April 8, 2018
We left the town of Banning, grateful for the respite civilization had offered. Showers, comfortable bed, clean clothes – all brought cheer to my outlook!
A small Hispanic convenience store with a fabulous deli in the back also helped our recovery yesterday. Huge chorizo burritos and homemade guacamole filled our stomachs while the atmosphere gave us a delightful cultural experience.
Today our route crossed the valley floor, then began climbing into Gold Canyon. The Mesa Windmill Farm perched on the first ridge above the valley, taking advantage of the constant winds streaming through the San Gorgonio Pass. Next to the office, a small pavilion and free bottles of water were a very welcome oasis on this hot, shadeless section. Though it was a little early for lunch, Jay and I, with three other hikers, took the shade as a sign to eat.
The trail continued upwards, reaching the top of Gold Canyon, then following the edge of Teutang Canyon. Green covered the ground, with beautiful flowers asking to be admired. The blossoms of pink prickly pear cactus stole the show, though I was delighted with many yellow, purple, and white flowers, including desert chia. (Native Americans used this flower’s seeds long before chia became popular.)
The trail followed Teutang Canyon for a while, then began a series of switchbacks down a precipitous drop to the Whitewater River. On the floor of the canyon, we rounded a corner and met a Native American man with long graying hair in two braids, accompanied by a woman companion, both enjoying the shade cast by the canyon wall.
We stopped to chat.
“Hiking the PCT, are you?” the man asked.
We nodded in agreement.
“That’s good! We’re Earthlings. We were made to walk the Earth,” the man smiled.
“That’s an interesting way to look at it,” I observed, “to be Earthlings, born to walk.”
“Yes!” The man’s face lit up. “Think about it. The happiest day of your parents’ life was when you took your first step! They celebrated, they called all their friends, they talked about it for days! It’s a day they remember forever. Yes, first step, and first word! That’s what we’re supposed to do – walk and talk.”
He was silent a moment, then continued, looking directly at me. “Enjoy this Earth. Search your heart. Do good things. Use good words. Keep walking the Earth.”
“Yes, we will,” I replied.
His face creased into a grin. “Peace be to you. Ya-t-hey, ya-t-hey.”
“And to you,” I responded as we turned to keep walking.