PCT Day 140, Double Flip and a Flop with a Hop, Day 59

August 30

Mile 1071.6 to mile 1055.1, 16.5 miles, no off-trail miles!

PCT total: 1385.3
Running total:1510.7
HOLY FUCK last night was TERRIBLE. It was so damn windy, neither of us could sleep. I spent the entire night praying that we would survive the night with our tent intact. The wind blew a corner of our tent down and the roof of the tent above my head kept blowing into my face, as if trying to suffocate me. We didn’t talk, but we didn’t sleep either. Around 0530 we gave up trying to sleep and started packing up. We were on trail by 7, both of us tired and cranky about the night.

It was a frustrating morning- I don’t think the terrain was particularly difficult, but I was exhausted…so. damn. exhausted. I crawled on, hating each step. About 6 miles into the day I found Matt waiting for me at a road crossing. We took a quick break and when we stood to carry on, I saw a concerning look on Matt’s face- something was off. He admitted he was sick of the routine of walk, eat, sleep, walk…Matt had been most looking forward to hiking the Sierra section but he found it impossible to enjoy- I agreed. he was tired of walking & was no longer able to embrace the beauty of the trail.

I broke down, but this time not because Matt was upset- it was because it finally happened- that moment that I had dreaded- that moment where I had hit my saturation level. What beauty of the trail?? I was done with it. Done. What was our plan just a few days ago? Hike the Sierra then play it by ear regarding Washington? Well, fuck that plan. Fuck the trail. Yeah, the WHOLE PCT, just fuck it. Fuck walking. Fuck the bugs and the rain and the aches and the pains. Fuck the warm sun and the beautiful flowers and the amazing wildlife and the incredible views; they weren’t worth the misery of walking. I didn’t want to walk anymore- no, I COULDN’T walk anymore- not today, not tomorrow, and definitely not the next day. Done. I was done.
I sat on a rock completely balling. How has Matt felt this for so long and still gotten up each day and walked? As I feared, I just wasn’t that strong. I begged Matt to let me hitchhike from the road- I had NO idea where the road led to, but it had to be better than where I was. He didn’t let me. Instead, we talked.

We were both miserable. We both agreed that maybe we should have called our hike after Matt’s injury- although we have now hiked more miles than before the injury, we both didn’t feel nearly as strong and energetic as we did in the desert- yeah, it was totally different terrain, but something was off and something was most definitely missing…our gusto was gone. We thought being with our old trail family would help, but we miscalculated one key factor: Matt and I have nothing to walk for. Our fucked-up dreams of completing a thru-hike were shot, so why did we even keep walking?? Our friends were waking up early, hiking badass miles, and getting to camp late- pushing through aches, blisters, and utter exhaustion, but they could do it because they have a finish line in sight; they are about to complete a feat that few people can achieve. Matt and I? No, we don’t have that. So why, why were we still walking??

We sat for an hour weighing our options- all included quitting, it just depended where. I begged and pleaded to go home then and there- we could always come back, I rationalized. Matt suggested we take the next three weeks to travel- yes, yes I loved that idea- we could actually enjoy ourselves! BUT Matt refused to let us quit on a bad day, so we needed to walk on…
Before standing up to walk, two llamas appeared before us. Llamas? What the fuck!! They were beautiful, and their cheery human greeted us and started to ask us the typical questions we get asked- where were we coming from? Where were we going? How long have we been on-trail? Are we going to complete a full thru-hike? {Definition of a thru-hike only means completing the entire trail in one calendar year, not necessarily in a straight line…} I don’t know why- maybe I just needed to say it out loud to someone other than Matt to hear how it sounded? but with my blood-shot eyes I felt the need to tell him we were just talking about throwing in the towel. He didn’t acknowledge what I said so I didn’t think he heard me, and as his wife passed and continued down trail, he scurried along behind her, llamas in tow.

