By the numbers:
Total miles hiked: 2338.4
Completion percentage: 88.17%
Expected completion date: 9/24
note: I’m writing this post from my phone as I do not have access to my laptop. As a result I’m not able to generate all the metrics I normally do.
The trail has a way of amplifying your emotional responses. Large events are commonplace and you tend to be more even keeled when they occur. Conversely, sometimes little things mean the world to you. This is a story of one of those small things.
As I hiked into the Burney Falls Guest Ranch I was excited because I knew I had a resupply box waiting for me that was sent from my college friend Brennan. As I hiked in I noticed a large cross that sat next to the main building as well as a few other religious statues. As it turns out, the retreat is run by a few devout Christians, and they have pretty strict rules for their guests, including a no-tolerance alcohol policy. After getting settled, I picked up my box and opened it to survey it’s contents.
As expected, the box contained all of the food I needed to make it to my next stop, but it also had a few other treats. Included was a fresh pair of socks, which I desperately needed, as well as a well protected beer. Not wanting to disrespect the rules of the retreat, I quickly packed the beer away without unwrapping it or even looking at what kind of beer it was.
The next day I set out to hike hat creek rim. It’s a notoriously arid section of the trail that only has pa single water cache over a ~30 mile stretch. On to of this there is very little shade and you spend most of the day hiking in direct sunlight. Naturally, it was over 90 degrees with clear blue skies when I hiked though. All of these factors make it a difficult section where you have to constantly be aware of your hydration level. Over the course of the day I drank nearly nine liters of water and only urinated twice. Basically all of the water I consumed that day exited my body as sweat.
After the sun started to set things cooled down a bit and I stopped for a break. While sitting in an ever-so-precious shady spot, I realized that I had not yet looked at what kind of beer I was carrying with me. Like a kid in Christmas I unwrapped the beer and after recognizing it, was completely overtaken by a wave of emotions. The beer was a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout; my favorite beer.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Brennan has the most impeccable memory of any person I have ever met. His ability to store an recall memories at will is unparalleled. We have kept in touch since college, but I don’t believe beer has been a topic of conversation for the the better part of a decade. After all of those years he was able to remember what my favorite beer was and was generous enough to track it down (it isn’t readily available in the US) and provide one for me. The term grateful does not even begin to describe how I felt in that moment.
Hiking through hat creek rim made for an arduous day, but getting to enjoy my favorite beer at the end made it bearable.