Making this trip on my own without anyone else leading the way made me realize how frequently I defer to Barry to read maps and find our way when we're backpacking. Even though I've made this trip several times before, I'd never paid much attention to the turns we'd taken at trail junctions or the distance between landmarks on the hike. I've been happy to follow Barry's lead and enjoy the views. I was much more in tune than ever before with the specifics of navigating this hike (this very straightforward hike) which, despite its ease, was still really satisfying. I plan to take more of a lead in future non-solo trips so I can have a similar experience on other trails.
The hike was as picturesque as ever with clear blue skies, wild flowers in bloom, and idyllic streams flowing with refreshing water. Once I made it to my destination and set up camp near Split Rock, I settled in for an evening of reading, map-studying, and lots of photo-taking. I slept with ease that night, which I'd wondered if I'd be able to do when I decided to strike out on my own. I was woken around 6am by the footsteps of an early morning hiker. I watched as the sun started to light up the sky. I enjoyed a few cups of coffee. And I read a lot more (I'm rereading All the Pretty Horses and am struck again by how beautiful the book is). A few hours later, I made the hike out on trails that now feel more familiar than ever.