09 July 2008

Completed PCT hike, if not finished.


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

from South Lake Tahoe, CA (PCT 1094.5)

hello all,

I'm resting in SLT for a few days with a friend visiting from San Fran.   I'm trying to update my past month of hiking.   Because of a sickness and exhausting trail conditions plus then I started feeling better but then hiking longer days (5:30am - 8 pm) journally has been laxed lately.  

I've posted two new ones June 18 and June 19th.  More to come soon.

yours in loving kindness,

06 July 2008

Toulumne Meadows to Echo Lake (S. Lake Tahoe) [PCT mile 1094]


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.

Love you,

01 July 2008

Red's meadow to Toulumne (PCT 940)


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.