Slipping into the dark

When I hit the trail again on Monday afternoon after Jan had dropped me off and helped me with my resupply in Dunsmuir, I was feeling pumped. I felt clean, well fed and comfortable in my new hiking attire. The only thing I was lacking was sleep, having stayed up until 1:30am to update my blog for the previous two days.

Whether being tired had anything to do with it or not, my mind quickly dipped deeper and deeper into a dark place that left me zapped of energy and motivation. Where did this come from? After 3 miles I slumped onto the trail with my pack still attached and my legs sprawled out. I closed my eyes and let out a huge sigh. I had the flute whistle that the Numerologist in Sierra City sold me after telling me I’m a musical soul and have good rhythm. She either read me wrong or lied because the noise that transpired wasn’t even close to what the average person would call music. I am usually too embarrassed to play with the fear that someone may hear me, but I was so low in my own thoughts I didn’t care on this occasion. The flute actually now doubles as my bear scarer.

At the first water source I bumped into a hiker who was also in a crabby mood, and not long after Bill showed up looking glum and dissatisfied from his stop in Castella. We all grumbled as we filled up our water bottles and continued up the 4000 foot climb. I cowboy camped with a gorgeous view of Castle Crags, but woke in a worse mental state than the previous day. Not even coffee could snap me out of this one.

I had so much going on in my head that I actually hiked well this morning because I was stamping my way briskly down the trail. I had a fellow hiker step aside when they saw me coming in fear I would trample them. There’s been so many emotions to process and not a lot of time to do so. It got me thinking a lot about this blog, how much time I’m dedicating to it and whether it’s taking away from the hike itself.

The blog has grown from December when the only person reading it and commenting was my mum, now it’s impossible to know who’s viewing it. I guess I’ve become more aware of my audience and as a result less able to write down every thought, action or even names of other hikers anymore. The hiker who I met yesterday who was grumpy at the creek asked specifically not to have their name mentioned. This made me question just how ‘real’ I can be through this medium.

In my darkest mindset as I walked today, I thought about discontinuing the blog posts and starting up a written journal instead, where I can write down my thoughts without the scrutiny of an audience. I had myself settled on the idea until I thought about some of the recent comments I’d received, like the one from Nina who said she reads my posts to her two young boys to inspire them to one day take on big challenges in their own lives. I also think back to the folks at Drakesbad and Zion, the young boy who told me he was inspired, and wonder if he is still following along. I’ve had so much incredible feedback and words of support that I’m completely overwhelmed, but those comments have got me through some of my darkest days and I realised it wouldn’t be right to simply end the story now.

What I do need to do though is make some changes so I’m not focussing too much attention on telling my story rather than living it. I also need to avoid burning myself out. I’m not exactly sure what the answer is, but I think it will start with cutting down from blogging each day to maybe every second or third, or simply just when I feel like telling one of many stories from the trail. I may also need to add less pictures/videos as the upload time can be horrendous with limited reception on the trail.

My other update is that although I have loved receiving so many special gifts and goodies along the way from a number of you, I now have enough supplies to make it all the way to Canada and I simply don’t want anything sent to me to go to waste. The best gift you can give me is to make a pledge on my ‘Donate’ page to either commit to your own personal challenge or to donate to an organisation that you truly believe in. The objective of this blog was to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and believe you can conquer any challenge you set yourself. I’m already fortunate to be living this experience, so it would be wonderful to hear what kind of adventures it has inspired you to take on in the near future.

I hadn’t felt like writing until tonight and I think taking two days off from the routine has helped alleviate some of the pressure I have been putting on myself. I am camped by a beautiful lake and watched an incredible sunset across it from inside my tent this evening. Despite some crashing sounds around the campsite earlier it’s completely silent now. I played my magic flute and the world fell silent. Goodnight from mile 1542, I believe tomorrow will be a brighter day.

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37 thoughts on “Slipping into the dark

  1. First off, that last photo with the pink clouds is AMAZING! You’re lucky to have been there to see that…

    Second, thanks so much for the time you’ve already invested in “taking us” along with you. As much as I look forward to your posts, photos, and videos to allow me to live the trail vicariously through your steps, I completely understand the pressure you must be feeling to not let us down. That said, you have to HYOH (hike your own hike) and BYOB (blog, not beer) and never let that second bit detract from your experience.

    I’ll still look forward to your entries, and the ones you feel compelled to post will be that much more special to us and to you.

