Dear Mother, I Broke My Promise

Dear mother, I broke my promise to you.
I camped alone in Yosemite National Park. No one chose to camp next to me last night as they all passed by hurriedly. Maybe sleeping next to the rushing river seemed unappealing. The noise, perhaps? Or the condensation? My tent and sleeping bag was soaked both mornings and I had to let it dry before packing up on the second morning. But this is my fault. I didn’t put my rainfly on my tent and only had mesh separating me from the misty air around me, which let in all the moisture through its thin walls. But I can’t blame myself. I was in too much pain to put in any extra work that wasn’t very necessary. Bending down hurts. Setting up the tent was a must or I’d go insane from the mosquitoes (remember the 50 bites I acquired in only about 4-5 hours?), but any extra bending down to affix the extra cover over my tent would not be worth the pain. I’d rather wake up soaked.

But it wasn’t so bad. My new sleeping bag dries rather quickly. While in Bishop, I upgraded from the worst of the worst to the best. I got rid of my 27 degree Thermarest down sleeping bag, which was used when I purchased it, and with the loft flattened and missing in some places, it was only suitable for the desert. I instead purchased a new 5 degree Western Mountaineering bag. It is so warm and wonderful and lofty! It was actually rather difficult to get it into my backpack–it’s that fluffy–until I acquired a compression sack from a trail angel from an old bag they didn’t need, along with some extra tightening straps they cut off from a sleep mattress. These two combined allow me to compress my bag into a fourth or fifth of the size it is when uncompressed, and now it fits nicely into the bottom of my backpack. Speaking of which, I also now have a new backpack, but that will be in another post, another time.

Anyway, this morning, I awoke with less pain in my tailbone, but still enough for me to know that it’s much smarter to hike the 14 miles back to the campground rather than the 60 to Bridgeport. Once at the campground, I can attempt to find a ride somewhere where I can rest maybe another week, maybe even see a doctor. If it indeed is something serious, I may have made it worse by hiking 20 miles in a day, twice, with a 35-40 lb. pack resting right on my lower back, and this would not be good. I’d need to make sure I’m fully healed before I set out again next time. This, of course, is extremely frustrating. I want to be hiking, moving forward, advancing, getting further and further north so badly. I already feel so behind. I’m with the stragglers, with the hikers who have either been hurt as well, or took too much time off for fun, or who only hike 10 miles a day and plan to skip ahead or don’t plan to finish at all. I don’t want to skip a section again, but it looks like I’ll have to. Since I’ve already hiked 380ish miles in Northern CA (parts of CA sections L-O: Donner Pass to Burney Falls), I know I can always skip that, but I loved that section and wanted to do it again, to relive the memories, but in a better state of mind (last year’s hike was to get away from certain difficult circumstances in my life, to mentally process things and figure out what to do, and prepare myself for properly handling them when I get home). I may have to skip another section instead, or possibly even in addition to, and come back next year to fill in the gaps. That wouldn’t too terrible, as I love the PCT and plan to do many more section hikes and hopefully even another thru-hike of the same trail one day. Nevertheless, it is very disappointing to hike 14 miles backwards and get off the trail again.

But, today, I will not let myself feel down. Yesterday was my day for that. Today is a new day, and it’s going to be great! I felt blessed as I tucked my warm and poofy sleeping bag into my gifted compression sack. I have this wonderful new bag, and it’s warm, and comfortable, and even in my favorite color (blue). It provided me with my some decent sleep last night, too, and I am feeling rested. I have an awesome tent that is protecting me from the mosquitoes that are hovering around, ready to make my life miserable, but, ha! They can’t get in! There is a pretty butterfly right outside my tent sitting on a flower, flapping its wings. The sun is coming out more and more with each half hour. I have eaten breakfast biscuits and dried fruit with cold coffee, and am full and energized. The hike back shouldn’t be too terrible, and maybe even I’ll manage to do all 14 miles today and be at the campground by nightfall. Maybe not, and that’s okay too. I can camp somewhere beautiful, and after camping alone last night in bear country, I am not as nervous. I attended to the proper precautions of storing my bear can full of food a good distance away. And I actually enjoyed the solitude, just like last time.

This morning went well. I finished reading “The Sea-Wolf” and loved how it ended. Its adventure stories lifted my spirits and made me want to go out there and seek my own adventure, which I’m sure I will have as soon as I pack up my tent and start hiking. I also found several errors in the book, although it is a classic that has been first released over a hundred years ago and proofread many times since, and proofreading is a passion of mine and I always feel great when I spot an error someone else missed (tsk, tsk, tsk, Townsend). Since I’ll be at the campground tonight or tomorrow, I don’t have to conserve my phone battery, so I’m playing one of my new favorite songs, “Hold On” by The Brevet. I like to think of it as my PCT motto song. As he sings, “Gain strength to put your boots back on,” I’m looking at my trail runners, all dry from sitting in the sun a full day and ready to be worn again, and I’m anticipating doing some hiking today. The part I just hiked the day before was beautiful, and I don’t mind seeing it again. I’m just hoping that my tailbone doesn’t bother me too much, but, if it does, I can always stop and set up camp wherever I choose to. The section where camping is not allowed is before Tuolomne Meadows, and I am going back to Tuolomne, but not before.

I broke my promise once already. I won’t be breaking my back trying to camp with someone else again. I’m only 14 miles from a public campground, and even though that doesn’t mean much since even the campground has strict rules in regards to putting all food into locked bear boxes at night and all trash cans have a chain and clip clasping them shut to keep bears out, I’ll be fine. I’m careful. I keep my bear not too close to my tent, and clean up well and don’t spread food smells everywhere when eating. I also sleep with my headlamp and whistle right next to me. I’ll be okay, mom. Don’t worry. I’m surrounded by beauty. I’ll be resting soon. I’m happy.

Note: This is an old entry from a journal I kept while hiking the PCT earlier in the year. I am no longer on the PCT and had to get off trail due to my injury in late July. I wanted to share with you my last few days on the trail and explain how difficult of a decision it was to go home.

About elinatravels

I’m Elina Oliferovskiy, a Russian-born 27-year-old restless soul who’s never really found a place to dig her roots in deep ever since I moved to the United States in 1998. I move every year or two, backpack for months at a time, and occasionally live and travel in a motorhome--and I (usually) love every minute of my (somewhat) nomadic lifestyle. Feel free to follow along on my journey by reading my blog!
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3 Responses to Dear Mother, I Broke My Promise

  1. Mosquitoes and black flies are a serious threat to hiker sanity. In Maine there’s actually a double-sized privvy with screen windows named “Fort Relief” that comes complete with a sink. People have slept in it, to avoid the bugs.
    I literally ran through that section in full rain gear with a 60lb pack to avoid the monsters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • elinatravels says:

      I have run through many hordes of mosquitoes and am alive to tell my stories now because of it 🙂
      If I had slowly walked through it, I probably would have gone insane and ran off of a cliff or something.


      • Tiger says:

        Ton billet est un régal pour les papilles, les oreilles et le rêve d'une maison perdue quelque part peut-être en Arinona…Bozne soirée


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