So there's this guy who makes DVD about the PCT. I made it so far into the trailor. It will be sold here.... http://www.walkpct.com/
09 July 2008
I have kept my commitment to myself. I left TM thinking that I may be finished for this season of hiking. I have spent 6 wonderful days with perfect weather hiking and now two + days in SLT praying and eating well. Now I am confident that I am done. I feel complete.
The best analogy I can think of is that it is healthier to leave some food on your plate then stuff yourself. I’ve stuffed myself before when I hiked the Appalachian Trail. My AT finish came by pulling myself one town after another, but I didn’t really enjoy myself all that much. Now I feel free to let it go. This was part of the reason I liked to say I was preparing for a PCT hike and not planning. I get stuck on plans to easily.
My life’s path from here will be to travel to Portland to visit friends and make it home for Justin’s wedding in early August. Then I’ll be moving to Syracuse, NY to be with Emily and explore the unknown paths of deeper relationship. Family and friends seemed to have taken on a new importance after my “Wood Creek Incident.” Call me a sucker for near death experiences if you want.
Also I have a certain settling in my heart to ‘slow down’ in my life. I will still be going on adventures and travelling, but maybe with less urgency. I hope to be more present to each moment and each person I met in-between. No longer do I envision attempting to keep to checking off all my ‘life list’ goals. This settling I find inside also stimulates me to look into my future, as a result I’m toying with ideas of graduate school. How best can I be skillfully prepared to work for the coming of God’s Kingdom?
I’ll talk with you soon. Thanks to dad and you so much again for your endless love and support.
08 July 2008
06 July 2008
I’ve reached South Lake Tahoe approximately 150 miles north of Toulumne Meadows, Yosemite NP. I hiked in Sunday July 6th to Echo Lake and caught a ride into SLT, where I found my way to the Campus Crusade for Christ’s Summer Project. Emily had helped me arrange these accommodations.
Leaving TM, with six and half days of food was not exciting. As I packed up extra food at the TM P.O. to mail ahead, I put ever extra clothing item I could spare too. I left the small P.O. slightly disoriented trying to find the PCT. I immediately missed my detailed maps from the past 150 miles. I made it to Glen Awlin’s campground and was pleased to have piped water to refill before I hiked northward.
The trail seemed to have an erratic trajectory. Losing the gentle changes in elevation, I had grown to appreciate over past 940 miles the PCT would cross a meadow and then snap upwards find a pass and charge down. Thankfully these climbs were usually brief. Less enjoyable still was the mosquito gauntlet. These little buggiers were everywhere and endlessly biting. I often was hiking with my rain pants on and bug netting over my face.
I was hiking alone but over these last several days I would pass some hiking friends such as Prison Rob and Squatch. My hiking style was in full stride, as I began hiking by 5:30 am and continued until 8 or 9 at night. I would stop for water, and three main meals cooking breakfast and dinner. My spirits were often very high, especially as the views changed.
A fun story: I was heading towards Sonora Pass from Kennedy Meadow Creek when I met up with Squatch heading southbound. He reported a rocky expanse from our location until the pass with limited camping. So I decided company tonight was better than miles. I hiked south a mile with Squatch and we laid out our groundsheets to cowboy camp behind some trees.
In the middle of the night, I was awoken by something at my feet. I’m trapped in my mummy bag as I peer into the shadows. Squatch says, “oh it’s just a pesky marmot.” I pull my arm free and swing a trekking pole around the shadow and it leaves. I pull my head lamp out and flash it into the fields. I find a pair of eyes charging me as a gray fox’s body exits these shadows into the light. The fox goes for my bear canister and pulls a Ziploc from it and runs off. My heart is racing with it. I’m annoyed at 2 am to repack my food and then try to get some sleep. An hour later I awake to my backpack being pulled from under my feet by a fox again. A trekking pole swing later and I’m left alone. I don’t get back to sleep but wait for the sun to break and pack up. I’m really tired that day.
