I didn’t actually spend my first night on California’s John Muir Trail on the John Muir Trail, but I’d be oblivious of that fact until morning. Under the cloudless twilight, I hauled myself up switchbacks in the wrong direction with a kind of joy that can only accompany ignorance.
Nevada Falls, although slowing down this late in the season, still hissed down its slick rock slope, making the quiet forest a little bit more alive. I snapped this picture then finished climbing the unnecessary switchbacks and setup camp. All alone, except for a campfire crackling, I sat against a log and stared at a purple-tinted Half Dome, like I did two years before, almost to the day.
I wish I could say I checked my map and took this detour intentionally, knowing this view would be waiting for me by nightfall. Or that I just had an intuition for these things now. A feeling that came from somewhere unexplainable. Perhaps a scent on the breeze imperceptible to ordinary men, which plainly said to me, veer right up these switchbacks. There’s some good camping up there.
No, it was ignorance and ignorance alone that lead me here that night, but fortunately the so-called correct paths in life do not have a monopoly on the great moments in life.
A Backpacker's Life by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.