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PCT day 18: beginner’s mind, shmeginner’s shmind

I admit: I am frustrated by the learning curve I’m traveling on this trail. I thought I had the skills I needed. But: this morning we stop for water a few miles into the day, at a pretty little lake. When I’ve rounded the corner, I see another hiker on the lakeshore, packing up his stove. Backup and I drop our packs twenty feet away and say good morning.

“I’ll yield a bit of shade to you,” the hiker says, moving a bit further away from us. 

“Oh, I’m still really enjoying the sun!” I say, and I pull out my water filter and set to work gathering and filtering water. 

A little bit later the hiker gathers his pack and heads out. As he passes, he says, with a bit of sarcasm, “Nice sharing this lake with y’all.”

Ok, ok, at first I am offended because what is with these passive aggressive jerks, eh? But this is twice now I’ve pissed hikers off by quietly existing in the same space as them. Backup, when pressed, tells me (more or less) that my city social skills do not serve me well in the backcountry. “People come to the backcountry to be alone.” When I protest that I needed water, he tells me I should have made conversation in that case. I am so frustrated with myself and these people and these rules I don’t know. 

“What happened to ‘beginner’s mind’?” asks Backup, and I stew in my frustration for a while longer, upset with him and myself. 

Ike catches and passes us in the morning, and then Wallace catches us and the three of us hike together for a while, chatting about the trail and what we eat and vegetarianism. We’re in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and we do indeed pass alpine lake after alpine lake. By early evening we’re all spread out again, and Backup and I climb the switchbacks to Pieper Pass alone. There’s a beautiful view of Glacier Peak over Glacier Lake, and a perfect snack stop rock halfway up the climb. Yesterday I told Backup that my goal for this section was to not stress out. I’m trying hard to be cheerful.

We catch up to Ike and Wallace at Desolation Lake, but they’re hiking on and we’re stopping for the night. There’re a ton of folks camped nearby, but we manage to find an empty spot tucked away up above the lake. Dinner, blog, bit of reading (Fahrenheit 451), sleep. 

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