PCT SOBO WEEK 9
Day 57 – 0 miles
What a lovely zero day. I found an excellent Co-Op to do some resupply shopping at, it felt good to get some decent healthy food instead of the shit I’ve been eating lately.
I got all my logistics squared away and basically finished all of my town chores, leaving me all of tomorrow to do fuck all.
I talked to Karl for hours, it didn’t feel like nearly as long as it was, and we made tentative plans to meet up tomorrow. I’m really excited to see him again, I had a good time with him at Crater Lake and I’m eager to get to know him better. Making new friends is really fun.
Day 58 – 0 miles
I felt incredibly isolated in the rain. I feel pretty isolated anyway, but especially during tough times, I needed someone to talk to. When you don’t have cell service, you don’t talk to anyone.
Doing this alone is really hard sometimes, especially when you gotta pick yourself back up and you can’t call a friend or talk to family to help. Just you, that’s all you got.
It was nice to see Karl again. Our time at Crater Lake wasn’t really long enough and I was in a weird headspace there. I feel like I’ve known him for a lot longer than I have.
At one point, we were just driving around Ashland and lookin at shit. Karl said he felt free, and I felt it too. I felt like a teenager, I used to just drive around for hours, just lookin at stuff. I felt happy, and I felt free.
Day 59 – 21.7 miles
I think life is really just a series of events that are happening and then you’re reacting to them. And there’s life, your experiences.
I’ve done a few things that are out of character for me. Life is making me question really everything that I thought I knew. But I’m not really questioning it, I’m just sorta going with the new ideas and feelings because maybe that’s when the magic happens. That’s when you really live.
I got back on trail today. The second my feet hit the dirt I remembered why I’m out here. I hate this and love this so much it hurts. Emotionally, physically, existentially.
I knock out big miles considering my late start. I’m really enjoying all my vegan food that I bought at the co-op in Ashland, I’m not vegan, I just like to eat that way sometimes and I’m not sure why, but I want to, so I do.
I hike into the night. Karl had asked about the batteries in my headlamp because he had actually given them to me at Crater Lake. I shrugged it off and said it would be fine. Jokes on me because it wasn’t fine and my headlamp started dying on me and I don’t have more batteries, Karl was right.
The camping situation was less than ideal. I had met another sobo earlier in the day, and she said she wasn’t going to where I was planning to camp. She showed up though. We were on the hunt for a spot. There was quite a commotion from a 36 hour race that was taking place nearby, the probability of a good nights sleep seemed dismal.
That’s why I decided to cowboy camp despite the stupid amount of spiders that we were seeing. I just don’t care. After feeling two spiders crawl across my face, I put my hat and mosquito net hat on and just fell asleep in that. I don’t know who I am anymore and I think I’m alright with that.
Day 60 – 25.4 miles
Today is the day. Arguably the second most symbolic part of this journey for me. Getting back to California. I was on the fence on whether I could make it this far, and I guess I have now.
The cowboy camp was surprisingly nice considering the 36 hour race that was taking place literally on the dirt road above us, and the copious amount of spiders. I slept pretty decent actually, which is saying quite a lot.
I got going. My headlamp was on the brink of dying and I knew I didn’t want to get caught out in the dark with only the light on my phone. That would be garbage. My goal was to do 25 miles without hiking in any dark, so I only had 13 hours of daylight to do it…. But then I slept in and cut that down to 11 1/2, so be it.
I didn’t see a single person all day. My phone deleted my music again, but it was alright. I did the math, and if I do 25 miles every day, I will be done in 15.4 days. That’s not a lot of days! Maybe I can actually pull this off. I feel pretty good, and decide that I’ll take one final day off in Mount Shasta.
I got to the border. I was stoked! Not sad or emotional, just fuckin pumped and I felt great for the rest of the day. My final miles started dwindling and so did the daylight. I walked through a burn scar and smoke tinged the air red.
I felt immense gratitude for where I am in my life. It might be messy and confusing at times, but as a whole, life is really phenomenal. This trail has challenged me to my core, and I know it’s not even done yet, but I think maybe I’m finally learning how to just be kind to myself. And ask why a whole lot less. To just let things be what they are.
Day 61 – 14.8 miles
It finally happened, a box arrived late. I sorta did it to myself, I could have mailed it on Thursday but I didn’t. Why? Well, cause I wanted to be lazy instead.
Stuck in Seiad Valley. It’s hot and the air is thick with smoke. Nothing from anything nearby, but walking the desolate road into town, it felt apocalyptic. I ran into an old friend from the desert, he tells me he saw a new fire and to be aware. I panic internally and it’s all I can think about. We talk for probably twenty minutes but I don’t know a thing he said, I couldn’t stop worrying about this fire.
