Edited on Trail
Greetings from South Lake Tahoe, California! I am over halfway through the state of California on the Pacific Crest Trail and nearly halfway done with the trail itself. I have now spent enough time on trail moving forward to reminisce about the good ole’ days when I was only 20-30 days old, but luckily, as I make my way further through the heart (and heat) of the California wilderness there are constant reminders that I’m not stuck in the past, nor worried about the future, that I’m right here, right where I’m supposed to be.
The last time I checked in (mile 906), I was just at the tail end of the John Muir Trail, exiting Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, including with it some steep inclines and grand mountain passes. Since then, my hiking partner Sunburn and I traveled a big 180 miles over a continuous 13 days without fresh showers or refrigerator accessibility. While the terrain did become a little less dramatic beneath our feet as we departed the High Sierras, perhaps it wasn’t quite as easy as we were hoping, or expecting, which made the unceasing ups and downs a bit more noticeable.
Not to be lacking amazing scenery though, the Northern Sierras, which included the Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite National Park and Sonora Pass, delivered big on breathtaking views. Sights so big that it might take a lifetime for my brain to process, and just the views I personally needed to squelch any fears that after the High Sierras every landscape would pale in comparison.
As for life on the trail, the going is good but I’ll be the first to admit that the more footsteps you take in this life, the heavier your bag seems to get. I’ve witnessed a lot of people skipping sections of trail, or getting off completely, and there are moments – like when I’m sitting in a small patch of dirt barely covered with shade, exhausted, too tired to make the meager lunch of cheez-its and hummus – where I’ve understood the notion of having gone far enough.
It’s been important for me to have these moments and recognize them, and it’s been tough at times not to buy into them too deeply, because like the regular foot pain with the first step out of my tent in the morning, it too shall pass, and I feel like my regular self once again.
What often helps is an outside presence reminding or exposing to me why I came out here in the first place. Whether it is an impressive mountain landscape under the falling sun of another well-traveled day, a non-trail related conversation over coffee with a fellow hiker, or a comment from a resilient, grey-haired hiker about the character that thru-hiking builds – there is plenty of inspiration to continue my trek as long as I’m open to it.
With the renewed sense of hope in my endeavors, let’s break down the rest of the trail a bit. With just over 2 ½ months left to go before the snow closes my gate to Canada, I have roughly 1,600 miles to trek. For those number crunchers out there, that’s about 21 miles per day, without room for rest, resupply or days not spent hiking. Add all of those extra elements into the mix and the numbers can really add up and become overwhelming (if you think about them too much).
If you want to see my plan on how I’m going to pull this off, checkout the blueprint I created using the online resource, Craig’s PCT Planner:
Thankfully, I’ve had a few days now to get my pack weight in order and to figure out my daily hiking routine, and for the last month I’ve been participating in some high-altitude training in the Sierras. So while the big miles in the flatter and lower Northern California & Oregon might not come easily perse, they will be attainable.
If you would like to see how close I actually stick to my plan, you can real-time follow my progress by accessing my Delorme GPS tracking map:
*The Delorme will send a ping of my location every ten minutes that I’m moving, and every 4 hours when I’m stationary. If my ping hasn’t moved in a bit, have no worries, that means I have either turned it off for the night or the device needs charging.
As for now, I’m going down to the hardware store and getting a new pair of legs installed, perhaps with some afterburners included, and until next time thanks for the interest and well-wishes, take care and safe travels!
Over and Out