down & out

morning from Bishop Lake
High Sierras — This morning we hiked down from Bishop Lake and out past South Lake into a parking lot.

The morning in camp was beautiful and quiet. Down the valley the sky was light yellow, the distant mountains dark purple. The hike was downhill past a series of small lakes and soggy green meadows, followed by a last dry, dusty descent to the finish.

I took off my pack with relief, but also with some sadness. The closer we came to the end of the trail, the more day-hikers we saw, and the world of through-hikers, of people living on the trail – and their unspoken camaraderie and easy friendliness – slipped further and further away. In the parking lot, the cars seemed too big, too easy… and then suddenly we were done, moving fast without effort, mountains behind glass, not just distant, but now unattainable.

Whenever I finish anything that seemed big when I started, I realize I may never do it again. That may have been it. Did I get from it, did I give to it, all that I could?