Hiker Box Diaries Episode 11: Dream Baby Dream
“Dream up, Dream up,
Let me fill your cup,
With the promise of a man.”-Neil Young
Dream Baby Dream
Okay California. This is one more song about moving down the highway. I am in Seiad Valley. The last town in California on the PCT. The last time I posted any news I was heading into South Lake Tahoe 550 miles ago in the middle of July. So long ago. I’m hiking around all new people now. The numbers have dwindled considerably since Tahoe. So many have quit. Some have quit due to injury. Some have quit due to money. Some have left because they say they are “not having fun anymore.” This last one perplexes me. Thruhiking is primarily not about the fun. It’s difficult. Was it fun for Rocky Balboa to go to Siberia to train to fight Ivan Drago in Rocky IV? No! He had a dream to avenge the death/murder of his friend Apollo. Is it fun for Tom Brady to shave in the morning? No! He does it so we can see the beautiful angles of his face and that dimple on his chin.
I’ve never had a hard time pushing through hard times. I once had an older brother. Growing up we competed in sports all the time. I lost thousands of games in a row. One on one basketball. Hockey. Wrestling. One on one baseball. Yea we played one on one baseball all the time. We were both good players. I could really hit. But he threw 90mph when I was 13 years old. I had no chance. He’d beat me every time. He would yell out, “refuse to lose!” And then sing Queen’s “We Are The Champions” in my face. I hated it. But I learned. “Refuse to Lose” stuck with me for life. My brother passed away a few years ago. I would do anything to lose to him one more time.
Dream big and hold yourself accountable to your dreams. If you set out to hike 1000 miles then that’s great. If you set out with a goal of 2,600 miles, then, if at all possible, fight hard to achieve that goal. Dream big. A half of a dream is a half of a life. We have lost a lot of good men and women out here and I’m very sad to see them go. I’m also grateful for those who have stayed the course and relish the next weeks on the trail with them. Despite the progress I have made, my body feels terrible. The younger hikers get stronger as the trail moves on. The older hikers get worn down. Rust never sleeps.
Turn It Up
The trail has changed from the amazing vistas of the Sierra, to the forests of Northern California. The mountains are smaller but the heat is intense! It’s all about the miles now and forget about the smiles. Temperatures often go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and that does damage to your feet. At the end of the Hat Creek Rim hike, I walked eight miles barefoot. The ground is so hot, that virtually everyone is struggling with blisters. Often my shoes will not house my foot as the day goes on. The feet swell considerably in the afternoon and I’m dealing with blisters on both heals and on several toes. It’s hard to keep them clean, near impossible. Everything is dirty out here. My feet are on fire. I’ll never remember all this. I’ll just remember the good stuff. We tend to baptize our memories. That is what I keep telling myself.
I’m shedding pounds big time out here. About 60 lbs since Mexico. It’s getting worse as I do more 30-40 mile days. I eat all day, but it’s not enough. I’m sick of all the trail food now. I don’t eat Cliff Bars, peanut butter, pepperoni, oatmeal, trail mix, granola or instant mashed potato anymore. Lately it’s been Fig Newtons or Twinkies for breakfast, spaghetti O’s for lunch and tuna wraps for dinner with Fritos. Snacks are Good n Plenty and peanut M&M’s. In town I crave salads, and milkshakes. I usually destroy 2 Coca Cola’s as soon as I hit town. And sometimes pack them out of town as well. McDonald’s Mcdoubles last a week on trail if you get them without condiments.
The psychological effects of the length of California is beating us down. 1,600 miles into this trail and I’m still in the first state! I think this has crushed some hikers. I believe some have quit due to the discouraging length still to go. We have been out here 2-3 months and to be only a bit more than halfway home can be so overwhelming. I focus on the day. I’m almost there. Like Chubbs told Happy Gilmore, “just tap it in.”
I’m developing into a very adept “Yogi-ist”. I finagled 8 gatorades and three peaches out of a local fisherman a few days ago. It was phenomenal, but hauling all the bottles out the was a pain. It was the best Yogi-ing incident since Thomas Callahan III got Betty to turn the fryolater back on in “Tommy Boy.” I’m getting better at hitchhiking as well. I’m beginning to master the “Pocket Technique” of hitching. The Pocket Technique was developed by a legendary Appalachian Trail thruhiker who deployed a short but enthusiastic wave before sticking out the thumb to passing cars. Very effective. I think the wave throws off the driver, makes them think, “do I know this person?” They slow down to look and by then they kinda of half committed themselves. Then you just reel them in. It’s probably effective in attracting serial rapists to pull over, but I’ll focus on the positives.
Onto the border!
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