Friends, Joy, Pain, and Loneliness

I had taken the third day off, and my body repaired itself well. I felt absolutely ready to go hiking once again, as long as I was attentive to my body’s needs and warning signals and did not overwork myself again. I woke up at 8am and was going to hike out at 9, but when I went to the campground store to post a letter, I saw my friend, K-Bar, the one who the fire station captain told me was back on trail. K-Bar and I had met a few months before we began hiking the PCT and traveled to Utah to hike around Zion together and made a little detour to Vegas beforehand. We had an amazing weeklong trip full of all sorts of adventures  and knew we would be friends for life afterwards. Occasionally, I bump into him on the trail, but I hadn’t seen him since Lake Isabella, and it was very exciting to catch up a bit. We celebrated with hugs and double patty cheeseburgers (the generous soul bought me mine, along with a salad).

Full and happy, I hiked out on my own at 2pm. I wanted to do at least 8 miles that afternoon, if not 10 or 12, but I told myself that I couldn’t go beyond 12 no matter what because I knew my body didn’t want me to. After 6 or so miles, I ran into a hiker named Lost and Found, and hiked a good chunk of the day with him. We made it to 12 miles, and then split up as I sat down to take a break, with vague plans to camp at Lake McCabe where we were told by a passing hiker others would be camping. There was no flat ground to set up camp at mile 12, only rocky boulders, and so I had to go further. I hiked to mile 14 and found the trail that led to Lake McCabe, but it was an extra two miles until the lake itself. Most PCT hikers won’t hike an extra 4 (counting both there and back) for a campsite, and I worried that everyone who planned to camp there must have changed their minds and passed it when they realized how far it was off trail. But I checked my GPS to see what’s ahead on the PCT and saw no campsites for miles.

I was exhausted and unsure of what to do, but I remembered my promise to my mother and myself to camp with others in this section, and so I set out in the direction of the lake. A mile in, I noticed that the trail looked pretty unmaintained in some areas and probably wasn’t frequently used. Most importantly, I noticed that most of the recent footprints looked to be going in the opposite direction, away from the lake, and I began to suspect that it was more likely that fishermen used this lake early this morning, not PCT hikers, and had already left. But I had walked a mile, and I didn’t want to go back, and it would get dark soon. I hoped for company, maybe even a fire. I had almost done the two miles when the footprints began getting more faint, and I began getting more worried. If I got there and no one was there, and it got dark, I’d be two miles off the PCT by some isolated lake to which you could only get to via an unmaintained trail. That would not be good. I called out, “Are there people camping ahead of me?” several times, got no response, and turned around. I’d rather camp by myself along the PCT than two miles off trail and away from anyone. I now had to hike the two miles back. My feet hurt, my back hurt, it was getting to be very dark, and I was little nervous.

I got back on trail and still hoped there would be someone camping somewhere soon before me. It was now 9pm and pitch black. I tried to hurry and didn’t want to stop to get my headlamp out of my backpack. I hiked on in the dark, got to a sharp switchback that I didn’t notice and headed straight into the woods and off trail. Not more than 100 feet later, I realized there was no trail before me and found my way back to the curve I missed. I have no idea how–maybe exhaustion or nervousness?–but I somehow  got confused. One part of the curve was a downhill descent and then a sharp curve, and then still downhill but slightly more level ground. I couldn’t remember whether I had just descended the trail that went up before me or if that was where I should be heading next. I figured I must have descended, as it looked to be coming from the direction I came from, and so I continued on downwards. About half a mile down, I, for some reason, thought I made a mistake. I didn’t remember going down a steep downhill, and figured I hadn’t been on that part of the trail yet and must go up it. I turned around and did another half a mile back to that curve.

As I was heading back, a loud noise of twigs snapping caught my attention to my right. I called out, “Is someone there?” thought I knew no hiker would be in a densely forested part of the woods at nighttime. I knew that deer made noise, and smaller creatures too, but this was loud, as if the animal was heavy, and this was bear country. This was the part of the PCT where the most bears are seen and encountered. I put my whistle in my mouth just in case, ran past the noise, got to the curve in the trail, threw my pack down, and got my headlamp out. I then checked my Halfmile GPS application on my phone, and walked a few steps back and a few forward. I saw that when I went down, my mileage increased, and when I went up, my mileage decreased. But the mileage towards the next river decreased as I went down, and increased as I went up. This made sense. If I was at mile 955.5, then if I continued north on the PCT, my mileage would go up to 955.6, 955.7, and so on. And the river in front of me, if it was .67 miles away, would go down to .50, and then .40 miles away as I approached it.