The views changed to vistas of black volcanic rock from my foxy campsite. I really enjoyed the change of pass. I didn’t realize I was ‘full’ on all the big peaks along the JMT. I was hiking approximately 25 + miles a day. I probably broke 30 once or twice but I had accidently mailed my data pages with my extra cloths from TM to SLT.
I had two pieces of great trail magic. First as I spent my final night before town at Lost Lakes, I daydreamed of canoeing. And as I dropped from the ridge to camp, some weekenders let me take their canoe for a paddle. Then in the morning about 5 am I left Lost Lakes and made to Carson’s pass by 9 am where I was treated to some Former PCT and friends breakfast feed. I figured drinking beer at 9 am wasn’t too bad as I had been up since 4:50 am.
01 July 2008
Sunday July 29th, was the beginning of the end and a day of great revelation. Lying in bed in Mammoth Lakes, I was preparing myself to return to the trail. My body still felt weak. I called Emily to do some diagnosis and she gladly researched many potential ailments. I left for breakfast. Over my toasted bagel, I gingerly ate worried I was in the incubation period giardia, I started crying. I hadn't told Mom, Dad or Emily about my nearly fatal accident then 10-days earlier.
I tried reaching Emily several times only to get voicemail. So I continued with my plans and left Sew-n-Sew, Paranoia & SW. at Motel 6. After three shuttles I was back at Red's Meadow. I was thinking my body was so weak that I may be finished with all of this PCT business. I said, 'just hike a few miles see how you feel you can always turn around.' Wanting to see the "Devil's Post Pile National Monument," I hiked a parellel route of the PCT and taking in these vocolanic columns. I made a detour to the Ranger station wanting to try one last time to call Emily.
Two attempts 20 minutes apart failed. And as I retied my shoes from my lunch break, the pay phone rang, Emily was on the other end. Slowly through tears and sobbing I shared with her my accident. I only noticed the swarms of tourist arriving and departing as the roar from each bus load silenced my conversation. This was a necessary and difficult experience.
I hiked Northward, taking the John Muir Trail instead of the PCT. The JMT weaves in and out of a half-doze mountain lakes that had sounded much more appealling than a ridgeline. Whatever the PCT is like, the JMT was wonderful. My first night I camped alone above a lake Hutchinson? (sadly the name is far from mind now). I continued to marvel at how comfortable I was at being alone and in the woods.
The next day I was looking to make it near Toulumne Meadows, my next resupply. I left camp early and walked my slow and steady gant. I meet up with Treebeard and his visiting partner Makela near 1000 Island Lake. My day's joy was spreading with the light of the rising sun. As I neared Donhoue pass, I continued to chat up each passing section hiker.
Lunch was typical with my prayers, eating and some stretching. Yet as I walked on my heart exploded with Joy, happiness and energy I hadn't had for a week or more. I kept trying to settle myself down from this altered state because I didn't want to hurt my leg again. It felt as though I was being pulled by my heart and floating on joy into Toulumne. I surrendered to this energy and simpled tried to do ' damage control' as I continued to pick up my pace.
I felt complete in Toulumne. My mind was filled with ideas of letting go of my preparations of getting to Canada. I had heard in heartmind these past two days- after sharing with Emily- a repriorization of my time. Skillfully, I recognized this energy would pass, so I said one more town and I'll think about ending my hike.
I'm simply excited to have made it 940 + miles, safe and happy. I really enjoyed the last 2 days of miles and views. I've always enjoyed walking for walkings sake. And now with my energy again I look forward to the next 150 miles to my resupply in South Lake Tahoe (SLT), CA.
