Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to me!
Two years ago my birthday was during a 20-day silent vipassana retreat.
Last year it was on the John Muir Trail.
This year it is on The Long Trail.
Notice any patterns here? Alone in a quiet place. Embraced by Silence and Nature. A few good people around who were not chosen by me to be there. All delicious!
I don’t take a single picture all day… Never crosses my mind.

So… a favorite from a prior day…
Sherman was curled up about 7 last night. I stopped typing and lay down at 8. We awake at 5:30. First light. 9.5 hours. I’m sleeping better. Seems to be in single deep sleep cycles. I’m in a dream from which I wake. Remembering some. Turn over and back asleep.
Wilson is up and out by 7, trying to make about 16 miles today. Jim is headed for the next shelter, about 8 miles, an estimated 5.5 hours. It’s supposed to rain from 4a-4p or 6a-6p depending on the forecast. It’s 7, and no rain. Jim head out about 7:30. I’m packing. I’m wondering. I’m hesitating. I’m getting a hit to stay put today. To have a birthday.
I love listening to the rain. It would be a present to self to just stay here and meditate, listen to the rain, write and nap. I’m about 70% into the stay feeling when it starts raining. In 5 minutes, it’s raining heavily. Now I’m in 100%. We’re spending the day. I hiked in the rain last year on the JMT on my birthday. I’d rather listen. We’ll have plenty of other opportunities to walk in the rain before we’re done. So, I unpack and organize for the day.
During a lull I go fill up the water containers. Then make, eat and cleanup breakfast. Sweep out the Camp. Then meditate for an hour sitting on the porch floor, listening to the rain, with Sherman looking and sniffing at the porch opening. I then setup the bed. Cut up one of my solid fuel block. It breaks into thirds. Make tea and sit down to write. Sherman looking and sniffing out the door.
About 1, my hiking friend Lyric comes walking into camp. Sherman remembers her and runs up wagging. She wags back.
She’d spent the night at Spruce Ledge Camp with a man — whose name I forgot — and Oliver, his dog — whose name I remember. When Sherman and Oliver met on the trail yesterday – us going SOBO and they going NOBO — the dogs danced and pranced for a good 5 minutes. The friendliest either had been with other dogs to date. Oliver and human had been North Bound (NOBO) for 20 days. About 3 days from finishing. We’ve been South Bound (SOBO) for a week with 4-5 weeks to go!
Lyric remembers it’s my birthday and says she doesn’t know if she has anything to give me. Very kind, but not necessary. She brightens and says she has a mini-jar of Nutella. How’s that!? I accept and say I may not eat the whole jar, but will accept number of spoonfuls. I gluttonously do eat about half the jar. Damn it’s good. And, damn its’ rich. Could be used as icing.
We spend the next few hours talking about hiking, life, dogs, rain, schools, sleeping bags, being cold, the delicious feeling of toweling off with stream water and the end of sticky (much worse than stinky), food, allergies, hiking your own hike. Now that’s a good metaphor for life, eh? Hike your own life. Live your own life.
About 3 we all take a nap. Sherman curled up in his favorite sleeping spot–between my legs. I wake about 4:30. Take Sherman for a walk. We both pee. He’s feeling contained. All day in the camp and on the porch except for bathroom walks. For a moment I feel guilty, then remember tomorrow we’ll both have the opportunity to hike a bit over 8 miles.
Sherman ate a big lunch and dinner. His first time doing that. My dinner… Here’s how I do it. This is a trick I learned reading one of the couple dozen hiking memoirs I’ve read.
I have a plastic peanut butter jar from Trader Joe’s. In the morning I put some dehydrated vegetables, grain and a couple tablespoons of either dried spicy soup or dried Miso, also from TJs. This fills the jar about half full. I then put enough hot water in the jar to cover this plus an inch. As I’m packing up to leave I fill the jar to within a half inch of the top with water. This soaks all day and mostly hydrates the veggies and grain. The process of heating it at night finishes the cooking. Tonight I added a squeeze packet of Peanut Butter to the soup. That’s dinner! As dinner’s heating, I put some of my oatmeal mix in the jar with water overnight and it just needs warming up in the morning. This saves a huge amount of fuel. Less to carry. Anytime I can carry less of something, it’s a VERY good thing!
I had a lovely birthday. Thank you world.