I watched Any Minute's stride sag and slow at familiar fishing spots like Raymond and Fourth of July lakes throughout section L. As we nearly ran into Carson Pass, where she had planned to call her friends to meet us in South Lake Tahoe, the burden of the familiar was weighing heavily on her. Carson Pass was her nearest point to home, just a few miles away. We reached the visitor center at late morning, passing dozens of day hikers and fishermen on wide, well-groomed trails.
There was serious trail magic, an institution among volunteers at the center. Moreover, the volunteers really seemed interested in our stories and misfortunes. They sympathized with Any Minute's battle to stay out in the wilderness with home so near. After months, keeping one's resolve is the hardest part of a long trail. Plied with cookies, sodas, candy, chips and an assortment of freshly picked fruit, she and I regained some of our will to continue. Friends were called. We would meet up in Echo Lake or South Lake Tahoe, depending on the mail and the speed of our feet.