29 June 2008
Only a two days and one night have past since leaving VVR. My leg is still sore and same for my heart. The typically energy I have for long days and continuous miles are not present. I left VVR Thursday on their Ferry across Thomas A. Edison Lake. Knowing fewer navigation issues were ahead, I was please to leave everyone and hike my own style again. Uncharacteristically of my AT hike, I left the 'official' PCT for an alternate route into Red's Meadow (Red's is the point to catch as bus into Mammoth Lakes).
Off the PCT, I took the Cascade Valley Trail. WOW! Falls, after falls, after falls, and plenty of gentle hiking. My body and energy still weak felt that even this reported 'easier terrain' was tiresome. But the most exciting piece was that after my first night alone, I hiked to a set of natural hot springs. So Friday morning I spent an hour resting in a warm smoothing bath. Oh, I almost forgot, Thursday night just 1.5 hours prior to camp I saw my first PCT bear foraging for food about 50 yards down hill from me.
I didn't relax more as I was eager to get to town. Just a few miles prior to Red's Meadow, I took a break at Rainbow Falls, strangely this cascades triggered some emotional aversion and tension that echoed of my Wood Creek incident. I took sometime to pray and then hiked to catch the Shuttle to Mammoth Lakes. Low and behold I saw SW. there. I was glad to have him to share a sit with as I was a bit self conscience of my odors around the bus full of tourists / dayhikers. In Mammoth Lakes, I was hoping to see Sew n Sew and Paranoia once again.
Exciting for me was that I was able to run from my Motel 6 room to the local natural health store. I made it just minutes prior to is closing Friday, able to purchase some Kombucha. I love that stuff. I can't wait to start brewing again.
I did meet up with my friends. But most of my time in town was spent in bed, trying to rest and recover. I was ready to end my hike. Yet many small gestures have contined to encourage me northward. One such incident was, at the Base Camp Cafe, the waiter covered my tab after we discussed PCT and his upcoming 3-months snowboarding trip to Chile.
I miss you , and I look forward to hiking with you soon.
26 June 2008
This past week has been the most physically trying so far. I'm tired and feeling weak. I don't have much energy even though I have been eating more. My hiking partner SW. has had GI issues and hasn't eaten in three days. Hopefully I don't get whatever he's been carrying. Today, I'm getting my maildrop at Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) and resting. The temptation of a big meal and many calories waifs from the smell of the grill. Sadly I only feel my stomach is safe with toast and some fruit.
Leaving from Independence in route to VVR, I didn't begin with this low energy. As I shared with Emily, I left Independence full of energy and carried a great zeal for the trail and life in general. But a series of events continued to take 'it' out of me. First my Wood Creek Incident. The following night, Joanne walked by camp asking "have you seen Andrea." This was about 8 pm in the dark and we didn't know where Andrea was. The following day included a 2 hour rock scrambling, bolder hopping off trail search (she was up trail and had passed by off trail). Later I injured my leg by straining a muscle. That same afternoon SW. started getting sick. Slowing my pace to stay with him, I started feeling weaker myself.
However, settling more and more into this trail experience and finding home in my body has been supported by the relentless beauty. The long snow fields of Muir Pass made the summit taste all the more wonderful. Yet getting up to this pass was slow going, and I continued to be decieved as I misused my maps. Up and over SW. & I camped along Evolution Lake. Relaxing in camp by 7pm with the Towering Granite Spires and Spikes of Evolutions peak behind me I watched a glowing sun light up the canyon and reflect on the lake. The chill of 10,000 ft. and stillness of the air at 8pm was revitalizing after the work of that day.
Many things blurried together as I felt weaker and I put much attention into tending to my ailing friend. Initially my rambling stories helped each of us keep pace up climbing. By the last day in this section, I didn't want to talk much.
I've laid around at VVR begining to uppack the feelings from the Wood Creek Incident. After speaking with you on the phone, I found myself crying telling someone of my mixed feelings. Then I laid in bed feeling my heart and body trying to untangle the messy memories.
Slowly, just as I travel one step a time, Grace is providing the healing that my mind/body / heart yearn are always seeking.