For some reason, maybe the fear of having possibly just walked past a bear, I processed this backwards. I thought I had to go up the trail so that the decimal numbers after 955 would decrease. I started going up again, did almost half a mile, and then got my senses back. I realized that my mileage numbers decreasing and the distance between me and the river before me was increasing meant that I was walking southbound, in the direction I had just come from! I felt like such an idiot! I turned around and ran back down, past the place where I heard the twigs snapping, and hoped I wouldn’t hear anything this time. I didn’t, but I kept my whistle untangled and hanging from my backpack strap at an easily reachable distance.

My Halfmile map told me that there was a river ford about a mile ahead of me. I so hoped that I’d find a campsite before that so that I wouldn’t have to cross a river at nighttime. That was not the case. Just a rocky ridge walk to the river, and then there was nothing to do but cross. I looked for a log or rocks to hop in order to stay dry as I crossed the rather wide river, but no such luck. Just then my headlamp reflected something shiny across the water. Two bright, glowing circles. Eyes! I instantly turned cold as I feared that across the river was a bear. Then I realized they were too spread out, and it would be a very deformed bear, and beside the circles there were also two lines that reflected just as brightly. A tent! They were the guy-lines of a tent, made of reflective material. I plunged into the water happily, shoes and all, nearly toppling over due to the unexpected cold and force. I then realized there were deep spots in the river where I’d sink in at least to my waist, and the current was very strong. So I used my headlamp to find the biggest rocks that were closer to the surface, and tested each one out with one foot first to make sure they weren’t too slippery. I managed to get across without going more than knee-deep, and nearly skipped towards the tent.

A lady’s voice called out from inside, asking if I was looking for a campsite. I said, “Yes!” She told me where there was another flat spot over a log a few feet away from her, and I could have hugged her if she were not tucked away inside her tent. I pitched my tent as quickly as possible, climbed in to finally get away from the mosquitoes (my first day on trail after my break, I counted 50 bites…in under 5 hours!), and ate both lunch and dinner (I’d skipped lunch when I hiked with Lost and Found, mostly to keep his pace so I could camp next to someone, although I “lost” and never “found” him again), but also because anytime I stopped, the mosquitoes would eat me alive. It was now about 10:30pm. I was beat. Instead of 8 or 10 or 12, I had done another 20 mile day (at least one mile at the campground as I walked to the wilderness center to ask questions and then back to the store, then 14 to my current campsite, the four or so to the lake and back when I made the detour, and about one extra mile when I got lost). I fell asleep easily, with the soothing noise of the rushing river less than 50 feet from me, but woke up frequently due to some kind of pain somewhere. I didn’t yet realize what it was.

I woke up at 8:30. The lady near me had packed up her tent and was getting ready to go. I didn’t have my glasses on and all was blurry, but she never turned around enough for me to see her face anyways. I have no idea whom I slept next to. I felt a sharp pain and knew I’d overdone it again. Oh well, today I will do only 8 miles or so, I thought. I can sleep in and hike later. I woke up again at 11. Some hikers were sunbathing in the distance by the river. I got up to pee. As I bent down to climb out of my tent, I felt a familiar traveling electrical current in my lower back, followed by a dull ache. Oh no! My old tailbone pain was back, and with a vengeance. I spent most of the day cooking, eating, washing my utensils and clothes, drying my shoes and socks from last night, and hiding in my tent from the incessantly hungry mosquitoes. I took vitamins, allowed myself one pain killer, and hoped that the pain would be gone tomorrow. If not, I couldn’t hike the 60 miles to Bridgeport. I’d have to hike the 14 back to Tuolomne, in pain, and take another break, God knows for how long. I tried not to think about having to do that.

I felt really alone. I felt I could really use someone at that moment. I wanted to share my pain and frustration with someone. I wanted company, laughter, someone to lift my spirits.

