Southbound into Oregon
So many NOBOs told me, “you’ll love Oregon. It’s flat, and you’ll easily be able to get 30-35 mile days.”
Hmmm… I believed them. I was thinking, “Score! I’ll catch up on my miles…” (silly, Janine).
Yet now that I’m a couple hundred miles into OR, the nerd in me has devised a not-so-stringent formula:
SOBO in OR = WA, Jr. (WTH)
The ‘junior’ part is important. No, OR is not as steep as WA, but after repeated 2K, 4K, 6K climbs (more frequently than I would have mentally liked), well, you can gather my “disappointment.” It’s not even disappointment. My legs were strong and there wasn’t ever a doubt that I would NOT do them, it was more a mind-game. I expected one thing, got another. I was expecting to coast; I had to work. (Makes me think about how many SOBOs, in particular, are opting for the OR Coast Trail in lieu of the PCT and the fires, but I’ll discuss that in another post).
You’re may be thinking, “poor, Janine; you are hiking the PCT; what’d you expect it to be like: flat with compact dirt and proper markings?”
Well, you may/may not have thought that, but I sure as heck said that to myself! Often, too. I had to slap myself on my cheeks a couple times, close my eyes, and dig deep.
WHY am I out here? Braving the smoke, navigating the closed sections, planning how (if at all) to tackle CA…why!?
The physical challenge of the PCT was my initial lure, especially since getting my ‘diagnosis’ a month prior to my trek; like my doc said, I have to walk while I still can. 🙄
But, what I didn’t expect was the mental/emotional challenges AND the mental/emotional changes that would take place in this short time.
I’m not the same person I was 50 days ago. I’ve always been a more physical person, loving a good challenge, and I thought I was pretty mentally strong at the start, so it always baffled me when people said I “was going to come back a different person.”
I didn’t get it. I thought I was doing alright from the start. But, they were right. I am NOT who I was mid-July.
Will I be the hiker who runs up hills like a mountain goat? Naw. I’ll keep it real.
But, will I be the one who checks their Guthook, sees the climb, opens up a Pop Tart, gets the sugar rush, and moves one foot in front of the other? Yup.
This hike is so much more a mental challenge for me, more than I ever could’ve expected…has been and will continue to be.
The trail really is a metaphor for life.
Life, like the trail, is rarely going to be flat, with packed dirt, and established markings. Sometimes you’ll coast. Relish in those times. Maximize them. Others, you’ll cry, stomp, stop, slow down. Accept them. It’s a balance.
Gosh. Imagine what’s possible in another 50 days…
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