I just recently got home from an amazing experience working Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals. I can’t believe I completed my own challenge with flying colors. Do you have what it takes?
Hours of research, packing and unpacking and repacking, goodbyes and hellos and goodbyes again, buses, trains, planes, customs, currency exchange, my first stamp in a fresh passport – oh yes, we’re on the road again.
Why? How? Where?
So, while we were in California, we started getting everything set up for our winter in Wyoming at Togwotee Lodge. The lodge sits at 8500 feet in the middle of Bridger – Teton National Forest. The tips of the Tetons are visible from just behind the lodge with Grand Teton National Park entrance being about an hour away.
But our desire to make miles really was getting in the way. We were working on a 120 mile section which would leave another 250 from Mammoth to Truckee. We were still estimating another 2 weeks minimum to wrap it up if we were able to hike between 20 and 25 miles per day. Our pace had slowed to under 2.5 miles / hour meaning that, even with very minimal break time, 20ish miles took every second of daylight to accomplish. It got to the point that even stopping to take a picture made us feel guilty for “wasting time.”
I felt a mix of emotions crossing this big milestone, a blend of excitement for the beauty of the High Sierra and anxiety for the still long path ahead. There was much to look forward to yet so much work to be done. Our first chore was leaving Kennedy Meadows near 7,000 ft and climbing to nearly 10,000 ft. Over the next 200 miles, we would stay between 9,000 and 13,000 ft.
After traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles via plane, Los Angeles to Bakersfield via rental car, and, finally, Bakersfield to Tehachapi via bus, the last leg of the trip brought us from Tehachapi to the PCT trail crossing at Highway 58 with a lift from a local trail angel. We were once again standing among hundreds of windmills in the Mojave desert precisely where we had stood nearly 4 months earlier. We took off around 6:30 pm wanting to walk into the night to avoid the hot sun.
I walked on taking in the surrounding landscape, appreciating the shade from the tall trees I knew weren’t going to exist in the desert section that awaited me. I sang praises for the incredible weather we had been blessed with for the entire 500 mile stretch in Washington, something I knew we wouldn’t have experienced in a straight northbound hike. I reminisced on our virtually private tour of the PCT as we were consistently ahead of the hiker “bubble.” I remembered how short the section of snow was outside of Truckee. And though we still had nearly 600 miles ahead when we finally reached the border, I couldn’t help but smile and give thanks for this incredible journey.
￼It was late morning when we returned to the trail in the heart of Deschutes National Forest. The excitement of completing half of the Pacific Crest Trail had worn off and the uncertainty of the second half weighed on me. Were Sean’s shin splints healed or just temporarily feeling better? Do we really have another 1300 miles in us? Just how important is finishing the trail in one season?
Chuckle. Read on…
…proving once more that every time you feel your weakest, you’re actually getting stronger. As with the trail, and life in general, thru-hiking will always have its ups and downs, its highs and lows, its challenges and rewards.
Our decision was becoming apparent – we wanted out of the bubble and we didn’t want to pass through the Sierra covered in snow. Skipping the Sierra now would give us solitude on the trail, better weather in Washington, and considerably less sketchy high passes and water crossings in the Sierra…
I should’ve written a blog today as I typically do on my days off from hiking, but words seemed to have (mostly) escaped me.
I should’ve written a blog today, but there was no drama or injury, no internal struggles, setbacks, or “exciting news” to report…
Hello from Big Bear, CA on my first “zero” day since we started the trail May 6. In just 12 days, we have traveled 250 trail miles and have fallen totally and completely in love with the Pacific Crest Trail. As if the first 100 miles weren’t beautiful enough, the next 150 have continued to amaze me with contrasting terrain, interesting plants, and unbelievable sunrises and sunsets.
Despite all the familiar pains and tedious tasks that come with thru-hiking, I still feel like I’m falling in love all over again. Over the past few days, it’s like we’ve been walking through a painting, and time is measured in miles once more.