Into the Wild - Page 6
Day 6. I sleep in, until the sun rises above the trees and casts its light and heat on my tarp. I take my time with breakfast in Big Meadow, because morning is as much of a stunner as last night. I march the last 24 miles up and over two, final mountain passes and across the shoulder of Freel Peak. The TRT passes mighty close to this peak but I’m strapped to the trail by exhaustion. The thought of extra mileage is too much.
There, I encounter another woman, Sara, my only meeting with another solo, female TRT thru-hiker. We chat for about 15 minutes. She’s not carrying a cell phone, so I lend her mine so that she can check in with her mother. She’s amazed that I will have looped the lake in less than five-and-a-half days, and I am amazed that these 170 miles are her first-ever backpacking trip. She has many days to go on her journey, but she exudes a humble confidence that I think will see her trip through. I help her; she encourages me; we continue our respective journeys. We never go totally alone.
At Star Lake, located at 9,000 feet and surrounded by hemlocks, I muster the energy to strip down and swim. A few hours later, I arrive to the Kingsbury South Trailhead. I don’t talk to the trailhead sign because, this time, people are reading it. Instead, I place my hand on its rough wood, bringing my journey to a literal full circle. It’s anticlimactic yet somehow appropriate that no one I know is here to welcome me back.