Different trails for different eyes
With Takoda doing a little better, we headed into the last leg of this section, which would take us off the trail at Highway 44, just past Old Station. I was going to take a couple of days off to rest the horses (which Takoda especially needed at this point!) and visit with a friend from San Luis Obispo whose family has a house in Palo Cedro, not too far away. As I rode out of Drakesbad and toward Old Station, I was lucky enough at one point to come across a duck nest, with a clutch of eggs all nestled in the middle, and I was struck again by the amazing variety of animal life I have seen all along the trail. Of course, my particular focus has been on the reptiles I've come across--rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, rosy boas, horny-toed lizards, whiptail lizards, etc.--so that I often find myself excited to see something scurrying ahead through the buses or beside the path, wondering "What species is this?" or "Look at that one over here!" But it also made me think that someone else could be covering the same ground, but noticing something entirely different from me. A botanist might be watching the vegetation change with the landscape, the chapparel giving way to pine forest or the oaks on the hills being replaced by Joshua trees in the desert. A geologist would be examining the different rock formations or noting the water erosion along a streambed or seeing soil layers exposed on a hillside. Each of us would be walking the same path yet seeing it differently, and it seemed to me that there was not just one PCT, but a different trail for everyone who walks it and sees it through a different set of eyes.