PCT Day 166, Double Flip and a Flop with a Hop, Day 85

September 25

Off trail miles: 2.7 miles
Running total: 1894.9
We had an early morning wake up for an early morning pack up for an early morning pick up- I made arrangements for a 0730 ride…who am I?!

Thankfully I felt better after my late-night pukefest and only woke up once briefly overnight to a ridiculously loud chorus of howling coyotes- it was nuts!

I woke up again in the morning just in time to say goodbye to Bluejay, who was catching a ride back to the trail to head south from Kennedy Meadows to Walker Pass. {She will then meet up with Gravity to hike NorCal- I’ll miss leap frogging with them!}

I waited in my sleeping bag until the last possible second before racing to take down camp. Amy was, as expected, right on time! Pathfinder, Gravity, Jaws, and I piled our dirty, smelly gear & our even dirtier, smellier selves into her beautiful new car & we headed to Ridgecrest.

On the drive I researched Ridgecrest hotels and found one with FREE on-site laundry (a luxury for thru-hikers), free breakfast at Denny’s (a dream for thru-hikers), and zero reports of bedbugs (a necessity for me)- I booked a room, then returned to the conversation in the car.

Amy first drove us to the hotel, but they wouldn’t let us check in until 2pm…fine, okay, it was still super early. We stored our packs under the coffee table in the small hotel lobby (God Bless whoever had to breath that lobby air all day) and packed back into Amy’s car, who then drove us all over to Kristy’s Family Restaurant for breakfast. Unfortunately Amy couldn’t join us, so we said goodbye & hasta mañana, as Amy was returning the next day to drive Matt and I BACK to the trail- guys, these trail angels really live up to their name!!!

Pathfinder, Gravity, Jaws, and I stuffed our faces while sneaking in some good conversation between bites. I enjoyed an omelette, toast, half of a pancake, and lots and lots of coffee. Mmmm.

After breakfast we said goodbye to Pathfinder, who was officially done with his section hike and starting his multi-day drive back home to Oregon.

With full bellies, it was time to start our town chores. Gravity, Jaws, and I walked back to our hotel to get a headstart on laundry BUT, as it turned out, the hotel that boasts “free laundry 9-5” on their website actually didn’t have laundry AT ALL!! Have you ever met Tired Ali? She can be a real bitch, and when Matt saw the smoke coming out of my nostrils he extinguished that fire REAL quick and ushered me out the door towards the off-site laundromat, a whopping 0.1 miles away. I was SO frustrated- the laundry was the reason that I booked this hotel!!- but Matt kept insisting that some battles weren’t worth fighting…I begged to differ- laundry was life at that moment…

We arrived to the laundromat to find that both the coin machine AND the bathroom were out of order- fantastic for my mood, as you can imagine. We found a second, functioning coin machine and I walked nextdoor to a convenience/liquor store to see if we could use their bathroom- for 25cents it was all ours. Awesome. Gravity, Matt, and I took turns using the bathroom to change into our rain gear/laundry clothes and I think I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to disinfect myself from the grossness of that room- it was disgusting!!! I refused to touch anything, even the paper towel dispenser!

We stayed busy while we did our laundry, working on blog posts, returning messages, and monopolizing an entire bench in the laundromat to organize our remaining food AND to decide what gear we no longer needed.

Once laundry was done, we continued with our town chores. We walked over to the post office to send home our bear cans full of extra gear and food we wouldn’t need in the desert, then we hit up the grocery store for our LAST RESUPPLY OF THE YEAR!! (We needed a few things to supplement what we bought from Yogi the day before.)

It was like 100° and that rain gear does NOT breathe well! Woof

Since it was unbearably hot and we had our arms full of yummy food, we Ubered back to the hotel with Gravity.

Back at the hotel, Matt showered while I snacked on Fritos Honey BBQ Twists (um, yum!!?!) and arranged my food. For the first time ALL trail, I felt confident that we had purchased an appropriate amount of food for the next section- it only took us 130 days on-trail to figure it out!

After Matt’s shower, we met up with Gravity for “snack tacos” at Ephen Tacos Smokehouse Junction.