I continue down the road. The red dirt embankments remind me of home so much it hurts and there is just a different vibe here. I feel like my soul knows where I am. I see the most brutal roadkill I’ve ever seen – a cat with its spine essentially spun out of its body. Sometimes, things are hard to look at, but important to see.
I get service and am able to confirm that he did see a new fire, but also that it had been 100% contained. Good enough for me. State of Jefferson signs appear and everyone has a scary dog behind their fence, Americana.
I arrive to discover that my package isn’t here, and it’s alright. I can spend the time here being nice to myself. I’ve stopped trying to control things. It’s hot, and I buy myself a disgusting array of gas station food. I lie down in the grass, get kinda drunk and fall asleep briefly. I awake to the leaves quaking above me.
I get invited to a bbq, and decide to go. And am glad I did because not only was it delicious, but it was a fun way to meet new people. I tell everyone I’m from Paradise and I’m proud.
I lie on a couch on the porch of a closed restaurant and desperately mooch Wi-Fi. I talk on the phone until way too late, and walk back to my tent in the dark. There are no AAA batteries here and I now have to use my phone as a light.
I am learning that it’s ok to be vulnerable and to pursue things that make you happy – even if it feels like the odds are stacked against you, or if it seems impossible, or maybe won’t be forever, or is just something silly. This is gonna be over…. Then what?!
Day 62 – 14.2 miles
The post office didn’t open until noon and I had kids of time to kill. I called my grandma back and mooched more Wi-Fi. I heard the cafe was open, so I decided I’d go loiter there until I could go pick up my shit. It didn’t disappoint, they even made me gluten free blueberry pancakes. Simply amazing.
The mail was late, maybe not even coming at all, advised the women behind the desk… great. I have lost hope, I headed to the store to buy a beer because I’m convinced I’m stuck here another night. Story tapped on the glass and gestured to come sit with her, rerouted, I instead went into the cafe.
I asked Story her name again, I’m really the worst at names but I told her I promise I’ll remember it this time. She was waiting for a box too. I managed to find some AAA batteries also, the locals banded together to help me – some taking them out of a remote, others, their own headlamps. People are so amazing.
I go buy a beer anyway, against my better judgement, I’m feelin wild, whatever. Story and i scheme on a ride to Etna and make a decision to go on Thursday at 4:30pm, it’s arranged then.
The road walk destroys my feet, it feels just awful. It’s hot and exposed. We finally reach the trail after nearly having to fight off three loose German shepherds and I was glad to not be alone for this dogs.
We stop at a creek, it’s just lovely here. I eat some food and am feeling like a weapon, so I take off. I lose Story when she stays for a bit longer. Sweat drops off my nose and hits my knees on the climb. The sun dips below the ridge and provides some relief. I listen to music and mostly just feel grateful for the good things in my life.
I’m cowboy camping despite seeing a kickass scorpion tonight. There’s creatures in the trees and I’ve already found a spider crawling on me. But I love this.
Day 63 – 26.6 miles
Today was phenomenal. I had a great cowboy camp and slept surprisingly well. I got to it because I knew today was going to be basically all climbing. And holy shit, was it, I ended the day gaining over 7200’, a new PCT record.
The scenery was nothing short of amazing. The Marble Mountain Wilderness sprawled before me, there are some good mountains out here. I also saw many fires, which made me super uncomfortable.
My immediate reaction was that of panic, but I reminded myself that they are very far away, and also that just because one time the worst happened, doesn’t always mean it will. I sat on the ridge and forced myself to look at the plumes until they didn’t upset me. Like that dead cat, sometimes you need to see things that you don’t want to.
I think if you spend life only staying where you’re comfortable and only seeing things you’re comfortable with, maybe you’re not really living in reality. Reality is fucking uncomfortable to deal with sometimes – hence why I’m an alcoholic. But I’ve learned that you can just pretend it’s not there, or mask it, or ignore it, you really need to sit there and stare it in the face more often than not.
My life feels like it’s full of uncertainty at the moment. Generally, this would bother me, but for some reason I just know it’s all gonna be ok.
I climb into what feels like the heavens today, if I believed in such a thing. I had fun today. This lost its spark for a minute there, but today it came back.
I didn’t go to the lake like I intended. I just didn’t feel like it. I wanted to cowboy under the stars and feel infinitely small. Because I am, and we all are. And it’s gonna be ok.
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