Camping: PCT mile 1120.58
Today we have officially hiked more miles than Cheryl Strayed. Not as if it were ever a competition in my eyes, but there is a lot of ‘Wild’ hating going on around the trail. I’ve stayed out of the heated discussions, generally indifferent to the amount of passion thrown at the subject. I find it better to hold back on my own opinion in such conversation. But this is my blog, and here, I’ll opine if I want to. My general opinion is truly ambivalent. I read the book after I had decided to hike the trail because I was reading anything and everything about the PCT. I was disappointed in the book, not because I expected a great work of literature, but because it wasn’t really about the PCT. It was about Cheryl Strayed, which is why I’m so baffled by all of the haters. It’s her personal story, and she shows a lot of strength by telling it. If I met someone going through what she was on the trail, I would be impressed. Does everyone hate her because she wrote about it? I know some people don’t think the attention is good for the PCT, but I don’t get that either. We need more people paying attention to the trail, caring for it, and helping maintain it in all of its glory…not shunning people for sharing their experience. All of the judgment passing seems kind of childish to me, when we are all going through our own personal journeys and struggles out here.
Well, anyway, we have now hiked more miles than Cheryl Strayed. It is what separates us from her story because we intended on thru-hiking. She never did try to claim that. We are very close to half way, and suddenly the Canadian border seems so far away. We have about 75 days left before October and that may be too late. Last year the heavy snow in the Northern Cascades started September 27, keeping some people from finishing and prompting others to be rescued. We have to average 20 miles a day to be done by October, every day. Everyone is now talking about finishing on time, conversations lean towards snow preparation and plans for our post hike party in Vancouver. It’s like someone hit the fast forward button and we are all moving at higher speed. It’s kind of sad. This whole experience has been so magical, and putting the rush on it steals away some of that magic. I want to finish as much as the next person, but not at the detriment of my experience. Yes, I’m going to start putting in bigger mileage but not if it ends up having a negative effect on the journey. I can always come back if I get stuck in the snow, but I will of course do what I can to complete this trail in one attempt.
Today, we had all decided we would get to this point, 24.22 miles down the trail. Everyone was motivated by too much time in town, so all 10 of us from last night are in camp together again, along with 3 other hikers I have never met before. We mostly hiked separately, occasionally taking breaks together, but all ending up at the same finish. The sky threatened more storms, but we all ignored it. That is one way we will never make it to Canada; by setting up camp every time the sky gives the empty threat of a rumble. We were correct in assuming that the weather was once again crying wolf, as not so much as a drop of rain escaped the sky. I still respect what a storm can do and will always take precautionary measures when needed, but I have to hike as well.
The threat of a storm caused more humidity and huge beads of sweat all day. I drank as much water as I used to in the desert slowed down by extra filtration time. I’m still thirsty, and the air is still balmy as I lay in my tent. The day was in itself pretty uneventful, just an average day of humid hiking. We passed lots of beautiful lakes, climbed one of our last 9,000+ ft passes and enjoyed a wonderful group dinner time around a fire. It’s fun having a big herd of us all together like this, though I imagine we will splinter a bit by Sierra City. It will be hard to keep this many together, but it is nice to be surrounded by friends at camp. It’s another warm night in the tent, and I will hold off on thoughts of snow keeping us from Canada for now. It’s still summer, and I’m still just happy to be here.