PCT Day 115: Where There’s Smoke 

​August 3, 2017 

Mile 1658.03 – Mile 1676.76

18.73 miles 

Today kind of sucked. I’m just going to come right out and say it. Of course, there were good moments scattered throughout, but the general theme of the day was suckage. Around 5am, our campsite was suddenly filled with the sound of alarms going off every few minutes, as people repeatedly hit their snooze buttons, accompanied by the noise of much tossing and turning and the occasional groan. Eventually we did manage to get up and all four of us hiked out together, walking in a train at first and then spreading out to all walk at our own respective paces. The air was already warm and thick with the smell of smoke, and we had a climb to finish. 

This part of the climb immediately seemed much harder than what we had done last night. It was steep, and I struggled to fill my lungs with the hazy air. After only a little over a mile, we all congregated again at a water source, which was a piped spring that was trickling so slowly that it took several minutes to fill a single water bottle. It took so long that we all ended up sitting there for quite a while, joking and throwing rocks at a burnt out old snag. Good moment. 

The climb continued, but soon became much less steep and started levelling out. The views of the hills wreathed in smoke were quite eerie. Eventually, we climbed high enough that we were above the bulk of the smoke cloud. The trail wound gently up and down, and then we descended down to a spring where we had lunch with Non Stop. After lunch, another climb awaited us, and by this time the day had become unbearably hot. Luckily, large portions of the climb were shaded, but we were still occasionally forced out on to the bare rock to walk trudge under the beating sun. The climb didn’t actually seem too horrible to me, and when I got to the top I was feeling good, I was feeling good, until suddenly I wasn’t. I was exhausted. The lack of sleep and the heat had finally caught up to me, and I was freaking exhausted. 

Non Stop taking a dirt nap 

The camp was had originally planned to stop at tonight was still over 9 miles away, and I slowly began to realize that there was no way. There was no way I could walk another 9 miles. Dejected, I dragged my feet to the next water source and threw myself down in the shade, where I maybe fell asleep but maybe just miserably lay there with my eyes closed while some unknown amount of time slipped by. I’m really not sure.

 Eventually, we made a new plan, to stop at a campsite 3 miles away instead of 9. I knew this was a good idea, but it still upset me. I think I sometimes hold myself to too high a standard, and if I make a plan for something I want to accomplish, and think I should be able to accomplish, and the realize I can’t accomplish that thing, I get really hard on myself. I know this is something about myself that I want to work on, and I guess this is the trail’s way of helping me do that. I am realizing by now how the trail works its magic. I let it break me down a bit, and it will eventually put the pieces back together, but in a slightly different configuration than they were in before. This shit is hard. Before I started I thought I knew what to expect and thought I was prepared to handle it, but it’s really impossible to understand until you’re in the thick of it, until it’s all happening to you. 

We arrived at camp while it was still light out, made and ate dinner while it was still light out, and are now in the tent and it is STILL light out. It’s quite wonderful, and I’m very excited to get a full night’s sleep tonight. Tomorrow will also be pretty exciting, because we are finally going to hike out of California and enter Oregon! And then the next day is town day. So here’s hoping things (and my outlook on said things) are a little brighter over the next few days. The trail may seem to be doing a little more breaking down than building up lately, but I’m convinced that if I keep pushing through the hard stuff, there’s plenty more amazing things to come. 

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