I hoped someone would eventually camp beside me, maybe the people I knew who stayed behind at the campground in Tuolomne for extra night. Necktie and I had decided we weren’t going to be hiking partners, but I now secretly hoped he’d catch up and we’d camp together one more time. I realized that, during moments like these, one could really use a hiking partner. It’s great to learn to depend on yourself, but sometimes, when you’re in pain and scared that the injury hasn’t healed enough to hike and won’t for a long time and worried about having to hike back even if it’s only 14 miles and sad that you have to camp alone on a day when you’d rather have someone else beside you, you really understand the reason why people stick together, even if solitude can be beautiful at times.

Instead, I ended up eating a lot, journaling, and reading my book as I lounged on top of my sleeping bag, with my z-rest and most of my clothes thrown over my tent to provide shade. Such is life. Not all days are magical. Some simply sort of suck.

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Being Mistaken for the Hungry and Homeless

This blog post is a continuation of my PCT journal entries from late July. It picks up right after Marmots, Laughter, Crystal Lakes, and Tears and My In-Town Adventures (Post Injury).

I promise to share more of my in-town adventures the next day, and although I’m a few days late, I had to type up my chicken scratch handwriting from my PCT journal and this required a lot of determination! Anyway, here it is:

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“I woke up at the campground, surrounded by hikers of all sorts (PCT, JMT, and just day-hikers) and tourists from out of town, state, or country who were seeing Yosemite for the 1st or 50th time. Some hikers were given a bag of fresh cherries, strawberries, and grapes, and another one full of carrots, but they were hiking out and didn’t want to take food that spoiled, so they gave it to me. I munched on this as I hitchhiked to Mammoth. I was soon offered a ride with an ex-forest ranger who dropped me off at the Mammoth post office where a new cell phone screen should have been waiting for me. I’d purchased it at the prompting of a fire station captain who’d offered to fix my phone for free (a hobby of his) if I brought him a case. My screen and new filter (I had ordered a new filter because I was getting tired of the thin stream and effort required to drink from a Sawyer Mini; I ordered a Sawyer Squeeze to fix this problem) was not there because, apparently, Amazon can’t deliver mail to post offices, addressed to “c/o General Delivery,” which they’d done plenty of times before.

I had to contact another backup, a local phone repair guy in Mammoth named Matt Taylor. He was busy, and while I waited for him in the village and made backup plans, I scribbled “Tuolomne” and “Yosemite” on a piece of cardboard to use as my hitchhiking sign on the way back (in case my attempt to have my phone fixed failed). An older man with a cane came up to me and asked me if I had money for dinner. I told him I’m a PCT hiker and dinner was in my backpack, but he began rummaging in his wallet for money. I thought he’d gotten the wrong impression with my cardboard sign, and explained to him that this was a hitchhiking sign, not an, “I’m hungry,” sign, but he smiled, and said, “Still, dinner’s on me tonight.” I didn’t know how to accept money from a stranger, and said so, but he persisted. I took it, and he left  with so much joy on his face and in his heart that he would have skipped down the street if he didn’t have to walk with a cane.

Meanwhile, I had made plans to grab lunch with a friend I’d made the first time I was in Mammoth. The man who was to fix my phone freed up at the same time and offered to meet me where I was. I told him I was waiting for the bus to take me to a restaurant where I was to have lunch, and he offered to pick me up himself and take me there. While I ate tacos, he fixed my phone in 15 mins, and because the screen wasn’t brand new but had been tested, I got a nice discount (I recommend http://www.MyMammothTech.com to all other hikers!). Afterwards, the friend I ate lunch with let me take a shower at his place and took me grocery shopping, bought me ice cream,

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and dropped me off at the fire station where I said “hello,” to the wonderful man who had first offered to fix my phone for free. He shared with me the awesome news that one of my good friends, K-Bar, who’d gotten off the trail decided to get back on! Apparently, he’s also a taxi driver, besides a fire station captain and phone repair guy, and he had driven my friend to the trail just a few days before. We chatted for a bit, and then I left to go hitchhike back to Tuolomne to go hike out again the next day.

I attempted to get a ride for maybe 15 mins, and then a girl ran across the street and asked me where I’m going. I said, “At least to the 395 Hwy from where I’m more likely to find someone headed towards Yosemite.”  Although she wasn’t headed that way at all but was just a local hanging out in town, she drove me the 3 miles there, and then kept driving. I told her she could drop me off anywhere on the side of the highway where there’s room to pull off if someone wanted to pick me up, but she said she’d take me further, to June Lake. I asked if that’s where the mobile mart was, which I’d heard about but had never been to, and she said, “No, that’s another 25-30 miles past.” We soon passed June Lake, and I told her she could pull over anywhere to drop me off. She said she’d decided to take me all the way to the mobile mart, just because she was free that day and didn’t mind helping me out.

