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Begins: Apr 20, 2016
Date: Sun, May 1st, 2016
End: Big Bear
Daily Distance: 266
Trip Distance: 266.0
Entry Visits: 430
Journal Visits: 5,164
Guestbook Views: 19
Guestbook Entrys: 1
Pacific Crest Trail Map
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Coming from the east coast I am used to the rolling farmland and pasture that make up the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The thick forests that permeate the land are made of oak, walnut and hemlock. The woods feel familiar. Like the voice of an old friend. The pendulum of time may have swung by, but the comfort and memories of the place you call home never waver. Everything is clearly defined and in front of you. A land that is willing to provide and shelter those who are within it.
The desert has secrets.If you listen closely you can almost understand what she is trying to say. A whisper in the wind dances all around you. You can reach out to grab it, but just as quick as you can reach it vanishes into the vast open spaces of the landscape. The desert plays tricks. The sweltering heat encompasses every ridge and valley. High and low, east and west, there is little difference. It it something that you cannot escape. A game that has no end. Whether you decide to play does not matter. If you choose to commit, know that you are playing by her rules. A game that you cannot win. Many have come and gone, believing that they could travel the brutal landscape on their own terms. Only to be pushed back by the inevitable truth that you are merely a meager inconvenience in a land that serves none.
We wake up before the sun raises its head over the eastern mountains. The only method of success is in choosing the hours that the desert no longer wants.The only option if you believe you are to make it to your destination. At first, the charred remains of trees and brush burnt out by fires of years past seem to be all that is left in a world forgotten. A world that man decided long ago it could not mold or shape into its desired form. A wild animal that could not be tamed even by the strongest of hands or most persistent of minds. Birds are the signal callers. Providing the alert to all those who remain that a changing of the guard is in process. Their beautiful songs play to all who will listen. Simultaneously a wake up call and lullabye to those who have decided that darkness is their only route to survival. For the brave and daring souls who believe they are an equal opposing force, this is the time to fly.
The sun is beating down in the mid afternoon. Its glare blanketing everything it touches. Only the most confident of creatures dare peak their head out of the few shadowy places where they linger. Waiting for a time where they might be able to grasp the few comforts the sandy soil provides. But that is what she wants you to believe. Because those who dare to wander into the unknown are consistently dazzled by the massive amount of life and energy that make up this place. Cottontails pop in and out of the junipers. Horned frogs stare at you from their perches atop the sandstone before darting beneath the thick cover of the desert willow. Rattlesnakes play their familiar tune to let you know that you are only a visitor in their home. All at once a cat claw and the purple flowers of the smoke tree pull at your shirt begging you to re consider your motives. You choose to continue along your path.
By evening the air begins to cool. Places that were once undesirable are now staging grounds for the party that it to come. Shadows fill the empty spaces and play tricks on the mind. A lone coyote calls to anyone who will listen. At first, no response. But then one, two, and many more join in on the building excitement. We sit on the sandy soil recounting the adventures and stories of the miles past. As the sun dips below the western ridges we lie our heads in peace. Caring for our bruised feet and minds a sense of accomplishment encompasses our tented walls. Knowing that we may have escaped the deserts wrath today, but tomorrow may be a different story.
Thank to you to the fine folks at the Warner Springs Community Center who allowed me to use their computer to write this story. For those who came expecting a day to day list of how far I walked and those I met; I apologize. This is the type of essay you can expect more often that not. A jumbled construct of my emotions as I walk (and sometimes limp) from Mexico to Canada.
-Steven A. Baruti "Philly Steve"