Every bird is afraid of heights…

Journal Entry- November 17th, 2021

We’re stealth camping tonight. It’s suppose to freeze tonight as well making the whole experience exciting and at the same time nerve racking. We’re at 8,000 feet, spent the whole day climbing up to a small town at the top of a ridge. The views were amazing and we made it to the little market in time for some fun snacks and beverages. Bobby hates using the tent fly, because every time we use it now we wake up with with a wet fly from the humidity. So alas we have no fly tonight and Bobby gives me his sleeping pants. “Their yours for the rest of the trip now” he says. I can’t accept it, I laugh and say they don’t fit over my lady bum. Really it’s that I feel silly that I’m unprepared and I want to take care of my own. Silly way to feel but whatever. We’re close to the end now. I’m excited to get home, excited to work, excited to be off the trail. I feel at the same time that I need to soak up each moment in our last days. We talk of our future as we hike, all our dreams and hopes. I buy extra food and snacks telling Bobby “Only a few more days of guilt free snacking”. We sit waiting for our chicken Alfredo to rehydrate in our cups as we listen for cars in case we need to douse our headlamps. We rehearse a ‘what if’ situation in the event of getting caught. As night slips away we cuddle up in our tent. I hope it’s not too cold. 

The next day…  

The alarm goes off at 5am, it’s cold and so we snuggle and roll over. The plan was to wake up before sunrise to break down our tent before it’s light out, and before it can be seen by others. Alas it’s cold and so we sleep till 6. We did not freeze and we did not get caught with our stealth camping. Success! The day is starting out right. 

We make breakfast of tortillas pb&js and coffee and check the map and elevation. The hike today is relatively easy in comparison to yesterday’s all up hill trek and so we have a lazy start. We hit the trail at 8am with a planned stop at 4 miles in. I get the hiking bug and try to not stop for water. Bobby gently but firmly reminds me to calm down and soke up these last few days. The end is near and he’s right, we will be back to real life soon enough. And we need stop for water. Silly me. 

We hike to the top of a ridge and at the top we decide to drink the 2 beers we’ve packed out. I have a rule to always pack out one beer whenever we stop to resupply. Its the best and I highly recommend. 

The ridge Is the perfect view for the surrounding mountains, the perfect resting spot. We feel like kings as we view the kingdom we have conquered on our hike. We cheers to the adventure, and sit soaking up the sun and talking of random hopes and dreams.  As I look over the ridge I’m reminded of my fear of heights. Even as I sit here far from the ledge drinking my brew the fear is present. I reflect on how far I’ve come with challenging my fears and give myself a mental pat on the back. As we sit a crow flys by and I wonder if birds are scared of heights. It’s a silly thought and I say it aloud. We laugh together at the thought but then I think “Every bird is scared of heights when it first has to leave the nest”.  Perhaps there is more truth to that then I realize. The bird must be afraid, but then it learns to fly. Perhaps I am learning how to fly. 

Every bird is afraid of heights when it first has to leave the nest. But then it learns to fly.

… 

I’ve thought about my mother a lot on this trail. When I first became aware of long trails and thru-hiking my first response was “you could figure out a lot of things by walking that far”. This is so true and one of the things I love about hiking. Take a walk though the woods and you’ll learn so much about yourself. Emotions go up and down just like the trail climbs and drops in elevation. I’ve thought about my mother a lot this trail. I think this trail was part of my healing. It’s been almost 7 years since she passed and it still feels like yesterday. I’ve lived with so much regret and so many questions for so long. When my mother was buried, I buried myself and my past. I wanted to forget because remembering was to painful. Nothing will change by asking the questions and nothing will change by replaying all my regrets. In the end my mother is gone. I hike up a hill and look over the horizon and I think I finally forgive myself. Is this the last stage in grief? Is this where I finally move on? My memories feel like a different lifetime ago. A girl who lost her mother and is now a woman. I hike this trail to heal, but there is much to heal, much to forgive and grow. I guess that is one of the reasons so many trails call to me.

 

We descend the mountain side, it’s rough going and soon our knees are aching. We stop to take some ibuprofen before pressing on. Soon we descend into bug town. The sun is hot and the nats are out in groves. I fight off the ones the dive bomb my face and exhale loudly as they go for my nose. “You alright back there horsey?” Bobby teases, and as I start to get truly frustrated he sings “ I like bugs and they like me” as he slaps at his face and head with his hat. I laugh and it makes the whole situation somewhat more bearable. Finally as the sun reaches the second half of the sky the temperature drops and with it bug town. We hike to a beautiful oasis complete with a small creek. The sight is beautiful, a mixture of oak trees and cactus’s, something I’ve only ever seen in Arizona. A sandy beach hugs the small creek and rocks made for sitting surround the area. We’ve stopped before sunset which feels like a treat and as we wash our feet off in the river it feels like we hardly hiked today. As we snuggle up in the tent with the sound of the creek and the soft sand underneath I fall in love with life all over again.

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