    Stay safe and think happy thoughts. πŸ™‚

      • I couldn’t agree with _SHig’s comments more. I love reading your updates, but I can also see with your long days, and the difficulty that comes with completing such and epic journey that continuing a blog at times can be stressful. I try to think what I would do in your shoes?? ….Perhaps taking a break from blogging is what you need? It would be an experiment. What ever you decide, I support!!

  2. Feel free to BYOB! I love that thought as well stated by SHig. You may miss out on some opportunities (i.e. maybe you and I wouldn’t have connected) but the much bigger picture is enjoying YOUR trail journey. It seems many bloggers switch focus by the half-way point for similar reasons. Your emotional honesty is one of the reasons your blog has become popular and if you are feeling constrained then a different medium is important for your own personal record. Continue to video and record your thoughts for your own memories and share with us those you choose.

    I’m sorry that you’ve had such a zigzag of emotions in the past few days. Maybe that is just part of the process and it will help you tackle difficult times in the future.

    Here is a giant HHHHHUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG from me to you!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jan

  3. Thank you for the inspiration you have already provided, and for all the time you’ve taken to do this so far. Because of you, I’ve been backpacking all season since your blog began and am leaving again for another much longer hike in a few days. I’ve worked extra jobs and over time to purchase numerous items for my hikes including lasting equipment that I will use for years to come. I am now destined and determined that I will too hike thru hike the PCT in 2015.. Thank you so much for being the driving force to the happiest place I’ve been in a long, long, long time. You truly have changed my life, so to that cheers with our filtered water!

    • Wow what an incredible comment. That is the best thing I could ever hear, I’m already getting excited thinking about you planning to do this in 2015!! I’m always here to answer your questions closer to the time or sooner if need be! So happy for you!

  4. A big hug to you, Rozanne, and a hope that by the time you read this, your mood will already have turned around, and your day is brighter. I totally agree with what SHig and Jan wrote — and like Woooner, I’ve been very inspired by you. If you never post again, you have already created a wonderful record in words, photos and video that you can be proud of forever. So please don’t feel pressured by your audience – it’s your hike, your blog, and if the curtain drops today, we would say nothing other than a heartfelt thanks for all that you have so generously shared.

  5. Muk Muk,

    having hiked the PCT myself I understand you pretty well. I had a blog, too, in the beginning, but decided to stop it somewhere after Casa de Luna because I simply couldn’t do it anymore time-wise. I felt it’s either the blog or making it to Canada before winter, but not both. Also my most important passion was taking above average photos so I carried my heavy camera gear (DSLR + all the supporting gear) and took quite some time to compose my photos. I could afford this one “luxury” because it was one of my core motivations to do the PCT in the first place. Writing a blog not so much for me. But before the hike I had no idea that hiking would be a full time job by itself and figured I could do it, I soon realized I was wrong.

    Obviously, you are a far more talented blogger than I will ever be. I have been admiring your ability to write this blog from the trail ever since I found out about it knowing how hard it can be. At least, technically it is a bit easier this year with the latest smartphones (I was at a clear disadvantage in this matter). But still – amazing!

    I would be very happy to be able to hear the rest of your story until you reach Canada – just like everybody else following you I am sure. But the hike itself is far more important. So if you feel you do need to cut back and post only every couple days or only once per section, don’t be too hard on yourself. On the PCT you are living one of the greatest freedoms there are. Don’t compromise this freedom by feeling too pressured that you have to blog every day in great detail.

    It is also totally ok to take a couple extra zero days to regenerate and catch up on sleep. You are making such good time that you will reach Canada way before the snow comes at this pace. So there is no rush (I did not have this luxury. I was at Castle Crags three weeks later than you). Constant hurrying, not taking enough zeros and the subsequent psychological pressure nearly killed my hike because it eventually lead to shin splints and even a presumed stress fracture which made me hiking in pain for the last 250 miles.

    Also, be aware that Northern California sometimes tends to invoke dark feelings on the trail. I don’t know exactly why that is. Maybe because of a drop in excitement after the Sierra Nevada is behind. For me this started to improve somewhere around Crater Lake.

    So, as one of my fellow commentators puts it, keep hiking and enjoying this wonderful trail. There is still so much amazing stuff ahead!

    Wide Angle

  6. I am a 60 yr old disabled lady who reads your journal, some days I have allot of pain and when I read your blog, I laugh with you, cry with you, and mostly pray that God will keep you safe, Your videos have made me laugh and have brightened my outlook on life, Hike on girl, I will continue to check yours blogs whether you do them daily, weekly or whenever. Go MUK MUK!!!!!!

