I have decided to combine days 29-31 into the last blog for our John Muir Trail Plus hike. It is an epilogue, of sorts. Getting to the top of Mt. Whitney on Day 28 was an emotional high and feels like the right place to stop. But it wasn’t the last day – we still had to get to the trailhead at Cottonwood Pass and on top of it, had added a day of food at our resupply in Independence, CA so we could take a scamper day in Miter Basin.
Day 29 was tough, psychologically. Mt. Whitney was the culmination of the trip and emotional high where I unraveled and became a puddle of strings. Day 29 was the day after and I felt like I was picking up the puddle of strings and trying to make some tidy knots. Day 30, on the other hand, was a scamper day where we went off trail and explored Miter Basin. Although this was officially after the John Muir Trail it turned out to be one of my favorite days. We really got solitude, big expansive views and enjoyed ourselves immensely scrambling around. It feels like a bonus on a test and I think of it as a bonus day. I felt very “connected”.
What I really noticed in the final few days was that we had been out so long that we experienced the change in seasons. The mornings were cold and it felt like Fall was here, at least at above 10,000 feet where we were camped the last few days. When we started in late July it was light until 9pm (and 98 degrees in Yosemite Valley). By the end of our trip, at the end of August, it was dark by 7:45 pm and cold at night. I noticed currant berries ripe on the bushes in late August that when we started in July were bushes in a bloom of flowers. We went through a full moon cycle and were finishing with almost a new moon with little light.
Day 31 was a pensive day as it was our last day and hike out. I thought back on our hike and was sad to think about it being over. I realized I have gotten attached to this place. I contemplated how we in our world recognize the value of “belonging” to a community and to other people but we are very detached from “place” or recognize the importance of respecting and loving place as much as loving other people. I will forever love the Range of Light (Sierra Nevada range) so eloquently described by John Muir and am forever changed. We will be back.