A blur of climbing, tears and a growing hiker family is how I’ll remember today when I look back on my last day of being a twenty seven years old.
I am not used to this elevation. Dario told me repeatedly, “Don’t worry; in a couple of days you’ll be used to this and feel much better!”. Right now, it doesn’t help too much with my nose bleeds. Or the deep, deep lethargy that seems to leech all my energy. But it did give me some encouragement that this is not just me – it’s the stupid heights this trail passes through, and our bodies not having adjusted to the lack of oxygen just yet.
My pace was about a third of what I generally hike at. It’s both infuriating to feel like I can’t move as fast as my mind wants, and a dash to my pride that I just cannot keep up with Maya and Dario – or most others. But it is what it is.
And in a way, it’s a good reminder that I shouldn’t give in to the mindset of competition. It shouldn’t matter if I take longer to walk the same miles. Like I said the other day: I’m not here to prove anything to anyone, including myself.
There was another good reminder when I had to go and hide behind a tree to dig a hole after my morning coffee.
If I don’t stop, and take my time, it’s so easy to miss small, precious moments like this. These are almost thumbnail size. They are teensy little pinecones, and I loved sitting and watching them sway back and forth in the breeze. I don’t think I’ve ever seen pinecones growing from such tiny beginnings before; they’re just one of those things you seem to see when they’re either already grown or already on the ground. And there are lots of them on the ground.
The way up was beautiful, but it was a killer.
And honestly, I was pretty miserable.
Kennedy Meadows didn’t feel restful to me at all. I am fast getting over the weight of my pack (especially with bear canister and effects of elevation). It just feels like I’m starting from zero, and trying to chase Maya and Dario is wrecking me.
I’m feeling at the end of myself physically and emotionally. I really don’t have much more to give, which is a daunting thought day two of the Sierras.
And it’s my birthday tomorrow…
Homesickness is kicking in big time.
I have the BEST family.
Mum and Dad are still best friends and in love, thirty years on. They are the most beautiful example of a good marriage and partnership, and I adore them!
My two sisters are rockstars too. Sarah is a gun, deciding in her mid-twenties that she wants to be a doctor and is now studying medicine – go girl! 💪🏽 and Rebekah is living out the cowgirl life on a cattle ranch out in whoop-whoop Northern Territory. We’re all so different, but work well together. Mostly. Nowadays, at least. You don’t want to have known us as teenagers 😳😉
At the top of one pass, there is a spot where you can get one or two bars of reception – your only reception for seven days (unless you’re summiting Mt. Whitney; that 14,500ft ascent rewards you with cell service there too).
By the time I reached it, it was around 7AM in Australia on the 26th June – my Aussie birthday!
I called Becky first, and sobbed into my shirt sleeve behind a tree as she chatted away at me. It was so nice to hear her voice and stories, and let out some of the emotions that have been building up. She prayed for me too. What a girl.
I called Karen (my cousin) and her youngest Dan was there with her, and I cried a lot more. There just seemed no end to the vault of tears I had let open.
Next was Daddy. Still cried. I’m a Daddy’s girl for sure. I moved out of home years ago, but still call my folks every few days, and visit them once a month or more. Being away for so long with unreliable catch ups and irregular conversations is hard for me – especially on a birthday. And especially after this biatch of a climb.
Mumma didn’t want to talk because she was at work 😂 Priorities, right? She makes me laugh! I’ll just chat with her next week.
And I didn’t call Sarah, because she’s got a major exam today, and I know she loves me anyway.
So yeah, a loooot of tears.
I drank some water to make up for the hydration loss, had a quick kip to make up for the emotional overload, and started the last slog for the day.
We’d done most of the climb, so this wasn’t nearly as hard, but I was already running on empty.
Songbird, Still Sarah and Potluck showed up – also feeling a little flat. We blasted the mini boom box and marched together. Together is better ❤️
And when we arrived at camp, we built a campfire!
It’s almost ironic that I’ve lived in a tent for nearly two months, and this is the first time I really feel like I’m camping.
Slowing down is my new priority.
Enjoying this trip was morphing into trying to push out big miles and catch up to others, but I’ve recently received a lot of pep talks about walking my own walk and to stop feeling pressured – so that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, have a nice long swim in a lake and ENJOY becoming twenty eight!
I’m going to bed smelling of smoke and deet, with faint traces of chocolate and wine on my tastebuds and a lot of love in my heart: the perfect way to fall asleep on my birthday eve.