You may know that I sometimes have a difficult time keeping track of belongings. So far I have lost: sunglasses, my girlscout bandana, and my sun dome umbrella. I am always angry with myself when I misplace my gear but I was fetching angry when I broke camp on May, 16th, only to find that my sun umbrella was missing. I had planned to hike into Warner Springs that day and wanted to hike the sixteen miles to the post office before they closed for the day.
I knew that my umbrella must be no further than six miles south of my camp because I had taken a nap and a photograph of it at a landmark called the first gate. There is a pipe cattbyle gate at that point on the trail. I had camped that night at the third gate, which is famous for being well supplied with water for thirsty hikers. Water is scarce along
the trail in this section.
Because I had access to water and because I could’t imagine hiking across the Mojave Desert without it I decided to hike south in an attempt to recover it. I could have hidden my pack to hike lighter but I am somewhat apprehensive about leaving my “child” behind unattended.
Mile after mile I walked looking in the brush and over the canyon ledges with no luck. I made my way sadly to the first gate with a sinking heart. It was gone. I turned heading north once again toward Canada.
I was angry with myself all day long. It was fitting punishment to hike, six, well twelve more accurately, extra miles as a lesson. I walked all day in the heat. It must have been 100 degrees that afternoon. The trail crosses several cow pastures before coming to Warren Springs. I was detained by six dairy cows climbing into the hills. Their udders were full of milk and the kicked am incredible amount of dust as I walked behind them. And were they slow! They would stop and look at me at every bend in the trail with their lovely brow eyes. I clapped my hands and shouted, “Let’s go girls to Canada.”. Finally, they moved off the trail allowing me to pass them by.
Just as the sun set I heard the coyotes howling. I came to this enermous field all golden in the sun set. There were Ravens scattered among the hills black and mysterious against the golden grass. My presence disturbed them from their roost and one after the other they took to the sky. It uplifted my spirit to hear their coarse call and to see the simplicity of their evening routine. It wasn’t until the moment of watching the Common Ravens that I forgave myself.
I hiked into the night making camp about a mile south of Warren Springs. I would get to the post office before they opened at 8 am and organize my gear. Also, I learned from a notice posted on the trail that there was a community center open to hikers from 1pm until 5, where we could rest and charge our phones.
The next day I picked up my box, organized my gear and headed to the community center. I opened the door only to find Lightweight sitting at a table, his nose plugged with tissue, eating a burger and fries. “Hey, Birdy! Did you loose your dome?” he asked.
Lightweight, a hiker from Colorado, whom I had met on the first day of my hike did for me four favors. Finding my umbrella and hiking it into Warren Springs was the fourth act of kindess he did for me.