The weather has reverted to the usual dry sunshine around here. But a few days ago, there was another snow storm on the trail. I hiked close enough to the next town – Wrightwood, California – that I would arrive the day of the storm, walking only a few hours in the snow.
As I ascended, clouds mustered up the valleys to my left and right. Outstripping me, they came together and attacked, with bloated flakes that blew sideways and hung on the trees at strange angles. I made it into town just in time and spent the night at a hostel where the eccentric owner housed a large pig in her kitchen – I am not sure if it was a pet or being fattened up for the table!!
The next day, I hiked out into the fresh snow and battled my way up Mount Baden Powell, the highest regional peak. It was my first time hiking over real snow drifts, the kind that devours the trail and leaves you guessing directions.
I learned several lessons, including not to trust footprints. Hikers ahead may have been as clueless as you are and fallen prey to the universal human inclination to go down. I also learned how the gluteus maximus is a great airbag when you’re sliding down snow towards a tree!
The views from the summit of Mount Baden Powell dispelled all the troubles I had getting there. The highest clouds were just above, within outstretched fingertips it felt, and the searing white snow gave way to duskier desert as the land fell away. I stayed for a while, delighting in all points of the compass.
Moments like these help me focus on the beauties all around me and how privileged I am to be able to to take on this wonderful challenge.
Never far from my thoughts, however, are the troubles of my fellow Zimbabweans and I hope that what I am doing will draw attention to their plight and encourage people who read this to give generously to support the wonderful work of ZANE.