Yesterday we hiked in the Inyo National Forest, in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. The Bristlecone Pine is THE oldest living thing on the planet. Some of the trees are close to 5000 years old. They are not grand and impressive like the sequoias, rather humbly short and gnarled. Gorgeously elegant in the way your 110-year old grandma would be. They endure. And it shows. The young trees are vibrant and green. And they look tellingly naive next to their ancestors. Alex loved the trees. She found hidden shapes in their twisted trunks, roots, and branches -- "Look Mom! That one is a pirate ship! That one is a claw! That one is a gargoyle! It has wings and eyes and long arms!" But when I asked her which was her favorite, she said, "Oh, that really beautiful soft one. The one with the green branches. The really little one." The splendor of youth.
The trail we hiked was 5 miles at over 10,000 feet. BREATHE!!!! OMG I started out carrying Greggie and Gregg carried Alex, each on our back. A mile and half in Alex wanted to hike so Gregg put her down and hike she did! Two brave miles of often steep and always treacherous terrain at 10,000 plus feet! Greggie stayed on my back for another half mile before she thought, "Hmm, Poodle's not in the backpack. I wanna be in the backpack!" So, she came off my back and onto Gregg's at mile 2. At some point she fell asleep. She and Gregg hiked ahead of Alex and I, as we stopped to observe the shapes of trees, to chase imaginary mice, to play Dorothy and Toto. At mile 4 Alex could go no further. I put her 35+ pounds into the Beco and finished the uphill mile and half. It hurt. I was slow. But when I finished, with her sound asleep on my shoulder, I felt good and strong.