Day 72: The lowest of lows

Day 72
June 29
1012-1019
7 miles

I got up first and was able to successfully take care of my problem in privacy. As quietly as I could, I ate breakfast and packed up. Still, StoryTime had not yet arisen. Did I really have to wait around to take pictures with him? I went over and asked. He got up, looked around, and decided that it wasn’t worth trying because the morning light did not make the scenery look nearly as beautiful as it looked last night. Fine. I went on my way, with only six miles to hike until I reached the highway. The trail continued to climb and then dropped onto the other side of the pass.
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I had no idea how much snow I was about to encounter! These miles were some of the most beautiful ones I had hiked through, but also some of the scariest. The snow was slippery and I had to carefully place each step.
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I couldn’t imagine how hikers without poles made it through these parts! I relied on mine for balance and support. They are what kept me from slipping off into the abyss below. Being alone, I felt that I had to be extra careful of my footing. At times, I followed footprints in the snow that lead away from the trail and had to sidestep back down. Ever so slowly, I made it out of the snow and looked back to see the path I had just taken.
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I continued to descend, leaving the openness of the mountains and entering back into the trees. Still, I had small patches of snow to cross.
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Far down below, I could see the road. I followed the switchbacks and didn’t rush, knowing that wanting to get there wasn’t going to help me get there any faster. A couple of hikers were starting south and we crossed paths. After a long dry stretch, a couple of streams appeared, and eventually, the road was only meters away.
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There was a handwritten note taped to the sign at the trail head alerting us to trail magic up ahead. I crossed the highway, saw a second note and decided to drop my pack and check it out. It turned out to be father than I expected, at a campground. It was being put on by a former thru-hiker and all I saw were people drinking beer and some junk food laid out on a table, which did not interest me. I just wanted to find a ride to the Northern Kennedy Meadows store, 11 miles away, to pick up my resupply box. I asked if I should try getting a ride here, but was told that no one could take me. The guy said he was only interested in getting me drunk. I told him I had left my pack down by the road and he instantly became animated and told me never to leave my pack near a road! He had seen far too many thefts in the past few years. I ran off to make sure it was there and was thankful to see it untouched. MudD had arrived in the meantime and was waiting for his girlfriend, Dingo. He didn’t have much to say to me. Dingo arrived, excited for the trail magic and they quickly took off while I went over to the side of the road to stick out my thumb. Several cars later, a nice woman stopped. She was on her way home from vacation and was happy to take me where I needed to go. She was interested in my journey, which made the ride very pleasant and pass by quickly. I offered to buy her lunch, or at least a coffee, but she said she had just eaten.
I headed into the store and waited to ask the cashier for my box. It’s always a tense moment to arrive somewhere, hoping they have the box you packed containing everything you need to get through the next stretch of trail. She looked through her list and didn’t see my name… My stomach dropped. As she helped another customer, she asked me to go through the list. I looked at each name and my heart sank. “It’s not there.” I told her it was sent USPS, and she responded that they only accepted UPS. I asked if there was a way to get on the internet to contact my resupply people and was told to talk to the woman at the main desk. I was charged $5 to use the wifi and sent a text to Brian asking if perhaps my box was sent to the other Kennedy Meadows, over 300 miles back. After telling them that this place only accepted UPS, they said that they had called and were told that they also accepted USPS and that is how they sent it. This lady said that no one here would have sent that. If it was shipped USPS, it was now sitting in a post office over an hour away. She told me that I could buy more food at the campstore. I asked about the possibility of taking a shower and doing laundry and she told told me she would have to see how much laundry they had to do first. I decided to eat something and worry about that afterwards.
I sat down at a table and ordered a hamburger as I charged my electronics. Now that I had wifi, I was able to receive my texts, but was disappointed that no one had sent me any. I wrote to my Swiss friend and told him that I had reached the 1,000 mile point. He congratulated me and then said that he had some news that was going to be hard for me. Immediately, I knew what it was. He had started seeing someone else. All I wanted to know was for how long. He said that it started three months ago, before I even started the trail and that made me very upset. He had lied to me and made me believe that he was still free. In Mammoth, I brought up the possibility of visiting him after the trail and he still did not say anything. I felt extremely betrayed.
Meanwhile, Ham called on the store phone, not knowing where she had sent the package. There was nothing anyone could do about it now. Because I had already had the problem of one of my resupply boxes not getting to me in Colorado, I knew that I could make it through this problem, as well. I held myself together on the outside, but internally, I felt very upset. Everything that I had spent so much time planning for what I would need in the next section was now not there for me- my maps, my guidebook pages, my contacts and toiletries, and all of my food. And the store here had nothing but junk food. If I was still lactose-intolerant, I don’t know what I would have done.
I finished my lunch and inquired about a shower. I was charged $6 for the use of one with no shampoo or conditioner. The store didn’t even sell conditioner! I was also told that I would not be able to do my laundry.
My Swiss friend wanted to talk with me over Skype to ease the hard feelings. With the small amount of reception I had, I went out to the back porch, where many people were sitting. There was no privacy in this place. I was angry and not proud that I ended up riasing my voice as I asked my friend why he mislead me and wouldn’t allow me the decency of telling me the truth. I had told him again and again that the truth is the only thing I can handle. All he could say was that he didn’t want to hurt me and that he didn’t know if it was going to develop into something serious when it started. I felt like I had fallen into the bottom of my personal ditch. I had been sick for almost a month, was still trying to hike over 20 miles a day in tough terrain and tough conditions, everything that I needed to get through the next part of the trail was gone, and now my heart was absolutely shredded. I could not possibly be in a lower place.
