When I woke up this morning and took the bandana off from over my eyes, I was shocked to see how light the world was outside my tent. I reached for my watch which told me it was already 7am. I think this was one of the longest sleeps I’ve had since my first few days on the trail. I decided with the amount of mosquitos about that I’d just eat a pop tart and hit the trail. It still took me an hour to break camp so it was already 8am when I took my first stiff steps over the creek and up the mountain.
When I hit the Barker Pass PCT trailhead I’d already listened to my Missy Higgins album and was wondering how I was going to pass away the remaining 18 miles for the day. As I crossed the road I figured I may have signal and sure enough I did. It was then I received a text from UB telling me about his new south bound challenge. Feeling low on inspiration, motivation and calories most likely, I burst into tears. The realisation that I would really have to hike the rest of the trail alone hit me all at once, and at that moment it was all too much to bare.
I called UB immediately and through my choked up spluttering managed to at least say hello and ask what his plans were. I understood his reasoning completely. From the day I met him and ever since, the 90 day challenge has been haunting him. As much as I’ve witnessed UB enjoy the trail, the people and the surroundings, I always knew he felt he had failed in achieving what he really set out to do. Hearing that he was going to start fresh from the border of Canada and head south made me both proud and excited, because the determination and passion in his voice made me realise he had made the right, courageous decision.
When I hit the trail again I felt like it was a new beginning. I felt inspired, empowered and excited to be in the driver’s seat of a hike that will take me all the way to my second home, Canada. Not only did I draw on UB’s energy, but I also had so many wonderful comments from those following my blog that I spent the next 2 hours walking and digesting it all. I’ve honestly never received such praise and support before, especially from people I’ve never had the chance to meet, and yet feel I already know. Sometimes it feels like a dream.
The scenery today was a stand out! The views back at Lake Tahoe were breathtaking, and walking along the ridges covered with windflowers was magical. The drastic change of mood meant I wasn’t counting miles, I was rather thinking ahead to the next section and mentally preparing for a fresh new hike. I know I need to challenge myself to stay motivated, so I’m going to aim for 25 mile days from Sierra City and see how my body feels. I know it’s achievable, especially if I get an early start in the mornings!
When I was crossing one of the ridges I was surprised to bump into Leaky and Moonshine, considering how much time I’d taken on the phone, blogging and making a late breakfast at 11am. They had just finished lunch and were about to head off when I realised I had phone service again! More comments were flooding in and I had to fight the urge to walk and write as I have a hard enough time staying upright with shoes three sizes too big for me as it is.
At 3:30pm I stopped for lunch at a creek where the boys were resting and Fuller had just completed rinsing his clothes. I rehydrated some bean, rice and mince mix from UB but was so hungry most of the ingredients were still crunchy because I didn’t let it soak long enough. Tasted good anyway! I also soaked my feet in the cool stream as I have two giant mosquito bites on them the size of quarters which hurt like crazy.
I was a little sluggish after lunch but enjoyed the 3 miles of climbing above Squaw Valley where the Winter Olympics were held in 1960. The ski lifts were so close there were even high voltage warnings along the trail. At 6:30pm I caught up to the boys again and we found an awesome campsite with a fire pit half a mile up the trail next to a little stream. Such a contrast to where we slept last night. I combined two dinners of cous cous and mash potato, drank a hot chocolate and had a chunky Kit Kat for desert. No hunger pains for me tonight!