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The High Sierras: Day 4

September 18, 2013

I felt energized when I woke up.  We ate our oatmeal & packed up camp quickly.  I converted all the nervous energy about my missing brother, I put into hiking.  I was practically running on the trail whenever it was flat and sandy.  I slowed down when it got steep just out of respect for how far out in the woods we were and how hard it would be to get out on a sprained ankle.  We stopped briefly every so often for water or snacks.  For lunch we had bagels with these tiny packets of peanut butter & honey.  We were dropping altitude so my appetite was starting to come back.  That lunch was absolute heaven.

I was so determined to get out, I didn’t notice pain until about mile 8.  My knees finally got painful then.  I made up a chant to distract myself.  Then I fund something that made me really happy.  I was off-trail when I noticed an animal path.  On it were foot prints.  The shoes looked about my brothers size and when I tried stepping in them, the gait felt sort of like his.  I followed this to the main trail where my parents were resting. I showed them.  

We’d felt all the time out there like we were the only people in the woods.  These were the first human footprints we’d seen since starting out.  The foot prints had turned off the animal trail onto our path heading towards the trailhead.  I felt renewed energy whenever I noticed one of those foot prints.  I thought to myself, “Humans really are predatory creatures.  We have these natural bursts of energy that come from tracking.”  

Another mile in and the foot prints went off route onto another animal trail.  I was in serious pain at this point  but I wanted to follow the track to see if it really was my brother.  My parents argued against this plan & it later became apparent that it would not have been a good idea.  But I am getting ahead of the story.

We hiked into the trailhead right at sunset.  We found that parked next to our car was my brother’s car!  It had nearly as many pine needles as ours did -meaning he had been out for days.  I felt tears forming in my eyes again.  I had pushed myself very hard and exceeded expectations only to find that my brother was still out there somewhere.  

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