    • Pam thank you for sharing your story with me. I received so many incredible comments from people but yours has really stuck with me through this last section in particular. Thank you so much for your kind words, I’m so honoured to be able to bring joy into your world!

  7. Rozanne,

    It has been a real treat and honor to follow along with you on your amazing odyssey. I hiked for 5 days in the Olympics this last week with my son, and thought of you numerous times. I was telling my son about some of your experiences. I would like to hike the PCT and do all of Oregon next year and you have provided motivation for that.

    You have done SO much to record your trek for yourself and blog followers that I have been astounded and impressed with the care and time you took to do so!

    As several have said before, no need to compromise your trip for the need to keep posting. Everyone will cheer when you next post and have no further expectations. You need to know you are NOT letting anyone down by taking more time for yourself.

    Hike your hike, and keep up the great progress, you are doing so well. I would enjoy providing some trail magic for you in Washington.

    Tim

    • Hey Tim, where are you in Washington? I’m planning to do the Goat Rocks Wilderness section of the PCT in September and am working on securing a ride from White Pass to Walupt Lake. Jan

      • Hi Jan, there are a few of us following Muk Muk in Washington, although I am further north then that area. I would suggest that you check out NWHikers.net there is quite the community and a lot of nice folks that can help you with a one-way trip. Beat of luck and enjoy the Goat Rocks wilderness!

        Wolfman
        Keep Hiking!

      • We plan to drive from California to White Pass on Thursday, 9/5, and have obtained permission to leave our vehicle parked at the Cracker Barrel Store. It looks like there is a campground at White Pass where we can spend Thursday night since it will be hard to judge our arrival time. Friday morning we’d like a ride to Walupt Lake to begin our northward journey. We have some flexibility of dates, however, an employee of the store has offered to be our transportation and is available on those dates; we are looking for a Plan B in case her offer or availability falls through. I can be reached directly at jmkats1 at yahoo. Thanks for the possibility!

  8. Rozanne, Muk Muk, whoever, whatever, you want to be and do, Be It – Do It!

    This is not our journey, we may hope and dream and want to be there for everything that you do, from Cougar fighting to having someone watch you poo! We don’t care, we all follow you with rapt desire. What this is is YOUR JOURNEY! We are merely spectators on the sidelines dreaming our dreams and always wishing you the best.

    This is Your Hike, Your Journey, You do what you need to do. To be honest, I am surprised at just how much you blog. I sometimes think that you should be hiking or sleeping as apposed to blogging. I am not sure exactly how you do it, type or voice or just what, but my God Girl, it must take a hell of a lot of time! πŸ™‚ Blog what you want, blog when you want, don’t worry or even think about us, we are here doing what we can to live through you and to support you. This hike has always been about you and what you want out of it.

    Will some of us miss you and your unbelievable amount of updates, sure! But so what! We are not out there hiking our butts off, you are. If we want more of the “Experience” we can get off our own butts and get out there and Keep Hiking ourselves! As some of us are doing and or planing on doing. I to hope/plan/pray/dream of hiking the PCT in 2015, although not directly because of you, I have been planing this for several years, you do inspire me and motivate me to get out and hike more. And I thank you so very much for that and all the adventure that we have shared with us. I hope to meet you someplace in Washington, if it happens that would be great, if not, that is OK too, what is important is you Hike your own Hike and Take your own Journey.

    Now get out there, but that phone away and …

    Keep Hiking!

    • Hey Wolfman, where are you in Washington? I’m planning to do the Goat Rocks Wilderness section of the PCT in September and am working on securing a ride from White Pass to Walupt Lake. Jan

  9. Muk Muk, I adore your blog, but I would totally understand if you cut down – I can’t even keep up with my trip reports on my blog, so I don’t know how you’re able to blog this much from the trail!

    Keep documenting (for yourself) the important bits you want to remember, good and bad, you’ll appreciate having that to look back on in the future, and then you can choose what you want to post publicly.

    Sending good vibes so your mood will lighten soon! Don’t be surprised if all of these blog thoughts disappear along with the darkness; we humans tend to overthink things when we’re feeling low.

    Big hugs from your fellow Mukmuketeer

  10. Everyone has said it all so eloquently. Do whatever works for you. If you never blog again we will all still support you in our hearts. This hike should be about you and not those of us following your blog.

