Four month melancholy

The 103 miles from Ashland to Crater Lake Mazama Village were some of the flattest, but also some of the longest. By day four (today), I was so brain numbingly bored of my own thoughts, music, and the surroundings that I had to force myself into a self induced comatose state. Part of this was due to the fact I was counting down miles from about 1:30pm until 6:30pm when I finally arrived at the village via the Annie Spring Trail (Yogi’s notes don’t lie when they say it’s steep!)

When I arrived at the store I was suddenly thrown back into civilisation with holiday makers, bikers, campers and children; and was completely overwhelmed standing there in my filthy clothes, pulling food out of the hiker box. A lot of people stared at me as they shuffled past, obviously not aware of what a hiker box or a thru hiker is. When I began laying my resupply out on the picnic table a woman came along and gave me a box of warm pulled pork and a bag of hotdog buns for dinner, as she’d seen me rummaging for food and figured I was hungry.

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As I was staring into the distance worrying about where to sleep (as camping cost $20 and all sites were full), a woman named Bonnie came over to chat and told me I could camp on her site as she sleeps in her car. I must have had a ‘please help me’ expression plastered on my face because this was exactly what I needed! It meant I could spend the next day going through my food again, doing laundry, charging my devices and ticking off my to do list without being forced back into the woods prematurely.

I was going to write more about the last four days on trail, but it’s now the next day and honestly the only stand out event other than seeing the one comet during the meteor shower and meeting Rachel and Benny (two more south bounders), was having a conversation with a gentleman sitting on the ground wearing shorts while his scrotum was hanging out. It was definitely one of the more awkward situations I’ve experienced.

Today it wasn’t the trail testing me, but some force of nature was pushing me to my limits. Every time there is no reception, I desperately need to make a phone call. Today I decided to use the pay phone, and after it ate my money and the store owner told me to call the operator, the operator told me she couldn’t help me. I had bought a journal in Ashland and was about to throw it in the hiker box when I realised I needed some written therapy and headed to the Annie Creek restaurant to explode my emotions from the last 1830 miles onto paper. Sometimes it scary what comes out when you write down the truth about your feelings. I realised just how dark a place I was in and realised I needed something to pull me out.

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I had been thinking of putting together a video of the California leg to one of my favourite trail tunes and thought the trip down memory lane and creative juices would assist in altering my mental state. It worked immediately. Editing on a phone is finicky and time consuming, but I was making great progress, and when Bill arrived and came to eat at my table, I continued on with my video, completely enthralled with what I was doing. I showed him my progress each time I finished a new section, and because he’d eaten so many plates from the salad buffet, he was in a food coma and not able to converse anyhow.

I spent the entire day at the restaurant until they kicked me out around 6:00pm. Just prior to this my video started playing up. I thought it was due to me running out of memory on the phone, but after deleting some photos, restarting the phone, and adjusting some of the clips, there was a rogue clip at the end I couldn’t get rid of and couldn’t edit past. After fiddling with it for another 30 minutes I decided to end the video where the glitch started, but when I exported the video half of it came out black. Hmmm… I was running out of time and really needed to hit the trail. I threw everything back in my pack and hiked until dark, then couldn’t help but fiddle with the video again, determine to fix the glitch and the reason for the black segments during the export. In the process the program managed to delete the majority of the project. There is absolutely no explanation as to how, it’s like the glitch expanded itself and gobbled up more than half of the project I spent the better half of the day creating to distract my mind from darker thoughts. So where is that meant to leave me now?

It’s my four month trail-iversary today. I used to see each month tick over as a cause for celebration. Now I just feel I’ve been out here for so long that I should be a lot closer to the end. Bill said a lot of people experience the blues at this stage of the trip. For me at this point, that’s an understatement. Reflecting on the start of the journey brought back so many memories of the incredible experiences I’ve had and shared. The desert section will forever be a standout, even with excruciating blisters, a heavy pack and long waterless stretches, I enjoyed Southern California more than I could have imagined. Everyday was a new adventure. Then we hit the Sierras, which were breathtaking, but certainly more challenging. Then came Northern California, which brought more beauty, but also mental struggles and pain. Now we have Oregon. Apparently once I see Crater Lake my mind set will change. All I can say is, I really hope so.

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9 thoughts on “Four month melancholy

  1. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

    Congratulations!
    Today is your day.
    You’re off to Great Places!
    You’re off and away!

    You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes
    You can steer yourself
    any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

    You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
    About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
    With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
    you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

    And you may not find any
    you’ll want to go down.
    In that case, of course,
    you’ll head straight out of town.

    It’s opener there
    in the wide open air.

    Out there things can happen
    and frequently do
    to people as brainy
    and footsy as you.

    And when things start to happen,
    don’t worry. Don’t stew.
    Just go right along.
    You’ll start happening too.

    OH!
    THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

    You’ll be on your way up!
    You’ll be seeing great sights!
    You’ll join the high fliers
    who soar to high heights.

