The Attempt Episode 3: High Spirits
Week one is a soggy one. Follow along as Benjamin hikes the first section of his PCT SOBO (southbound) journey.
The Attempt is sponsored by Gossamer Gear, manufacturers of functional ultralight backpacking gear, designed by hikers.
Previously, on The Attempt:
“Mom wants a picture with Benjamin!” … “Go, go, go!”… “It’s important to me that it’s an attempt. It kinda frames the goal. It’s less about success or failure. But from step one, I will have succeeded in attempting it.”… “I’m in the car with some other guys who hitched a ride up here with us.”… “And we’re gonna start out together and head up to Canada.”… “What do you hope it adds to who you are? What do you hope to be coming away from it with?” “I mean the word that jumps to mind is toughness. Not that… I don’t think it’s a good answer, but I think it’s the best answer I can give.” … “Hart’s Pass, baby!”… “Alright, any last words for the recording?”… “Let’s rock and roll!”
Julia: You’re listening to…
Benjamin: A podcast my sister makes
Julia: It’s called The Attempt
Benjamin: I see what you’re trying to do!
Julia: (Laughing) Alright…
Hey guys, remember how Benjamin said he wanted to call this podcast The Attempt so that, as long as he put one foot on the trail, he would’ve met his goal? Well, it’s official: he made it! In fact, he’s been on the trail a little over a week now. In this episode you’re going to hear his very first reports from the trail. Starting at Hart’s Pass, heading north to tag the Canadian border, and then turning south. You know what, I’m just gonna let him tell you.
Benjamin: Hey, it’s Ben. It’s first night of the PCT trip. We’re at Holman Pass, 14 miles north of Hart’s Pass, where we started today. I’m with Antoine, who I started with, and Brent, who we met along the way.
Benjamin: We’re varying degrees of fatigue. It was a pretty tough walk in, just to get used to the weight of the pack and just how it feels to put miles behind you. Dinner tonight: had a delicious combination of top ramen and buffalo chicken prepared pocket and it is around 9 and I am not in the mood to stay awake any longer so it is bedtime for Ben. Good night.
Benjamin: Alright, so we made it up to the US-Canada border. It’s Monument 78, which is the official Northern Terminus of the PCT. So we came 33 miles from Hart’s Pass and it’s about 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the day after we started. Antoine, any thoughts?
Antoine: I’m fucking tired already.
Benjamin: You’re fucking tired already? Is the Marlboro helping?
Benjamin: Good. (Laughing)
Benjamin: Alright, Antoine, I’m gonna do a quick recording. It’s day three, we just – Antoine and I just tagged the border yesterday then camped by a lake, about seven miles back. Which means we are officially seven miles through the PCT southbound. Antoine, what hurts today?
Benjamin: Knees. I have more blisters than I can count and I’m running out of tape to cover them up. I accidentally tore my sleeping bag last night, because I tried to remove a tag and it burst a seam so I had to tape that up too. But I’m in high spirits. We’re walking through a cloud right now. We just passed the highest point on the PCT in Washington State and now we’re in a steady descent
Benjamin: I’ll introduce you. Hey, it’s Ben and camped at Windy Pass with Antoine and our new friend, Ophelie. You want to introduce yourself?
Ophelie: Yeah, hi! I am Ophelie, I am from Quebec. I am quite slow but I have fun and I am just walking without really knowing where I’m going because I don’t have any GPS and no watch – so no way to have the time, no way to know where I am, no way to know where’s water. And um, what’s your name again?
Ophelie: Yeah, Ben – I borrowed Ben’s stove because mine couldn’t work. I’m lucky he’s there. That’s about it!
Benjamin: So it’s raining pretty hard. It’s the third night. I am cozy in my tent, which is filled with mostly damp things that I own. What else is going on? I just popped a couple blisters, which was a bit of a gruesome affair. But hopefully it’ll be good in the long term. Oh my god, it is really raining out there. I kinda have to pee, but… it’s really rainy outside… and I’m really dry… and I’m in my sleeping bag… and it’s not even 9 p.m. and I’m fucking exhausted. So that’s what I’m thinking about.
