Day 78 (Pete)

The Hat Creek Rim, besides being dry hot and dusty, is ground for a nice spell of walking. To the south is Mount Lassen. To the north hulking Mount Shasta. Last night it emerged out of the dusk haze. Its presence is overwhelming. Though I had not read the guide and had little idea what lie ahead, I immediately gasped, “Shasta.” It dominates everything around to such a degree that I was shocked we had not been able to catch views of it previously. To the vest, off the lip off the rims long ago halted lava flow, lies the Hat Creek Valley. The entire region lies on lava. Last evening, on our way out from Old Station, ewe detoured over to the Subway Cave. It is a long tunnel, caused by water flow, that occasionally breaks the surface. The likeness to a subway tunnel in size and shape is remarkable. Unfortunately, our head lamps were back in our packs, hidden under a bush by the main trail. Over the coarse of 2000 years the porous black rock of the region has degraded enough to allow some sparse vegetation. Most trees and shrubbery on the rim were consumed in a forest fire. A bit of a surreal landscape.

Lunch turned into a protracted nap time. It was really quite hot and we were unable to leave the protective shade of two large fir trees. Were just taking it slow anyhow. I don’t have much of a choice. It took my feet about two miles, once we got started, to be pounded into submission allowing for a normal walking speed. The only eagerness pushing me forward was a desire for a water source. We had come off the rim and were making out way on towards a stream. There was enough water to drink. We know enough now to not let that fall short. In order to minimize the load, however, there is none spare. My feet are extremely dirty and dry. It’s like having socks of fine grit sand paper. Toward the trickle of a creek there was a large metal water pipe. Most of the precious stuff, it seemed, was reserved for someone else. A puncture hole provided a small high power jet from which to drink, wash skin and cloths, stick our faces in, and generally laugh about. It was kind of a magical moment.

Tomorrow, in a sense, is the big day. Dyl will decide our fate based, partly, on hours of phone calls he plans to make to Camella and his Uncle, a doctor. Camella needs to be off work to receive the call; so, no need to rush to Burney. Its really quite apparent which way the man is leaning. I can’t blame him and, in fact, made that clear to him. Just now at dinner he did confide in me his probable choice. We have gotten out of the trip what we set out to. The was we see ourselves and the world has changed considerably. For me especially, not making it provides the greatest and most profound lesson. I really can’t do everything I set my mind to. Furthermore, and more importantly, that’s OK. Ambition is a starting point. Fulfilling half of it mat be seen as a short coming. It is half more than not trying. More so, it is not really half at all. It is a complete experience in and of itself. It has much to offer an undissapointed and open mind. However far we go is the whole way. These stories unfold as they progress. The plot twists are always unexpected. Sometimes, the most surprised are the authors. It can require patience. This story will not be complete for another twenty-three years. July 19 2019, at the ages of forty-eight and forty-seven, Dyl and I will set out for Canada from our upcoming end point. This is, perhaps, a far greater challenge to set for oneself than to spend four and a half months of youth walking the whole way. The challenge is not just the limiting physicality of aging; but, the distance of time and personality between now and then. I pointed out that in another twenty-four years one of us could be a fat politician and the other a homeless wino. There is nothing to do but wait and see.

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