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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

PCT - Day 39: 5/27/2018 - HYOH

Trail miles: 19.3 from 656.9 - 676.2
Miles hiked: 19.5

A campsite with a sunset and sunrise view is a true gem. Last night, we were lucky enough to see an amazing sunset. And this morning, after having the best night of sleep I’ve had on the PCT, I woke up to a fabulous sunrise which I could watch from the comfort of my sleeping bag.

Morning view
As usual, our entire group passed me within 30 minutes of starting my day. It’s getting old always being the slow one in the group. Sure, we all hike the same miles, but it takes me a longer amount of time. This means I get less recovery time, less breaks, and less time for fun. If I’m being brutally honest, I am tired of trying to hike at someone else’s pace. The “Hike your own hike” (HOYH) mantra is fine if you are just looking at it from a point of view of isolation. However, the reality is people make friends with those that hike slower or faster than they do.

Today it was one innocent comment from one of my friends that triggered a series of negative thoughts in my head. I didn’t let on that anything was bothering me. I just did what I wanted for a change, and as a result I walked at my pace, was alone all day, and I’m currently camped alone.

Opera and Ziploc
I don’t understand why it’s always the case where the slow guy needs to hike faster or longer. I’m know everyone has their priorities and their agenda, but if friends enjoy hiking with each other, can’t it go both ways?

Around 8:30 am I walked past mile 663, which means now I’ve hiked 25% of the PCT. It also means I have less than 2000 miles to go. It’s a little crazy to think that I’ve been out here for 39 days and I still have 75% of the trail remaining. It’s a little disappointing that there are so many miles left to hike, but that also means I can enjoy this adventure for that much longer.

Quarter of trail marker

I walked past Ziploc, Opera, and Tapeworm when they were having a snack at 9:00 am and greeted them but kept walking. I was hiking my hike today. I raced up a over 4000 feet of elevation to a cool shady spot where I stopped for lunch. I had come about 16 miles from last night’s camping spot and it was only 12:45 pm. I hung up my wet clothes, sleeping bag, and tent to dry out in the sun. Everything had gotten wet overnight from condensation.

drying gear
After eating some lunch, Tapeworm walked by and mentioned that they decided to go another 8.5 miles to a campground in hopes of Memorial Day weekend trail magic. I had already decided that I was not going to do that, partially because I hate crowds on holiday weekends in campgrounds and I didn’t feel like hiking 24 miles today.

Shortly after Tapeworm left, Opera and Ziploc walked right by me without even saying hello. They were so focused on the trail they didn’t see me sitting 20 feet off trail in a campsite with my sleeping bag hanging from a tree. I even yelled “hi” but they just kept trucking.

I hiked in solitude for the rest of the day. I didn’t even see another hiker for about 4 miles. I stopped to inspect little pink flowers I’d seen on the trail for weeks but had always taken for granted. I marveled at little ant highways that crossed the trail, with thousands of ants just cruising along with no knowledge of what the PCT is, or how there was trail magic up ahead 6.5 more miles.

Ant highway

I also stopped often to just look back at the desert and say goodbye. I have come to both love and hate this desert, and after tomorrow, I will leave it behind as I hike my last full day to Kennedy Meadows and the unofficial start of the Sierra. Finally I’ll be amongst real mountains again!

The old fight was the heat, the sun, soft sand, lack of water, poison oak, poodle dog bush, and constantly trying to stay hydrated. The new fight will be post-holing in spring snow, the cold, altitude, fording raging creeks, thunderstorms, hail, and aggressive bears. It’s fitting that as I write this in my tent a thunderstorm is raging above me and this is the only rain I’ve seen since day one in Campo.

The challenges may be changing, but they are all fights I’ve won before. I am confident that I can adjust. There is however one last fight, which is the one in my head. That fight I am currently losing, and it’s a fight that I am almost certain I cannot win alone. I hope to catch up with my friends again.

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