on the trail, he has to be careful he doesn’t just spin his wheels. Don’t I know. I walk all day, every day, and sometimes I get absolutely nowhere in my thinking. I do understand why people stuff headphones in their ears, but I still like the challenge to stay present.
Dappled light through moss covered oaks casts sparkly shadows on the trail. The gnats swarm my head net. My breath is heavy, steady. I meet a section hiker from Italy who gives me helpful information for the next stop. A lot of my time is spent figuring out how much food I need how much I’m able to carry and where the next place to shop is located. It’s always a compromise because of what’s available and what I crave. This time I packed bread, but it’s pretty average. I had a few pieces of a heavy German bread Klaus brought, so dense, the slices are very thin. It was delicious and I make a note to seek it out at the coming stops.
I also have to find a place to charge my devices, upload my blog and clean my body. Soon, I’ll need to repair my pants which are shredding by my feet. I kind of look like a hobo. We reach Fitzhugh Gulch at the same time and I need water. At first, I can’t see where to go, but Klaus disappears up the stream where it opens into a little glade. I place my sit pad on a log, filter water and have lunch all while soaking my feet in the ice cold stream. It’s heavenly as I cool off but also bring down the swelling in my feet. It’s nothing serious, just twelve miles of walking uphill in the sun with a backpack.
The trail heads up even more steeply now, high above the crystal clear McCloud River, churning in my right ear. The color is a light blue and it touches my senses of sight, sound and smell. I’m drunk on nature as I huff and puff up this hill towards a parking lot and a toilet where I can sit. Someone writes a warning on the door, and when I open it there’s a massive pile of guano along with messy campers’ pile of garbage. No thanks, I’ll do my business outside.
Up and up goes this trail, for nearly twenty miles total today. Small streams crash over the trail, some with perfectly formed spigots over rocks, the better to fill our ‘dirty water’ bags before filtering. The contrast to the dry, dusty and rocky ground couldn’t be more striking. A tiny tan snake slithers quickly off the trail, nearly lifting his body as he moves, his head up keeping an eye on me.
It’s a small walk down to the final creek before the top where I drink my fourth liter of the day, and fill up two to carry to the ridge. Deer stand in the trail, only mildly skittish, their enormous ears turning like radar. There are two tiny spots next to a big tree for tents, so we set together, make dinner and watch the sky go from orange to pink to mauve to black. The wind is cooling and the stars are abundant. In the morning, I am never certain I can walk so far, but by nightfall I surprise myself, moving the little chess piece that is me further down the west coast, watching the trees, ground, birds changing as I go. Little miracles are everywhere – like Mark bringing us into his life or me able to experience this trail one step at a time.