The trail provides

When we surrender ourselves to the mercy of the trail, we often find this beast has a kind heart. Sometimes it needs to beat you down just enough to make the happy moments that much brighter. Although I had excruciating pain through the last 60 odd miles, I also had incredible fortune. It began with Fuller and his son Daniel arriving in Seiad Valley at 10:30pm on August 5, bringing me new shoes AND a new iPhone charge cord (having broken two in the previous section!)

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After the late night reunion it was a tough morning getting up early to beat the heat on the 4,500 foot climb out of Seiad. My pack felt a lot lighter having shed some gear and food, but a ways up the mountain the shooting pains in the top of my thigh returned. I was able to stop and massage my leg and continue walking in spurts, but the period between the pain became less and less, and I ended up trying to walk through it, only to be reduced to a balling mess less than half a mile down the trail.

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No more than 5 minutes later Fuller and Daniel came around the bend and Fuller sat down on the trail next to me to discuss options. He came up with a solution he figured would be absolutely full proof, preventing any weight from my pack aggravating the nerve causing the pain. He would carry my pack! Of course I told him this was the most absurd idea I’d ever heard but I entertained his insistence because I really had no other choice. Once he’d strapped my pack to his I helped him heave it onto his back, and although he insisted it wasn’t heavy I made him take it straight off (after fits of laughter and a photo naturally!)

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Instead of trying to wear the hip belt higher, when the shooting pain came on I simply loosened the hip belt, putting most of the weight on my shoulders. This managed to prevent the pain from worsening, and once it had subsided I could tighten it again and continue. I also discovered the lighter my pack became as I ate more and more food, the less the pain returned. I spent the next full day thinking of all the things I could possibly send ahead to Cascade Locks, to give my body the best chance to make it comfortably through Oregon.

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There was so much smoke through the valley I couldn’t see any views through this whole section. It didn’t affect my breathing though, and I was thankful that the fires weren’t any closer to the trail. I’ve been lucky so far during such a dry year not to have been rerouted along the trail. The water through this section is getting very low though in some of the springs, I was lucky if there was still water flowing as others were nothing more than a muddy puddle.

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I camped with Fuller and Daniel for our last night in California and Fuller played me an episode of a radio program called ‘This American Life’ about a 23 year old boy who walked from Virginia to California by road. It was a fascinating story as the boy asked people he met along the way what advice they would give to their 23 year old self. There were elements of the story I could definitely relate to, including the origin of the term ‘float walking’, ‘weep walking’ and ‘fear walking’. I went to sleep inspired by this boy’s achievement, and with a passion to get on my feet the next day and walk.

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The border crossing itself had highs and lows. There were some hikers there when I arrived but I was hoping that Fuller would make it in time to celebrate the occasion too. While I sat eating lunch on the Oregon side, one of the male hikers who was just about to set off again came back to share an insight with me. He said to me ‘well you can now call yourself a man.’ I paused for a minute before asking what he meant. He then proceeded to tell me walking this far was a very ‘manly’ thing to do, therefore I could call myself a man. I was so dumbfounded I didn’t even respond. But those words kept repeating in my head until 13:58 when I was just about to leave. I decided to wait until 14:00 and a second later Fuller appeared around the bend, so I was able to cheer him in as he weep walked with joy across the border into his home state hugging his son. It was a beautiful scene to be a part of.

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After many hugs and a celebratory libation, I left them at the border and carried on, determined to make enough miles for a short day into Ashland the following day. When I woke up at 4:30am the next morning I knew my head was in a negative space. I was extremely tired, hormonal, and just wanted to be in Ashland then and there. When I started walking the words ‘you can now call yourself a man’ started repeating in my head again. My blood started boiling and I became unreasonably angry, imagining scenes of myself pushing this hiker off the ridge into the valley below. I thought my head would explode until I caught up to him 15 minutes later. As I passed him I told him his comment yesterday didn’t sit well with me and I didn’t appreciate it at all. He apologised but I didn’t stick around to discuss it. I simply powered on with a sense of empowerment and a smile!

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I reached the interstate before noon, and once again as the trail provides in many forms, a day hiker I had passed 8 miles earlier happened to drive past a few moments after I reached the road. He swung around and picked me up as I was scratching my head trying to figure out which direction to hitch in. Dale and his two Shiba Inus waited for me at the post office to collect my 8 packages and then drove me to the hostel. Thank you Dale, what a perfect introduction to one of the most friendly trail towns, Ashland!

