Day 83: Disconnecting and Reconnecting

I’ll never forget where I was when… I heard the Supreme Court made marriage equality the rule across the land. (A moment I found deeply moving…justice and equality!) I was standing on top of a mountain about forty miles south of Lake Tahoe, looking across into a distant valley, wondering if maybe this meant there’d be cell phone service…

And I know all of you found out three days ago. It’s weird, in this day and age, to be disconnected from nearly all information for long periods of time. I’m certain I’ll be telling my grandchildren about this one day, and I’m not sure whether they’ll find it more incomprehensible that there was a time when men couldn’t marry men and women couldn’t marry women — or that there was a time when you honestly just couldn’t know things because you could actually be unplugged from everything.

Out here, there’s so little cell-phone service that you can only rely on other hikers for your news — and then you’re trusting their veracity, too. Witness the kerfuffle about the wildfire around here: we’ve now passed through the area where it apparently was, and have seen no sign of it whatsoever. Yet the word among hikers was that the entire trail was supposed to be closed for seventy-five miles — something that’s apparently never been true at all. We’re so used to just pulling out our phones and having instant access to any fact, at any time, that not having that seems like a throwback to another time.

It does make the moments of connection, when you get within line-of-sight of a distant phone tower and that “LTE” lights up, all the more precious. You’d see us stopped by the side of the trail at places like that, checking our email and catching up with what’s happened on the outside…and we’re far from the only ones. It’s how we know what’s going on, how we know where our friends along the trail are (or, at least, were last time they had a cell signal), how we make reservations for a hotel in the next town. It’s weird to be in this moment in history between the invention of such communications and the availability of utterly pervasive connections. I wonder how long until you’ll be able to know everything, literally anywhere in the world?

Meanwhile, the trail itself marches us on towards Tahoe…and we happily march along with it. I feel like the photos now are less spectacular, even as the days are as beautiful as ever. We cross meadows filled with wildflowers, canyons thick with trees and rushing streams, round mountainsides again and again as we keep moving. The trail is blessedly flatter than it was before — note, not “flat” in the least, but definitely flatter, and it lets us move a bit faster.

A day and a half more of this…and showers await!

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