In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.Elizabeth Gilbert
It was a cold, blustery day with dark clouds threatening as I dropped down to the highway at Sonora Pass late last September on the Pacific Crest Trail. The wind was so intense, it literally took my breath away even as I paused to take pictures and enjoy this sensational scenery right on the edge of Yosemite National Park.
Ahead was the Emigrant Wilderness, an exposed crossing of over ten miles at high altitude and I was fairly certain this was a no go day for me, but I needed a resupply and that would require a hitch deep down into the valley. With weather like this, the trail was empty.
At the tiny turn out, a few scattered picnic tables stood watch over the approaching weather, along with a single RV. On its door read Sonora Pass Resupply. The proprietor, Casey Cox, was cozy warm inside with his beautiful, blue-eyed dog named Lucky.
The timing was good. Casey was waiting for one more hiker to come off the trail and pick up her bear box and resupply. He invited me inside to warm up and grab food from the “hiker box” – or more precisely, boxes – all filled to the brim with all the extra food that hikers left behind realizing they had packed far too much to carry.
That’s when we got to talking and I discovered what a labor of love his business is. It turns out, he also walked the PCT and came to this exact spot late in the day, cold and hungry.
He waited and waited with his thumb out for a hitch that never came. It soon got dark, so he had no choice but to skip dinner and camp the night. That’s when he vowed never to leave another hiker in the same predicament.
Sure, there’s a small markup for packages sent ahead as well as for new gear he sells off his website. That’s what Mary, a.k.a. Goldlocks was on on her way to pickup, a bear canister which is required to be carried after Sonora Pass through the entire Sierra Nevada.
The truth is he barely breaks with a forty mile one-way drive on winding mountain roads to the pass. He also needs to stay put in his RV awaiting hikers’ arrivals which are often erratic and uncertain.
I share this post today since I am now just coming to the end of my hike on Isle Royale during this strange summer of a pandemic. All amenities on the island are closed – no resupply, no store, no ice cream, no warm showers.
In addition, because staff is reduced and rescues could potentially be far more difficult, one of the major trails I set my heart on walking – the Minong Trail – is closed and I feel a bit hemmed in by the restrictions.
That being said, restrictions may not be a bad thing. Isle Royale may only be less than twenty miles off the coast, yet, for all intents and purposes, it is a true wilderness experience. With no Sonora Pass Resupply-like help, I am on my own completely, fully responsible for ensuring I have enough to eat and the right gear.
So, I imagine at some point along the way, perhaps as I slog through mud or get pounded by rain or experience a complete lake-fog white-out, I’ll think back to just that lovely dedication Casey Cox put into ensuring hikers could continue moving forward through the Sierras fully stocked.