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18 thoughts on “The trail provides

  1. Good to see the smiles again Rozanne……..rest up and get renewed and here’s hoping you coast all the way to Canada!……………

  2. Rozanne, when I read that this guy told you what u had done was a “..manly thiing…” I could not believe the comment myself. Imagine this would P*&^ off any person with sense, which he evidently does not have any. What you are doing is extremely commendable and does not matter if man/woman/or whatever. You keep on going. You are a very strong person. Take care, remain safe and well. GREAT reading your blogs and seeing your vids.
    Sorry for the long message; but, had to add….I met some extraordinary people (men and women) last year. They were all from the UK and we all climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro together, with everyone making the summit.

  3. Just caught up on your post after spending a week hiking with the kids. (OK actually just 4 days the rest of the time at Stehekin with them swimming and sunning!) Worried about your hip / back. I have had several round of pinched nerve in my lower back and I understand about pain. From what you describe I would say you have a pinched nerve. Get it check out!

    Very glad you made it to Oregon! Soon you’ll be hitting Washington!! And forget about where you are in the pack, just hike your own hike, that is the only way to do this. Take the rest needed by your body. Trying to push past it is not going to help. Oh and for the comment on being a “Man”. Ha Ha, men are mostly wimps when it comes to pain! Besides your “The Woman!” πŸ˜€

    Keep Hiking!

  4. I’m so glad this message ends on a happy note. Maybe you’ve opened the eyes of the guy who made the “manly” comment. We can always hope!

  5. Muk Muk, please give my best to Fuller – I met him at various points early in the trail. He’s a great person and his sons would make any parent proud! Glad you’re getting the nerve thing figured out. Mine went away after 2 weeks off, some massage and osteo manipulation. It stayed away while I did my stretches and lower back loosening exercises. All the best! 3Cats

  6. Wow Rozanne! Congratulations on making it to Oregon. Have BIG rest and look after yourself (and your nerve). I’m in Bulgaria, having spent a few days with my relatives. Thinking of you xx

    • Hey Molly so good to hear from you! Wow Bulgaria, that’s awesome! Enjoy your time away and looking forward to catching up back in Oz sometime in the future xx

  7. I’m glad you had the chance to tell that guy what you thought of his comment! I would have wanted to push him off the trail, too! I hope you get rested up in Ashland. If it turns out you need a little extra time, my mom and sisters live in Grants Pass (not too far from Ashland) and could probably put you up for a few days if need be. Let me know and I’ll contact them to put you in touch.

    • That’s so kind, thanks for the offer!
      It’s only 4 days to Crater Lake so I’ll see how I do between here and there, fingers crossed all will be good! Much appreciated πŸ™‚

  8. Re: the male hiker who made the totally stupid comment to you: If this person was a thru-hiker, or has any great amount of experience in the natural world, isn’t it totally amazing how exposure to beauty, challenges, daily success, and the infinite kindness of strangers can totally fail to educate and enlighten such a person? My best advise would be to strenuously avoid that person, for someone so incredibly dense has a major disconnect somewhere in their heart/mind/soul.

  9. I can’t help but think of what receiving 8 boxes must have been like. OMG!!! At least you have 3 days to eat and go through them and share . . . it was hard enough going through 4 boxes! I can just see you loading your pack with all that stuff. LMAO!!!! Speaking of packs, yours looks absolutely teeny strapped atop Fuller’s, but of course you also look teeny standing next to him. Fuller is an amazing on trail, trail angel. He gets BIG LOVE from me πŸ™‚ And that MAN, needed to be told he is a BULLY! So glad you had the opportunity to call him on his stupidity. I too hope you’ve figured out your body issues. You’ve come to far and have so much more to give to have your dang body give out. Jan aka The Beekeeper aka JabberJan

  10. Wishing you some great R&R in Ashland! I have a friend there, so call me if I can help arrange any logistical support that you might need.

    That Fuller sure has a big Ladies’ Fan Club, myself included!