Post-shower, so that’s a tan!!

Ephen Tacos is a neat taco shop in an old repurposed car wash that has an awesome “pay it forward” program- people can donate any amount of $$ to feed a neighbor in need!! I LOVE that!

Our “snack tacos” turned into a delicious taco feast, and we all rolled back to the hotel with incredibly full bellies.

Back in the room again, I finally showered.

I’m going to miss seeing all of that dirt wash off me and flow down the drain- it was so satisfying

I then ended up on the phone with my parents, which somehow turned me into a full-on ugly-crying, blubbering mess.

I couldn’t even pinpoint WHY I was crying- it was a little bit of everything, I guess. I was disappointed that we weren’t finishing and I was jealous (but so incredibly proud!) of our friends who were. I was frustrated and confused. I was tired. I felt bad for Matt, who knew I was upset, and I didn’t want him to think that I blamed him, because I didn’t. I was concerned that we took the good times for granted and I was upset because we loved the trail and our trail family SO much, and then they were stripped from us; I was sad that the trail was never the same again and I felt gypped. I was sad that this was it; that in a few days we had to go back to our old lives. Our grand adventure was over, we didn’t make it, and now we have to return to “the real world” and I absolutely dreaded it…fuck.

(Years ago I wrote a blog post about returning to the “real world” after spending 5 weeks living, learning, and working in Peru. In summary I wrote, “I’m sorry that I’m not looking forward to seeing you. I didn’t miss you…there, at least.” I continued, “I’m sorry that I’m dreading returning to my life there. I know that I have everything I could ever need there: I have you, my wonderful, loving, supportive and awkward family. I have you, my incredible and hilarious friends who I know will have my back forever, whose families have become extensions of my own. I have a steady job with amazing coworkers- yes, you, who have become my friends and my teachers. I’m sorry that right now that is not enough. I’m sorry that I’m not looking forward to seeing you.” I ended with, “I’m sorry that I didn’t miss you, there at least. I’m sorry that I can’t be happy to see you and to be home, because I’m not. I hope you forgive me and realize how grateful I am that you have helped make me who I am, by being my family, my friend, or my “enemy.” By teaching me, challenging me, or loving me. Thank you for giving me both the roots and wings I need to be me, whoever that is…” Those feelings I felt then came rushing back to me again. I’m sorry, guys- I didn’t miss you and I’m really, really not looking forward to seeing you…there, at least.)

The tears and snot kept coming while my parents rambled on about how proud they were of us and how amazed they were of all that we had accomplished. I spoke to them separately and they both asked, 100% sincerely, that if {shit hadn’t gone down}, would we REALLY have walked all of the way from Mexico to Canada!??! Umm, yes, mother and father Focker, that was indeed what we were doing! And that is what our friends did! My parents were shocked. The truth is, walking 2653 miles in one shot is so fuckin profound and absurd and unfathomable, that until you do it, or almost do it, you can’t comprehend it…that’s why it was killing me. We could have done it but we got fucked…and then we got jaded.

Once I assured my parents that I was okay and the tears FINALLY subsided, Matt ordered up some Dominos and we enjoyed one of our last town feasts in bed.

Before falling asleep we both admitted that the same thought had crossed our minds- if Gravity & Bluejay were heading back to do the entire NorCal section, we could do it too…But we would have to cancel/change our doctor/dentist appointments & miss my nephew’s 2nd birthday party…decisions…

Happiness is: spending the day with a new friend. We really enjoyed our time with Gravity- it was nice having a trail friend again! We will miss him in the desert!

One thought on “PCT Day 166, Double Flip and a Flop with a Hop, Day 85

  1. Have you eaten a cheese cracker since you got back?? Or a Complete Cookie? I can hardly believe you accomplished what you did, but doing it on that kind of food is mind blowing! Those intense emotions you experienced at the end of the trail tell us what a deeply thoughtful and introspective person you are. Hope that you get to go on a thru hike somewhere, someday, but friends who have walked the Camino de Santiago tell me most assuredly that the journey is all that matters and that checking off markers isn’t the point at all. Your journey sounds like one that has had an incredibly profound effect on you.


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