She dropped me off there and headed back home. I realized the mobile mart was right on the junction that goes towards Yosemite, a perfect spot to find a ride with someone going that way. Within 5 mins, someone offered me a ride. He was traveling around in his seatless travel van while the wife and kids were out-of-state for a wedding. He had me sit comfortably on a Thermarest mattress (remember, no seats in his van besides the driver seat) and served me an iced coconut water as we chatted about books and traveling the entire drive up.

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I was now back in Tuolomne Meadows, and although I didn’t know anyone there (two weeks off trail caused me to be one of the stragglers; almost everyone I knew was way ahead), I befriended many interesting new people (such as flip-flopping, former northbounder, current south bounder, Luk L’Pahitt, whose blog you can find on Facebook by searching up his fun, fake name). Soon, familiar faces began to arrive (hikers I knew from months ago who’d also taken time off in town for one reason or another). I had not expected this! I hadn’t seen many familiar in about 3 weeks, and this was such a pleasant surprise. We all had a bonfire, shared stories of past adventures, and then hid ourselves away in our tents to slumber peacefully.

Note: This is an old entry from a journal I kept while hiking the PCT earlier. I am no longer on the PCT and I had to get off of the trail due to my injury in late July. I just wanted to share my last few days on the trail with everyone who may be wondering.

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My In-Town Adventures (Post Injury)

As promised, I will now tell you about the day I hitchhiked back to Mammoth to have my phone fixed (as well as an interlude about several other towns in between). This would be my third time in Mammoth. I hitchhiked there when I first got injured and couldn’t hike (just to spend some time at least exploring new towns in order to pass the time while my body healed). During this trip, we stayed in a condo rented out by a bunch of hikers, slept in a church, visited the Davison hostel, where I lounged in a hammock and Necktie played guitar, listened to music and watched music videos at the library (the photo above is us listening to “Free,” by Rudimental, one of my new favorite songs/videos), opened packages of food (for some reason, filled with Mexican candy!) from my mother, and got Necktie some new gaiters (courtesy of my wonderful mother who makes them for half the price that Dirty Girl makes them; feel free to contact me for a custom order!). I also got to draw on people, Necktie got to play some music in a cafe and we all got free smoothies for it, and, as we hitchhiked to Tahoe, Necktie discovered a guitar in a truck wagon and played some music on it (the video that got pretty famous on Facebook is here).

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We then hitchhiked joined up with a fellow hiker, Tonka, and hitched north to Lee Vining, where we hung out at a cafe and camped in the middle of a football field and got free breakfast and showers from someone who is part of the firefighter crew due to the recent fire in their town. Then, we hitched to Tahoe (in an RV! with a puppy!) to spend the 4th of July somewhere we hadn’t been yet. Tahoe was interesting, and I was fascinated by how I could cross the street and no longer be in California but in Nevada, but it was a little too big and overwhelming for me (keep in mind I’m used to being in the woods alone most of the day). Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun at the beautiful Lake Tahoe, where we waded in the water and Necktie entertained locals and tourists with his music (you can see a video of him doing that here and here), met fun locals (one guy makes his own amazing natural hygiene products; check him out, I included a photo of his company–I even opted to carry more weight in my backpack so that I could have his massage cream and soap with me to make life better when I’m sore and achy and smell terrible), petted domesticated wolves, ate free pizza, and just walked around town, exploring, as injured town-exploring partners should do.

We then hitchhiked to Truckee on the night of the 4th with our patriotic hitchhiking signs and spent three days there in a trail angel’s vacation rental (seriously, if you’ve never been to Truckee, go! and stay in one of the beautiful homes by the river) where we ate gigantic slices of pizza, where Necktie discovered a street piano player who let him join in and earn some tips, after which some sweet ladies from out of town bought us drinks. The next day, we had the gigantic pizza one more time, Necktie played some Beatles in an ice cream shop, used Necktie’s street-playing earnings to have an at-home movie night with ice cream and popcorn (we watched my favorite movie, “Atonement), and the next morning, said goodbye to our favorite little town, and left.

