Another twist in the trail

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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24 thoughts on “Another twist in the trail

  1. Girlfriend, what are you going to do about those shoes?
    Can I help by picking up the right size at REI and Fed Ex them to you?

    • When I get to Sierra City I’m going to try the insoles Dirty Girl has sent me and see if they make a difference. I haven’t tripped over my own toes today so maybe I’m getting used to them!! Thank you soooo much for such a generous offer, I’ll let you know how they go!! πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Muk Muk,

    your blog is one of the best PCT blogs I have ever seen. I am looking forward to your updates every day and really miss them when you do not have cell phone coverage on some days.

    It is so great to hear about the highlights of your adventure, but I also admire the honesty when you tell or even cry about the low points on a bad day and how you get through them. I have not seen that very much before – especially in videos.

    Regarding UB’s decision to flip to the Canadian border, I’d like to tell you a story that you might relate to: When I thru-hiked the PCT in 2010, I had been hiking with a group of two other hikers I met at kickoff and a third who joined us at Kennedy Meadows for the Sierras. Being AT thru-hikers, the first two had a lot more experience than I as a total newbie. So I was really enjoying their company and appreciating their advice). And I did never doubt in the slightest that sometime in September or October we would make it to the Canadian border together as a group.

    One day after Kearsarge Pass, however, the first guy told the group that he would set out on his own after South Lake Tahoe. At the time, I was surprised and also a bit disappointed. But at least I had the other two guys left I figured.

    A couple weeks later in Sierra City, out of the blue, the other guy told me he could not continue with us. I had not seen it coming when I really should have. His feet were a total mess. He was not able to adjust to the necessary higher mileage days (we were about three weeks behind where you are at this point and really had to speed up). I was shocked and had to fight tears when I had to leave my good friend behind. He said he would rest a few days and then continue. However, the did not make it further than Old Station where he first thought about flipping to the Canadian border, but then quit for good.

    So I hiked on with the last member of our group. Things were going great. We immediately did two 30+ mile days which we had not been able to do before. In Old Station at the Heitmans’ (they were still hosting hikers that year), we ran into Monty and Billy Goat. Billy Goat was really, really pessimistic about our chances to make it to Canada before the snow. So the last member of our group besides me got so scared by his constant “You’ll never make it” that he made the decision on the spot to flip to the Canadian border and hike back south to Old Station (he did make it). For me, however, this was completely unthinkable. My mission was to hike a continuous path from Mexico to Canada – even if I had to road walk the last 100 miles. That was my core motivation when I woke up every morning.

    So within a couple days I was down from a group of four to just myself. Starting at Hat Creek Rim, I hiked all the way to Interstate 5 by myself – probably the 150 most boring and monotonous miles of the whole trail – which didn’t help. At first, it was very hard being all alone all the sudden and especially so unexpected.

    In retrospect, however, this was the best thing that happened to me on the trail. After Interstate 5 I got to know so many other great hikers, made so many new friends. I went from a group of four to a whole trail family. With many of them I overlapped all the way up to Canada. I was never alone when I didn’t want to. But could be when I felt like it on some days. ‘Hike your own hike’ finally started to make a whole lot more sense to me. Out of this family, I had three very special people who supported me morally for the last 175 miles when I hiked with severe foot pain due to an injury (probably stress fracture).

    I hope you forgive me for being lengthy. I just felt I had to tell this story when I read that you are in a somewhat similar situation right now.

    Enjoy the rest of your hike. It is truly a life changing adventure. Even after three years, there is not one single day when I don’t think about the PCT and the awesome people I met there.

    Wide Angle, PCT 2010

    • What a great story Wide Angle, I too am really starting to understand the phrase ‘Hike your own hike’. It’s rare when we can be in control of our own daily destiny and make decisions solely for ourselves. It’s refreshing! Congratulations on completing the trail! What an amazing experience! I’m not even half way so I envy your achievement. Thanks for following along on my journey! πŸ™‚

      • Muk Muk, actually I envy YOU for being on the trail right NOW πŸ™‚ But thank you!

        A couple days from now you will be in for a treat – at Drakesbad Ranch. I hear there is a new owner now, but if the place is at least similar to what it was in 2010 for us hikers, you really want to get there in time for dinner and camp in the vicinity to be back for breakfast!

      • Excited to make it there!! Will probably be another week but already looking forward to it πŸ™‚

  3. Great post! That photo looking back at Lake Tahoe through beautiful flowers is stunning. And for some reason, every single photo of Leaky and Moonshine brings a huge goofy smile to my face – I can only imagine how life-changing and fun it would have been to be hiking the PCT at their age. (Or your age, for that matter.) I’m also still reflecting on the fortuitous encounter you had with Fuller that kept him from quitting the trail. Tell all of these fellas that I and many others are keeping them in our thoughts and wishing them well — and full of admiration for what all of you have already accomplished!

    • I wish I would have known about the PCT when I was in my late teens and early 20’s. I did a lot of hiking back then and it would have been a lot easier to just take off and do it then it is now with the Kids, the house and all. But I am still going to do the PCT. I am shooting for 2015.

      • Yep, I remember the late 80’s, too! I’m more likely to be able to carve out the time to do the JMT – 2014? – before I can manage the PCT. But at least I won the Mt. Whitney lottery this year!

    • I passed your message onto the boys and Fuller and they all appreciate the support! Thanks so much Jamie! πŸ™‚

  4. Keep it up! I love reading your blog! My sister is out there, only a couple of days ahead of you. It’s fun to see how things are going for other hikers doing the same thing. You are certainly not alone. I’ve been reading a bunch of PCT blogs this year and let me tell ya, you are doing great!

  5. HI Rozanne,

    So glad to hear that things are looking up. Thanks for the views of wonderful scenery and the tales of happiness and woes. Your are the best. The other comments are an added plus for those of us that don’t hike.

    Donna

  6. Will Do! I am also going to do a section of the PNT (Pacific Northwest Trail) this summer, probably starting in abut 2 weeks. I will link you my Blog, but don’t expect much until I finish. Still trying to work out how ti hike and blog, I have always done it after the fact. Besides there is not a lot of cell reception in the Olympics. πŸ™‚

  7. Thanks again Roxanne, I really feel what it might be light not only on the trail, but what’s going on in your head & heart too! Nice going on switching from despair about UB & companionship, to motivation & inspiration, being more in the moment & appreciating.
    scott2

  8. Hi darling, such great photos and so lovely to hear that you felt refreshed. No wonder you felt like that because those photos looked so fresh with the green and lovely yellow flowers. You are doing so well and nice for you to meet some lovely people. Keep strong, love Mutti xxoo

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