Benjamin: Um, it’s really rainy. Hasn’t stopped being rainy. That’s a bit of a bummer. And I have pretty bad blisters, which is the other bummer. All over both feet. Hurts to walk. Shit. It’s starting to rain again. Besides that, things are good.
Benjamin: Day five. About I guess 45 miles officially SOBO on the PCT. Um, what’s on my mind right now is blisters. I have about seven bad blisters and I’m running out of Band-Aids and tape and gauze to cover them. I might see if I can order some more shoes at Stehekin because if I have to walk too many more miles with pain at every step, it’s not gonna be very fun. The good news is: besides the blisters, everything feels pretty great. Having a great time with my bud, Antoine. He built us a fire last night so we got to kind of dry out our stuff. Right now eyes and hearts are focused on Stehekin, restaurant meal, maybe dry off a bit, that’s the goal.
Benjamin: Alright Mike, I’m doing a recording. Tell the good people where we are.
Mike: Hey good people! We are entering into – if not already in – the North Cascades National Park. It’s probably a little after 1 in the morning.
Mike: 1:30 in the morning. We got a full moon. It’s Ben, Antoine, and the new godfather – new trail name – oh, river crossing!
Benjamin: Ooh shit, this is a bad time to pull my phone out. Oooooh OK. Oof. Yeah, so we… is this the trail? Yeah, I think so. You see my confusion, right? There we go. Yeah, so we got up early this morning because we want to be in Stehekin, about 18 miles away, by the time the shuttle comes to take us into town and the post office. Alright, I’m putting this down.
Now, I have no idea what he says after this point because I think he put his phone in his pocket. But here’s the good news: They made it in time to catch the shuttle to Stehekin. Once they got there, Benjamin was able to take care of his blisters, and take some time off the trail. After spending Sunday there, in Stehekin, he decided to take the boat into Chelan to buy some new shoes. And, from his motel room there, he recorded this.
Benjamin: So it is Monday, a week after I started the trail. And I am currently in Lake Chelan, taking my second straight zero day. A zero day is basically when you don’t do any hiking. And I’m on my second zero day because I had these pretty bad blisters from my first leg of hiking that did not go away after my first zero day. It’s a really weird thing for me to hit the brakes. Because my instincts are telling me to just power through it and that would be really bad in the long term because blisters can be infected, I wouldn’t go very fast, and I would probably just hurt myself more. So I took a boat from Stehekin into Chelan and I got a new pair of shoes because my boots were not working for me – they were way too rigid – and tomorrow I’m gonna go back, see how I’m feeling. If I’m ready to start, I’ll start. If I need another day in Stehekin, I’ll take another day in Stehekin. So that’s what I’m thinking about right now.
So this is where I was going to end this episode. But then, I got some new voice memos. And it was just nice to hear him back on the trail, and happy.
Benjamin: It’s been a couple days since I made a recording. I think the last one I made I was in Chelan and I was pretty worried about delaying and I was kinda going through this idea that I had to accept that this was a marathon, not a sprint. And I think I’ve take those ideas to heart a bit more. They’re still fighting my instincts a little bit. But anyway, I’m currently walking up top one of the higher passes in the area and I am fucking blown away by how pretty it is. I’m surrounded by a ring of snow-covered mountains, walking through fields of wild flowers, just swarming with marmots. It’s sunny, it’s pretty warm. And camp is two miles away. That’s all for now.
So there you have it for week one of The Attempt. I’m so proud of Benjamin. I know that’s cheesy to say, but I am. You know how he said at the beginning, in that interview, that he’s looking to find toughness out on the trail? Well, I think he’s already pretty tough. What impresses me is that he seems to be learning how to be gentle. How to be kind to himself, and take care of his injuries and slow down. And that makes me really proud.
You’ve been listening to The Attempt – produced by me, Julia Drachman, with help from Doug Beyers. We are a production of Bad Cat media, created in partnership with The Trek – a media company dedicated to thru-hiking and long-distance backpacking enthusiasts. Find all the episodes of The Attempt at thetrek.co/the-attempt. You can find more information about Bad Cat Media at badcat.media. The music you heard in this episode is from Blue Dot Sessions. Thank you so much for listening – new episode coming in two weeks.
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