Heaven, and Other Pleasures of the Trail

White tents of cots house a regiment of exhausted hikers, gear strewn, hastily opened packages from home overflowing with goodies.  It is difficult but not impossible to tell which of the limping, sunburned denizens of Hiker Heaven toughed out the 37 mile road walk detour after climbing 9,400 ft. Baden-Powell in the snow,  and those that thumbed rides into Agua Dulce.  Most likely the man eating an entire gallon of ice cream walked the line through the heat, as did the one soaking battered feet in a tub of brine.  The Frenchman that you last saw weeks ago happily washing his pack did not, though it matters little as we approach the 500 mile mark.  A flip-flopper who just arrived for her first day of hiking is inundated with stories of woe [self-extracted ingrown toenails] and helpful advice [ditch at least two of your three books].  Everyone appreciates the Saufley’s extreme hospitality:  rides, showers, towels, clothes, kitchen, internet, a garage handling more packages that most P.O.s, and everyone’s laundry magically done for them.  Bones plays his songs by a pallet fire for the weary until they disband, unable to stay up long past sundown.


There is a point when you hurry towards your stopping place, sure it is immanent, then an impatient hopelessness full of expectation sets in, and finally, my favorite–a complete cessation of caring.  Just moving for the painful movement itself.

Outside Big Bear City a VW Westphalia bus stops to pick me up.   The older well rounded gentleman and his friendly dog would be happy to take me to the trail–“Back when I was married–a long time ago–we thought about riding our motorcycles down to the Straights of Magellan…decided against it, too many desperate people, more desperate than you, and heavily armed.  Well, we were all heavily armed back then, but who wants to get into a fire fight if you don’t have to?”

Pink swirling clouds fly by–it has never been such a pleasure to lie on the ground…

Grass flutters purple-topped,

Specks sparkle the pavement black,

Sky fades blue–hill-cropped.

~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on June 3, 2010.

One Response to “Heaven, and Other Pleasures of the Trail”

  1. Bakersfield isn’t often called heaven but we’ll have a soft bed and hearty meal and grog waiting for you. Take care and see you in a few

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