Up with dawn this morning , i left the cover off the tent and just slept with the mosquito net over me . I still get a little claustrophobic when i cant see the sky . Last night was a perfect night of peace . As far as the eye could see there was stillness and harmony . So i wake with an inner lightness . I still have 10miles to cover of this waterless section , and i have less than a litre , so i make the most of the early morning cool and start my walk as the dawn chorus is just kicking off .
Im on the trail about an hour when i find a very small cache of water , just a couple of gallons ,but an extra litre is enough to see me over the last couple of furlongs . As im filling up the water bottle , a very happy skunk comes (literally) skipping along the road . I dont know if he is in a hurry to get somwhere , but there is a very deffinate bounce in his step . He is , as i am , a bit suprised to see me , looking back at him , and not quite knowing what to do by way of introduction . Mr Skunk , takes a step back and i notice his magnificent stripes . I notice they go all the way up his very proud and , dare i say , erect tail . ‘Ahhh !’i think to myself , ‘I seem to rememeber that Mr skunk is the owner of a rather unique and powerful means of self defense.Maybe i should show him all the outward courtesy and respect that he calls for .?’ I take two steps backwards and smile calmly and broadly . This seems to satisfy my new friend . He puts down his tail and slowly gives me the ‘once over’ . He , now satisfied, turns his attention to some trees and takes a little detour to his morning ramble. I ,satisfied he is on his merry way again , attempt a couple of unsuccessful attempts at a photograph . How i love this !
It puts a spring in my step . Im wondering as i walk if being ‘a bit of a stinker’ is sometimes the best method of defence on the path . Im not sure it suits everyone , but i know a few friends who swear by it .
I walk and find a nice rythm . Im settled into the first part of the day . I wander the rim pathway for a happy hour or two , im pushing for a little stop called Old Station where you can get a burger before 3pm . With this motivation I make good time , coming into the little settlement around noon . I sit on the back patio and sip cold beer , txt-ing my family the thrills of my owl encounter . They are happy that I am happy , and as the sun shines down on me , and my muscles unwind , i feel a little lightness make its way inward . This could clearly have been due to the 7%Hexaginal beer im been drunkendin but i am liking be to think it is not maybe ..
Im getting a hitch from one of the chefs at JJs Cafe . She drops me at the RV park where i can shower and charge my phone . Im not keen to pay the high camping price of 25$ for the night , so decide to walk a few miles into the woods to pitch up my tent .
Im so glad i did . Im so so glad .
The pathway is a nice easy gradient , and the trees and woods just perfect in this light . Im watching the pathway as i go when i hear a loud cracking of branches upahead to my left about twenty meters . There , right there , is the Bear . They are shy and elusive creatures and so i was aware that this meeting may be fleeting , and it is . The Bear has turned tail and is bomping off as far and fast as those little legs will go . I try for the camera , but its all too quick . I see just the russet flanks and the white bob-tail bouncing away , back to the sanctuary of the deeper forest. I stand a few seconds heart racing before i put the camera down . Im amazed at how quickly i file this as another ‘trail experience’ and start back on my way .
A mile or so later , I pull into yet another excellent campsite . A wild heavy flowing river gushes down boulders only meters from my tent .
As the last light of day passes through the trees i decide to honour my idea of marking my journey . I had promised myself if i ever got about half way along the PCT i would hug a tree and someday (“maybe not tommorow , but someday..”) i will attempt a southern bound hike from the Canadian border and meet the same tree , and honour the journey with another hug .
Its all a bit awkward at first , but after a little look to check no bears are watching (and giggeling) behind the bushes , i put my heart into the moment , and find relief pouring through me . A Druidic brother of mine comes into my heart, whispers ‘The mystery of Arthur !’ and is gone .
Ive been following Ursa major through my journey (or has it been following me ?) Its also known as the Big Dipper , the saucepan ,and traditionally in Britain is also known as The Great Bear . Some scholars have postulated that we have derived the name Arthur from the Latin Arcturus (the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, near Ursa Major or the Great Bear which is the latinisation of the Greek Αρκτοῦρος (Arktouros) and means “Guardian of the Bear”.Classical Latin Arcturus would also have become Art(h)ur when borrowed into Welsh, and its brightness and position in the sky led people to regard it as the “guardian of the bear” and the “leader” of the other stars. (Wikipedia)
There is also a story of how Arthur lies under a great hill asleep , surrounded by his knights . One day again to awaken to come to the aid of Britania . The once and future King.
Me , the Owl and the Bear.
Tonight Im healed by the flowing of the waters . I awake in the middle of the night and feel the sound rushing so close to me that it surrounds me ,engulfs my senses and draws out the great heat of the day . I focus on the sound , I enter deeper into the river , returning to the source .