Day 113: A Risky Situation

Day 113
August 9
mile 1856-1884.2
28.2 miles

Someone walked by my tent at 6:43 while I was still in my sleeping bag. It must have been Purple Haze. I got up shortly after, ate some breakfast, broke down my tent, and packed everything up. I looked at my watch after I stepped back on the trail to find that it was now 8:08! Oh, dear! My starts were getting later and later and the sun was now setting earlier and earlier!
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I continued the climb, looking down to see the now dreaded Diamond Lake below.
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In just under three miles, I reached the Mt. Thielsen trail intersection. I got confused about which way to go, first heading the obvious way, then upon discovering that wasn’t right, bumping into a tent. Back and forth I went! Finally, I realized that the PCT headed in the complete opposite direction, where I hadn’t even noticed a trail!
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I noticed that I had a little reception here, so I spent a few minutes catching up on Facebook news, and then a hiker going south passed by. I stepped aside for him, slightly scaring him as I lost my balance in some rocks along the edge of the trail. My body had long lost any sense of agility with the increasing tightness I was forcing upon it. I headed down the other side of the mountain. The trail wrapped around and lead down to a beautiful creek!
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It was an idyllic setting and I decided to take a break and enjoy it by having an ice coffee, even though it was a bit too early for that. I had only hiked five miles so far, but I needed to collect water and knew there weren’t any other sources coming up for awhile.
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I kept looking back at the trail, expecting Tumbleweed to head toward me any moment, but was surprised that no one showed up!
The trail climbed gradually over the next five miles and I arrived at the sign proclaiming that I was now at the highest point in Oregon and Washington.
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There was nothing remotely spectacular about the view. It’s interesting to me that snow remains on some of these mountains all year round, while it melts on the much, much higher Sierra mountains.
Just before I stopped for lunch, I saw a couple of hikers taking a break on some rocks along a ridge. The older man appeared to be on the phone, but the younger one waved to me. I found my own spot to stop a little farther ahead and they passed by and waved again as I was eating.
They seemed surprised when I caught up to them. They told me they were just taking their time. They asked me some questions about my hike and said that they had met a couple from Vermont who were also hiking the whole trail. I said I knew who they were- Lotus and Hermes. They never learned their names, but said that they had given Lotus their benadryl from their first aid kit after she was stung by a bee and broke out in hives. Lotus and Hermes weren’t carrying a first aid kit and when they saw the father and son, asked if they had one. It was another story about chance encounters and the incredible timing of them. I asked them where they planned on stopping for the night and they said they would be taking a side trail down to a lake. The only water sources in this section were quite a distance from the trail. One was a lake, and one was described as really gross small pools of water that were way off the ridge. My guidebook said that a trail angel kept a stock of water for PCT hikers at Windigo Pass, but I had read that he retired from trail angeling this year. I asked the father and son if they had seen any water there when they had parked. The son said he did, which made me happy. I had already decided to make the risky choice to bypass the water sources off the trail and hope for something there, but now my decision was solidified.
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I continued on ahead of them, still needing to hike many miles to reach Windigo Pass. My intestines acted up again and I had to stop a couple of times to take care of them, as well as snack to pick up my energy. I reached the intersection leading down to the gross pools of water and decided to keep going. I still had over six miles to reach the road.
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When I finally arrived, I found a bulletin board with a nice note on it for Wildcat and Baxter that was left by their friends Muppets and Stilts, but I saw no water. I walked across the road, looked around a campsite, and again found nothing. My heart sank. I knew I had taken a risk and this time I had lost. A car drove by and I looked at them, half hoping they would stop and offer me any water that they might have, while the other part knew that I had gotten myself into this situation, and I would need to take full responsibility. I headed up the next climb and soon after found a nice spot to set up my camp. It was now 7:33 and I had hiked over 28 miles! In the process of setting up my tent, a wasp found its way inside, and I could not get him out! I kept hitting the outside wall of the tent that he was crawling on, but that only made him mad. He flew to another wall and we repeated the process. Now, I had an angry wasp trapped inside my tent! No matter how much I opened the flap, he did not detect the outside! He finally positioned himself on the pole at the apex of the tent. I put down the groundcloth inside the tent with the wasp still there and then started throwing my various items inside. I didn’t hear him buzzing anymore but never saw him fly out. I used some of my remaining water to make dinner, cleaned up, and hoped I would have enough water to get through the next day.
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Pacific Crest Trail!

