Charcuterie at 13k feet
Magic exists in the Evolution Basin of Kings Canyon National Park. Guarded deep in the backcountry, the basin brags a montane ecosystem completely alien to those this Texan in used to. In 2017, Evolution Basin could have inspired a snowglobe. In 2018, the basin could have been mistaken as a barren planet from the Star Wars universe.
“The Trail provides”
These words are often said in the thru-hiking world. Sure, it’s ciché, but it’s undoubtedly accurate. For me, the trail continues to provide new friendships. There’s something refreshing about befriending someone whose social presence exists only days and miles away – a reminder that human connection is essential.
On the long southbound approach up Muir Pass and into Evolution Basin, I met a woman who would turn out to be an critical part of 2018 for me. Meet Carla – a geologist, rock climber, lover of people, and seer of beauty. She’s a person you can immediately trust upon meeting, a top-notch attribute for the backcountry.
How did we become friends? Basically, my dad was really not digging his food. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re burning more calories than you ever have, food is all you can think about. When you don’t like your food, this is a huge bummer.
After we pitched our bivvys and swam in the lake, Carla came over to our camp to introduce herself. We learned of her San Jose roots and career as a geologist, and she was in return quickly caught up on my dad’s food situation.
My dad and I looked at each other, curious of what a section hiker might have to offer. Carla returned to our bivvy site with a real life Charcuterie board, sans-board, boatsing of meats and cheeses and fresh mango. Keep in mind – WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIERRA, on the most remote stretch of the most remote trail in the United States. Friends, this is trail. freaking. magic.
Skip forward 8 months and Carla and I have remained close friends with thanks to cell phones, postcards, and social media. We returned to the Sierra in November ‘18 for Yosemite climbing and hiking, and we’re already scheming for future adventures.
Sometimes I think about what would have happened if my dad was a dehydrated thai curry FANATIC and the charteurie wasn’t necessary. Was the humility of offering something as precious as cheese in the bacckountry the necessary connection point? Would our short overlap on trail and in time have captured such a meaningful friendship? How can I act as selfless as Carla in my day-to-day interactions with strangers?
Charcuterie for thought.