The Day the Sierras Broke Me…
The day came. The day that I was so over everything: the trail, the weather, hiking-life – essentially it all. I was in a foul mood, and it wasn’t a good place to be in when I had to go up and over Silver Pass. It was like the mountain knew.
I wanted to name this post, “A Tale of the 12,000ft Passes – Part II,” but the title doesn’t seem appropriate anymore. Rather, Sierras- 1 … Janine- 0 seems more appropriate.
They won. The mountains. I’ll tell you how…
I went into this 80+ mile stretch slightly cocky, feeling strong, with a healthy dose of fear of the numerous passes that I would take on: Bishop, Muir, Seldon, Silver.
Bishop: I knew what to expect. It was hard, but doable. What concerned me most that day was the oppressive smoke that began to blow in. The next day, Muir: the smoke had cleared and it was actually quite beautiful.
Seldon Pass: I was behind the mileage-marker I had for myself, so I decided, “let’s do 20+ miles!” I don’t know how I did it, but I did; 25 miles, up and over Seldon, hiking well into the dark. I was feeling oddly good. Boom!
I went to bed that night feeling so empowered, like I could conquer anything the Sierras threw my way, and I felt that way until the following morning.
If I had done it one day, I believed I must be able to do it again, right? On I went. I embarked on the day – Silver Pass the goal – with optimism.
Well, the optimism didn’t last long. Reality set in. My body ached. My legs felt like lead. The uphill was tortuous.
Maybe I am not one of those PCT hikers that can hike 20+ miles day-after-day!? I could feel the pangs of negativity start to set in.
At first, they were subtle. I could push them away from focus. But as the miles dragged on and I climbed the 3000ft of elevation, I was down for the count. The uphill never seemed to end. The rocks, or should I say granite boulders, seriously, why were they so high and so many!?
I was losing it, and it happened fast.
Tears started to well up. My legs were giving out. They were tired. I was tired. I was so over this pass. I was over it all! Seriously, why are there so many Passes!? How can a person do this? Why won’t this smoke go away? I hate the bear can!
Point being: nothing was exempt from scrutiny.
For the first time since Washington, I wanted out. I was done. It was a good run, but the Sierras won. The mountains won. They’re too much for my body to handle; what superhuman could!?
Tears were flowing, and profanity was screamed out loud, literally (thankfully no one was to be seen).
But something happened about .3 from the pass itself. I had my music playing and the song “Everybody Hurts,” as performed by The Corrs, came on.
At first I got annoyed that a slow song came up, but as someone who believes that nothing is an accident, I decided to let it play out. I listened to the words. I got it. I kept on.
Then, what happened next was so surreal that if it didn’t happen to me, and I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I’d have trouble believing it: the smoke cleared. The sun shined through; the blue sky was seen for the first time all day.
Perhaps coincidence? Perhaps not.
Well, from the actual Pass (on Guthook), you still have .3 to the high point. Onward I went. At this point, I’m laughing, crying – point being I was smiling. I wasn’t as foul and ugly as I had been all day.
As I drudged on, (I swear it!) the song “Everybody Hurts,” as performed by REM came on. I was freaked out at that point!
I finally stopped once I got to true top. I bent down, stretched a little, and as I looked to the ground, this is what I saw:
I pulled out my phone and saw the time: 3:33pm.
As we used to say amongst my trail-family:
Never Quit On A Bad Day
I won’t. I didn’t. I’m not.
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