After spending a full zero day beside this stunner of a lake and having a campfire going for just about all of our waking hours here (with the exception of the intermittent downpours), I knew motivating myself to keep on walking would be an issue.
So I gave myself a little dose of discipline: woke up with dawn, at was on trail before it hit 6AM.
The world is so still in the mornings.
The quiet hangs heavy in the air, like a blanket.
My 3km climb up to Seldon Pass took a little longer than I thought it would, but I still made it to the top nearly two full hours before I had any company.
It was beautiful to sit and soak.
I made a pot of coffee when I first arrived and snuggled up into my quilt. It was a clear morning, and crisp.
The day started to unfold and world began to wake up as I watched on. Dull greys and greens lit up with colour. Big white clouds lazily puffed their way across the sky. Shadows gave way to trees and rocks and I could see the path twist and wind down through the valley.
Sitting at the summit was another 10/10 moment.
We’re starting to have a list of aliases based on our escapades throughout the Sierras. It’s almost like Daenerys’ in Game of Thrones: Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. Ours isn’t quite such a mouthful: the Hiker Biker Gang aka. Summit Bums aka. River Bandits aka. The Golden Standard.
Hiker Biker Gang (HBG): where it all started.
Summit Bums: we, ahh, tend to keep sitting on summits for various lengths of time, ranging from a minimum of an hour ranging right up to five. Hours. Yes. We are the bums of the summits.
River Bandits: for the treasure we bandited at Muir Trail Ranch. Granted, it was for hikers, so we absolutely definitely didn’t steal anything. But it was a raid nonetheless.
The Golden Standard: also from our time at MTR. There were John Muir Trail hikers there who asked our opinion on different aspects of the trail, or how we’re approaching the PCT. The people we spent time there with were fascinated by our stories and seemed to trust us – how we’re walking is a lot of fun, and others who are a little more green seemed to love our zest for life and joy in the adventure. We’ve heard that so many PCTers just try and ‘crush miles’ or walk so fast they miss out on moments and people along the way – not us! We’re taking our time and letting it all soak in. But, as there always are, we’ve had a few critics we’ve encountered. One was a not so very pleasant PCT hiker I’ve bumped into once or twice along the way. Listening to JMTers question us, and our lighthearted, carefree answers, he turned around and asked, “So when did you become the golden standard of hikers?!” Honestly, I got pretty heated but bit my tongue. Barely. I was still fuming about his arrogance and rudeness later, when Pickleback suggested we just embrace the name: let’s set the Golden Standard. Instead of being bitter about it, let’s rise to the occasion. So it’s a bit of a joke, but it’s also a nice reminder to live in the journey, and not just the destination.
We were actually talking about this again as two older women came up from the north side of the pass. We chatted and laughed and I gave them some coffee and chocolate and they gave us a fresh fuel canister. One of them told us that the lake just below was named after her, Marie Lake. She wasn’t kidding. They were John Muir’s great nieces. The people I’m meeting here continue to blow my mind. Pickle was pretty happy to take our meeting them as a sign from the man himself that we indeed are setting a beautiful standard and doing this adventure how it’s meant to be done.
As per usual, we did stay up there a while. Nearly four hours, for me. Lucky I got that early start, hey?! 😉
We sank back down into the tree line, which meant back down into mozzie land, but my spirits weren’t dampened any.
The boys had stoked another campfire by the time I reached them, and we have reception!! It’s been ten days without any cell service, and hearing my parents’ voices is a joy I will never take for granted.
I love my parents!
I love my gang!
I love campfires and the outdoors and cell service and marshmallows and bathing in rivers. There’s such a spectrum of experiences I get to live through this walk, and I’m just about loving it all.