June 25, 2018
It’s amazing how differently some people see their circumstances. Couch Potato looked at the fact that he was coming up on being on the PCT for 100 days and was incredibly discouraged by his lack of progress. River looked at her same situation a few days ago and found a renewed drive and sense of accomplishment. Me? 100 days is a long time, to be sure, and being nearly at mile 1000 is pretty awesome. I wished we were further, but I was grateful for the progress we’d made.
I slept really well the previous night. Maybe the combination of a little Jameson and a droning, rushing river helped lull me to sleep. Regardless, I was thankful. I hadn’t had a solid nights’ sleep in a long time.
The day started with a lot of muddy trail and mosquitos, but eventually we gained a little elevation and it got better. After passing Dorothy Lake and going up and over the pass, we hit the 1000 mile mark just north of the Cascade Falls trail junction. The place was marked with stones and we took photos and videos to commemorate our accomplishment. We also met two other NOBO hikers, Snacks and Flamingo, and sat chatting with them for almost an hour while we ate snacks and relished feeling like kings of the world (at least, that’s how I felt).
Our hike that day was fairly easy. We had officially left Yosemite and we stopped at the base of Sonora Pass near Kennedy Canyon Creek at about 3:15pm. We debated for a long time whether we should stop or push on, but in the end decided the tentsites were far too flat and lovely to pass by, the water too accessible to abandon, and the climb too long and arduous to be tackled so late in the day. We probably would be able to get a hitch by the time we reached the road anyway, and none of us wanted to camp near the road.
Personally, I had a ton of energy and felt sure I could make it over Sonora Pass before dark. It was only 11 miles, after all. I can tell I’ve finally got my trail legs at last because even on the super-steep climbs I’ve had no trouble keeping up with Sparky. I was actually itching to move faster, which posed an entirely new problem. I had a true trail family here and I didn’t want to hike without them, but I was anxious to finish the hike. Not to quit, but to reach the finish line. The hardest bits of the trail are over, or so they say. Oregon is flat and easy, right?
There was a fire ring and I built a little fire, and the three of us sat around it enjoying dinner and chatting. To my utter surprised, Ghosthiker randomly said that she believed I could make really big miles now that I was stronger, and that if I wanted to leave them and get done faster, she would be so proud of me. I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t said anything about leaving them and it was like she’d read my mind! I don’t want to leave them – I love hiking with them. But Sparky and Ghosthiker were planning on averaging 17-20 mile days from here to Mexico, and I’d been planning on doing 30’s at the very least if I could manage it.
Ghosthiker actually said she didn’t think she could do more than 20 miles a day consistently.
“I’m an old lady, you know.” She said.
Old lady?! For the last 850 miles she was the one who was always pushing us a little further, the one I struggled consistently to keep up with.
But now it was different. If I couldn’t at least do 25’s on a regular basis once we hit Oregon, I’d end up finishing in October and I just couldn’t do that. Ghosthiker said she’d done the math and we’d have to average 18 miles a day to finish by mid-September. I’d already been entertaining the notion that if I pulled ahead and started cranking out the miles, I could potentially finish in August. What had happened to me? When did I go from barely dragging myself into camp after 12 miles to wanting to cover multiple passes in a day and push to cover no less than 20 or 30 miles in a day?
I knew what it was. I wanted to be done, but I didn’t want to quit. I’d hit the hiker wall where one forgets why they’re out there in the first place and all they can think about is completing the hike. It was a bad place to be in mentally, and I knew it. We hadn’t even finished California yet.
We spent the late afternoon sitting around our little campfire chatting and enjoying one another’s company. The meager smoke didn’t do much to ward off the mosquitoes, but it was still a nice little fire. We talked for a long time about the hike, about lots of deep and personal things that made me never want to hike without these two people ever again.
We were all in our tents by 5:30pm, which was way too early for me. At first, I just lay there feeling anxious, my body still wanting to move. I want to make big miles, but to do so would mean leaving my trail family behind. I don’t want to do that! But I also don’t want to still be hiking in September or October. We might not make it before the snow hit! My predicament made me feel a little sick.
Nothing about this hike has turned out the way I thought it would.
Suddenly, I decided I would not simply lay there waiting for the sun to go down. My muscles were itching, so rather than waste time stewing, I spent over two hours listening to music with my earbuds and doing whatever calisthenics I could manage in my little tent, like planks, push-ups, sit-ups, and stretches. If I managed to finish this hike, I was determined to reach Canada looking like a rockstar.
Tomorrow we’d hike up Sonora Pass and hitch to North Kennedy Meadows. Maybe we’ll be able to shower and do some laundry without having to pay for a room for the night. I was in desperate need of a shower. If I did these exercises right, I knew I’d be in some pain tomorrow. Good.