I had planned on only spending a couple of hours at this place to eat, shower, re-organize, and then head back out. Now that things were in disarray, I had to figure out what to do. Should I stay overnight? Should I stay for dinner and then head out? Reservations for dinner were required, so I asked if there was room for me. There was. I continued my phone call in the lobby after having calmed down considerably. Then, a lady whispered to the woman at the front desk. “How is she talking on the phone?”. When she learned I was on Skype, she told her that was against the policy. I was asked to hang up. Some places seem to be a vortex of bad energy and this was definitely one for me.
I went to look for replacement food in the store and couldn’t believe the junk I had to buy. I knew it was only four days and that I could make it through, though. I returned to the lobby and waited for the door to the dining room to open. It never did. Emma and Cuddles appeared, however. It was so nice to finally see some friendly faces! When I told Emma about my box not getting to me, she said that some hikers had decided to quit the trail and were giving away some of their food outside. I went out to take a look and saw FunSize. He thought it was karma that this food was being made available to me since I had given away a lot of my own food in Tuolemne Meadows. Unfortunately, I had already bought everything I needed, so I just took a few extra treats. I found it very interesting that the lady at the desk immediately pointed out the hiker box in the store to Emma, but never told me it was there!
It was well after 5, so I headed over to the other door of the restaurant to find that they had already given away my table while I was waiting for the other door to open. I was directed to one on the porch instead. My waitress was the same lady who was so mad that I was talking on Skype. She was the rudest waitress I have ever had in my life! This place was awful! I finished my mediocre meal, made worse with the bad attitudes, and went to do my final packing. I saw a truck pull out of the driveway and hoped to flag him down, but he drove off too quickly. I had no choice but to start walking. About half a mile later, a truck pulled over. The driver said he could take me to the end of this short road, but was then heading in the opposite direction. I took him up on it. When we reached the turn-off, I saw another thru-hiker trying to hitch back to Sonora Pass with a cardboard sign. I asked him how long he had been trying. “Two hours.”
“What?!” It was nearly 7:00 and there wasn’t much daylight left. I immediately stuck out my thumb and threw some feminine energy into it. Soon after, a truck pulled over and the driver said he would be willing to come back and take us after he had unloaded some things at his campsite. It was better than nothing! I stuck out my thumb again as another truck approached. It stopped and the driver said he could take us! Hurray! I felt a bit more uplifted because of the quick success and my ability to help Braveheart. Our driver wanted to know about our experiences so far and I enjoyed interjecting my opinions after Braveheart gave his answers. Soon, enough, we were back at the site of the trail magic. A whole new set of thru-hikers were sitting around, but I barely knew any of them and decided that I wanted to be on my way. I had no idea where the trail was, though! After several false starts, I was on my way up a very steep climb. It seemed oddly steep for the PCT. Once I made it to the top, a view appeared and I took the time to look out and appreciate where I was. The evening light was beautiful.
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I continued on and found a very nice campsite and then checked my GPS to see what mile I was at. It turned out that I was not even on the PCT! I walked back without my pack and realized how far I had veered off. The sun was now setting and I had to hurry to retrieve my pack and backtrack.
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At last, I found the PCT and a makeshift camp spot in between a couple of trees right by the trail. A couple out for an evening walk passed by me.
Once I set up my spot, I was finally able to let go of the control I had been keeping and feel all of the pain I had experienced in this one day. Tears flooded out. This was an extremely difficult day in so many ways. I was in an extremely vulnerable place without the physical things I needed and with my heart in a very shattered place.
I decided to take a few minutes to write in my journal, and for the first time, I drew a heart for myself. It’s so easy for me to give my heart to other people and to wait with extraordinary patience for theirs to possibly open in return. It never does. Coming from a history of abuse and neglect, self-worth is the hardest thing for me to learn, and my biggest obstacle in this life. I knew it was now time to start making self love and compassion a priority. Thankfully, my yoga practice had taught me that I am always surrounded by love, that it doesn’t exist within one person, and that the way in which anyone behaves is never personal. I reminded myself of these things and then cried myself to sleep.

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3 thoughts on “Day 72: The lowest of lows

  1. Wow, absolutely gorgeous photos of the Sonora Pass area. I did some trail angeling at the Pass and Kennedy Meadows a few days later and had a great lunch @KM with a variety of thru-hikers, very sorry to have missed out on meeting and helping you out. Appreciate all the work you put into this journal for the world to see!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! Half the time, I am wondering if I am doing the right thing by spending so much time writing this up. I often feel it is too boring.
      I am sorry to have missed you, too! Thank you for being an Angel and helping us out! It means so much!!

  2. Wendy: your photographic eye is wonderful, vivid and full of interesting angles and views of what could otherwise be a boring path in some dirt and/or snow. Stick with it! What comes through loud and clear is how utterly competent you are, your planning and determination allow you to triumph over every little adversity — amazing, actually! What also comes through is your dogged determination to hike your hike alone – I love the way you go off to find the perfect camping/sleeping spot – one that suits *Wendy* not just the ‘pack.’ I guess that’s why I love your blog so much – that bright flame of independence burning forth from your words. The blog is worth it — certainly to me!

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