Now our vacation was over. I was feeling capable of carrying a pack without the weight hurting my lower back, and it was time to return to Mammoth and hike from there. This would be my second time in Mammoth. We tried to hitchhike all the way there but ended up stranded in Gardnerville. It was getting dark as we asked around at the gas station if anyone was heading south, and we got hungry. Being the broke PCT hikers that we are, we bought four pieces of chicken at KFC and opted out of the biscuits when we found out they were $1.49 each. While waiting for our food, one of the staff members (I believe she was a manager?) gave us free sodas, and as a thank you, Necktie played her some music (the video is here). When our food was handed to us, we went outside to eat and discovered four free biscuits inside. That already made our night, but then, a man in line at the restaurant whom Necktie asked to take a photo of him with the KFC staff, came up to us and asked how we felt about staying at his house for the night. Seeing as late-night hitchhiking was unlikely to be successful this time (though we have done it before!), we agreed. This is where I took the black-and-white photo of Necktie playing guitar in a living room which I posted earlier, and where we received a feast-like Starbucks breakfast, where we were stocked up on snacks to go, and where we were invited to come again of we ever come through their town again. Then, we were back in Mammoth, where someone bought us free drinks as we walked by a bar, and then we slept soundly, and hiked out the next morning from the Agnew Meadows trailhead.

After this, we hiked for two days, ended up in Tuolomne Meadows campground, I had that painful, achy night when I cried myself to sleep, and the next morning, while Necktie took a bus to Yosemite to summit Half Dome, I hitchhiked to Mammoth to have my phone fixed.

This is post is already getting long and is full of so much trail magic and miracles nonstop, but there’s more I must share…tomorrow!

***Note: This blog post is a continuation of my PCT journal entries from late July. It picks up right after Marmots, Laughter, Crystal Lakes, and Tears. Reminder: This is an old entry from a journal I kept while hiking the PCT earlier. I am no longer on the PCT and I had to get off of the trail due to my injury in late July. I just wanted to share my last few days on the trail with everyone who may be wondering. There’s so much I didn’t have a chance to tell you!

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I’m Back!

I’m so sorry for my long absence, but I needed to get my head in the right place after three and a half months on trail and a debilitating injury that required a lot of attention afterwards. I wanted to share with you my journal entries from my last few days on trail, but I haven’t been able to do so because I couldn’t look at them. I couldn’t read them without instantly being transported back to the Pacific Crest Trail in my mind and the longing to be back would become so great and my heart would ache and my emotions would put a damper on my present life. I couldn’t do that to myself. Readjusting to normal life was already difficult enough. I didn’t want to make it worse.

It has now been almost three months since I’ve been back, and I am ready to share my story. I am prepared to tell you how extremely saddening and disappointing my last few days on trail were, and how hard I tried to stay out there and not go home. I am also going to share my source of joy out there, even while hurt, and how I tried to hold on to it since–and have succeeded!

I have since had many more miniature adventures, and during the past week, I’ve relocated to a new state. I have so much to share with you all, but first… I’ll start off with what I wrote in my trail journal when I still thought I could successfully complete my through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in the year of 2016.

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Officially Off Trail For This Year

I have recently finally made a decision and am officially announcing that I am off trail for good for the rest of this year. By this I mean that I will not complete my thru-hike of the PCT this year. Nevertheless, I will complete it! The trail will always be there is what I am told and what my rational mind reminds my restless heart of on a daily basis.

As for my injury, the cause of my need to get off trail in the first place, I have recently tested my hiking abilities in Yosemite and realized that I can hike, but not with a heavy pack on, not with my back still healing. I have still not healed up and might not be 100% for another couple of months. I have a deep bone bruise in my tailbone, and possibly some temporary nerve damage, as well as some inflammation in the left lumbosacral joint, and that takes a while to heal. I am going to take care of that for these next months while I plan my next grand adventure! I will be resuming my PCT thru-hike in 2018, as I have something else amazing planned for 2017 (I will announce that later!). My restlessness will eat at me and drive me insane, and my heart longs to be back out there, but as reckless and impulsive as I sometimes am, I also know how to choose what is best for me, and at the moment, it is not carrying 35lbs of survival gear on my back.

