Miles walked: 11.1 (bonus miles in town and back over Kearsarge Pass again)
After battling insomnia from 1:00 am till 3:30 am, I finally slept a bit. I woke at 7:30am from starvation. I quickly packed up my stuff and ate seven double stuff Oreo's in the process.
I then walked to the post office and sent my bounce box 300 miles further to South Lake Tahoe and made my way over to the Alabama Hills Cafe in Lone Pine. Then began my effort to eat everything on the menu. Soon I was joined by Ziploc and Kate.
My breakfast was ordered in four parts and consisted of: 4 pieces of French Toast, 3 pieces of bacon, 2 fried eggs, a large glass of orange juice, an side order of biscuits & gravy, a large homemade oatmeal and raisin cookie, and a side of home fries.
After paying the first of six monthly payments on my breakfast bill, I got frustrated watching my two breakfast mates stare at their phones, so I left. I was already craving a Mt Dew, so I went to the store to and bought one.
While loitering in front on the hostel in Lone Pine, I ate a banana which was one of three I had brought the previous day. Kate and Ziploc has migrated from the restaurant to the hostel with phones still glued to their eyes.
While eating that banana and drinking Mt Dew, I scored us a ride back to Independence when a guy and his wife walked up to a car which was parked in front of the bench we were sitting at. When driving us back, he pointed out a series of buildings on this road and told us it used to be an interment camp where Japanese Americans were held during World War II. He dropped us off in Independence and wished us well.
I walked to the gas station and ate an entire bag of red hots candy and drank a big Gatorade.
We then parked our butts in the shade and waited for two hours before scoring a hitch back up Onion Valley Road to the trailhead. A great guy and former thru hiker named Steve took seven hikers including Ziploc, Kate, and me.
The first hour of the hike back up to Kearsarge Pass was majorly shitty. My body was not happy with the heavy pack loaded with almost six days of food. My digestive system was also not happy having a hip belt cinched tight after my historic breakfast. As a result, Kate and Ziploc were ahead of me and my mind had time to wander, ponder, and wonder again.
I thought a lot about my life, and who I was. I thought about my family and friends. I realized that my wife and I had barely talked for almost two months. There had only been two phone calls and a few text messages mostly concerning resupply stuff and our dogs. I realized that I wasn’t really missed at home. Apparently the challenges my marriage had been undergoing for the last couple of years hadn’t changed with me away hiking the PCT.
I pulled my buff up over my face and cried as I walked by myself. I hiked past waterfalls, pristine lakes, and brightly colored birds and they didn’t even matter at that moment. Because that moment, I was acutely aware that I was not really loved in my own home anymore.
I knew I was loved by my daughter and a few members of my extended family, but that is different. Plus, my daughter is away at college and my family is all back east. When I go home after the PCT, I suspect it might be like walking into work after a long absence; people politely acknowledging you are back and maybe even happy to see you, but there would be nobody ecstatic and jumping into your arms because they missed you.
Before I started hiking, I suspected my life would be different when I got home after finishing the trail. I also suspected I would be different as a person. Back during my preparation for this hike, I wrote in my blog about how important it was for me to hike the PCT and how it was a life ultimatum of sorts. I don’t think anyone even read that with the exception of my father. Or maybe they did and thought I was just depressed or being dramatic. Either way, this trail is more than just an 18 inch wide swath of dirt that runs from Mexico to Canada. It is five months of hope.
Lost in thought, I drowned out others with music in my headphones. I simply walked by a group of hikers including Kate and Ziploc on the top of Kearsarge Pass. I kept hiking deliberately only escaping my head long enough to snap some pictures of deer grazing above Bullfrog Lake.
Ziploc and Kate were noticeably annoyed with my isolating behavior. The sun has already set and they wanted to camp. I pointed out a good tent site and encouraged them to camp there. I continued walking up towards Glen Pass. They apparently were upset that I continued hiking and caught up to me. Ziploc yelled something at me that I only heard half of but I caught the key message which was “Fuck Off”. They powered on ahead as I sat on a stone and again lost myself in my thoughts.
After a few minutes, I started walking again. I walked by Ziploc and Kate as they were setting up their tents. I just wanting to be alone and found a camping spot on a ledge overlooking the fading light in the west. I camped alone. I ate Ramen Noodles and seven more Oreo's. I stayed up till 11 pm, well past hiker midnight and gazed at the stars in the moonless night. I let my mind race away with more destructive thought patterns until sleep eventually consumed me.