June 14, 2017
Today was definitely not my best day on trail. Woke up to find out Cougar’s pain had only gotten worse. Ate another mediocre continental breakfast in the hotel lobby. Listened as Cougar and Dr. McDirty made plans to be picked up by their cousin that afternoon. I messaged Gummies and told him what was going on, and he immediately started brainstorming ideas for how we could proceed, but all I could do was lay listlessly on the motel bed feeling rather sorry for myself.
Greg the physiotherapist came back for another session, and I need to find some way to nominate him for a “nicest man on Planet Earth” award, because he is seriously incredible. He sympathized with Cougar and McDirty over their horrible experiences at the hospital the previous night, and did everything he could to try to make Cougar feel somewhat better. He recommended a certain drug that he knew would help, mentioning that he thought he might have some at home, and gave Cougar some exercises to help her manage her pain and start to fix the issue. He left, and then unexpectedly returned less than an hour later with the medication for Cougar and a bag of cherries he had picked off the trees around his house. We were all in shock. He even refused to take payment, even though he usually charges for his visits. Seriously the nicest man to ever exist.
I spent the rest of the morning following Cougar and Dr. McDirty around town like a lost puppy as they ran various errands, trying to squeeze out every last second of time I could spend with our quickly disintegrating trail family. We went to the post office, and I picked up a couple of packages, one of which was a bunch of dehydrated veggies and other snacks sent by my parents, which was exciting. My diet out here could definitely use some sprucing up. Eventually, we had to walk over to meet Cougar and McDirty’s shuttle to the airport. We promised this was not the last we’d see of each other, but it was still a pretty sad farewell.
Officially alone in town, I wandered down the street to the coffeeshop, definitely having an awkward public cry. I sat in the coffeeshop and called Gummies and then one of my best friends from home, which made me feel a lot better. I headed for the hostel to secure myself a bed for the night, and luckily they had space for me. I spent the rest of the afternoon lying in my bed in the hostel, staring at my phone and being generally antisocial. I chatted with my parents for a long while, endlessly refreshed social media, and watched a movie on my phone. I left briefly just to grab something to eat from the crappy grocery store nearby.
Tomorrow, Gummies is getting a ride to Bishop from his uncle, and then we’ll figure out how we’re going to proceed. We’re definitely not getting back on the trail from here. The Sierras are beautiful and amazing and wild, but they’re also dangerous. I just don’t think I’m comfortable pressing on in the current conditions. Gummies needs more time to recover from his pneumonia, so the tentative plan right now is to spend a bit of time off the trail. We may head up to South Lake Tahoe for a bit, and then maybe San Francisco, giving the snow in Northern California some time to melt, and everyone some time to recover and decompress. Hopefully, given time, our trail family will find its way back together, and back to the trail.
It’s kind of crazy how much my outlook on this hike has shifted since day 1. When I left home, I was completely and totally set on walking a straight path from Mexico to Canada. No flips, no skips, nothing would stop me but a hike-ending injury. And while I’m still a bit disappointed that that isn’t going to happen, it’s just not what matters most to me anymore. Not after the events of this last section. I still want to hike. I still want to see the rest of the trail. But I’m willing to be flexible with the order and the timing. I want to thru-hike, but I don’t want to put myself or my friends in danger. Everyone always says the people are the best part of the trail, and I thought I knew what that meant before I started, but it means so much more now. I’m just going to take each day as it comes, and enjoy the adventure, however it unfolds.