Days 31 – 34: Slackpacking, Sagittarians, and Smiling
Day 31: Highway 140 to Keno Road (Miles 1,773.4 – 1,752.4)
Before we got on the trail today I saw a post from One Week on Facebook. A post I wouldn’t be able to get off my mind for the rest of the day. He spoke about trying to hopelessly find himself, lost, feeling undeserving of the kindness people have shown him, how his feelings are bullshit, and how badly he wants to discover peace and happiness. I relate strongly to his words. His hopelessness. Out here trying to find some version of yourself you don’t feel you can discover in the “real” world. Lost. Lost, a word I can’t stop emitting, being, feeling. So lost in adulting. I’m not scared, just lost in the idea of my future. Lost in the bullshit of life. I start thinking about the word “deserve.” Wondering if humanity, as a whole, “deserves” anything. I never feel I deserve anything, but I do say things like, “I deserve this and that,” whatever the first world bullshit may be. Starbucks, getting my nails done, a car, a dog, a LOVER. Doesn’t everyone “deserve” love. But please tell me the qualifications for “deserving” something like love. Being a good person? Define good. Deserve, all of a sudden, is becoming meaningless. Bullshit. Is he right? It is all bullshit? Maybe that’s just a cop out. But everything is, pretty much, bullshit! So finally, the search for peace and happiness! Two things I’m convinced you don’t discover, but you commit to. The more you seek peace and happiness the further you get. I’m lost out here. Killing myself trying to “find” something. Removing myself from as much of the bullshit as I can. Trying to navigate my own bullshit. I’m realizing you don’t “find” shit in this world. You either stumble upon it or you decide to just fucking do it. Make shit happen. This isn’t Survivor and I’m not in search of an immunity idol. This is the middle of fucking Oregon and I still have ~2,200 miles to walk on the PCT. Might as well give in without giving up and just keep walking.
I can’t stop thinking about my love for Sagittarians. A lot of influential and meaningful people in my life are Sagittarians. Two recent additions are both One Week and Oprah! I’m a Scorpio, but my moon sign is Pieces! You know, whatever that means. I’m earth and water. Grounded, but go with the flow. This combination allows me to get along with Sags. Every time I meet a Sag I come to some new realization. Maybe that’s why I seem to collect them. One Week helped me realize you don’t need to have a passion or a plan to have a future. You can live day to day without being scared for your future. You can either be scared for tomorrow or accept whatever comes your way. You can plan to hike the PCT in one fucking week! Oprah read me. She read everyone and led them to their core while remaining her authentic self. She is one of a kind! A Sag I will never forget and a friend I will hold on to!
We are seeing a lot of NOBO hikers. I love passing them and chatting for a little before continuing the uphill endless hell. A couple stopped to ask me about the snow ahead. They were section hikers who lived in Oregon. I started telling them about the craziness that has been my PCT journey. Us taking the junction on Devils Peak, the bee sting, the wrong equipment. I’m laughing the whole time I tell them. I find it all humorous because why let that shit bother you. The wife finally says, “Well, at least you’re still smilin’!” That’s right, I am! And I refuse to let this trail take my smile away. At the end of the hike we decided that would be my trail name, STILL SMILIN’!
Day 32: Keno Road to Highway 66 (Miles 1,752.4 – 1,735.6)
Today was a nice day! Pretty boring. We are still slackpacking! Giving our bodies a break without taking a full zero day. I really needed a second to regroup. We only did 16.5 miles today, which is still a shit ton of miles, but four less than yesterday! The only thing to report for today was I saw a rattlesnake! I walked right up on her! She’s a sassy women in my head. She quickly moved off the trail right before I almost stepped on her! I was so excited to see her, but she was getting ready to actually kill me as I was taking out my phone for pictures. I took two pictures then I realized she was going to strike any minute. In the picture below you can see her tail rattling! I was too close for comfort! That joyous moment could have taken a turn very quickly! I like to think if she bit me, I’d kill her and wear her around my neck so everyone knows what’s up. But, 1) I’m not a killer and 2) I absolutely lack the skill set needed for that. Realistically she’d bite me, I’d scream and run, wishing I got it on video because I do have the skill set for that.
Day 33: Highway 66 to Mount Ashland Ski Road (Miles 1,735.6 – 1,711.6)
It’s very nice not carrying 30 pounds on my back, but I don’t care for slackpacking much. I’m not motivated by the idea that my pack is lighter or that I’ll get to take a shower tonight. I still walk the same pace, my legs still feel heavy, and it’s still hot. No matter what temperature it is and how shaded the trail is, it’s always hot. I do like getting a good meal, but it’s getting a little too pricey. We are only doing one more day of slackpacking and then we are hiking out of Oregon, crossing the border into Northern California. Once we get back into California it will be a lot harder for Toby to get to us. We plan on doing a 110-120 miles in a week, so I’ll probably be missing these slackpacking days I hate so much.
Regardless of if you have a full pack or not, 24 miles is 24 fucking miles! Today was LONG! Beautiful, but long! Nothing exciting happens when all you’re doing is hustling to get miles. I saw and photographed some pretty parts of the hike, but if you think I stopped walking to capture these photos you’re mistaken. There was barely time for lunch! I wanted to finish this hike before 6:30 p.m., which did not happen! The last five miles of today’s hike were all uphill. Steep uphill. Alongside mountain roads. Felt pointless to hike next to a road. All I wanted to do was hitch a ride, but of course I just blew kisses to my swollen duck feet and waddled on.
I finished my 24-mile hike around 7:3o p.m.! It felt amazing. Like I accomplished something only crazy athletes attempt. Twenty-four miles in ten hours. I wish my body was as happy as me. I’ve never needed an ice bath more. Growing up a dancer, my body knows pain. But dancer pain and hiker pain are two VERY different things. Dance is a high intensity sport that I did for three to four hours a day max. Your body gets sore, but in a feel good, muscle building sort of way. Thru-hiking, on the other hand, is a low-intensity sport that you do for 12 hours a day. The soreness I feel is the most pain I’ve ever felt. I need to take four Ibuprofen just to go to sleep. It feels like my joints are ripped apart, my feet are broken, and my muscles have given up completely. My body is confused by thru-hiking. You don’t get used to this. You don’t push harder because your body is ready to take on more. You push harder because mind over matter. Because miles over motor skills! Because there’s a time limit to this goal and we are already behind!
Day 34: Zero Day
Taking a zero today was not the original plan, but it’s what needed to happen. We are obviously wiped and we need to resupply before we go on trail for a week. I’m ready to get back on trail. Getting on and off is hard mentally. It’s almost harder because you’re still doing intense miles, getting off trail, going to dinner, going to bed past hiker midnight (8 p.m.), and getting a late start the next day. It throws off the hiker flow we’ve been maintaining. I’ll miss the RV, but it’s time to get back to business and keep a healthier routine.
Once we resupplied we got to explore a little more of Ashland. We have been staying here for 3.5 days and love it. Ashland is a quaint town with weed farms EVERYWHERE. You drive on the highway and to your left are acres of marijuana. It’s definitely different over here on the West Coast! We will be back in California too soon. I’ll miss Oregon! Looking forward to coming back and hiking the northern part of the state! Now let’s GO GET THESE MILES!
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24 miles in 10 hours IS amazing!!