Blossoming Doubts (Mile 180-266)
Getting in my head
Over the last handful of miles was my first introduction to snow camping, using my ice axe, and postholing. All memories with a strange intertwining of deep fear, nervous excitement, rage full frustration, and childish laughter. Particularly, climbing Mt.Jacinto at 4am in deep snow was both breathtakingly beautiful and frustrating. I don’t consider myself exceptionally fit but my body was not holding up to my expectations that morning. I was fighting random bouts of nausea, followed by dizziness and an inability to catch my breath. It could have been a mild altitude sickness, but at the time I was honestly just angry with my body and with myself.
‘Why can’t I keep up at the pace I’m used to? I’m not made for this. This was a stupid idea…’and other similar thoughts raced through my head. Throughout the experiences of the past few days I feel I’ve solidified three main takeaways.
1) my purpose for the PCT
Before doing the PCT I remember a few folks just asking me straight out, ‘You really think you can do the whole trail?’ My short answer is simple: nope. No freaking way is it possible for me to complete the trail in my current physical and mental state. I’m just simply too weak for something this grand. Bit that’s why I’m doing it. I want to make myself into a person who is strong enough, mentally and physically, to do what I currently view as absolute insanity: finishing the whole PCT.
Each uncomfortable step is just a nudge closer in that direction. This view has helped me embrace some of the hardships.
2) The Power of Gratitude
I honestly still can’t belive I have the ability to do this hike. Privileged homelessness I affectionately call it. The world is beautiful. Nature is breathtaking. When my physical or mental state are seeming to plummet I stop for a second. The birds are still singing, the flowers still blooming, the sun still rising. I get to breathe deep and take it in. What a beautiful life to live and a goregeous world to see.
Watching the sunset at the base of the climb to San Jacinto was hands down the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. A goregeous snow covered peak with misty rolling hills in the background, all colored a soft purple and orange hue from the sun. I don’t deserve to see this beauty, but man oh man am I going to do my best to enjoy every second of it.
3) Laughter is a Drug
When all else fails (my body doesn’t care about my long term goals of becoming stronger and even gratitude seems far fetched) laughter is the answer. I postholed and fell in snow (not on purpose) for about 2 hours as we descended from San Jacinto along fuller ridge. It was physically brutal and frustrating. It was similar to learning to walk for the first time. I would go from crawling on my hands and knees, to limping about using my ice axe as a cane. But my gosh, I think it’s up there with the most fun I’ve had on trail so far. I mainly hiked with a friend from my trail family and we just couldn’t stop laughing the whole way. Yes, my feet were frozen, my pants soaked, and I was bleeding from the ice scrapes… but it was a 2 hour long physical comedy special.
‘I forfeit!’ I would jokingly yell as I would fall on my back and use my massive backpack as a sled, sliding down the mountain.
The good, the hard, and the goofy
I don’t like sharing the bad, and to be honest I don’t really think I’ve had any bad yet on trail. But I feel it’s important to share where my head is at throughout this process. Whenever I get into town I’m hit with the realization that us crazy thru hikers often stand for something a bit bigger than ourselves. When I talk to the waitress, store clerk, or day hikers they look at what we get to do with unwavering excitement. I think thru hikers symbolize a bit of freedom, adventure, and childishness for a lot of folks. I’m honored when anyone takes an interest in my big walk, and want to do it justice by sharing every aspect of it. The good, the hard, and the goofy.
Some Haikus over the past days and zero day:
Postholing in snow
How I wish I could glisade
Down the hill we go
Waiting for transit
All I want is good ice cream
One scoop, two scoop, yum
Kenny the Trail Host
Real life angel, does the most
Waffles, fresh fruit, yum
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