So, as difficult as this is, I am saying goodbye to the Pacific Crest Trail for now. I have hiked from the California/Mexico border to Yosemite National Park this year, and last year, I hiked from Tahoe to Burney Falls. With these two totaled together, and about 160 miles subtracted for a few sections I skipped this year, I have hiked about 1,220 miles of the PCT. When I first got off trail, I felt like I had failed, but revisiting Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite last week caused me to feel like I’d come back to face my failure and come to terms with it. I am pretty happy with having hiked close to half of the PCT and have taken so much from the experience. I am grateful to nature and for how good it was to me and what’s it taught me, I am grateful to everyone I met along the way, and I am grateful to God. I have discovered that I absolutely love long-distance hiking, although I already knew that since last year and that is why I came back this year. I promise you, I will gain back my strength and health and try again soon.

Thanks for following along and caring and worrying for me from afar. I feel so loved. I am happy. No post-trail depression here. I wholeheartedly believe that everything will turn out okay. The PCT is waiting for me to come back to it so it can bestow more of its magic on me again, later, when I’m ready to experience it again, when I need it the most. I believe that there is a time for everything, and right now is just not the time. I’ll be back out there when it is. The PCT has taught me so much, and maybe right now it’s teaching me patience. I welcome the lesson.

(I will soon post journal entries of my last couple of days on trail. It was too difficult to do so earlier.)

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I miss this.

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I miss this so much.

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Don’t Rain on My Sad Little Parade

I’ve been off trail for almost two weeks…again. I haven’t yet typed up my journal entry about having to get off the trail, so this may seem confusing and out of the blue. I will explain later. For now, I’d like to ramble on for a bit, and mostly just vent.

Being off trail is disheartening. It is difficult to wake up in the morning, in a room and not the woods, on a bed and not the ground, with the option to take a shower whenever I want to and make real food and not all kinds of junk stuffed into tortillas. Speaking of options–there are so many of them! It is overwhelming picking out what to wear when I’m used to having one or two options for the past three months. It is strange deciding what to do today instead of knowing that I’ll just walk all day until it gets dark. I can also choose where I want to go, and be somewhere far away in an hour (what would take me a week on foot!) because I have access to transportation. And it’s all so loud and confusing everywhere. So many streets and cars and lights! Haha. I sound like a caveman. But I’ve been trying my best to get used to it and adapt to society once more. I’ve finally forced myself to go out and see old friends (I didn’t want to earlier because I thought it would make me feel like I’m permanently back, that it’s really true that I’m off trail, and I didn’t want that to sink in. I’d rather be confused every morning when I don’t wake up in a forest. Haha!). And to get my exercise (my body is used to hiking for 10-12 hours a day), I ride my bike almost every evening and make myself go up the gnarliest hills so that I sweat the way I did while hiking, and come back ready to collapse (a familiar feeling). I’ve considered getting a temporary job while I wait for my body to make necessary repairs (my lower back and achilles are both still inflamed) and I’ve wrestled with the distressing possibility that I might have to complete my thru-hike next year if I don’t heal in time. I’ve been getting so stir-crazy, and sometimes, I wake up frustrated and crestfallen because I’m not out there, hiking, probably somewhere in Oregon by now. And on those days, I try to do as many activities that I enjoy as I can possibly fit in a day’s worth. I read (mostly about other people hiking or having other types of adventures), I paint, I listen to music, I bike around (which, by the way, my doctor told me not to do until my back heals, but then what do I do? Sit around all day? I’ll absolutely go insane!), I write (I promise to post some old and new journal entries on my blog soon). And still, I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m heartbroken because my favorite thing ever has been taken from me and I can’t be where I feel I need to be. My mind is a mess. My heart is restless. I’m torn apart between so many options, the main two being: get back on trail this year or postpone until the next. But it’s not up to me either way. It’s up to my body and how well it heals. And I have days when I’m on the verge of just packing up and attempting it once more, pain and all, or climbing under the covers and curling up into a ball and crying, “why?!” I’m trying my hardest to stay sane. And most importantly, I’m still pursuing what makes me happy. I just had to cross hiking off of that list for a little while. And I’m hopeful. So hopeful. And whatever happens, it’ll be okay. And either way, come what may, I’ll be happy. My joy can’t be taken from me. Life is amazing…even within four walls. A little less so, I admit, but I’m an optimist. Don’t rain on my parade. My sad, little, adventure-less parade, full of Aleve bottles and sitting on my butt and icing my tailbone, but that’s not the point!

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