This began the time of exceptionally social hiking. While before it had just been Guy on a Buffalo and I with a short bout with others, now it was Grim, Kramers, Beads, Papi Chulo, and me in a more substantial way. Well, as substantial as hiking together on a thru-hike goes. The dynamics around me were changing and it felt weird. It was pleasant to have new people and more conversations that lit me up, but it was unpleasant in realizing that normal human social dynamics still applied.
In an environment dominated by men, it is tricky when you, as a woman, encounter another woman on trail. In theory, or ideally, it would be fireworks and giggles, but it can also go into the catty, negative place. Women are socially trained to be passive aggressive. You can read great books about women's psychology and the non verbal warfare that occurs regularly in order to get ahead or to protect oneself. Odd Girl Out would be my recommendation on that. It is not seen as appropriate for a lady to be direct about having issues with someone. Even having issues is not seen as lady-like. Women are taught that it is ideal for them to be pleasant at all times even if there is an issue, which is why so many men don't understand why women behave the way that they do as adults. Sorry. I blame society for most of my gender's behavior.
Enough of my rant on THAT. My point being that the social dynamics changed in a way I didn't find appealing unfortunately. I was lucky enough to have hiked ahead at one point early on in this stretch and had some quality alone time with myself, which I hadn't had in a very long time. It was during this time that I found my love for what I was doing again. I was still pretty sad about leaving Pete and Val in Missoula and was still questioning if I was going to stay on trail or not, but then I rounded a corner after an ascent, and saw a view.
This view was not particularly grandiose or beautiful. It was just another beautiful view. But this one wasn't just another. It was the one that stirred something inside of me that had become depressingly dormant for the last few weeks. I felt so overwhelmed with understanding how connected we all are to each other and to nature that I actually started crying. I just couldn't help myself. The only way to describe it is that it was like the entire universe, all the atoms, were giving me the biggest, most loving hug. I felt completely relaxed and infinitely happy. This must be a taste of what enlightenment is like. And this is why I am out here.
I wanted to enjoy this feeling, relish it, and relish this beautiful place, so I walked on and stopped at a big rock field with huge boulders. I removed my pack and just lay in the sun on the rocks, being okay with being alone.
Eventually Grim caught up, as he does, and Papi soon after. We all enjoyed basking in this boulder field. Beads and Kramers were nowhere to be found. We began to guess that they had taken a cutoff somewhere that we had missed, so they were probably far ahead by now. I didn't mind.