Heatha improvised hiking poles that afternoon, while Mount Shasta sits in the background.

Heatha improvised hiking poles that afternoon, while Mount Shasta sits in the background.

One of the things that I’m most looking forward to during next years year-long hike, is having friends join me along the way. In the past, I’ve set foot on my own, intertwining the miles with those who were also driven to reach that far-away, out-of-sight horizon. Other thru-hikers, section-hikers or, more rarely, a local out for a stroll. But next years hike will see a lot of miles, and to add to the experience, I’m encouraging friends to join me, for a day, a weekend, and even a week-long adventure.

One of those friends is a dear friend who I’ve known for several years. I met Heatha while residing in Mount Shasta a few years ago. (Her name is in fact Heather, but because she is Australian, we have all taken to calling her Heatha as that’s how an Aussie would pronounce such a name).We spent many daytime hours skiing the backcountry and paddling whitewater, and by evening, we’d cook up a feast of flavors that would dance across our palates. The wine and fine, craft beers always complemented the occasion. Heatha is an amazing woman, one who is compelled to travel, to explore culture, to bike and hike in stunning landscapes, and to enjoy the craft and camaraderie of fine food and drink. She’s spent many seasons bike-touring in South America with her boyfriend, Marco. Like me, they are driven to wondering where to go next.

Heatha and I haven’t backpacked together, but we have spent many miles together on day trips. We’ve spent many hours side-by-side in the kitchen, or at the pub. We think we’d make good hiking partners, and next year we’re hoping to hike a segment together.

That idea is still months off, and living more in the now, we pulled on our hiking shoes and drove off in search for an adventure. We bounced along a rough and rowdy backroad, climbing higher and higher, a cliff’s edge sitting a mere few feet from my driver’s side door. We reached Morgan Meadow, an inviting place located on the eastern side of Mount Eddy, a mountain located in the Shasta Trinity National Forest, and a peak not too far from the Pacific Crest Trail. At the end of the road—one created by a washout and not a deliberate stop—we turned uphill, scrambling up a series of trail-less paths surrounded by thick manzanita. As we gained elevation, we found ease through meadows and past scenic vistas. Mount Shasta, a solitary mountain of immense beauty, sat to the east—it’s magnetic allure always prompting the idea to move back here.

At the highest point of our hike, we reached a lake that no trail leads to. We sat in the sun, bundled in the few layers we took on the warm afternoon that now whipped at the lake’s surface. What a beautiful day it was, and what a neat adventure to share with one of my dearest friends. We snapped a few photos at the top, and then, letting spontaneity lead us forward, we headed downhill.

Looking forward to hiking with you next year Heatha!

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