Okay, “Horror Stories” is a bit exaggerated. There are also lovely memories from the PCT included. Please read on..
So once again I am about to be off to spend a couple months covered in dirt, constantly hungry, constantly tired, smelly and undeniably content. I say content instead of happy because it’s the honest truth. You would think that taking two months to not work, vacationing, enjoying the sun and meeting new interesting people would lead you to be as happy as you could be. But hiking long distances is much more than just smiles and floating over the trail to your destination. Thru-hiking (hiking 500 miles of a trail or more) is tiring. Thru-hiking is hard. But I do believe most people could do it if they gave themselves a chance.
My response to people who are shocked, completely taken aback and in awe of my hike in 2015 is usually me saying how very simple it is. How all you’re really doing it walking, eating, drinking and sleeping. It’s that simple. Saying that to people brings them to your level. I feel that it allows them to connect better with you; almost every human can relate to most of those thru-hiking requirements.
But when I talk to other hiker trash, or when I think about hiking in my own head, I think of all the hard stuff as well.
I think about that evening after a 20 mile day that I spilled boiling water on my foot, then had to walk half a mile down a very steep hill to get to our water source for the night, then proceed to climb back up the hill.
(one week after the spill) ^^^
I think about the days when we were passing Mt. Shasta and for about a week (maybe more I don’t remember) almost everywhere we were, we could see the mountain sticking up from the earth. We camped at an “exposed campsite” one night that gave us the perfect view of Shasta. We watched the sun sink down below her, ate mac n cheese, and cowboy camped in our 5 billion star hotel.
I think about the 30 mile day we did in the pouring rain. As soon as we reached camp it stopped raining… I accidentally set our tent up in an unnoticeable dip in the ground and we woke in the morning sleeping in a puddle because it rained during the night (that happened a few times actually).
(My boyfriend Boomer’s feet after those 30 miles in the rain)
I think about that time we arrived in Belden Town in the eastern sierras during one of their annual raves put on by Sunset Sounds from San Francisco; hikers got in for free ;). We we served free party favors from the ravers camped out there. The “town”, if that’s even what you’d call it considering it was literally a couple rv’s and an old style saloon, was right on the feather river, so it was about a 1 minute walk down to the river bank where disco/funk music blasted, and hundreds of people lay on floaty toys in the water soaking up the sun. The music thumped all the way until around 8 or 9 in the morning for a 2 hour break until the disco/funk came back. It was a crazy weekend I will never forget.. In fact when I was hiking out of Belden town up a ridiculous incline (one of the hardest on trail) I could hear fantom dance music playing in my head. I couldn’t escape!
(Pretty wild considering the loudest sounds we were experiencing was occasional thunder and hail storms. Oh and snoring)
I think back to the many many many days that I had to continue the hiking routine even though I was in a horrible mood (I’m super sensitive so my mood fluctuates significantly throughout each week/day/moment/lol). I would wake up feeling so down in the dumps; it would be frozen outside; my shoes would be frozen; the tent would have ice on it.. and we’d still have to get up, put on our hiking clothes, wrap up the icy tent until our fingers felt as if they had completely broken off our hands and then hike on.
Some days I would cry. A lot. Or I would get so frustrated at everything I would throw my pack down. Yell. Kick stuff. Cry. But eventually I would get over it (usually around dinner time, what a coinky-dink).
There are so many stories to tell. I wish I had brought a journal to write down the memories because I know one day they will fade.
But I’m going back. I’m going to hike through the Mojave desert and also finish up some other sections we missed so that I can continue onto the next long distance trail. I am so excited.. But also so sad because my hiking partner and lover can’t make it with me. I’m afraid my days will be plagued with sorrow and longing for him. I will have hours upon hours of time to make up anxious stories in my head about him and his doings. I will have approximately 60 nights alone in the same tent we squeezed into for 4 1/2 months. Who will annoy me? Sigh..
It will be beautiful. Life is beautiful. The Pacific Crest Trail is life.