While Rog tended to his man crush (see his tea party post), I chatted with Ally of Tea Van fame over a cup of cool hibiscus tea. I noted to her how the trail at first seems like an expression of American rugged individualism. You know–everything we need is on our backs. We live this simple, idyllic life.

But really that’s pretty far from the truth. We couldn’t do this trip without all the folks who have gone before and written handbooks and created on-line tools; or the oodles of people who labored to build the trails we tread. Many hiker-friendly motels, stores and locals accept resupply boxes and our uber-organized and generous friend Karen is sending us those boxes. And then there’s the kindness of friends and strangers who have made a huge difference in terms of keeping our spirits up on the trail.

I mean, day hikers have foisted grapes and cherries on us, volunteers at Carson Pass gave us water and bananas, and our friends and family are sending us trail magic in the form of cookies and letters of encouragement. And then Ally and Guisepe threw a tea party for us hikers (!).

Ally smiled knowingly as I gushed. “Interdependence! I’m actually in the process of writing a Declaration of Interdependence. Although our country has this legend of independence, really very few if us get by without one another.”

And really, who’d want to anyway? A better union is one where people help each other and create community; it’s definitely not one where we pretend that we don’t need each other!

So I declare interdependence. And funny enough, acknowledging my interdependence dovetails nicely with those questions of work and play that have come up on this trip.

When I recognize my interdependence and ask for help, work lightens, and becomes more like play.

Feeling like a part of a community or team can help work seem like play.

Finding a sense of purpose helps me keep on keeping on. Sometimes friends can help give a sense of purpose: some of you told us how you are excited to read our posts; some of you are even sharing our trail locations with your kids! Silly as it may sound, it was enough to make me feel like this big walk-about is bigger than just me. In a way, I get to do it with you, and that feels better. Thank you!

And now for photographic evidence that we are still hiking the good hike.

Jen was in desperate need of new shoes after approx 680 miles. Old and new shoes side by side, before old found their new home in a trash can. If you zoom in, you might note the almost six inch hole along the old shoe’s side. Also note these are the same shoe model!

Amazing trail angels Ally and Guisepe. Who does this kind of stuff?? we are inspired to host free tea parties in the future! More info on these lovely people at freeteaparty.org (I haven’t checked it out yet myself-let me know what you think!).

Our ever widening palate has landed on the perfect trail lunch (a.k.a. I never imagined I’d stoop to Skippy). Nutella plus Skippy (honestly, it’s all they had at the Sierra City market) plus white tortillas (no, not whole grain or any of that healthy stuff) plus a sprinkling of trail mix. It’s kind if like a Reeses roll-up. Yum!!

Again, huge thanks to all of you who reached back and encouraged us. We feel better. We have a 13-mile climb tomorrow though, so don’t stop! Honestly, it really helps to stay connected with you, so please let us know what’s up in your world. You might think it will sound mundane or boring to us. Not true! Send us your boring–we will love it for you!!