With 180 miles and ten days of earth under our sandals, we rose up out of our third re-supply town of Idyllwild. With clothes washed and feet scrubbed, we rounded the 10,804 foot San Jacinto Peak high above the desert floors of Palm Springs. It's early May and there is still some snow on the trail as a hundred degree temperatures are boiling in the valleys below us.
Ominous signs for one's future on the trail linger for the fearful. Some hikers are worrisome in this high country for a primary reason. In the chaparral, the desert, and along the porous rocky mountain tops, water can appear to be scarce along the direct route. The distance between sources may lie between 15 and 30 miles apart. Often one has to descend off of the trail to bubbling or piped springs to refresh one's vitality. At other strategic points, Trail Angels have graciously kept up water caches for the weary pilgrims who are fighting with the mere 80 to 90 degree temperatures.
Stacey and I often would carry up to three liters of water each. Each liter weighs 2.2 pounds, therefore, one's pack weight can fluctuate greatly depending on one's perceived needs. We have seen some hikers carry up to 8 liters between sources with water bottles clenched in their hands as if to ward off evil spirits that might take their sustenance away from them. In some minds, hikers are focusing on the lack of resources. They are afraid that they will not have enough water. They are afraid that they are not carrying enough food. In general, some trekkers are focusing on what can go wrong. When this train of negative thought is spun to its opposite counterpart, there is trust in feeling that there is only abundance. If the concept of Abundance is embraced, Life lightens up and the process of Living can then be enjoyed.
The newest fear for the weary occurred below San Jacinto Peak and along Fuller Ridge. Snow is still covering several miles of trail. Hikers are getting lost. Its not always the wisest choice to follow other peoples tracks. On the trail, deep in the back country it is often best to follow your instincts. Cut logs often show hidden routes. Trail corridors are often intuited. You can just see the trail beneath the surface, if you are intent in knowing where it exactly is. Signs are everywhere if one chooses to open their eyes.
One problem that hikers generally have is they often get lost in their thoughts for miles on end. Therefore, they lose awareness of their general position. Know where you have been, Know where you want to go, and you will always find comfort in where you currently are. You learn to feel the twists and turns of the Trail. You engage your Self in the bigger picture. You become connected to what Is, that is always before You.
Having descended the waterless Fuller Ridge 8,000 feet to the parched floor of San Gorgonio Pass, one is amazed to enter farms that actually harvest wind. If only they could harvest the 110 degree heat that currently was broiling our brains. Drinking hot water didn't seem to alleviate the discomfort. However, instead of repressing the sensations, one just merely feels them for all they are worth, allowing one to continue flowing through this newest test of endurance.
Sanctuary was however found in taking a plunge into the oasis of the Whitewater River flowing down from the refuge of the San Bernardino Mountains. The contrast between the hot air and cold water was so great, that to this day, we can still feel its awakening effects upon our body and mind. When extremes are felt and experienced side by side, its effects on the memory seem ever-lasting.