Alright! It's been a while … and you ain’t heard yet!
So we head off, I'm still sore, and go into this grassland resembling the far west of our favourite westerns. ..
Well this heard of horses came rushing at us as soon as we set out. Pascal was quite nervous trying to impose himself with his voice and shooing the horses away. I must say, last time he got half his hand torn off so he has reason to be worried. Until they stopped getting closer Jimmy & I weren’t sure what was going to happen. I almost stepped over Pascal while not paying attention. I must say he stumbled and fell and we were on another set of concerns. But eventually the horses ran away and we carried on, just a bit more nervous but walking a good pace.
Then we started up the mountain, hills I know, but you carry all that material up and you'll say they're mountains too. On the way we crossed a creek. I wasn't going to make a fuss of that one. Besides he walked right over it and as I was following I didn't realize it was a creek until I had half the body over it. Anyhow, this crazy creek, nice shade, kept crossing the path. Once ok, twice alright but the third time Pascal did not see the crossing right away and I was NOT going to let him pass that by me. Well he told me I had to, he showed the right set of escalation, voice, gesture, slap on the behind … so as I was not moving he got out his rope, made it so I could only face the stream, and each time I let go to see closer, he took up the slack, never pulling but no slack. All right, I knew I'd had it, so I crossed and Jimmy jumped. Then he had to pack all that useless rope. He was a bit flustered so I managed to cross the next 5 or was it 3? anyhow all without fuss and even stepping right into the stream water. Ya, I know, I'm too good to him.
But he kept going even though after 5 miles we found a real cozy spot with grass where hikers were still enjoying the morning. No he had set his mind on an end point and he was going to get there wether we liked it or not. Well, I accentuated my limping, really, I think my tendons in my legs are sore and it's ok if I warm them up for a while, but after that they just act up. I'm trying to tell him but he'll hear none of it. I was ok for about 7 miles, but after that I started slowing down and stumbled once in a while. He's wondering if I'm putting on an act, but really I am stumbling.
Well finally we did get to his dirty water spot and had to go back to the trail to find grass and a flat spot for the tent. Slowly hikers came in and though a few did go on, we finally built up a motley group of quite fascinating people. It's nice to see what “atmosphere” each hiker carries with him or her. I find the guys in no too macho mind sets and gals not girls at all while remaining women. Nice to share a large pot of noodles with indian vegetable curry as a spice. He'd made lots so each of the 5 there at eating time got a bowl. Then he made hot chocolate as the night came on and between the guitar, the talk, … the silence of the night, feelings had time to mature into a comradeship. As usual, they all went to bed early and finally we poor donkeys got a chance to sleep.
Well, I slowed down the last 2 miles but we did finally make it. Once there and unloaded he put on our foot bracelets but did not tie us down. So we have this hill above the house to wander in, with bushes, secluded spaces and lots of grass. Pascal of course, instead of saying how useful we are in keeping lawns trim, just said we were good in case of fire hazard … not very class don't you think?
I must say, he did put water for us before taking a drink and saying hello to the “permanent” volunteers and the camp host Kushy. Some through hikers, stop here and in exchange of food and lodgings help get things done around the camp. I call it a camp since there is a main house, a sitting room garage and people in trailers and barns. Well usually, because since we've arrived we are only 7 or 8 around. The camp host and his “staff” serve breakfast & diner to hikers with the hope that they'll leave enough money to feed the next lot. Pascal leaves $10 a day just for toilets, water, stove use and a place to stay. But finally he gets also invited to eat what there is and he contributes by feeding people with his food as well. He made apparently crazy cookies, real mess ups, but the hikers loved them. Today after a good night's sleep he repaired Jimmy's panniers which were tearing on the inside this time, and then he started some bread. Apparently they're going to turn them into Calzone's with folded into them chorizo. A little onion soup to give flavour and that should become the evening meal.
