I got an email from Papa Raven with a link to the weather warning, high winds, gusts to 70 mph. During the night I woke up to the sound of rain on the metal roof, it was still pouring at breakfast. I called another hotel to see if they had a room. We talked it over and decided to delay a day rather than start the final leg wet and cold and miserable. I emailed Papa Raven back the revised plan. We moved to the new hotel and went out for lunch. I got a phone call from the front desk telling me I had visitors–Mama and Papa Raven! A perfect way to spend a dreary afternoon in the rain, visiting with friends. One of the coolest things was learning that the day the family met us on trail near Whitewater Preserve was as uplifting for Mama Raven as it was for us, she went home happy. The trail family is real, you truly bond and make lifelong friends.
I arranged a shuttle to take us back to Scissors Crossing at 6:30 am. We needed to carry water for a 24 mile waterless stretch. This final 77 miles is filled with memories of the beginning 77 miles I hiked in 2015. I think because it was so new and exciting, hot and painful, I remember more details on this stretch than many others. I was learning about sketchy water sources, how much water I actually needed to have, trying to find tent sites that weren’t overrun with other hikers, meeting and leap frogging with people who I didn’t know if I’d see again, discovering the desert econiches that change with elevation and geology, and transitioning into now long familiar trail life.
And so we camped in a boulder field rocked by wind, then a soft footed campsite under oak trees blasted by wind and sand, and the last night a nice area high on the Crest just 11 miles from the border, the wall, the monument, the finish.
I am exhausted and my feet are painful from the first mile of the day through the last despite liberal doses of ibuprofen. I have been ready to be done for quite some time, determined to finish since the watershed moment between Reds Meadow and the Tulley Hole 900 miles ago. But like last year I don’t want it to end and know that, even at the advanced age of 63, I will start dreaming and planning and living the next adventure. Just as soon as my feet stop hurting.