Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 16 : Exhaustion and New Records

22 miles today
2375 miles to go

Back on the trail after a quick shuttle ride. I don my pack and go. I don't wait for anybody. I am just glad to be back on the PCT. I hike on alone for the first time in a long time. It's quiet and I don't need to interact with anyone. I like it. On and on I go. The climb from the trailhead had no amazing views, the only people I see are people I pass. I don’t stop to chat. I don’t feel like talking. I hike and hike and hike. I eat through all of my snacks for the day, still I keep on. I hike until I am out of energy. Eleven miles, now I'm on empty. My pace slows, my steps unsure. I stop for lunch undee a tree by a dirt road. 

People I passed early pass by. I sit and make a tuna wrap; a tortilla with mayonnaise and tuna in it. I eat eat and then eat some cheese. I have some Buffalo Chicken Jerky. I sit under the tree in the forest. It's quiet and warm. I rest, relax, I lie back in the dirt and look up through the branches of the trees and the brilliant blue sky. I don't want to hike anymore. I just want to lie here forever. Time passes and I just sit chatting with hikers as they pass. The snow is coming to Canada, gotta keep moving… Nah, I just want to sit. 

Braveheart shows up and sits down. She pulls out her lunch and begins eating. We don't need to talk much. A giant suburban pulls up the dirt road and stops. A couple gets out and walks over. “Is this the Pacific Coast Trail?” He asks. “Yes, The Pacific Crest Trail.” I say. “Where you from?” “The Mexican border, Campo California.” “Where are you going?” “Canada,” I say, realizing that if I'm going to get to Canada I'm going to have to walk some more. We talk on a bit and I realize that even though I don't feel like it I really do want to hike on. The couple is out sight seeing the Holcomb Valley and driving around on the dirt roads. We say our goodbyes.

Braveheart finishes her lunch. “Ready to do this thing?” She asks. “I suppose but you better be in front, if I'm in front we’ll end up going really slow.” I say. She starts off at the one speed she knows, fast. I am forced to push myself to keep up. It's such a blessing to have friends who push you when you need pushing. 

We are looking for water. We come than area that burned years ago. The shade is gone, the sun is unbarably hot. My exhaustion is no longer a mental thing, it feels physical. We pass a flock of hikers gathered about a slimy green trickle on water, not really wanting to stand in line to drink green slime. Braveheart reads her water report, “there's lots of water ahead she says,” “Ok,” I rasp out. We move on Braveheart with her firm solid stride, me with more of a forward stumbling motion. She was right, like always. We find a cool rushing flow of clear clean water and refill our water containers.

Now that we have water, the question becomes where to camp. We look at our maps. There's a spot on the map that suggests a camp about two miles from here. We agree to shoot for that. Braveheart jets off up the hill leaving me in a cloud of dust. I pull out my can of spinach, metaphorically speaking, a brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tart. I munch on that as I slowly plod up the hill after her. We eventually arrive and a sunny knoll with stunning views in multiple directions. We are home. It's still warm. I slowly set up my tent in a sunny spot,toss my stuff inside then I go and lay in the shade. I am beat.

As beat as I am I reflect on the fact that this is a day of firsts. This is the first day of the longest hike of my life. When I hit the trail this morning I past my previous personal record of two hundred and sixty six miles. It's also the longest trip in consecutive days, now going on sixteen. I also have completed one tenth of the distance from Mexico to Canada. It's been my most difficult day so far, but it is also satisfying to know that I have made it this far.

The sun draws towards the horizon, a cooling breeze reaches our knoll. Ahhh… Dinner time. I whip up a bag of split pea soup fortified with sausage and minute rice. I talk about the steak and king crab legs with a baked potato covered in sour cream, butter, chives, and bacon bits that I pretended I was making. Some it it didn't quite taste the same. We have at least two more hours of daylight once dinner is done. I use mine to sleep, I am in my tent while the last few rays are still hitting it. I fall sleep as my head hits my pillow, which is really just my fleece pullover in a stuff sack. I sleep like a log.

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