What does it mean to be alone? To be silent with the universe, to be isolated from the bumps of the presence of others? What can you hear, feel, experience when you are alone? The vibrations of the universe become audible and you sense life in the wind on the flaps of your tent. Alone, is with yourself, so the world is here, now, present and intense. There is no complaining, no failing to see, since you are the only one that is here and now. How can you hide from something when you're alone? You can always see yourself coming, playing the game … or not … Alone with your consciousness, so what you live is what you are. Whether you like it or not, you are what you are … and have to live with it. But who am I after all? What have I become? What's going to make me like myself better? For I do love myself, after all only when you can love yourself can you start loving others. Otherwise you're in competition with the others always “better” than you. You enter the circle of endless discontent chasing after yourself.
|Kushy sits & discusses with through hikers|
You can tell it is NOT AT ALL the way Pascal had imagined our first 400 miles … but he is just as dependent on us as we are on him … well almost. The events of the trail is what dictates what happens. So he gets up perky and after checking me out, he fills the days with visits to us, helping out in the kitchen, but not really taking on projects. He negotiated a price per day so that he did not have to feel obliged. Nor does he eat unless asked. For that he is autonomous. He baked cookies & bread but neither were to be glamorous about. It wasn't bad and got eaten, did not conform to the “standards” of either cookie or bread making. You just have to like whole grains consistent bread.
|Trail angels ... solicit donations to help feed the hikers|
|Preparing to leave, gathering the gear ...|
A flow of hikers come in and out of this place like water down a stream … in droplet of course! Some get wet and stick around, others spend an hour and are on the trail again. Driven by the phantasmagoria monster of “Thru Hikers”, that mythical grail. Amazing how those humans can just get focussed on something and then just put all they have into it. It sure gets things done, wether they were useful, beneficial or plain worth while, that here is not the issue. The issue is the ISSUE as one might say. Words are interesting … No?
|Nature has sculptures ... we pass by|
There he is again, eating his trail mix, you know the big fruits that float on top of a fresh bag and then for 3 days you have to “eat the rest”. Munching and trying to type my thoughts as I much on fresh grass on top of my hill. He keeps drinking coffee and munching while I'm doing all the creative stuff. Humans are really fumy. It makes me want to roll on my back. He took my hobble bracelet off this morning and freed us at dawn so we feel quite free to go about. Even Jimmy was going to visit down at the house but got brought back, just like when yesterday he tried to follow hikers out onto the road. That's the only other issue up a steep stair case made of agglomerated corn grinding wheels or cut grinding stones.
Well the guys left the gates open so Jimmy insisted that we take a short walk. I keep telling him that my leg is not good yet, he urged me on so I stumbled with him. Pascal who had been looking at a very strange film about a guy loosing immediate memory … finally came to get us and we walked back slowly to camp. Each day I can use my leg a little more, after 3 days I can now stand on it and though I'm still not walking, I can go about and choose my food. Pascal gave us corn husks this morning and that was REALLY good.
Look at my sparkling shoes, …. just sent them when he called and asked that I try them. A gesture of not only corporate generosity, but a basic human reaction worth noting as a gift. He had talked to his donkey specialist in France, Martine; she told him to give me Bute as long as I was hobbling, an indication of pain most likely she said … ignorant! I can TELL you it's pain … at least in my head. Anyhow, these 00 fit me quite well, might even be not too large, that I'll see in a day or two, once I get used to them. A member of the community, my hero Gary, went the 24 miles needed to get them! And since, with the combination of drug and shoes, I'm almost, at times walking normally. If at the end of the day it's still the same, then the boots will have changed the situation. Not healed but … having progressed. At this time Pascal is thinking we'll stay the week. A couple of days to confirm, a couple of days to start taking walks, then a day with a couple of miles and then if all ok go the next day. … again useless speculations on his part.
|Look at my brand new shoes! Gina Landers ... THANKS|
RENEGADE HOOF BOOTS from Landers Industries in AZ
00 size fits and after 75 Miles I can say work very well
|and they fixed my limping by putting my foot|
in the right position, ... GREAT!
|Water tank at Mike's, essential for hikers|
|Cactus blooms, they comme in Yellow, Orange, Red ...|
|We eat Oat Hay & Alfalfa ... Thanks to Sherry Freeman|
she came 5 miles on dirt road to see if we were ok
He postponed our departure as Kushy is having his mother & daughter visit and asked him to meet them. So instead of heading out this morning, he brushed us and we went for a 4+ mile hike on the road. Not bad, I managed to end the walk without much of a hesitation on my right leg. I'm still a bit hesitant when going down hill, but on the flats and uphill I'm ok. As usual we stopped at the turn around point where there is grass up to our bellies and Jimmy just loves it. He is a marvel to watch grabbing as much top ends where all the seeds are until his mouth is full then chomping down to cut the grass and then gobbling down the sweet grass. After an hour of feeding Jimmy was still chomping while I was quietly resting in the shade. I must say, that grass beats the dry stuff we've had all our lives. Pascal keeps telling me of future mountains where there'll be even sweeter grass to eat … I let him talk but can't really believe him.
