“I think we should play a game.”
I was deep in thought when Sprout suddenly spoke up. It had been another long day and we were pushing into the evening after taking a nap to wait for the hottest part of the day. It was going to be another late night and we had to be up early the next morning to beat the heat again. We were also relying solely on water caches at this point, as there were no natural water sources in the area. Without the help of benevolent souls (aka trail angels) who maintained these caches of water, we would have had to carry enough water to sustain us for 36.2 miles. In addition to these circumstances, Sprout had experienced disturbing pain in his foot (which thankfully has since improved).
It was as if this last part of the desert was testing us – were we really made for this trip?
As Sprout’s words brought me back to the present, I grounded myself in the natural beauty of my surroundings. The sun had set, leaving behind beautifully blended blue and pink pastel layers and a nearly full moon in its place. The Joshua trees that dotted the landscape cast strange shadows on the path; the Mojave could be inhospitable at times, but there was no doubt that it was beautiful in its own sense.
“What kind of game? ” I asked. Sprout replied, “Have you ever heard of ‘Rose, Bud, Thorn’? I think it would be fun to share our thoughts on the trip we had.
Although I was reluctant at first, I agreed to participate. We were both familiar with this type of activity, as it was the kind of stuff we had used before in outdoor education programs (and don’t forget, we met doing exactly that kind of stuff).
Sprout jolted my memory and reminded me that “rose” is a particular thing that stuck with you, “bud” is something you look forward to, and “thorn” is a challenge you’ve faced.
So there you have it – my “Rose, Bud, Thorn” from this trip so far:
Pink – I have reached the exact spot where I was previously supposed to come out of the PCT with my dog Lily. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t sure if I would set foot on this trail again – and more specifically, on this particular section of the trail that held so many memories. Turns out I was able to walk this section again and keep going after reaching this memorable spot!
Bud – I look forward to the challenges that are sure to present themselves on this next section of trail through the Sierra. I learned so much about myself through the desert (on both occasions) and realize that there are many more learning opportunities to come.
Spiked – Life on the track is constantly in motion; the views change, the people around you change, and the trail challenges you in unexpected ways. In my particular case, I juggle additional responsibilities such as trying to walk the trail with little litter and removing litter from the trail. Finding balance is something I often struggle with, both on and off trail, and this ride presents me with plenty of opportunities to grow in that area.
So there you have it – my thoughts on the first 700 miles of trail. Now is the time to step into the bigger mountains ahead of us and leave the desert behind. I look forward to sharing new adventures with you soon and as always, happy trails.
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