Thursday, July 28, 2016

Day 89 : Melancholy And Alone

24 miles today
1029 miles to go

We stop at Bob’s for breakfast on the way to the trailhead. I have eggs, bacon, and pancakes then I also eat half of Kelli's breakfast sandwich. I have eaten so much I feel like I'll never be hungry again. Back in the car we head up to the trailhead, slowing down by the Hiker Hut to see if there are any thru-hikers looking for a ride. I don't see any so we move on. The road is curvy and we take our time. I'm feeling melancholy thinking about being away from Kelli for another two months. The trailhead is empty and quiet. No other thru-hikers looking for a ride down. No other people at all. We get out of the car and I grab my pack from the backseat. I slowly and methodically put on my Buff, hat, and sunglasses. We hug and say goodbye. A part of me wants to climb back into the car and go with her back home. The rest of me stays put. Waiting for her to drive away. She turns back down towards Etna, smiles and waves, and I'm alone. I turn to the trail sad and lonely. I am looking forward to completing this hike and being home again. The sun blazes down indifferent to my feelings. The breeze blows warm from the east. The air is laced with smoke from a distant fire somewhere. The smoke turns the views of the mountains on the horizon into two dimensional blue tinted posters. They don't even look real. I don't spend much time looking, I must focus on the trail. It's rocky and cobbly. I walk slower than I have been. I'll need to work up to the pace I was doing before. I'll also need to wait for better trail conditions. The trail climbs a little then basically levels out for a long stretch. I flow the tops of the ridges and they wind their way north. The trail is lined with wildflowers and the trees are many shades of green. I find it hard to take pictures. I am homesick and morose. On and on the trail goes closer and closer to Canada I get. The sooner I get there to sooner I can go home. 

I hear cowbells. Perhaps they are attached to cows? I keep moving along the trail and the ringing gets closer. I notice that the trail is churned to dust. There are intermittent swarms of flies buzzing over cow patties on the trail. What is going on? Am I in the wrong place? No, this is the PCT. I'm walking through a forest on a steep slope. Really steep. The cowbells are down below. I finally see a small herd, maybe six or seven frightened looking cows all bunched up under some trees. What they are doing there I don't know. I pass them on the churned trail and follow it over the ridge where the trail becomes even more exposed with cliffs above and below. The cows don't seem to have come from this way. The trail is rocky and steep, climbing up on exposed, open ledges. No more cows, just hot sun and minimal breezes. I'm currently and around six thousand feet of elevation it's got to be really hot down lowers, like at Seiad Valley, where I'm heading. Maybe it'll cool off by tomorrow. I'm glad I'm not there today. Up and over more ridges. I pass beautiful blue-green lakes that are clear enough to see the bottom. I pass through a burned area. It's not as bad as some of the others I've walked through but any time I'm in the sun it's just crazy hot. I keep going and going. Not really fast, but consistently moving. I don't have much of an appetite. It looks like some of these snacks in my pockets will be held over until tomorrow. The heat melts the melancholy out of me. I'm still not my cheery self, but it's too hot to think about anything else but water. I need to get more water. I am slowly sipping away the liter in my pack and I need to get more before I run out. I reach Cold Springs Trail which I was going to pass by but now I'd  rather have water, especially cold water. I turn down the trail for a half mile extension to my day. Down at the spring cold water trickles out of the ground. I collect three liters of water drinking one right on the spot. Ahhh, cool refreshing water! I hike on a few more miles ending my day at another spring. I cook dinner and complete my chores before climbing into my tent twenty four miles closer to going home.

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