Today was noteworthy because it’s the first time I’ve ever hiked all day with someone who isn’t related to me. One of the goals I’ve set for myself for the year is to make an effort to have positive meaningful interactions with other humans in a wilderness setting. Theres something about the wilderness that leads a person to earnestness, and I think being able to share in earnestness is a valuable thing I’ve missed out on by being such a fiercely solo hiker. True, spending time alone in mountain or canyon or forest is one of the best things a person can do for their spirit, but it needs a balance. So I’m glad I’ve met Madeline, and I’m glad shes out here hiking the Hayduke with me, for however long that might be.
This morning, as we left Needles Outpost we said goodbye to Bard, and it’s sad to see him go. I feel Ive missed a chance to make a friend. We spoke with each other most of the day yesterday. I hope he and I meet again.
Today was spent entirely off the Hayduke route. We’re on a 20 mile trail called the Salt Creek trail, which is notable for running water most of the year, petroglyphs, and towering rock features. It’s the first legitimate trail I’ve been on since the Devils Angel trail, which I began this whole journey on. For a moment, I forgot what it’s like to walk cross country. Maybe my brain turned off a little too much, because I grew fatigued and my mood felt soured. One of the great things about the Hayduke trail is just how engaged my mind feels, and perhaps that left me for a spell today.
Regardless, as early evening came on and the sun went low behind some of the stunning cliffs and towers, the brown grass gave off its special light, and I was restored. After dark, Madeline and I watched as the bright moon beamed upon the rock walls and other imposing figures cast their eerie dark outlines against the night. Everything looms over us, and it’s as if we’re held in suspension. It is a wonderous place out here.