    You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
    You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
    Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
    Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

    Except when you don’ t
    Because, sometimes, you won’t.

    I’m sorry to say so
    but, sadly, it’s true
    and Hang-ups
    can happen to you.

    You can get all hung up
    in a prickle-ly perch.
    And your gang will fly on.
    You’ll be left in a Lurch.

    You’ll come down from the Lurch
    with an unpleasant bump.
    And the chances are, then,
    that you’ll be in a Slump.

    And when you’re in a Slump,
    you’re not in for much fun.
    Un-slumping yourself
    is not easily done.

    You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
    Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
    A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
    Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
    How much can you lose? How much can you win?

    And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
    or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
    Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
    Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
    for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

    You can get so confused
    that you’ll start in to race
    down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
    and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
    headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
    The Waiting Place…

    …for people just waiting.
    Waiting for a train to go
    or a bus to come, or a plane to go
    or the mail to come, or the rain to go
    or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
    or waiting around for a Yes or a No
    or waiting for their hair to grow.
    Everyone is just waiting.

    Waiting for the fish to bite
    or waiting for wind to fly a kite
    or waiting around for Friday night
    or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
    or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
    or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
    or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
    Everyone is just waiting.

    NO!
    That’s not for you!

    Somehow you’ll escape
    all that waiting and staying.
    You’ll find the bright places
    where Boom Bands are playing.

    With banner flip-flapping,
    once more you’ll ride high!
    Ready for anything under the sky.
    Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

    Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
    There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
    And the magical things you can do with that ball
    will make you the winning-est winner of all.
    Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
    with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

    Except when they don’t.
    Because, sometimes, they won’t.

    I’m afraid that some times
    you’ll play lonely games too.
    Games you can’t win
    ’cause you’ll play against you.

    All Alone!
    Whether you like it or not,
    Alone will be something
    you’ll be quite a lot.

    And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
    you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
    There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
    that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

    But on you will go
    though the weather be foul
    On you will go
    though your enemies prowl
    On you will go
    though the Hakken-Kraks howl
    Onward up many
    a frightening creek,
    though your arms may get sore
    and your sneakers may leak.

    On and on you will hike
    and I know you’ll hike far
    and face up to your problems
    whatever they are.

    You’ll get mixed up, of course,
    as you already know.
    You’ll get mixed up
    with many strange birds as you go.
    So be sure when you step.
    Step with care and great tact
    and remember that Life’s
    a Great Balancing Act.
    Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
    And never mix up your right foot with your left.

    And will you succeed?
    Yes! You will, indeed!
    (98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

    KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

    So…
    be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
    or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
    you’re off to Great Places!
    Today is your day!
    Your mountain is waiting.
    So…get on your way!

    (Dr. Seuss always pulls me from my funks, hopefully he can cheer you up a bit too!)

    • I have this book and I absolutely LOVE it! Such great inspiration! Thank you so much for typing all that out for me! Amazing!

      • Well look at it this way, in 2015, you’ll be having to copy and paste it for me in my slumps on the PCT 🙂 You’re welcome friend!

  2. Hi Roxanne,
    As always, enjoyed “visiting” with you on the trail. Emotions can be maddening, but we do have a good deal of control. Here’s a quote I thought you might appreciate from the Teaching of Abraham: “Having fun on your way to it, is the reason for it.” Profound when contemplated I guess.
    BTW, your photo of the big, rocky mountainside with the plane contrail in it, has a profile of a face, (at least to me), maybe a dog, with his nose protruding out?!
    When I’m in the forest canopy too long, I always try & find an overlook, or a perch to look out & open my mind up some.
    peace & joy,
    scott 2

  3. Hi Rozanne,

    I thank Woooner for the Dr. Seuss piece. It said it all. I’m saving it for my slumps. Not having hiked for 4 months, it is had to imagine that the wonderful sites shown in your pics don’t compensate for the hardships. Just keep hiking. The slump will pass. Achieve your goal.That will last forever.

    Donna

  4. I remember the first time I saw a thru hiker, it was at Shelter Cove many years ago. I didn’t know about the PCT then or what a thru hiker was. I tried not to stare at them, but couldn’t help myself. They looked so tough and impressive, I wanted to go up and ask them about where they came from–but I was too shy. I wonder if the hikers felt judged in a negative way by the non-thru-hiker crowd? I really hoped they didn’t. But the look in many of their faces showed embarrassment or something like that. It was so sad to see.

    The reason I share this story is because I want you to know that many of the people that might stare at you in the more “civilized” areas, are probably just curious. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact, it can open up conversation and give you an opportunity to educate people and get them interested in hiking. You guys are rare, and amazing inspirations!!! 🙂

  5. Hi darling, how wonderful, clever and truthful are those words of Dr Seuss, so nice of Wooner to send you them. Not surprising that people looked at you when you were rummising in the hiker box and organizing your food, we look ourselves at people who behave a little different/strange. Your photos are out of this world, just beautiful. You are so busy with your videos, by doing it you are spoiling us with being able to follow you. Thank you darling, love mutti xxoo

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