Erica's thoughts 22-30 August:
I'm used to the tune of my days being set to the metronome of an Ashtanga yoga practice, daily meditation keeping me steady, beating, strong with a definite pace and tone.
Out here on the trail the pace setters are the mountains.
On my mat I inhale raising my arms up; exhale folding myself down; inhale look up, exhale jump back, inhale upward facing dog, exhale downward facing dog.
However, in the mountains we inhale up to the pass and exhale down to the valley below; we wake up with the sun, and lie down as it goes down; we set up camp and break it down; we take our washing down to the river, and back up to its banks to dry; we batten down the hatches when the rains come, and open them up when the sun returns; and this rhythm, this dressage, keeps us steady.
Hiking these mountains is much like yoga practice, it is training. We discipline ourselves to face discomforts and challenges so that we can conquer discomfort when it inevitably comes our way, allowing us to face life's ups and downs.
Not just so that we soothe something in ourselves, but that ultimately we become stronger mentally and physically.
With that in mind, I'm ready to face the ups and downs this next week will undoubtedly bring - in the terrain, between Justy and I, in my own emotions, in the weather - I know I can bare it. This is what I train for.
Justyna's thoughts 22-30 August:
Before we left Independence last week I talked to my partner Wojtek a few times, and I haven't since then. That's the difficult part of this trip. We are used to being apart, but we have an established routine of calling each other and connecting in the morning and evening each day. Now I don't even know how many days have passed since we've spoken or what day of the week it is today. But last time we talked we were planning our upcoming climbing time in Yosemite that will take place straight after Erica and I finish this hike. There we will stay for another 6 weeks. Wojtek has been training for over a year for that. I admire his dedication and honest approach to climbing. He mentioned Ron Kauk and his words: "Expand your spirit, not your ego."
On top of Mt. Whitney I heard people saying that they were the tallest people in America. It made me think of how differently people face challenges. Completing a challenge can make people feel special, but there is so much that can be missed if we only focus on pushing to get there. In places like this we are allowed to discover, explore and appreciate our surroundings more than ever before.
On top of Mather Pass we bumped into an older man who immediately began to tell us stories. He was around when the Yosemite's legend was born and climbed with some hard-core climbers of the time. In that moment I realized I never want to make my dreams wait. I felt, quite intensely, he was a sign to remind me of this. He looked straight into my eyes and said: "These mountains are alive and they are looking at you right now." And I knew it was true. It is what I always feel. You might call thinking this way some kind of craziness, but it is what is so familiar to me.
I feel more and more connected to nature. My senses are sharpened. I shower every day in the freezing cold water of rivers and lakes and that's enough for me. In these two weeks I've seen my face just a few times when we stayed in Independence, I don't carry a mirror but this doesn’t faze me.
It feels so liberating and damn good. We are halfway there, 10 days left, I've already made new plans - Patagonia seems like a good direction for my next trip.