A Brief Greatness

Note: this post was written in real time throughout my abbreviated trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. I have not gone back and edited the content, to preserve the character of the experience. Page breaks have been added to show the passage of time.
————-
After nine months of prep, I’m finally out on the trail. I gotta say, I’m loving it.

I gave it a hug. Social distancing be damned­čść

I left amid some uncertainty. It seemed like they were about to declare a curfew, and I was worried they would close the trail. So far, places have been open for to go orders, and I haven’t gotten stuck without resupply yet.

Add to that the weather. This is supposed to be a desert! Its been raining for days, and we will probably hit snow at higher elevations. I’m glad I brought a free standing tent that is relatively rainproof. Many of the ultralight hikers have been telling me their sleeping bags got wet. I’m not going out that way!

Camping at the base of a giant oak tree, not another soul in sight.

I’ve already met some cool people. I waited out the worst rain in a gazzebo with a cool Canadian couple. Everyone shares a sense of purpose, and we have common enemies: the cold, the wet, and the dark.

The scenery down by the border is nothing like I expected. It’s lush and growing fast. You can really feel the spring in the air.
————

The above ‘spring is in the air’ comment was written about twelve hours before I took this pic.

Day three started out with rain, and ended with snow. The trail takes you to more remote locations as it gains altitude. Right now I am out of service, warm in my tent which is pitched on snow.

Its amazing what humans can do. There’s no way I would be able to survive out here without the right gear. The fact that we have the technology shows how far we have come. From ancient cave dwellers to modern tent dwellers, you’re really facing down the same problem: stay warm, get food, don’t die.

Mac and cheese with veggie flakes and bacon bits. That’s not dying in style!

————–

On the fourth day, we passed through Mt Laguna. There’s no free camping in the area, so I planned to hike straight through town. after stopping at the general store, I plowed ahead.

This was a 17 mile day, and I did the whole thing in wet socks. I spent the day slipping through slush, while being rained on. I hiked so hard that I got an knee injury, which I only realized later.

It was also the day I fell in love with thru- hiking. The freedom you feel, the fatefullness of your decisions, the natural beauty, the challenge. There are a million things that you can’t get with another activity. It felt like falling in love.The next day, reality set in. The Pacific Crest Trail Administration asked everyone to leave the trail and cancel their trips. Many people dropped out or disappeared quietly. This plus the sketchiness of resupply options made thru-hiking a bad idea right now.

Its hard to give something up when you’re just getting the knack for it. Leaving the trail still feels unreal, even as our evacuation pint nears. One thing is for sure, I will be doing much more of this in the future. The PCT and I have unfinished business.

Right now we are enjoying our last few trail days. It seems unreal that this will be over soon. Even though it was just a week, this has been a life changing experience.
———-

Traverse trails triumphantly

Now that I am off the trail, emptiness sets in. I have to live my life differently. This was a brief glimpse of something wonderful, and it was taken away so fast.

I met many wonderful people, I saw amazing natural sights, and challenged myself in a new way. There’s a silver lining here.

But mostly, this sucks. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to post this post. I don’t want to be anywhere at all.
————-

If you look closely that’s me in this picture

It’s been a few weeks now. I have been staying in mostly, working on the garden. There’s a pandemic going around. It’s pretty surreal.

I really did not see this coming. I guess you prepare most for what you’re most afraid of, and then just get knocked out by something you never saw coming. What kind of lesson is that?

The one man tent is still pitched in the backyard. I’m sitting in it listening to the rain hit the fly, it reminds me of the trail. I have unfinished business with the PCT.

And that’s it.Thank you to my parents and family and friends for your support. Thank you to Stretch, Lightsout, Moki, Simon, Sweeps, Brad, Whisky Jack and Spitfire, Shortcut and Finesse, Sunstroke, Pipi Longstocking, and Dean.

Thank you to wind and rain and snow and heat and pandemics for reminding us that we are mortal and have to live every moment of our life to the fullest.

And most of all thank you for reading this.

-Samwise