Total Miles: 656.9
My first true “nearo” day, i.e. a “near zero” miles day, I decided to eschew an alarm for the second day in a row, sleep in, and catch the afternoon bus back to the trail rather than the one that left at 5:15am. As we whiled away the hours, I could hold out no more. The sirens song of the mango I’d been saving as a final treat was simply too great to resist any longer. It sounds hyperbolic, but after a nonstop parade of fat, salt, sugar, and all forms of processed food chock full of the calories required to power a thru-hike day after day, the divinity of fresh fruit is unrivaled to me. Make it a favorite and ostensibly rare trail fruit, like mango, and you may has well have handed me the holy grail itself. Hymns have been written about less.
At this point, it’s a distinct possibility that I’ve got food on the brain a bit too much when I wax poetic about a single mango–guilty as charged. But here’s the interesting part of the whole mango fiesta: not simply devouring it but what the act of eating it made me think about. As I cut into its flesh, scored it, and inverted it into a hedgehog pattern, I thought back to the very first time Emily had shown me how to do it. Just one tiny reminder of the innumerable ways in which our lives have become inextricably intertwined, in ways both large and incredibly small. And then there was the eating. For a small mango divided between four ravenous hikers, you wouldn’t think there’d be much time for thought but it was surprising to me how conscious I was of enjoying every single moment of it. To people largely trained to treat food as a caloric transaction that fuels our activity, time had temporarily slowed in a manner less common in the daily grind of life at home–I can’t recall a moment when I was more present for or appreciative of every bite of a single, humble piece of fruit.
When we finally did hit the trail at 6pm, the climb from Walker Pass in the early evening light evoked memories of all that has happened on the trail thus far. As we bid a farewell to the desert over these next few days, I’ll reflect on the highs and lows, the challenges and rewards, the pains that have come and gone and the ones that will surely follow, all while looking around the next bend in the trail to what may greet me tomorrow.