Meanwhile the days are getting hotter and apparently tomorrow is the day. Up before dawn and a morning hike, then an end of the day hike to try to get to the next water. We'll see. Have you figured out who is the boss? The trail … of course!
It is nice to rise out of the valley at dawn, the sun hits the opposite hill and down below is Mike's place, a little oasis amongst the scrub brush. Over the pass and into a new world. Now it's the far valleys with the desert sands at the bottom. Around the bend and we are now on a downward path for the next … 8, 10 … ultimately 25 miles. Jimmy is bravely carrying 80% of the load and I am prancing behind Pascal, pushing him a little in the climbs as he tends to slow while I like to speed up. Might as well since we have to go up, get it over with. Like kids I like to move when time is at moving … and have little concern about measuring out my energy. Pascal however is insuring I slow down in the steeper parts so Jimmy has time to negotiate the footing. Sometimes the trail is like a staircase of rocks. None of them seem to slow us down even if Pascal gets a little concerned about steep climbs or descents. Hell, we are donkeys, not slugs on only two legs.
|A blue bird we had not seen yet|
The welcome at the Paradise Valley Café was wonderful. They brought us water and we had a nice lawn to keep tidy. We made sure it was no longer going to be a fire hazard! Meanwhile he had a beer and a big, really big hamburger with hot peppers and fries. Each one his own, frankly I prefer the 5 different varieties of grass around here. Then the place closed down at 8pm and he crawled into his tent while leaving us out in the cold. This morning there was ice and it was freezing at dawn. To excuse himself he put us out in the field under a tree where the grass is almost reaching my belly. Delicious day of rest ahead even if he came around with his Blue Coat, the medication he puts on our cuts. Jimmy and I have had a couple of stress caused skin rashes, the Blue Coat does wonders drying it up and helping heal. We hate it, but when he did his thing, he smelled of that Dr Browner's soap, you know the one with the mint. He must have washed himself and his clothes in the sink that the owner gave him the key to. He's lost weight and that always makes him look older. But he's clean and that is no luxury, I tell you!
Then I guess, if he doesn't find an easier route, we'll just go over that hill and reach the Big Bear area in 10 days or so. I hope he has enough food. It's going to be cold up there but the days are warm, we are nearing the end of May now. He had a long talk with Nathalie, she really is a wonderful person. Their roads run different routes but they have a real contact as people. It is a treasure that needs to be protected from the hurts of life. Anyhow he now has no phone credit … until he can fill up via internet.
A word from my new friend Chery, which I share with you (go see her site!)
I invite you to visit my blog: Source Reflections
A man and two donkeys walked through my gate
He has chosen a path home to himself
It takes him to far corners of the earth
Into the harsh elements of nature
Some might call his expedition insane
Failing to grasp the depth of his searching
I see his dedication as valor
I am inspired by his devotion
He is a man on of mission of deep inner exploration
Each day a challenge to meet who he is
Alone with Mind and two donkey’s
To share his experiences with.
He has met the challenge of Ocean
Crossing in a sailboat from Panama to Tahiti
5000 miles of nothing but water and weather
Followed by months of living with the people of the islands.
Crossed Canada in a 400 lb. four-man canoe
Testing his strength and resolve
Nature again providing her challenges
Cold, snow, mud, wind, rough lake waters…all.
And now this journey of 15000 miles, LongEars2Chile,
Walking from Mexico to Oregon on the PCT
East on the Oregon Trail to the Continental Divide
South down the divide to Chile, SA.
Pascal, this fine French man who graced our table
Has claimed a new way of life,
Not merely an adventure.
A lifelong journey of self-discovery.
Meeting the challenges of each new day
With patience, gratitude and a smile
He slowly but surely
Is finding his way home.