A Blistered Kind of Love: One Couple's Trial by Trail (Barbara Savage Award Winner) by Angela & Duffy Ballard

A Blistered Kind of Love: One Couple's Trial by Trail (Barbara Savage Award Winner) by Angela & Duffy Ballard

Author:Angela & Duffy Ballard
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Publisher: Mountaineers Books
Published: 2003-09-18T16:00:00+00:00

From Tuolumne Meadows, the PCT reclaims its independence from the John Muir Trail. While the JMT continues west for twenty-seven miles to Yosemite Valley, the PCT enters a difficult but spectacular section of glacier-carved wilderness. Chris and Stacey had decided to follow the JMT to Yosemite Valley, where a ranger friend offered them an empty house and fully stocked fridge for the weekend. I’d never seen them so excited. We were excited in our own right, but cautious. Angela’s knee was feeling much better, but while I wondered whether this was because it was completely numb from forty-eight hours of icing, she was anxious to test it on the trail. This was risky. We didn’t have another re-supply scheduled until Echo Lake, 150 miles and at least six days away. We struggled with the decision, recognizing the risk, but one does not finish the PCT by being risk-averse. So we decided to set off again toward Canada, knowing that at any moment we might be forced to turn back.

Our first stop was at Soda Springs, where carbonated spring water actually bubbles from the ground. Mixed with Tang, this minor miracle of nature made for a delicious trail soda. Our first six miles out of Tuolumne were easy walking. The only disadvantage of the gentle grade was that it allowed for a large collection of sun-hat and white tenny-clad tourists. After months of solitude on the trail, their presence made me feel like I was in a shopping mall rather than protected wilderness. And given our hulking packs and trekking poles, I wasn’t so sure that we ourselves weren’t part of the attraction. Catch-23 wrote about this phenomenon in his trail memoir:

“All day we got inquisitive looks from Japanese tourists and old people in motor homes; it was pretty funny, being a tourist attraction and all. We joked about tour bus narrators giving a speech over the intercom: ‘Ok folks, if you be real quiet we might just catch a glimpse of The Western Long Distance Hiker, they’re known to frequent these parts. Let’s try their mating call, Buffet! Buffet! All you can eat! Look folks! There’s one now on the left side of the coach. Excuse me, sir, in the back, please do not feed the distance hiker.’ ”

After passing Glen Aulin, the trail reverted to its familiar roller coaster pattern and the tourists were suddenly, magically, gone. Even though we’d started well after ten in the morning, we covered nearly twenty miles that day with nary a whimper from the Wounded Knee Walker. Miraculously, over the next several days, Angela’s knee remained relatively pain free, and we made good progress toward Sonora Pass. On July 7 we crossed a steel bridge over the West Walker River and continued several miles to Kennedy Canyon. This was just another small stretch in a thirteen-hour hiking day, but it contained an important landmark: one thousand trail miles, Campo to Kennedy Canyon. I recalled the words of Fish at Mono Creek, “Once you’ve made it a thousand miles, that’s it, you’re done.


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