We caught up with them a little while later, and the man and wife just raved about the upcoming section of the PCT that Matt and I were about to head into- the lakes, the views- all of it! “This here?” the man motioned around us, “it’s like a 1/10. Benson Lake? 10/10. And Rodgers? 12/10.” When I again mentioned quitting, they urged us to continue, but encouraged us to go slowly so that we could fully enjoy the Sierra. They are frequent section hikers and said that too often they see people rushing through the PCT or the JMT so fast that the people fail to appreciate the beauty they are surrounded by…and apparently sometimes these hikers even fail to notice that there are two llamas in their presence.

This encounter inspired Matt and I to keep walking a bit longer, and we agreed that Mammoth should be our end-point, more than 150 miles away- just so we could experience a bit of the Sierra.

The day dragged on slowly, the sun taking a toll on us. We stopped for a short bathroom break (I was first interrupted by two ladies on horseback, and then by the llamas!!) and then continued on to our agreed upon lunch spot…the last 0.2 miles felt like 20. I cried out to Matt to tell him that I was running on empty, and he turned and said, “I’m not doing too good either.” By the time we arrived we were hot, tired, and completely drained.

We ended up taking a break from 1:30 to around 3:15. While we were resting a few day-hikers passed & I asked one where the nearest trailhead was (I was still looking for an escape…) It turned out that the trailhead was 5 miles north, which I immediately dismissed as an option- I think ultimately that said something about the whole situation: I would rather walk over 40 miles south to give the trail another chance vs. backtracking 5 miles to leave trail.

Just as we were packing up, a familiar face walked by- “Allstar?” I asked, totally not sure of myself. He stopped dead in his tracks- it turned out that it indeed was Allstar, a man we had met originally in Trout Lake in Washington when we flipped and then again in North Washington when we double flipped. He replied, “Yeah! You’re the broken jaw guy! Amy sends her regards!”

Matt and I looked at each other- Amy? What Amy would we all know? Then Allstar added, “the trail angel!” Oh my God!! Amy!!! Amy is the most incredible trail angel ever and she was the one who saved Matt and I from Kennedy Meadows South back when we decided that hiking with one’s jaw wired shut wasn’t the best idea ever! AMY!!!!
We had a little service so I texted her immediately! Matt and I are looking forward to seeing Amy again soon- we promised her drinks when we hit Kennedy Meadows South again!
Allstar took a short break with us, giving us the 411 about the upcoming sections. When I told him we were ready to quit the trail and would come back in the future to hike the Sierra, he asked if we wanted his advice…well, of course!! He said, “the weather has been unseasonably amazing- none of the typical afternoon storms. Go now while the weather and the views are good and rush through. Then come back in the future and take your time.” Hahahahahahah there we were friggin exhausted, unsure if we could hike another mile, and he was suggesting hiking the Sierra twice?! Good Lord!!
Around 4pm we said goodbye to Allstar and got our butts back on the trial. Matt and I decided to try for a campsite 1.3 miles ahead of us, but when we arrived we decided that it was too early to stop for the day so we hiked on another 1.7 miles to the next site. There we met Helium and Kaput, a British couple sitting down for dinner before they banged out another 2-4 miles. We chatted with them briefly, learning that they both have to return to work the DAY after they complete the trail- woof!! But, hey, at least they have jobs!

Matt and I surveyed the tent sites and although they looked well protected from the wind, we decided to take a chance and hike on another mile to the next site. Unfortunately this next site was super exposed & had the potential to be a repeat of the night before, so yet again we hiked on another mile.

By the time we arrived there were already two weekenders set up, leaving one large site (next to a dead tree) and a small site. We arrived seconds before Helium and Kaput, and they decided to hike on another few miles so Matt and I could have the good, safe site- amazing!!

We set up camp, ate dinner, chatted with the weekenders, and climbed into our sleeping bags for bed. Between lack of sleep, lack of caffeine, and an overabundance of tears that day, my head had been hurting for hours- I needed sleep ASAP.
Happiness is: going to bed.

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