CS672.8 to CS696.9 (672.8 to 696.9)
Daily miles: 24.1
Today was the last full day in the “desert section.” I will miss it dearly.
I’ve never enjoyed hiking as much as I have the past few weeks. I’ve loved the sunrise and sunset. The cacti in bloom with their pink or orange or purple or blue or yellow blossoms. The way the earth rises up and then falls away. The fear and awe of the Anza Borrego and Mojave. Valleys and peaks of the Laguna Range. Scissor’s Crossing. Storm clouds rolling in and the rain that cools the sandy ground. Big boulders and black lizards that stick to their sides and dart away when I come near. Forever ridge-walking. That one time I came to a “river.” The sudden adrenaline that comes with hearing a rattle. Night skies and the stars. Kindness of strangers and the taste of citrus on a hot day. Tripping dozens of times and managing to catch myself each time. The San Bernadino Range and the Angeles National Forest. Warming my frozen fingers by a fire. Staring at the water report for hours on end and doing mental calculations on how much water I would need based on: miles, time of day, terrain, weather, whether or not I’m feeling lucky. Being able to look way off in the distance and see the trail moving in and out, up and over the hills. Scrubby desert plants and big old pines that make your hands sticky with sap when you touch them.
Don’t listen when they tell you this is a desert. Don’t listen when they tell you it’s just a place you have to get through. These 700 miles are (more or less) destination hiking in their own right.
Today I was walking down off a mountain and into a valley. Clouds gathered and it rained, briefly. A big gust of wind, and then cool crisp air. It felt like autumn.
I tried to remember a face and a name.