I am not a hiker. Give me any road in the country, a sunny day, 100 miles of green lushness or red mountains and a bicycle and heaven has been presented on a silver plater. But suddenly 15 miles of seemingly millions of steps, up and over passes and mountains, and suddenly I question the effeicently of my own two feet. This summer was again expected to be filled with 8 ice cream eating teenagers on a west to east cross country bicycle touring adventure through the unexpected towns and inhabiters of America. But things don't always pan out like the linear line we foresee futures to be, and so...moving forward and onwards to a very long walk. 19 days of becoming friends with rocks and trees, this 220 mile trail will require rationing M&M's with my German counterpart at the highest peaks in California. This blog is once again taking a detour deep into the grand Sierras, onto a trail that is so very very famous I'm afraid my cell phone might just have a bar of juice to upload the thrilling details of strawberry lip gloss eating bears, scenery only seen by tired feet and sore muscles, and stories that grab strangers' ears with awe.
I grew up in Los Angeles, sprawled cement city, without a tree in site. The treehouse deep in the woods I dreamt to live in at an age when Santa Clause still existed, came with hot dinners and ice cream at night, a warm bed, where the big bad wolf only existed in nightmares and bears called themselves Smokey and Yogi. But the actuality of facing the biggest fears still awaits. It is not the daily milage or lack of clean undies and socks that is to all a bit daunting. You see, it was about 23 years ago my 5 year old self was camping with the toughest outdoorsy man alive, my father. Shrinking to the size of a worm deep in my sleeping bag, a bear rummaged through our precious food canister. "Get the ax," my mother gasps. What lay between my pajamas and death were only the fluffy down sleeping bag feathers and a thin sheet of royal blue nylon tent. I survived that night, but lay ridden with post traumatic bear syndrome 23 years later.
Once again walking through bears' front yards in a mere 48 hours is a reminder that no solid adventure, no matter how terrifying or brutal or beautiful, can be passed up.
- Kristen Gentilucci