Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 78: Zero - Burns OR - Walker NV

We hit the road after eating another continental breakfast and drove on through the desert. All day long we drove through the desert and were happy when it would occasionally reveal a dried lake bed or interesting road kill.

We listened to more John Muir writings to pass the time and the chapter about the passes of the Sierra Nevada struck a cord with me. Muir describes Kearsarge and Mono passes with such enthusiasm it made me long to be there. As I listened, I realized that I have been carrying a lot of fear of the High Sierra. It is big, it is remote and it is dangerous. Muir seemed to acknowledge my concerns and counter them with his own observations:

"To the timid traveler, fresh from the sedimentary levels of the lowlands, these highways, however picturesque and grand, seem terribly forbidding--cold, dead, gloomy gashes in the bones of the mountains, and of all Nature's ways the ones to be most cautiously avoided. Yet they are full of the finest and most telling examples of Nature's love; and though hard to travel, none are safer. For they lead through regions that lie far above the ordinary haunts of the devil, and of the pestilence that walks in darkness. True, there are innumerable places where the careless step will be the last step; and a rock falling from the cliffs may crush without warning like lightning from the sky; but what then? Accidents in the mountains are less common than in the lowlands, and these mountain mansions are decent, delightful, even divine, places to die in, compared with the doleful chambers of civilization. Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even the sick should try these so-called dangerous passes, because for every unfortunate they kill, they cure a thousand." -John Muir, The Mountains of California Chp. 5

Well shit. How can I argue with THAT. In fact, I want to be a part of that. We listened as Muir devoted an entire chapter to the Ouzel, which is a small aquatic bird found in the Sierra. The descriptions he gave made me want to teleport back to the mountains to see for myself this little bird that rated such a long, loving description.

Suddenly, I feel inspired. Suddenly, I feel strong.

We arrived at the Nevada county line and tried to get a hotel in Reno but had no luck. We drove to Carson City and had no luck there either. We drove and drove and every town, big or small on 395 was booked. At last we found a tiny dive in Walker that had a reasonably priced room for us. It was late and we hit the hay as soon as we walked in. Tomorrow we will be in Mammoth where we will spend the rest of our time off with Josh's parents.

Until then, goodnight.


  1. It's hard not to swayed by Mr. Muir's words!


  2. Or, you could just do the Sierra and see how you feel when you get done. It really is spectacular and would be a shame to miss. You could slow down, just enjoy it. I've always thought a half thru would be pretty awesome.

  3. Even though this is your hike, You Got To finish The Sierra. I mean seriously, you paid your dues with all those desert miles, you really should chill a little in the Sierra. Anyone touron can go to Hawaii, but only a Thru can truly enjoy the Sierra despite all that pain.. Maybe you could try setting up some Trail Magic and head off some of those you've already met on the trail to help get you back into the game..

    Not that it really matters but I found this on another blog, and even though solo can scare the crap out of you, it's worth giving it a try,.. Has nothing to do with anyone else but ones own self..

    Tonight I'm going to sleep happy and content. I'm realizing that my best days are those when I hike alone, at my own pace. I enjoy meeting up with others at camp, but if I hike too close to them during the day I find myself feeling anxious about keeping up or falling behind. I feel at home in my tent and, for the first time in a little while, I feel like I wouldn't want to be anywhere else on earth.

    Whatever, I know I'm not ready but my hike starts next weekend. I really don't feel like it but backpacking saved my life about 24 years ago. Long story but it's true..