The big kids have arrived! Paul’s older kids have joined us on the trail for 2 days and it is such a welcome respite for us all. Sara idolizes her older siblings, so she is overjoyed to have new energy in our midst. She is eager to show them all how strong and confident she is becoming, so she walks quickly, helps them set up their tents and tells them about all the things she has learned already on the trail. Her older sister Maya makes an elaborate fairy house with her out of sticks, acorns and leaves (a craft that I am actively called upon to recreate multiple times for the remainder of the trip) and we all relish in the community feeling of having people whom we love with us along this journey. Paul and I experience the brief respite of having divided attention, knowing that Sara is well loved and taken care of by her older siblings. For the first few days, we have had no one but each other and we have been Sara’s only source of entertainment and support. We cherish the few moments in which we don’t have to be fully “on.”
The big kids meet us in the Thousand Island Lakes region of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. It is truly breathtaking. Were it not for the killer mosquitoes, this place would be paradise. Fortunately, a gale force wind blows in the night the kids are with us, blowing away all of the mosquitoes and nearly taking our tents with it. It is a dramatic introduction to the elements out here.
The next day, we all hike together and my heart swells with pride to see Sara keeping pace with her older brother and sisters. She is loving the company and I am feeling grateful for their efforts in making it out to join us for this brief respite. Tomorrow, we will part ways, as they loop back to their car and we continue Southbound towards our first resupply.
When the morning comes and we all say goodbye, the three of us are fueled by our family encounter and we head off with happy hearts and renewed energy towards our first resupply. And the day proves to be the first of Sara’s power days. Having initially set modest goals for the trip, we planned to travel about 8 miles per day at a pace commensurate with her little legs. But she is on fire! We log our first 11-mile day and make it to Red’s Meadow by lunchtime. We are greeted by fellow hikers who all gasp in astonishment at the 6-year old hiker who is making history on the JMT. We pick up our resupply bucket, organize our food and head straight to the café, where we indulge in Double Bacon Cheeseburgers and Root Beer Floats.
We return, gluttonous, to the café for dinner and breakfast the next morning, where our server writes down Sara’s name in her record book. Our bellies full, our packs heavy and our spirits high, we return to the trail, unaware that this will be our last true encounter with good food, flush toilets and cell service. As decadent as our resupply is, we are eager to get back on the trail, back to our rhythms and back to ourselves.