Is it really August?

I honestly got the biggest shock this morning when I discovered the year had ticked over into August. The year’s almost over and I’m still on the trail, in fact I’m still in California! Is it possible? I haven’t had phone signal for three days and the frustration of not being able to get messages out to the real world finally got the better of me. I had to take a deep breath and give into the mercy of the trail. We’re completely surrounded by mountains and I haven’t felt this isolated since the Sierras. ‘No Signal’ is the only message I receive at the top of each mountain. I needed to give up hope as I’m not sure I’ll even have signal in Etna.

I bumped into Songbird and Banana Ripper this morning about 2 miles down the trail. They told me they coincidently bumped into Sharon, the woman who I recently met on the trail with her friend Patricia who has a fear of heights. Sharon overheard a conversation they were having in the grocery store with a staff member regarding the laundromat in town which has closed down. She kindly offered to clean the girl’s clothes, and took them in for the night and cooked them dinner! Thanks for being a wonderful trail angel Sharon!

After this much time on the trail my mind is suddenly starting to think of life after the PCT, and I’m wondering more and more about what my friends and family are up to. I have only spoken to my parents once and one of my best friends Katie when it was her birthday. Other than that I’ve been completely isolated from my ‘off trail’ life. I think my mind and body are so used to the hike that now I have more head space to dedicate to other thoughts. It’s blissful when my mind drifts into thoughts other than miles to the next water source or what I’m going to eat for lunch. It’s even better when the thoughts float in and out without too much effort on my part. Sometimes I completely forget what I’ve just been thinking. I thought my memory was bad off trail but it’s gone to complete mush out here. I can’t even remember names anymore.

The little black flies have finally left me alone but now I find myself being swarmed by bees when I eat lunch. The other day I had about 10 circling me and I had to pack up and leave because they were freaking me out too much. I had a grasshopper bounce off my lip today and about two days ago I startled a small snake and it literally threw itself off the trail, dropping about 3 meters and bounced off the ground. It looked hilarious!

This afternoon a hiker who I call the lepricorn was coming towards me and when I asked how he was doing he said he’d turned around because of the smoke of the nearby fires. He said he couldn’t go on because it was burning his throat. I asked what mile he turned around at and he couldn’t tell me because he doesn’t carry any maps. He said he turned around 1.5 hours ago. I could see the smoke in the air but wasn’t convinced it was impassable and decided to go ahead and see how bad it really was. If I hadn’t bumped into him I wouldn’t have given the smoke a second thought as the fires seemed pretty far away, but I got more nervous as I went on, as I was trying to decipher where he had run into trouble. I went as close to the smoke as the trail took me before it swung back in the opposite direction. I didn’t experience any issues with the smoke at all and was relieved that I had kept going.

I’m camped 9 miles from Etna and arrived at camp at 7pm. I had a cold dinner of cheese and salami before Banana Ripper and Songbird showed up. They also bumped into the lepricorn and had the exact same thoughts as me regarding the fire. I’m going to aim to get to Sawyers Bar Rd, the road to Etna, by 11am tomorrow and hopefully be back on the trail by late afternoon!

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11 thoughts on “Is it really August?

  1. your new hat looks good Rozanne………keep up the good work……..we’re all counting on you to make it…………

  2. Sensational – nearly out of California. When looking at the total trail map it is hard to comprehend just how far you have come and how you have handled the accumulated experiences. I’ve thought before that the blogs and imagery must be consuming a lot of your time, especially rest time. As much as they are looked forward to and interest so many followers, I think it is smart to pare back on blogs and give more focus to the trail and yourself. Keep the main goal paramount.

  3. Great to see a video from you! Even when you don’t know exactly what to say, they’re great. My friend Swiss Army is a few days ahead of you on the PCT and should be pulling into Ashland this weekend. I’m sure he’s looking forward to a zero day. Enjoy Etna.

  4. You may already have this phone number: 888-PCTRAIL, or 888-728-7245 — trail conditions hotline by the PCTA. Currently reporting no closures due to the So. Oregon fires, but smoky conditions in some places. Apparently, it’s been pretty smoky in Ashland. Wishing you blue skies and clear air!

  5. Muk Muk,
    As you just about complete hiking my state I am sure you have observed she is a beauty and can be a beast! You have done such an amazing job of tackling so many challenges-the wind, the mosquitoes, the heat, the big cats, the isolation! I am including what I wrote to Carrot to you too which is: I discovered PCT blogs last summer and after following a few I have been religiously reading your blog and Carrot’s this year. You two are so different and convey such varied aspects of the trail. When you actually both met up and wrote about each other it was kind of like those stories that combine the characters from one book – like The Three Little Pigs and they meet up with Goldilocks! I don’t know why, I just wasn’t expecting it! I am addicted to the accounts you both provide and I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to give us these little gems, almost in real time.
    I have been a bit worried about you since you posted your picture of how thin you are. It is just the mom in me. I totally get how blogging must turn into a burden and a time zapper. I also follow Rockin on the CDT and she does a couple of posts and then does a “photo journal” day with just pictures. Maybe that is a strategy to try.
    I think I remember that a lot of PCT hikers leave the trail at Etna. All the burdens hit you hard but if you get to Oregon you will be rewarded with fast miles and easier hiking. Hang in there!
    Your journey has been so personal, so detailed, and so honest. It is entertaining, at times heartbreaking, and nerve-racking to read. I don’t know anything about you but you have what it takes to be in some form of travel media. Your videos make me feel like I am watching an episode of Globe Trekkers on PBS. You are so darn charismatic and natural!
    Rethink your time, girl. We all love you and are cheering you on!

    • Wow thanks Kathleen, you made me laugh thinking of me and Carrot as two fictional characters crossing over novels into one another’s. I really appreciate your words, you wouldn’t believe (well maybe) how pumped up I have felt reading all the feedback that came through in the last couple of days. Thank you for being part of the journey! Muk

  6. I’ve been following along since week two. What I appreciate most is that you’re willing to talk about the lows of your hike. Of course, it’s beautiful and I love seeing all of the spectacular scenery, but as a hiker what I connect with most are the pathetic moments. The frustrating moments. Ie) turning a ziploc bag inside out to get the last Nutella, not realizing that your bathroom stop is right next to an occuppied campsite, not being able to stop and take in the scenery because the flies won’t leave you alone. The lows are always there with the highs. Thank you.

  7. Hi darling, how the time flies, you have achieved an enormous lot in those last months. Your photos are fantastic and seeing the rugged wilderness with a trail which is not very wide, it must be hard going sometime. Keep an open mind and hike on. Love Mutti xxoo

  8. Hi MukMuk,

    I have been binge reading your blog for the past couple of weeks (from the beginning) and have enjoyed every post! I thru-hiked the AT in 2009 and now have the bug to hike the PCT. But the thing that I really relate to in your posts is how much it reminds me of my hike. The emotional highs and lows of the trail; float hiking; 10 by 10; the tears; the homesickness; the thoughts about life after the trail.

    But I just wanted to let you know how I appreciate your sharing this experience.

    Thanks,
    Stephanie aka Evergreen AT NOBO ’09

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