    For years family, friends, even people who took part in my guided hikes asked me to start a blog so they could follow along on my mostly solo adventures.

    I struggled with how often to blog, how dedicated I would be with my posts, how obligated it would make me feel to post, and initially with how it would impact my hiking experience.

    I’m an over-achiever! Ultimately, I had to give myself permission to blog only when the mood hit me and keep the entries simple. I know I have something to blog when a blog title floats through my mind … today Smoke ‘n Mirrors popped into my head as I thought of how you and others will soon be hiking along the smoke-filled trail in Southern Oregon. It’s too soon to tell if the post will materialize.

    It took me longer to move beyond taking pictures of everything that would be interesting to everyone who couldn’t be there. Now I take pictures only when something interests me … my photo album ranges from tree bark to ocean sunsets.

    Give yourself permission to do what you wish, just like you gave yourself permission to hike the trail.

    You’ll touch just as many people by being present in the moment on the trail as you do with your blog.

    • Wow, wow, wow! Chris yours and everyone’s comments have completely blown me away. I’m actually speechless. It’s incredible that my objective is to inspire, and yet just reading all your stories has inspired me. Thank you all for such motivating and understanding words. They’ve definitely tipped me over emotionally, but in a very positive way. I’m ready to hit the trail and keep hiking! Thank you so much, Muk Muk

      • Hi Muk Muk:

        My husband and I are with you all the way to Canada. I wanted to drive up to see give you a hug after the mountain lion post (my husband laughs at me)! We are doing part of the JMT in mid-August and I wish we could invite you along! The point being I feel like I know you because you have been so honest and open about your PCT experience and I haven’t posted anything until I read this post, so I want to thank you for all you have shared on your blog and please know we are also rooting for you and sending you good thoughts everyday for a safe and happy journey (but I have SO been down in the dumps during my own several thousand foot climbs).

        Take care and happy trails πŸ™‚

  11. Bravo, bravo, bravo Rozanne. You seem to be a great person, which so strongly shows through your blog. Whatever you decide, you already did something great inspiring us all. If your travels bring you back to San Diego, you are invited to come sailing with my wife and me, in a sailboat that I plan to sail solo to Spain one of these days, now sooner than later after the little push I’ve received from you!

  12. Rozanne,
    I won’t lie, the selfish part of me is sad that you want to cut back on your blogging. I truly look forward to all your posts and love hearing about all your adventures and all the people you are meeting! Many times throughout my days I try and imagine where you are on the trail and what you are doing (is that creepy??! i hope not.) I also love your transparency, and your courage in showing the good and the bad. But I also understand the time it takes to blog and upload, not to mention the mental drain. And I hate to think that because your audience is growing, that you are feeling more pressure and possibly enjoying it all a little less. Your audience is growing because your blog is awesome and your pictures are amazing! But also because many of us reading wish we had the courage, time, strength, independence and determination to do the PCT, like you do!

    Please understand that there are so many people rooting for you! I will continue reading even if you only post once a week. Do whatever you need to do and your audience will follow. HYOH & BYOB

    Big encouraging hugs!
    Sarah

  13. I will just chime in with everybody else and say that you should do whatever you feel is right for you. You should never cut back on your own experiences or sacrifice your precious sleep on the trail because you feel obligated to post/blog – after all, this is your hike, and your life! You have touched so many people with your story, your pictures and your great smile, and you will continue to do so, I am sure – be it via your blog or in real life, on the trail or afterwards in the everyday life. We are here waiting for you and we will simply be happy when you post, how often that may or may not be doesn’t matter. It is a privilege for us that you chose to share your story and I want to thank you so much for that!
    I hope that someday I can do another long distance hike, and your story has definitely strengthened my motivation and determination – I found so many of the emotions I went through on my walk in your story, the good and the bad, the joy and the exhaustion, it’s all part of it. Thank you again for sharing it all with us!
    Sending you lots of positive vibes and, if you want, a hug, from all the way from Germany,
    Fine

  14. Hi Rozanne,

    I’ve only been following you for the last week or so, but I’m now hooked. I backpack with friends into the Sierras every year and discovered you when Rand published a photo of my new Caldera Cone on his site, below yours. I like joking around, so if I had a dear friend in this situation I would tell them….

    Shut up and hike! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Of course we don’t know each other so I wouldn’t dare be so forward with you. πŸ™‚

    In truth, I’ve actually been sitting here with tears in his eyes reading the wonderful comments from others. There’s a lot of caring people following you.

