Total Miles: 730.8
1 the continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it
I looked down at the new compression sleeves that gently hugged my calves, wondering whether they’d be the medicine for my slowly improving shin splint in one leg and the newly aching Achilles in the other. When I looked up, the familiar and ever-increasing rock of the Sierra seemed to be slowly surrounding me, a creeping army of stone. I hiked on, taking in my new surroundings, and wondered aloud: “what makes such a place?” Mountains, and the forests that cloak them, often closely guard the secrets of their past, but not here. The Sierra seems to show its history, its story, through everything that might catch your gaze, much as the wrinkles of an elderly person tell intricate and subtle details of a life well-lived. The trees, beautifully orange-barked ponderosa pines and cedars with a patina of black; the rock, speckled by a dusting of black lichen that occasionally entangles with an almost indistinguishable, though darker, more sinister shade of black. They all tell the story of a land perpetually influenced by fire.
A twelve hour day of hiking leaves a lot of room for daydreaming and introspection in the space between its thousands of steps, the routine and monotony broken only by the wanderings of my mind and the surprises around each corner. Sometimes the monotony is a comfort: your body a little machine of near-perpetual motion that seems to move itself. And other times, the monotony is an enemy: so many steps have passed and yet each is merely an infinitesimally small piece of an impossibly large task.
Today, the monotony was not a friend. I distracted myself with thoughts of how this stretch of the Sierra may have looked a century ago, only to have my mind wander back to how much I miss my wife–my best friend–and how much she would enjoy being here with me. And just then, a new surprise would appear around the bend to break the monotony and refresh my mind yet again. A surprise like this almost unnaturally red plant…..
….and the surprise of a patch of snow at the top of our first pass, Olancha Pass, perfectly suited for a midday snow angel….
Everyday is a reminder to find the beauty among the repetition.