PCT Day 170, Double Flip and a Flop with a Hop, Day 89

September 29
Mile 579.2 to mile 566.5, 12.7 PCT miles, no off-trail miles!
PCT miles: 1823.8
Running total: 1981.5
I didn’t take any “hiking” notes for this day- I didn’t write our starting point, our end point, or our mileage. I didn’t scribble down how I felt mentally or physically or what the weather was. Instead, I wrote my closure. It will be shared as my next post. It’s crazy that this all happened more than 3 months ago and yet I remember it like it was yesterday…

Today, everything was a last: the last early alarm. The last time we convinced ourselves it was okay to snooze and snooze and snooze. The last trail sunrise. The last time we had to peel ourselves from our warm sleeping bags and face the frigid air. The last time we bundled up to take down the tent. The last trail breakfast. The last first steps. The last second breakfast. The last time I cursed the wind. The last 12.7 miles. The last ride to town. The last town meal. The last town-day shower. The last day…

We woke up and were treated to this amazing sunrise…and then we closed our eyes again.

Eventually we woke up, packed up, broke down camp, and ate breakfast…it was 0730 by the time we hit the trail.

The morning was freezing and so friggin windy! We hiked in our rain pants, puffys, wool hats, and gloves for the first 2 mile descent, and it was only until we got about halfway up our 1.6 mile, 860 foot climb that we were comfortable enough to take off our puffys and hats. Since the air was raw and the wind was strong, we left our rain pants and gloves on…

The wind was ridiculous- it was legit tripping me! The gusts were pushing SO hard against my body that at times I was struggling to move my back leg forward. There were times when a sustained gust of wind pushed me off of the trail and into the side of the mountain, and I feared that if the wind changed direction, it would push me off the mountain.

I ate my second breakfast, a cinnamon raisin bagel, while we walked along a flat, exposed plain- I was bent forward, eyes squinted, struggling against the wind to coordinate my arm movement to get the bagel to my face, fighting for each step. It was exhausting!! But, a girl has gotta eat!

At one point Matt and I rounded a corner to find a man with a rifle staring at us- the fuck!!? It definitely took us by surprise! We knew back at Landers Meadow that there were hunters out and about, but we didn’t realize that they could hunt ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL!! Had we known it was hunting season, we would have picked up some brighter shirts! (Sidenote: whenever it was deer vs hunter, I cheered for the deer and tried to get them to run away from the hunters, but when it came to hungry mountain lion vs. deer, I cheered for the mountain lion, hoping that the more deer the mountain lions ate, the less likely they would be to attack me… Twisted or legit?)
I tried to take a picture of the hunter through some trees and from across a canyon, but Matthew was mortified and insisted that I stop being such a creep and keep walking…

I believe that that orange dot is the hunter…

At one point we came across a really neat tree fort and Matt and I ran inside to get some relief from the wind while we layered up again- we had about 2 miles of mild rolling hills then a 7 mile descent into Tehachapi- we weren’t generating enough heat to be comfortable in this chilly, windy weather, so the puffys were a must! I wish I had taken a picture of the fort- it would have been an amazing tent-site!!

Around 1015 I was SO excited to see two hikers walking along a ridge towards us- we hadn’t seen hikers since Kennedy Meadows, and these weren’t just any old hikers- it was Jesse and Deanna!! Back in April, Jesse and Deanna had hiked the first 5 miles of the trail with us, and they had come from San Diego to Tehachapi to hike the last 5 miles with us…Jesse is a friend I don’t deserve, but am so grateful to have!

As we hiked towards each other, I told myself not to cry…I fought back a single tear while I embraced Jesse, but then I was surprisingly completely fine…minus the fuckin wind.

After our quick hellos we continued on together, just as we started, 170 days ago…

Flashback to April 13!
We chatted the whole way down into Tehachapi, taking a quick break to strip down to our shorts and shirts again when the wind died down & the temps grew warmer.

We took a selfie with 1 mile to go, as we did 1 mile in…

Flashback to April 13!

Matt and I signed the register.

Then together, side by side, Matt and I crossed the overpass that lead us back to where we started on Day 45…our end. We fuckin did it.

I expected to lose it, what with my new ability to cry at the drop of a hat and all (or at the sting of a bee…or with a change in the wind…) I expected to completely break down sobbing, but again, I didn’t. All in a single moment I felt relief, excitement, gratitude, disbelief, pride, pain, regret, longing, love, happiness, and hunger- it was as if my trail-life passed before my eyes, and then, with a single burning tear, there was peace. We did it, Matt. No, we didn’t complete a thru-hike, but we walked really fuckin far and had an epic adventure, and that’s what we set off to do, no? Yeah, we fuckin did it.

We walked back over the overpass and joined Jesse and Deanna in the car.

We ate apples while we drove to Starbucks. I ordered the pumpkin spice latte that I had been craving for days, only to find that it didn’t taste as good as I remembered. We stopped at CVS to pick up new toothbrushes, deodorant, and a few other things people need in “the real world.”

We went to lunch at Thai Hachapi, a highly recommended restaurant for thru-hikers that “we” ate at months before(/l ate there months before. Matt’s jaw was broken but it wasn’t wired shut yet, so he had some soup and was able to suck down tofu- it was his last “solid” food for nearly a month!)
Jesse treated, because he’s a jerk/that friend I don’t deserve!
We stopped at Kohens bakery, another place that Matt couldn’t fully enjoy the last time we were here. We picked up too many pastries, because that is apparently what you do when you finish a thru-hike attempt…
Jesse and Deanna dropped us off at our hotel, we said our goodbyes, then went to check into our hotel…THE hotel…
Matt showered, we started laundry, then we walked over to Local Craft Beer Brewery for some local craft beers 😉

THEN, we hit up TK Pizza & Pasta for dinner…

The tables looked empty.

The last time we were here there was so much laughter, so much glee…our entire extended trail family was there. Fuck, I miss it…Saudade, the longing for a place that no longer exists...

{flashback to May 26 & 27…}

I allowed myself ONE last trail meal and ordered a caesar salad, cheesey bread, and spaghetti with butter…we walked back to the hotel, I showered(finally), then I climbed into bed ready to feast…
Washing our gaitors

So yeah, I crawled into bed ready to feast only to find that they forgot to put butter on my spaghetti!!! They gave me a pound of plain noodles…mother fucker!! (But isn’t that how it was the entire trail? All I ever wanted was a rice and bean burrito and plain spaghetti with butter, and all I ever got was a million varieties of NOT that!)

It was so fuckin wrong, it seemed right. I moved on to my then cold cheesey bread and so-so salad- nothing tasted as good as I remembered. Ugh, post trail life was already looking bleak…

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