    I was on Mt. Whitney summit on Wednesday, and was shocked when I saw how tiny the interior of the hut is, where you spent the night with such a big group. That must seem like a million years ago! (And now, we will never speak of California again…..)

    Hugs to you,
    Jamie

  11. Hi Muk Muk & All,

    As I read through these comments today, I can’t help but agree with you all regarding the “Manly” comment made by that male hiker.
    It certainally seems insinsitive at the least.

    However, maybe we are wrong about him. Maybe he was trying to pay you a true compliment. All be it, poorly done.

    I offer some food for thought. A chance to see the silver lining or the flip side of the coin so to speak. A way to remember this insident more fondly.

    You see, about 25 years ago, I wrote a song titled “Wandering Man”. Inspired by two very important men in my life. As the years have passed I have had time to question my choice of words….Wandering MAN.

    I will share the lyrics of the song at the end of this post (if cyber space allows). But in short, it speaks of someone who literally walks this beautiful world and returns to share their experience with others and the way we are all touched by their presence in our lives.

    Although the song says Wandering MAN – what I really mean is more like the native indians use the word “HUMAN BEING” = MAN.

    Any one of us can be a “Wandering Man”. It is more a state of being than a male – female thing.

    Maybe when you read through the following lyrics, you can find solice in the truths they hold. And maybe some forgiveness for one hikers poorly worded compliment. Because, to Me, I would gladly say this song fits you. I hope you wear it well !

    WANDERING MAN
    by Lyndella

    WANDERIN MAN
    HE WALKS BEFORE US
    WANDERING MAN
    RAMBLES THE FOREST.

    WANDERING MAN
    DOES THE BEST THAT HE CAN
    WANDERING MAN
    HEWALKS THE LAND.

    HE SITS ALONE AT SUNRISE
    SEES THE BIRTHING OF THE DAWN.
    HE WHISPERS A SILENT PRAYER
    FOR LIFE TO CARRY ON.

    HE GREETS THE DAY WITH WONDERLUST
    BOTH THE MOUNTAIN AND HIS DREAMS
    HE DRINKS OF LIFE’S SERINITY
    FROM HER FOUNTAINS AND HER STREAMS.

    HE STANDS ALONE AT SUNSET
    WHERE ONLY EAGLES FLY
    HE WALKS UPON SOME QUIET RIDGE
    HIS YEARNING HELPED HIM FIND.

    HIS HEART BEGAN THIS SOJOURN
    BEFORE HE WAS A MAN
    AND HE CONTIMPLATES WHAT HIS SOUL HAS LEARNED AS HE WALKS ACROSS THE LAND.

    WANDERING MAN
    COME BACK IF YOU CAN
    TELL ME OF YOUR TRAVELS
    HELP ME UNDERSTAND

    TELL ME OF NO BOUNDERIES
    AND OF TANQUILITY
    TELL ME OF THE PEACE YOU FOUND
    AND OF ETERNITY.

    HE’LL GROW OLD IN THESE MOUNTAINS
    PERHAPES HE’LL DIE ALONE
    BUT I WILL BE THE RICHER ONE
    FOR THE TIME THAT I HAVE KNOWN

    THE MAN WHO DOES THE WANDERING
    THE TIME AND SPACE WE’VE SHARED
    THE WAY HIS LIFE HAS TOUCHED MY HEART
    AND LEFT HIS PRESENCE THERE.

    WANDERING MAN
    DOES DOES THE BEST THAT HE CAN
    WANDERING MAN
    HE WALKS THE LAND.

  12. Hi darling, so lovely and lucky you were to meet up with Fuller and Daniel. His pack is twice as big as yours. Some great photos, the one of the misty mountains and the rock structure reminded me of Vancouver. You saw the stacking of rocks at a lot of places there. You are getting a good pace on your hiking, well done. Love you, mutti xxoo

  13. It was a special treat getting to leap-frog with you for a few days, Rozanne / Muk Muk. This thing you and dad (fuller) and the others are doing is so hard, and so inspiring. Hope Ashland was as restful as possible, and the rest of my state greets you as warmly as Fuller and I, and Dale did. Walk on!

    • Great to hear from you Daniel. You and your dad were both there for me when I needed support the most and I can’t thank you enough for that! I hope that our paths cross along the trail again or perhaps in Canada somewhere! Take care!! πŸ™‚

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