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SO…. In the last couple of months, along with writing up my Colorado Trail journal, I have been busy ordering food, supplies, and gear for my trip, portioning and packaging everything up into ziplocks, making a spreadsheet of where I will be stopping to pick up my resupply boxes, and packing up over 35 boxes (some places need multiple boxes!).
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It has been quite a monumental task! At times, it was overwhelming, but overall, I maintained a good feeling of control and calm, thanks to my yoga.
On Saturday, I loaded up my car and brought all of the boxes to Ham and Brian’s house. They will be sending the boxes to me along the trail. I am so thankful for their willingness to help me out! I am also so thankful for the support of my AT followers, as well as my new yoga friends! I feel that I am in a much better place than when I left for my Appalachian Trail hike because I have finally found people who care about me.

I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I will be in hot, sunny California in a couple of days! It has been cold, cloudy, and rainy here in Massachusetts, and as of a few weeks ago, there was still snow on the ground!
I have done no physical training for the trail, I have yet to fully even pack my backpack, and I have done far less reading about the PCT than I did about the AT. But I did the best I could with the time I had, and I am not worried about what did not get done. It will all work out just fine.

I am super excited, grateful and honored for the opportunity to teach two yoga sessions at the PCT Kick-Off weekend at the end of April! This is a weekend full of seminars on the 26th and 27th of April, where past, future, and present PCT hikers gather to connect and learn important information that is unique to this trail. It takes place at a campground that is located at mile 20.6 of the trail (Lake Morena). I plan to hike 110 miles to Warner Springs, get a ride back to Lake Morena, attend the weekend event, and get a ride back to the point at where I left off to continue my hike.

The PCT will bring a new set of challenges to me, and I am very much looking forward to this experience. I will start the hike with 700 miles in the desert with no shade and very little water (typically 20-30 miles between water sources, and maybe more this year as it is a drought year). Then, I will enter the High Sierras, which will provide different challenges with snow, ice, steep climbs, and high altitude. I’ll have to ford ice cold streams with snow-melt from the mountains, walk through mosquito hell for miles and miles (where you can’t stop for a second without being swarmed and bitten all over), then enter back into long hot, dry stretches that go on and on…. California alone is 1700 miles!
Then we enter Oregon with more mosquitoes and rain, and Washington with its cold, wet, and steep, challenging terrain.
Every day will bring a new challenge and every day will bring some type of discomfort. But meeting these challenges brings a tremendous sense of accomplishment, a feeling of incredible aliveness, and a unique set of memories each day. I will have a new home each night, meet many new people, and hopefully have the best adventure of my life so far!

Each year, there are more hikers who attempt to climb Mt. Everest than hike the entire PCT in one season. It is an incredibly grueling, long-term physical and mental feat. Day after day, we hike 20 or more miles on hot days with the sun burning down on us, in storms, through ferociously strong wind, and in cold rain and freezing temperatures. And we do this all with a heavy pack on our back, containing all of our food, water, shelter, and basic needs. Sometimes, we have to carry six liters of water at a time (12 pounds in itself), and up to 9 day stretches where we have to carry all of our food.

If you feel inspired by my journey and would like to lend your support, please consider donating to my hiking fund to help me fuel my body with real food in towns, replace gear along the way (we go through at least 5 pairs of shoes and insoles, countless socks, and a journey of this length takes its toll on gear…). Words of encouragement are also strongly appreciated. It is amazing what a bit of inspiration can do for the spirit of a hiker. And if anyone would like to send a small package or postcard along the way, please let me know, and I can send out a list of my resupply stops.

Thank you all for your support!
Much love!

I found a heart in the sand!

I found a heart in the sand!

“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know -unless it be to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.

For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.”

James Kavanaugh, There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves