Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Endings

My last week on the trail could not have been more serendipitous.

From the moment I spontaneously hitchhiked into Julian, good things were set in motion. It all started with a fantastic lift from the local Sheriff who added a moment of comedy to my day.

For a girl who had spent 3 months in solitude on the trail,my last days on the trail were wonderfully, amazingly social. What a gift and what a happy ending to my most amazing journey.


 I truly enjoyed my time in Julian, hanging with my new friend Special Delivery.  He was the secret ingredient that turned everything into gold. It was so enjoyable to spend my days in good company, relaxing, eating and visiting.  We even did some sightseeing in the Cuyamaca mountains and the Mount Laguna area.  All thanks to Special D.  From a more practical perspective, it was a good thing I got off the trail.  As per the forecast, the weather raged pretty hard for 3 days.  It would have been terrible to be out there in that weather.  Instead, I got enjoy some well needed down time and some rest. 

After my most awesome 3 days, I finally got to hit the trail again.  It was the longest time off that I had on my entire journey.  Special D decided that I needed more special treatment and we came up with a new plan for my last 3 days.  He would take my pack down the trail and also provide me with support along the way - kind of like a roving "aid station"  just for me!

My first day back on the trail was sunny and beautiful and I felt so refreshed.  The day started early with Special D joining me for the first few miles, before leaving me on my own for the day. He met me half way with a massive picnic, and then further down the road with more snacks. What a treat!  It was so enjoyable to be out there on the trail with my tiny pack, I even got to bust out a run for a few miles. This was a real treat and I enjoyed every moment of my special day.  I also arranged to spend the night with another new friend - Dave Super at Laguna Mountain Sports.  He has a one-of-a-kind log cabin in the National Forest and it was truly awesome.  I arrived in the dark to a log cabin smelling of wood smoke and home made Pea Soup.  Happiness is a log cabin in the woods.

The second last day, I spent the day taking lots of photos, reflecting and enjoying my last time on the trail.  It started with a beautiful sunrise in Mount Laguna and finished at Lake Morena County Park.  There was a little bit of snow at the higher elevations, but mostly it had already melted. Again, Special D met me along the way with water and treats.  I really enjoyed this last section - the trails around the Cuyamaca Mountains are really diverse and incredible.  

At Lake Morena, Special D had set up the full car camping spread and brought the giant tent and the Coleman stove. It was so awesome!  We cooked up a feast and I got further spoiled with a fantastic dinner, complete with red wine and S'mores on the bonfire.  Seriously.  What a way to end my trip with such good times. :)

Special D joined me for my last day of hiking - 20 miles to the border.  The day flew by as we chattered along, another beautiful hot and sunny day.  I had no expectations for these last 78 miles, and the terrain was surprisingly mountainous, diverse and oh-so-beautiful right until the end.  But, it was the company that made these days really enjoyable.

Just 2 miles from the border, my friends Phil and Callie showed up to walk us to the border.  They brought with them, fresh homemade cookies and a bottle of Champagne to celebrate.  

I thought - how lucky am I to finish surrounded by such good people? 

In my mind, it was the perfect ending to my time spent on the trail.  My time on the trail has been full of stories of random acts of kindness from strangers.  How fitting is it that I finish my journey in the company of a stranger, turned into a friend?   My heart is full of gratitude.

Me and Special D

Special D, Phil and Callie

Happy Endings


JohnF said...

Congrats on completion of such an incredible journey.

Mary said...

OMG. You did it. And so fast!!! Of course I have many questions about the Washington section but the main thing is, in mid-August will I have enough snow that I need boots, not shoes?

You must have done some major mileage. I loved the JMT portion so much last year. Was it good weather there? Congrats--so do you have to go back to do the section you had to skip?

Brian said...

Congratulations on what sounds like a magnificent adventure.

Kaz said...

Congrats, Crazy (in a v good way) lady! Awesome. Have enjoyed your updates so much and am so glad you had a great time. Thanks for the congrats - we are busy having our own adventure of adjusting to life as a family of 4 and it is generally pretty good fun, if not v v busy! Safe home and hope it's not too wierd adjusting back to 'normal' life.

Helen said...

Just awesome! Congratulations. What a fantastic finish.
What's next?!!!!

Derrick said...

Very cool adventure for sure. Just amazing. Glad it went well for you and thanks for sharing.

Rest up!

Leslie said...

@John and Brian: it was incredible AND magnificent! Thanks for commenting.

Mary, August in Washington was amazing! I think I was lucky with the weather (read, blue sky almost every day. I had wet feet for a few days in early August, but I was happy in my runners. Mid-August, definitely trail runners. I also had perfect weather through the Sierras and in late September, I was really and truly one of the only people out there. T-shirt and shorts every day! I counted only 7 JMT'ers. Incredible. I would love to take a couple of weeks and walk the section I missed, but we'll see if that happens. I think it will happen and it's a good excuse for an awesome little holiday. Maybe in Spring?

Hi Kaz! No major "reintegration" required to enjoy life in Banff. Going back to work is a little weird, but that's just because I've gotten used to doing things "when I want and how I want" - one of the joys of traveling solo! Missed the hubby of course, but excited to be home.

Hi Helen! I did it! I did it! I absolutely love mixing hiking and traveling. What can I say. It's definitely a unique way to travel, especially on such a long route. But what a way to see a country...
What's next is making some money to support the next adventure. I think I'd bet not bring up "the next adventure" with Keith just yet. :)

Hi Derrick! I'm well rested. I took 2 weeks to eat and sleep. It was awesome. Now, I've had 10 days of being sick - in addition to that. So, now not only am I rested but I'm raring to go!! This sickness is making me crazy. :) It's one thing to rest when it's your choice and entirely different when you have no choice. Put my body weight back on in no time as well. Rested.

Such an amazing adventure.

Thanks friends!

Olga said...

You know the title of this post threw me off a little, right? :) I am so happy for you - and so jealous too! By the time I take 2 months off...heck, by the time I make it to Banff, I'll be old and crooked!

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