    Remember where this started. “On September 30 2012 I was sitting at the top of a cliff on a huge rock overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and thought, β€˜in 2013 I’m going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail’.” It did not start with, “On September 30 2012 I was sitting at the top of a huge rock overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and thought, β€˜in 2013 I’m going to write a blog’.”

    One thing you know for sure, Rozanne. If you can get outside of yourself for a moment, you know that you will remember this for the rest of your life.

    Enjoy.

  15. Wow you have SO many supporters! Yes Zion does still follow your blog, as well as the rest of the crazy bunch you met in Drakesbad! I believe you and your story will remain with us for a long time. You’re someone my boys will remember: your courage, optimism and emanating light was apparent to all of us. Whether you continue your blog or not, know we’re cheering you on and sending good thoughts your way! πŸ™‚

  16. I’m so sad to hear you are down, just want you to know how much my husband and I enjoy your information and pictures as you travel along. Choose to share as often as you want and rest assured we don’t care about anyone’s names, just their experiences. We just really enjoy your humor and wit. Whenever you write we will live the trail through you!
    Happy trails and smiles too!😍

  17. Muk Muk if you stopped blogging today the inspiration you’ve already given us will long remain. Following you has been a real privilege, and my family and I thank you so much for allowing us to tag along. In 4 weeks, myself and 2 others will embark on an adventure of our own…trekking 555 miles from France into Spain. I am nervous, and I have had my share of (am I nuts to be doing this?) moments, but knowing you’re out there cutting it spurs me on. My journey will be unlike yours in many respects but similar in the fact that I I know full well I will experience some dark moments of my own. However, just a few days ago you shared a message that another hiker had shared with you. Three simple words that pack so much punch that I will be carrying them with me to get me through, “keep on hiking!” No matter what else, “keep on hiking.”

    • Hi Nina and All,

      I started following this blog when my own Camino De Santiago Hike for 2013 was thwarted (just postponed). Since my husband and I raised our kids hiking the Sierras, I thought I would ease my dissappointment and pain by reading about the experiences of others on the PCT.
      I was hooked the minute I found Muk Muk and her facinating tales. I also have a couple of very dear friends on the trail this summer. JeffnSue are in Washington now and I hope are doing well.

      The point of this is… I love you mentioning “keep hiking” in your post here. When my friend Sue was preparing to start at the Mexico boarder in April and waiting to find her trail name… I heard a wise old Moduk Indian man explain how his people just Keep On Keepin On. If you take the fisrt letter of each of those words you get KOKO. A trail name she now embrasses.

      We all know that there are needs for resting days, both for mind and body. But to keep on keepin on and embrace whatever trail is beneath your feet – is to enjoy the path you are on.

      Best wishes and Buen Camino !
      I wish I was hiking either trail, myself this year !

      From Alaska
      Lyn
      Hang in there Muk Muk,
      Keep On Keepin On !

  18. Don’t stop blogging Rozi. Can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed it and iread them all to Mum who can’t believe that she can hear news and see pictures from a world away. I am in Sale now looking after Cooper. He is a gem and will one day read of your adventures and maybe be inspired.

  19. Hi darling, when you started this journey of thousand miles you didn’t know what to expect of this adventure on the Trail. You have met so many lovely people and you have been so busy with your blog. You like to share you experience with others and till deep in the night you posted the photos, videos and your lovely writing, for us all to follow you step by step. So lovely to read all the comments of the people who follow you and it must be a great feeling that you have inspired a lot of people, and lovely to hear that so many people admire you for what you are doing and achieving. Walk in the beautiful wilderness and feel part of it, be free and enjoy. Only blog when you feel like it, follow your dream and keep hiking. Strength, health and happiness, love you darling, Mutti xxoo

  20. Hi Rozanne,
    I’ve been amazed at your wiilingness to take the time to share your adventure with the rest of us, with honesty and openness. Your blog is refreshing and inspiring. Please don’t stop. But maybe you can adopt a technique used by the Swiss (i think) by which they train as much as they feel up to that day (someone might have already suggested this–I admit I haven’t read all of the comments). Write when you feel inspired to do so. We will enjoy and appreciate whatever you send.

    We’re all with you

  21. Hi Rozanne,
    Ditto to all of the above comments. The only blog post that I can’t do without is the one you send from Canada when you reach the end of the PCT. Any other posts are frosting on the cake. Just keep hiking and posting when you want to/can. The posts are all treasures.

    Donna

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