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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

PCT - Day 67: 7/2/2018 - Back on the Trail

Trail miles: 9.3 from 1092.3 - 1101.6
Miles walked: 9.8

I returned to the PCT today after spending eight days traveling and hanging out with my family in New England. I was hopeful that my unexpected time off trail would have at least served as good rest for my ailing right ankle.

Yesterday I left my brother’s place in Fitchburg, MA around 3:15 pm ET. After a 75 minute drive to Boston, two flights, and an $88 Uber ride, I was curling up in a king size bed in a room at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe around 1:30am PT.

Of course, I woke up around 6:00 am. After reading a bit, I showered and then checked out of my room. It was hard to leave the luxurious accommodations especially since my room was complimentary. I still get free rooms sometimes in Caesar’s owned casinos thanks to my reputation from my poker playing days.

Around 8:30 am, I was sitting in front of the office at the hostel awaiting the 9:00 am opening so I could get my resupply packages and stuff I had left there a week prior.

While I was sitting there, Tapeworm and Opera walked downstairs. We hadn’t seen each other since Crabtree Meadows on June 4th. It was really great seeing my friends again and we shared a hug. Tapeworm informed me that I had missed Chilly Bin and Peanut Butter by no more than 30 minutes. This saddened me slightly since I was really looking forward to seeing them.  Opera and Tapeworm hung out while I opened all my packages, which included a much needed new pair of shoes. Yay!

Tapeworm & Opera

After buying some fuel, eating, and shipping home my bounce box, we took an Uber to Echo Lake where we would pick up the PCT again.

Echo Lake was mobbed with day hikers which added to my less than awesome feeling. I was struggling getting motivated and after an average $8 milkshake, I was really ready for a nap. Instead of a nap though, we began our hike at 2:30 pm in the hottest part of the day. Almost immediately I was sweating like a whore in church.

Echo Lake
Within an hour I realized the eight days of rest did nothing for my ankle. It hurt as much as ever and felt unstable and weak to boot. I have self diagnosed my ankle problem as an anterior ankle impingement. I don’t believe there’s much that can be done.

By the time we reached Lake Aloha, I was considering where I would be ending my hike since I think my ankle will continue to get worse with each day. This was one of a handful of reasons I was in a somber mood while taking in the views of this spectacular lake.

Another reason for my somber mood was because I kept thinking about Jack. I now carry a picture of Jack in my backpack, which I took out at Lake Aloha so Jack could share the view. I kept wondering if Jack knew how much he is missed by his friends and family.

I limped across the imaginary line at mile 1100 and stopped shortly after to get water.

Mile 1100

 While putting my water treatment bag away, a guy walked up who looked really familiar. It took me a second but my mouth dropped with surprise when I realized it was Paint Peeler! I hadn’t seen him since the town of Julian around mile 80 back on day five of my hike. Over a 1000 miles later there we were, talking and walking together like we’d been hiking together the whole time. This was really strange since earlier in the day, I had crossed paths with Surgeon and Mouse while buying fuel. I hadn’t seen them since Idyllwild. I learned that Paint Peeler had also been battling ankle problems in addition to a broken toe. His perseverance motivated me to continue rather than bailing on my hike even if it meant hiking with constant ankle pain. Paint Peeler stopped for the night around Heather Lake. I pushed onto Susie Lake where Opera and Tapeworm were waiting.

We ate dinner and shared laughs like old times. A little bottle of whiskey even made the way around our triangle. It was so heartwarming to be sitting in the dirt and eating with my friends again.

After dinner, Tapeworm and Opera were busy rigging a bear bag hang as I took a short stroll and watched the final alpenglow fade on the mountains in the distance. I thought again of my nephew Jack. I thought of a few people that I wished I could share this moment with. Instead, I stood alone on the rocky hillside watching the last of the light fade to black. Then suddenly, that moment of my life was gone... shared with no one.

Tomorrow may bring another moment similar to this, but then again, maybe not. Every single moment is precious.   If everyone treated these moments as THE potential last moment, just imagine the powerful love we’d all share.

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