On my way home from work this evening, I was looking towards the San Gabriels and thinking it won't be long now before I'm sleeping in the mountains again. For me, a big part of planning for the PCT has been getting mentally ready. I've noticed I'm starting to slowly emotionally detach myself from work. It's a tricky process, wanting to finish strong, but also wanting to be prepared for the journey ahead. I've also started having dreams of the trail as well. When I was looking towards the San Gabriels, I randomly started thinking about what kinds of animals are waking up and starting their nightly search for food. A memory of the John Muir Trail popped into my head after that, something that I almost forgot about.
My very first night in Yosemite, I was camped in the backpacker's campground located about a mile from the Wilderness Permit Office. I made the decision to wake up at 3:00AM and hike to the Wilderness Office to better my chances at securing a back country permit. It was a rather frightening, yet exhilarating walk through Ahwahnee Meadow in the middle of the night. I knew there must be active bears all around. I could only see in front of me what my headlamp's beams would allow. At one point, I turned off my headlamp in the meadow, and looked at the thousands of stars shining above me, and the dark black canyon walls rising from both sides. There is something amazing about the contrast between the night sky illuminated by stars and the blackness of the mountains blocking the light. Anyways, at one point in the hike, my headlamp caught the eyes of some nocturnal creature on the road. His green eyes glowed and reflected the light from my headlamp. He also was running quite fast. It startled me, but reminded me to get to the permit office as fast as possible. As it turned out, I was indeed the first one to arrive at the permit office that morning at 3:30AM, although only by a few minutes. Several others arrived as the morning slowly greeted us, and a small scale slumber party ensued on the porch of the permit office. Thankfully, most of us that morning received our permits, and we were free to enter the backcountry.