Jackrabbit Hikes: “Catch Up Blog” – Day 27-42
I’m not sure where I should even begin. I’m writing this as I lay awake in a bunk in a trail angel’s home. “Pancakes” in Ridgecrest, CA you’re a damn saint.
Enough time has passed on trail where I start to feel like Jackrabbit and not Connor anymore. Your brain operates differently after so many days out here and it’s like you pull a different lens down on life. Life outside is still the exact same but it looks different than it did before. You see things differently, you interact with people in unconventional ways and you can’t help but pray that every road crossing brings Gatorade and fresh fruit.
However, I’ve come to realize just how different this experience has been for me. Being the only other long backpacking trip under my belt, the AT acts as a natural point of comparison.
As the great Zach Galifanakis would say, On the AT I operated as a One Man Wolf Pack. I would hike around familiar faces for a few days or a week at a time but I always found my time to fly. I hiked with multiple, separate people for hundreds of miles but inevitably I always got ahead or fell behind. Tis’ the way of the trail.
Not out here, not on the PCT. I feel as if I’ve been in the same bubble of people for weeks. Nothing but familiar faces most days. I know who’s behind and in front of me.
It’s weird as hell.
Just to be frank, I didn’t like it at first and it seemed unnatural. I felt like it diminished my experience. I thought about it a long time. I still think about it. And what I’ve come to realize is that it hasn’t made my experience shitty. It’s just made it different. Two separate experiences that don’t need to be compared.
Honestly, it’s hard getting used to different. The AT taught me to press the gas. I’ve always pressed the gas. My football coach always said I only have one gear: go. Full speed. I’ve gotten so good at go-ing over the last few years I forget to stop or slow down sometimes.
I like the people I’m around. I like them a lot. There’s something to be said about meeting new people and it’s one of my favorite things to be sure, but getting to know people deeper and deeper as time goes on has meant a lot to me this time around. I love seeing these same 7-10 dudes everywhere. I love running into the same groups of hikers in each town and crowding around the less and less frequent water sources.
I came into this hike with the intention of hiking it the same exact way I hiked it last year but as always the trail has a way of teaching you something new. You don’t get to pick your experience, the trail picks it for you. And the trail always provides.
It’s 11:30 pm now and I should definitely get some rest as I plan to head to Kennedy Meadows this weekend. I wanted to get this out to the world and hope some of you are still reading. This blog has been a lot of work and over the last 2 weeks I’ve spent so much time enjoying myself I’ve forgotten to write in it.
It’s been a busy two weeks though. I hiked a 50 mile day. I took a couple zeros. I froze in the sub-freezing winds of the desert valley and I melted in the relentless SoCal sun. I’ve cried tears of joy by myself while walking and I’ve yelled more “Fuck off!!!!” ‘s at the freezing wind than I’d liked to admit.
Needless to say, the hike is going perfectly according to my no-plan plan. So, still I walk. And for now, still I write.
Trail thoughts are fleeting and the enlightenment you can sometimes feel can slip through the cracks of your mind like water on the sidewalk. I always thought I would prefer to keep these thoughts to myself until a friend reached out about one of my recent blogs and told me how it inspired him to keep going. To keep being the badass he knows he is (I hope you’re reading this!).
To know a single person reading this can laugh or relate or find inspiration is a good enough reason for me to keep on doing it. I hope to do a better job and keep the daily updates going as I make it into the Sierra’s. I know at least being “caught up” will lighten the load.
I’m still working on this writing thing but I’m getting pretty damn good at this walking thing. Keep walking with me. I’ll see you guys in Kennedy Meadows.
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