Between Then and Now
When I first decided to hike the PCT, I was putting sheets on bunks at The Cabin in Maine. A fellow AT thru hiker, Pebbles, was lounging about and I told her of my plans. I said, “I’m going to hike the PCT. 2016 is my year,” but I had no idea if that was even possible. Would my parents consent to a second thru hike attempt after my AT hike went so poorly? I loved them, I didn’t want to be on the outs. Would I be able to fund the trip myself? I had some money left in my savings, but not enough for 2600+ miles. Was it simply a fool’s errand? I decided to shelve those thoughts for later. If I could get back on trail four times, surely I could at least attempt another thru hike.
The next day I said goodbye to Pebbles, The Cabin, and my life on the AT, took a bus to Boston, and hopped on a plane to San Diego to visit a friend. This particular friend I met playing video games, so it was definitely interesting meeting. I suddenly became aware of how badly my gear smelled and that all I had with me were my super awkward hiker clothes. Real life was strange. She was a champ though, and drove me to Campo, to the start of the PCT. I looked at the Southern Terminus and out onto the trail, felt the desert air, and decided I could hike there. “Graded for Pack Mules,” I insisted to my Lyme disease riddled self. I could totally do this.
Part of me had considered finding work in San Diego, but I was simply too sick. The antibiotics to kick the Lyme Disease’s ass, were also kicking mine. It was wretched. Headaches, stiff joints, night sweats. Was this supposed to make me better? I wasn’t sure. But it was almost as bad as Lyme disease itself. I flew back to Detroit a week later, happy to hear the familiar Midwest accent. My mom picked me up. I was happy to see her. We drove home, had a good heart to heart. And then I sort of nose dived into this routine that would last until November. It consisted of helping my family, sleeping a lot, playing video games, and contemplating my next adventure. I didn’t get a job, I just simply… existed. Some family crisis’ here and there distracted me. And suddenly it was Thanksgiving. Had two months really flown by?
“We’re going to Puerto Vallarta for two weeks,” My mom told me, “You should come for one of them.” It occurred to me that she was right. I’d just been “existing” for two months. Post trail depression? Or just the onset of winter in Michigan? I didn’t know. But I did need something different. A good friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a year joined us and I felt rejuvenated, I sort of came back to life. We were staying up on the side of a mountain, overlooking the city and the bay. The family next door had chickens and everyday we’d walk down the little mountain into town. Muscle memory kicked in and it felt so fabulous. These ups and downs were muscle builders. One morning I woke up and we were practically out of water. “If only I’d brought my filter!” I thought to myself. So I walked down into town and bought nine liters of water and hiked back up with them. “You WHAT?” My mom said as I walked back, carrying the jug and two smaller bottles. It was then that I realized that the Lyme Disease had been gone for a few weeks and that I was perfectly capable of climbing mountains and carrying a load again.
Of course the instant we returned from Puerto Vallarta, all hell broke loose. It turned out my entire extended family was coming for the holiday. Not that I don’t love my family, but that wasn’t going to coincide well with me starting a new job. Rats. I decided patience was in order, I would figure it out after the holiday, everything would be fine. And it actually was. Loon, who I had met while hiking the AT, gave me a call on Christmas Eve. It was so wonderful to hear from a fellow hiker. He was calling because he recalled that I was caregiver, and was wondering if I might consider helping a member of his family. In Hawaii. From January to March, if I was available. Room and board would be included, and I would also be compensated. Enough compensation to top off my PCT fund. I felt guilty that he was helping me again, but then again, maybe I was really helping him. I talked it over with my family, and decided to commit to the job for two months. Two weeks later, I was on plane to Hawaii, to the Big Island.
Stay tuned for: A PCT Gear Post and a post about hiking in Hawaii.
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