April 1, 2018
Easter morning! I woke early, wanting to take part in the ancient tradition of greeting the sunrise. Some of my earliest memories as a child on Easter include shivering in the pre-dawn light, waiting with my family to see the fiery orange sun breach the horizon.
I sat outside the tent, trying to meditate and pray a bit, wrestling with concerns deep in my heart.
A cottontail rabbit hopped by, intent upon its own rabbit business. A bird tuned up, lifting it’s beak to the sky.
Suddenly, as the great orange orb lifted above the easternmost limit of my sight, the surrounding hillsides were bathed in streams of light and color. The illumination lasted only a moment, then the sun ducked behind a thick layer of clouds. And Easter morning was over, the hillsides turning gray-green, the wind hinting at moisture in the air, leaving only a memory of glory surrounding me. My meditation had yielded insights as brief as the sunrise. But the wonder and beauty of those few light-filled moments lingered in my heart.
We hiked under cool clouds, happy to have shade on a desert exposed trail. Just past noon, we rounded a curve and suddenly saw a huge cache of water bottles, kindly provided by Trail Angel Mary. We gladly filled our empty bottles, writing notes of thanks in the trail journal.
A sign attached to the cache announced a free Easter dinner for all hikers, served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Mile 145.4, just two miles away! Jay and I looked at each other. It seemed too good to be true! Should we forego our trail lunch and beat feet to some trail magic?
Being a practical person when it comes to my stomach, I voted for eating half of a trail lunch, then going for the trail magic. Jay agreed, so we quickly gobbled a partial lunch, then headed onwards, two miles from an adventure!
The smell of roasting meat provided the first clue of our imminent destination. Our stomachs growled. Nothing in the desert had ever smelled that good! Twenty minutes later we saw a sign, guarded by an Easter duck.
We turned, and saw a crowd of hikers, seated under shady canopies. Trail Angel Mary and her friends were busily cooking steaks and salmon, along with delicious vegetables, ice water, lemonade, and wine, with Viennese coffee and berry tarts for desert!
This is Jay’s fourth thru-hike, and he has never seen a feast like we had today! Trail Angel Mary planned on 20 hikers and ended up serving 45 of us. Everyone seemed to get enough to eat, and there was much sharing of food, along with laughter and visiting.
Even the dog got enough as he blissfully chewed on steak bones!
After two hours of feasting, we thanked our hosts several times and waddled away. My stomach, used to simple trail meals, thought it had died and gone to heaven. But even better than the food was the camaraderie we had enjoyed, thanks to the vision and generosity of Trail Angel Mary and her friends!