My last morning on the mountain was calm and unhurried. I fetched water and ate breakfast in camp. I broke down my tent and stowed my gear methodically, making sure that everything was in its place. My body had complaints about the previous day‘s brutality, but I was soothed with the knowledge that I’d be home for a hot shower before dark.
R (our ride) and his grandson set out before us, explaining that he sets a slow pace, so we shouldn’t have any trouble catching up. We finished packing our bags and strapped them on. Our mood was tired but positive. It was a cool morning and we caught up quickly.
Our path turned down a side trail toward Eden Park, but we turned onto the Vista Ridge trail before long. The whole ridge was badly burnt, the trees dead and bare. The fire had curled most of the smaller trees and the limbs of their larger brothers, lending the forest a strange whimsy. Smaller plants and wild flowers were flourishing, and in a few places we saw young trees starting to rise.
It seemed oddly appropriate that we were walking through this rejuvenating stretch of forest after the setbacks and defeats we had suffered on the trail the day before. We talked amongst ourselves, trading stories and getting to know one another. The trail was mostly downhill too, which made it a swift journey.
We arrived early to our rendezvous at the trail head. R’s wife came an hour later and they drove us back to civilization. It was a long drive, but the mountain is beautiful and we were treated to lovely views. The first drive led to a second which got us up to the lodge. There we had a bathroom break to stretch our legs and then it was back in the car for the final drive home to Little Beirut.
We hiked the 40 miles that we had planned on, but we didn’t make it around the mountain. I took hundreds of photos of the mountain, wildflowers and the views. My body was tired and gear was dirty. It was a good trip, even with the grueling defeat. I’ll try again next year.
Here are my photos. On Monday, I’ll post an evaluation of my gear and preparations.