Search this blog

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

PCT - Day 34: 5/22/2018 - Zero Day in Tehachap

Trail miles: 0
Miles hiked:

After a late night at the hot tub, my body still decided that 5:00 am was a good time to wake up. Zero days are for rest, yet I still only slept less than five hours.

At 6:30 I walked down and ate a breakfast of an English muffin with strawberry jam, two hard-boiled eggs, lots of cantaloupe, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, a slice of cinnamon bread, and three glasses of orange juice. I went back to my room and a deep dark mood that is probably rooted in sleep deprivation combined with my bipolar disorder took over my mind for an hour or so. I briefly thought about taking multiple zero days here just to sleep. I even considered getting off trail permanently. Every noise was making my nerves cringe; traffic outside, cleaning crews in the hallway, the air conditioning, sirens, etc. I even considered just picking up my stuff and walking away, maybe even leaving the PCT and walking somewhere else... anywhere else. I have gone through these bouts of irrational thinking so many times in my life. I knew I just needed to wait it out. So, I put my headphones in, cranked music, and put a pillow over my face and cried softly to myself and wished sleep would come. It did not.

After an hour of trying unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, I got up. I packed up some things to ship forward a couple hundred miles and also a small parcel to send home. 

Jeremy, Socks, Chilly Bin, Pocket Knife, and I all went to the post office where I mailed my packages and picked up a pair of Injinji socks I’d ordered. This was my first time ever wearing toe socks. Socks and Chilly Bin swear they are awesome, but I am still on the fence. Chilly Bin told me her sister is not a fan of Injinji socks and that she says it feels like “toe rape”. So far, I think it’s a very accurate description of how I feel when wearing them.

Pocket Knife picked up a few packages. When the guy at the post office brought out the last one that had a huge hole chewed in it, he said “Sorry, we have a bit of a squirrel problem.” He then proceeded to explain how to get reimbursed for the insurance. It was actually quite funny to see, but knowing Shank, I expected his reaction would have less laughs and more curse words, so of course I offered to carry that package to Shank’s room and hand deliver it so I could get a much needed laugh. 

Pocket Knife picking up resupply packages

Shank’s reaction was about what I expected. I suspect in a few hours or maybe days that he’ll look back and laugh at this too. Thanks Mr. Squirrel, I needed that today.

My hiker chores were completed early today. I decided to forego any hospital visits since my patience is lower than normal when surrounded by sick people in waiting rooms of shitty healthcare facilities. I just fired up Netflix in the hotel and watched some Dave Chappelle by myself.

Around lunchtime, I jogged over to Thai-Hacapi and joined a Chilly Bin, Socks, and HoosierDaddy for lunch. I had an excellent red curry w/ scallops. It was a nice break from the burger/pizza train I’d been on.

The group dynamics with our trail family seems to have gotten complicated due to different people having different priorities, so I’ve just decided to hike out tomorrow morning very early by myself in an attempt to avoid some of this drama. I scored a ride at 6:25 am from a trail angel named Richard. Richard is dropping me at the trailhead on Highway 58, which is mile 566 of the PCT, vs. mile 558.5 where I hitched into Tehachapi from. It works out because I’m perfectly happy with skipping 7.5 miles of shitty wind farm walking anyway.

Bipolar disorder 1 with rapid cycling is the diagnosis my psychologist gave me a few years back. It’s a very real struggle that my medication usually helps with tremendously. However, my medication only works effectively if other factors are present, like a consistent and good night’s sleep and eating regularly. Such luxuries are not easy to come by while hiking the PCT. What I’ve learned from observation is that my mood swings are negatively affecting other people in my trail family, probably similarly to how they negatively affect my family back home. So at mile 566, I’ve learned I cannot escape myself on the PCT.

Regardless of how many miles I hike each day, whether it’s 12 miles or 36 miles, I’m still the moody piece of shit that most people can’t understand. I’m sorry to everyone I care about for this. 

It’s really important to me that I don’t fuck up anyone else’s once in a lifetime experience on the PCT. Therefore, to help my trail family and ease my mind of guilt, I plan on hiking very long days all the way to Kennedy Meadows. It’s partially to clear my head by starving it of free time to think and partially because I don’t think it’s fair to the other hikers I care about to have to deal with my moody bull shit all the time. 

It is 136 miles and I’m only bringing 6 days of food sort of as a forcing function to make big miles. I should be arriving in Kennedy Meadows on Memorial Day or the day after. I can’t wait to get into the Sierra. Mountains are my home. I can hide in the talus fields and behind rock outcropping near a summit. I can hide from myself in the mountains.

Trail Tonic


  1. Best of luck on the next section. Those PCT 136 miles get you to Kennedy Meadows which is only 62 miles as the crow flies. Since even drinking Fireball won't make you fly like a crow, I wish you the best. Please spot when you camp, so I may track where you are. I look forward to your daily posts and will update the blog when I get them.

  2. Thank you for honestly sharing your struggles. I know it is hard to do that. Please know that I will always count you as a friend. Your moods are no joke, but you have a generous heart and care deeply about others. I think that helps balance it out for those that love and care about you. None of us are perfect, nor do any of us behave in the way we always should. The fact that you think about your bipolar disorder, and are aware that it affects others puts you ahead of many other people. It also shows your thoughtfulness. You are much harder on yourself than you need to be.

    1. Thank you Vada! Your comments are touching. We must have dinner when I’m back in town. You and Kent are too good of people for us to not hang out more.

    2. We would love to have dinner with you, when you're back! I look forward to it, after you shower, of course. Thinking of you, often, and sending good vibes.