The end: Terrain is zipping by at a fantastic rate. By the time I finish recounting the last few days we will have traveled far more than a days walk. Really, it is a testament to our trek that it will take me twenty one hours at sixty five miles an hour in a strait shot to return to the latitude from which we set out on a wandering meandering path. Granted, that twenty one hours would be a little shorted if it weren’t on the Greyhound.
It was a mere three or four miles to the California Oregon border from our camp the last day. They went quick. Soon enough we found ourselves traversing a slope above “Donomore” meadows ascending to the line on the north side. We whooped and hollered. Dyl faced California and screamed out, “I just walked 1,700 miles and its the craziest thing I’ve ever done.” In many ways, however, I feel our jubilation was part obligatory. Just more evidence that the internal spiritual mental boundaries don’t coincide with the physical geographical ones. There were several times along the way that I felt those internal crossings. The most memorable for me was the evening descent out of the High Sierra into Tuolomne Meadows. In retrospect, I think I should have let myself go at those moments. Instead, my emotions were checked and packed away for later. They are still in there. Probably they will leak out continually here and there over the next few years. Possibly the damn will break and they will inexplicably rush forth at some awkward time. In the laundromat, the grocery. We will see.
“We were on a hike, now we are on a road trip.” Dylan made the official proclamation of the psychological end of the walk. We had maybe four miles until road twenty; and, we were quite conscious we could very well end up walking its thirty five mile length. Twenty minutes after hitting Jackson pass, for us named after the Wyoming town where the trip was conceived, we were dished up a red Mazda RX-7. It didn’t look like there was any room in the little hatch back; but, we stuck out our thumbs anyway. The motion could be analogous to pulling a slot lever. The result, in that case, being screaming lights and a crashing river of change. Jackpot.
Karen’s window rolled down and Michael hunched down to talk to us through it, “We would give you a ride but we really don’t have any room in this car. Where are you going?”
“To the Interstate.”
“Where are you coming from?” We plainly told them that we had begun walking over three months ago a the Mexican Border and that we were just now finished with our journey. They looked at us for a moment and promptly hatched open the hatchback. Mike offered me some advice, “Now Peter, when you meet the president it’s important to get your suit dry cleaned and pressed.” We road tent style, accumulating a thick layer of dust, to the junction with a road to a junction with the road to Hyatt Lake. It quickly became apparent that the Higgins’s were going to go neck in neck with Ashley for the most hospitable people on earth title. They offered to buy us a celebratory lunch in Ashland. We couldn’t refuse. In the coarse of the meal Mike offered to house us for the night and loan us the identical twin to the RX-7 for zipping over to Hyatt Lake. So, by the afternoon, we were showered and fed and had spent some quality time screaming around mountain roads in a red sports car. At dinner, Mike mistakenly popped open a 1973 bottle of wine. We were grateful but informed him that we were actually born in ’72. The next night, our invitation extended, he remedied the gaff with a ’72 “Actually,” he informed us, “’72 was a poor year in California and in Europe.” So, we are destined to drink bad wine on our birthdays if we are going to do it right. We had a lot of fun with those two over the three days we stayed there. Although, the jury may still be out of Mike and Dyl’s pizza cook off. They told us they were recently retired, had relocated to their country home, and were quite lonely. We were company and it was fun for them too. Johnny Cash was sold out but we decided to try our luck anyway. We walked up the steps right into some guy selling two seated tickets at less than the box office price. Right as Johnny was kicking in and I had a chance to sip my beer a little, I commented to Dyl, “Man, these are great seats we really got lucky runnin’ into that guy.”
“We’re glad you like them.” Startled, I turned to see, on my immediate left, the guy that sold us the tickets and his smiling wife. We even ran into Ashley and the gang from the bar. He declined the drink we offered him but did take up our offer to go sit in one of the good seats for a spell. Mike made an excellent cheesecake to celebrate Dylan’s birthday. He also gave us a ride to the Medford bus station at three thirty a.m.. It’s funny in a way that such a drawn out wilderness experience did so much to restore our faith in the good nature of humanity. We didn’t see too many people but 100% they were fabulous.
The oath was signed in the Hyatt Lake trail register. We will return July 19th, 2020 to walk the nine hundred remaining miles to Canada. Twice as old as we are now, forty eight. No one believes we will wait that long.
There is a little boy in the seat across the isle. He reached out and touched the pacifier on my trail necklace. I found it lying on the trail side one day. Blue for a boy. His comment to his younger sister was lost to me because of language difference. He returned his gaze to me and I showed him the only other object on the necklace. A bone.