21 June: Thursday—Tuolumne Meadows Campground
“Dude, is that a box of Charles Shaw?”
No, I do not fuel my backpacking endeavors with wine. I just used the box for my re-supply. But how funny would it be if a PCT hiker did re-supply with some fine wine?
The beauty today was immense. The feet, however, namely my heels, are bloodied raw. I am concerned about them. The rock and sand trails as well as the stark descents and ascents have been hard on them. I pray that my feet do not worsen.
Otherwise, I have rejoined the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It is strange. I felt at home at first. But then there was the utter exhaustion of the last few miles—as if the spirit of the PCT does not approve of my passing. Furthermore, it took me a while to figure out Tuolumne Meadows Campground’s backpacker rules. But soaking my feet in the Tuolumne River was therapeutic. I wish that I could say the same for dinner: freeze-dried “Mountain Bean Stew”? It was probably too old. Or just horrible to begin with. The taste of the “stew” may haunt me for days.
22 June: Friday—A pond east of Miller Lake
I cursed a lot today.
The road was long. Many fallen trees blocked the path. I fell three times. I had to navigate stones across three streams. The wind blew. The wind blows. I am exhausted. Furthermore, I left my camera behind twice; fortunately, both times within one hundred meters. My pack is far too heavy. The air is cool. I am thankful for shelter, for warm clothes and a sleeping bag, for warm food inside me. I am thankful for general wholeness. Yet sometimes on days like today I feel utterly broken spiritually.
“Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill?” Psalm 15:1
Even my body is frail. Can I make it? Will I fall short once again? The next two days will tell. In the meantime, hallelujah for Jesus. “You are my strength when I am weak.”
* * *
“Hello, Mr. Bear. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. But there is no food in here. So you had better be moving along. Goodnight. So long . . .”
23 June: Saturday—Benson Lake
Today I was just tired. My hope was low. The ascent to Benson Pass (10,140 ft) was laborious. Yet at the top my spirit was renewed. I met a charming Park Service Ranger, Lisa, amidst her 9-day scouting trip of the area. Not long after she and I connected, a lone PCT thru-hiker joined us for a while. Up to that point, I had not interacted with anyone for a whole day. It is telling how much just talking with some friendly strangers encourages me. Yet the curse of parting ways lingers. I passed the PCT hiker further down the west side of the pass, and did not see him again. The long meandering descent to Benson Lake for the remainder of the day wore my knees out.
While the views from Benson Pass were noteworthy, Benson Lake was like stepping into another world. It is known as the Benson Riviera to some. With its long beach of sand, it is a hidden paradise in Yosemite’s Sierra Mountains.
The wind is very strong and chilling, but at least the mosquitoes are kept at bay. There is another enemy, however. Some breed of small black bird shit on me three times and my tent more than once. It seems that I placed my tent under their outhouse tree. Or they are just spiteful. Alas. There always seems to be something that makes the environment even more challenging.
There is a sense of fear within me in this wilderness. Part of it is being days from any road access to civilization. I have yet to find any cell phone service. Benson Pass taunted me with two bars, but then abruptly took them away. I am not sure how I will update family about my desire (or need) to conclude at Sonora Pass (Highway 108). I must focus on each day at a time. To think beyond is disheartening. I have really only but to go on, to finish this small PCT section of 76.4 miles. I am weak.
“Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. . . . You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:1, 11
It is somewhat comforting to have other campers nearby. None of them are PCT hikers, but are instead amidst a Twin Lakes circuit. One reminds me of Dave Duguid. Thinking of Dave, he has a far grander adventure than mine approaching. May he and Cara’s marriage be blessed. Amen.