I wake up to bird song . A LOT of bird song . The dawn chorus is more a dawn anthem . The sunrise beyond the distant mountain peaks has set the sky on fire . The tall pines dark sharp sillouetes . The first thing i do today is smile . By the goddess , its good to be alive .
I make my breakfast quietly and pack down my gear , before giving Gus a little whistle to check he is awake . Then im off into the morning , the fresh , free , inviting morning . I walk the first two miles through steep banks of snow and the shadowy realms between the great dark trees . The woods here also contain a lot of fallen debris . Slow going . One step at a time .
The pathway turns , the snow melt slips away and i am on the opposite side of the mountain , the west face , where the mid day sun has melted away my dilemas . After a couple of hours i come into cell reception and stop for a tea break . Gus arrives minutes later , and we wag the chin for a wee mo’ before heading back onto an altogetherly more positive trail . Its only another ten miles ,and we know we can be in town for late lunch if we dont start dawdelling .I could do with an ice cold can of juice .
More miles and the snow returns , in shaded groves of trees the path once more becomes trecherous and the going becomes slow , each section of snow i find myself quietly hoping for it to be the last that i will encounter .
The sun is beating down by noon time , and I come to a section of snow that is so steep that i look for an alternative route across . I drop down low to see if there is a way around the steep banks , but come across only a rocky precipice that is unnegotiable , so i have to go back upto the path . Now i see a new dilema , the return climb is almost a verticle climb , and with no options i begin to assend slowly kicking foot holds in the now soft snow . Im using my hands to claw into the snow above me , pulling myself up a foot at a time . I slip down and throw myself onto the wall of snow to slow my slide and mercifuly i stop the decent . My face is an inch from the snow and i can taste my cold breath as i heave my pack and my self up the last two meters to where there are some footprints and a way around this gnarly old mountain. Just a few strides and im on the other side , back on a dry and sunny pathway , back with the birdsong and back with the company of tall green trees . I breath , wipe the sweat from my sun glasses and proceed onwards in an orderly fashion . Keep calm and carry on .
Im striding down the last three miles , i know now that im truly , both literally and metaphorically ‘out of the woods’ .
I put on my headphones and listen to Kermit the frog singing ‘ The rainbow connection’ and im laughing out loud , because i know im just a little part of this whole wondeful world . In the car park at the trail head is a mother changing her babys diper on the boot of her car . She gives me a lift into town. As im apologising for the rancidity of my socks she tells me about the local wildlife . Her brother is an owl caller , and sings to the owls at night , to what end im not sure , but its good to listen to someone elses enthusiasm for nature for a while . She drops me outside the Hiker Hilton , where i spend a delicious afternoon on Dave and Vickys lawn . He sparkles when i tell him im from Wales and tells me that he was evacuted to Llandudno during world war two . He gets a little misty eyed , and later suggests that we sing ‘The men of Harlech’ I tell him that im not sure of the words , but could possibly sing him some Creedance Clearwater Revival if he would like .
I shop and find my ice cold juice . Later at the hostel with three other hikers (‘Yes’, ‘Peaceful Warrior ‘and ’30-30’) we drink a couple of beers and share slow motion action replays of our worst slips and slides . The others have storys that both match and exceed my own experiences . Later , I decide that i will skip the next section that is snow bound and take a bus to Dunsmuir tomorrow morning , rejoin the PCT and try walking a hundred miles to Burney Falls . My feet are so deeply grateful that they offer me another beer . Well , how could i refuse ?