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Saturday, May 12, 2018

PCT - Day 23: 5/11/2018 - Trail Emotions

Trail miles: 14.6 from 369.3 - 383.9
Miles hiked: 16.0

After another restless night of sleep, we paid Wrightwood’s bakery a second visit in as many days for breakfast where we chatted briefly with Alexis who’s staying in town a couple extra days. Then it was on to the task of hitchhiking back to the PCT.
breakfast at Wrightwood Bakery
Ziploc (she corrected my previous mis-spelling of Ziplock btw) was having no luck thumbing a ride for us.  Opera, Hoosier Daddy, and a few others were laughing at our failure to snag a ride. I decided to take matters into my own hands and walked in front on Ziploc and yanked my shorts up to flash some leg. This circus like tactic ACTUALLY worked! 
hitch hiker leg
The first car pulled over and a generous man named Gary loaded our packs and gave us a ride all the way back to the PCT at Inspiration Point. I also got some puppy love in the back seat with his two black labs. One trail town I will always remember is Wrightwood. It’s a tiny town, but every single person I met in Wrightwood has a golden heart that overflows with love and generosity. Every hiker should stop here. It’s a special place.
puppy love
The hiking task seemed easy on paper today. Hike just under 15 miles to a campground with the summit of Baden-Powell in the middle of the day.
trail up the mountain
Early I was feeling good and decided I would time myself on how fast I could cover the 4 miles from Vincent Gap at 6592‘ to the summit of Baden-Powell at 9248’. Officially it took me 1 hour and 46 minutes, which is not great, but I did have a full food bag and worse yet I had a sudden, powerful, and completely unexpected emotional episode while hiking up this mountain by myself.

It’s a good thing for inversion. The clouds were beneath us and it was sunny. My sunglasses, and the fact that I was sweating, masked the large amount of tears that forced their way out of me when a specific song played in my one earbud.
This is a song I associate with hiking and for some odd reason it just triggered an uncontrollable flood of tears. I cried for reasons I didn’t even understand. I also cried because of my entire PCT experience thus far has been so heartwarming, yet I see that a few months down the line it ends with a broken heart when my trail family scatters across the world.
Mountain Trail Thoughts
My tears were large ugly tears. I hadn’t cried like this in years. It all hit me while climbing Baden-Powell for fifteen minutes on a Friday in May. My emotions were real and powerful. I didn’t even try to hide it as I passed slow day hikers with their tiny packs.

As I was hiking on autopilot and sobbing like a child, a deer appeared on the trail and looked right at me. I stopped crying and just watched. He then moved slowly l off trail and turned back one last time allowing me to capture a picture. Then the deer was gone just as quickly as it had appeared. My emotional breakdown was suddenly over too, as if the deer has taken my pain away allowing me to just be in the moment again.
trail deer
With my head back on straight, I made a final push to the summit and even managed a smile for a summit photo.
summit photo
Ziploc, Socks, and Chilly Bin joined me on the summit. We ate lunch and just hung out in the sunshine and gusty winds on the summit for over two hours. I got to know these three women a bit more. I really like each one of these characters for different reasons, but one thing they all share is a great sense of humor. They are funnier every single time I talk with them, and after my teary climb from earlier, these laughs were just what I needed. The trail had provided for me again.
lunch on the summit
We closed our summit lounging session just after 3:30pm and began to hike the six additional miles to our planned camp spot where Hoosier Daddy, Opera, and Pacemaker would meet us later.

That last six miles was really difficult for me. My whole body was just failing. Ankles were hurting, leg muscles were sore, and my energy level was low. I felt so slow. I finally arrived at camp just before 6:00pm cooked some Beef Pho, drank a Coke, and ate a cookie. Cookies and the Coke compliments of two trail angels that were wandering our campground. We chatted around a picnic table for a bit, but soon it was really cold and everyone dove into their sleeping bags and tents to warm up.
Dusk - just before hiker midnight
Now, it’s well past hiker midnight and I am listening to a Boy Scout troop carry on at midday volume, some solo hiker snoring at the volume of a barge trying to dock in a port, and to top it off, someone is burning a fire that is blowing smoke right into my tent.

Tomorrow we should cross the 400 mile mark. 15% of this life changing adventure already in the books, 85% left to be written.


  1. Sounds like you had an emotional moment. I would be interested to know if you figured out what it was attributed to. The pictures sure look like the views, themselves, could trigger some strong emotions. That with all the trail magic and kind people can create tender moments. I am pleased you are enjoying the trail.

  2. I can’t even begin to describe how massively this trail has already changed my life.