Idyllwild to Big Bear: Portraits from the PCT.
Before I started the PCT, I thought I was going to be blogging so much more. I thought I would constantly be posting my thoughts and funny stories, my hardships and triumphs. However, what I’ve realized in these last 3 weeks, is that there is always so much to think about. I am walking for 10 hours a day, and in that time, I remember things back to early childhood all the way until my present.
A lot of my thoughts I have been recording as I walk, and a lot are too personal to share. I’ll be honest, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m only 266 miles in, which doesn’t sound like a lot. People who started on the May 1st are already passing me (I started April 22nd). I find myself frustrated a lot because I can’t keep up with the people I want to camp with. The hardest thing to do out here is to HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE. Man, I’m having a hard time getting that into my head.
Some days I’m dead silent as I grab water next to other hikers. I’m in so much pain, or just so fed up with the day that I can’t even pretend to be the affable person I usually am. The runaround of sharing trail names and where you’re from seems arduous and quite vexing. As an obvious extrovert, this experience has been introverting for me.
Two nights ago, I only made it 13 miles, when I planned on doing 20. I sat at the top of this climb and debated for 30 minutes if I wasn’t too chicken shit to camp alone. I knew I was too tired to push forward, so I set up camp and passed the hell out at 5pm. Around 11:30pm, I woke up. It was dark, and I was alone.
In that moment I knew I was being a baby and if I wanted to make it the 17 miles to Highway 18, I should just get up and do it. No one was stopping me but me. I got out my Bluetooth speaker and put on the ultimate motivation song: Eye of the Tiger. I suited up and night hiked without stopping, mostly because I was scared of taking a break in the dark.
I made it to Highway 18 early that morning and got a hitch an hour later from a nice woman named Tara. We had a pleasant conversation; she told me about her kids, her work and how she plans to hike the AT with her 71-year-old father in a few years. Suddenly all was right in my mind again. The kindness of a stranger was restoring my ability to let the hardships of the previous day just float away.
I’m currently in Big Bear City writing this. My body feels good, my mind is clear and I’m antsy to get back on trail tomorrow. I showered at the hostel yesterday and did laundry, yet, still smell like a trash can. For some reason that’s comforting to me. I smell like hard work. I dig it.
In closing: When I got to the hostel yesterday, Sarge who runs the facility, asked me if I was “hiker trash”. I said I wasn’t sure. He wanted to vet me to make sure I wasn’t an “entitled” hiker which he has unfortunately been dealing with a lot lately. I told him it had been a long evening and morning and I was just happy to sleep on a sidewalk even. He smiled and said, “Twerk, you’re hiker trash!”
I keep finding new layers of the trail. Everyday I think to myself, “Oh, THIS is what the trail is about”. Then the next day I’ll experience something completely new that makes me think otherwise. I’m realizing that it’s like life, it’s what you make it. The closest thing I’ve come to feel what the trail is about, is in this poem Legend recited for us at the White Water Preserve. It’s entitled, “Friends”.
Friends by Legend
I woke up this morning on The Pacific Crest Trail, to the smell of coffee, and endless stories about life with my friends.
And then there was a breakfast, a breakfast you would die for, as I told more stories about life, with my friends on the PCT. Followed by a short walk, as we went up the trail, me and my friends on the PCT.
Then, there was lunch by a creek, as we told stories about life, just me and my friends on the PCT. Followed by a quick nap under a tree.
Then more stories about life as we went up the trail – we went up a mountain that day, we got to the top just in time for the golden hour of sunset; hiking, just me and my friends, on the PCT.
We then sat down and had a feast fit for a king, me and my friends.
That night I kicked back, I relaxed and I fell asleep, dreaming about waking up on the PCT with my friends.
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