One Hundred Thirty Three: ZERO

Remember back in the day when it felt like I started every second post with ‘Well, we had intended to hike seriously today…’?

This is one of those. 

It’s kind of mostly Speedy’s fault. 

My Dad helped too, in a way. 

The phone call home went well yesterday afternoon. After a lot of tears and questioning and talks about the expectations I’ve put on myself and choices I’ve made that have led to an alternate outcome to how I had originally imagined this journey, he and Mum helped me come to a good decision.

A hard decision.

A decision I’m feeling more and more settled with. 

It makes sense, it takes a mountain of pressure off me, and I believe it’s the right decision.

I’m flying home in five weeks.

It’s booked. 

It’s done. 

I’m going to finish my journey when I cross the Bridge of the Gods at the Washington/Oregon border – for this year.

I’ve done a bloody good job of living out an adventure, and that was what I set out to do.

I’ll still have almost exactly 1000 miles to tick off to complete the entire Pacific Crest Trail, but I’ll have also completed more than two and a half thousand kilometres of walking. And while I might have technically ‘only’ completed 60% of the trail, I’ve absolutely lived 100% of it. 

I’m proud of myself. 

I’m also disappointed that I didn’t get to complete what I thought I would … but that’s life. I made choices, and I’ve loved them.

Would I swim in less lakes, or drink fewer milkshakes, or play cards with half as many people, if it meant I could walk more hours every day and say I ticked off the entire PCT in 2018?

Not a chance. 

And you know what? I think I’ll come back and finish it next year just because I can. 

So, yeah, pressure’s off. 

And I ran into Speedy. 

For those of you who’ve followed my journey from the beginning, you’ll know I spent the first 500 miles with him as my sidekick and bestie, until my feet gave up for a while and I had to rest as he hiked on. 

Our paths finally crossed again today!!! 

Lisa was our personal trail angel who bailed us out of Chinook Pass yesterday. Three straggly, sopping wet hikers hitching on the side of the road – I’m glad we didn’t scare her off! She’d even offered to drive us back to trail last night, our packs hanging in her trailer with horses and all.

Extra layers = big smiles! I went with bright tights, too, because the colours are happy and when it’s cold any reason to smile is a good one.

By the time we were made the drive up from Yakima and were dropped off at the trailhead, it was 11:45PM. Very very very grateful!

We had three miles to hike to get to water and camp. Nemo, 2Beers and I hiked the miles together – woods can be creepy at night, and even more so when it’s 2’C/36’F and there are elk screeching into the dark silence around you. 

Have you heard elk before?

Their call sounds like a woman dying. It‘s terrifying. Bone chilling. Granted, we were already outside in freezing temperatures so there wasn’t much more to chill. But there was no way 2Beers, Nemo or I were up for hiking alone. 

We got to the campsite shortly after 1AM, and only two tents were set up. 

“Wizard?!” 

Turns out my voice is recognisable on trail – even in the middle of the night and having not heard it for months. It was Rockmelon. I haven’t seen him since driving the Ferrari at Hikertown, nearly 2000 miles away, but he’d heard us talking and called out. The tent next to his was Speedy’s. 

Naturally, I sang out “SPEEDYSPEEDYSPEEDYSPEEDY” as I shook his tent, and a ruffled French head popped out at me. 

Last week, it felt like everyone was graduating school and I’m repeating the year – with so many friends completing the trail and me still with nearly half to do. 

My mindset is changing now, though, to see it as reunion after reunion with all the friends and people I’ve met across the way. It’s special to bump into everyone, and I love it. 

So this morning, after catching up on a few hours of sleep, we talked for hours and played cards and jammed with Nemo’s guitar and singalongs. I must have seen at least two dozen people walk north past us across the day. It would only take one hand to count the hikers that I didn’tknow. 

Even though we had wanted to do a few miles in the afternoon and get closer to our next town, it wasn’t too hard for Speedy to convince us otherwise. He’s never taken an on-trail zero before, and decided he wanted to get at least one – with us. 

We accommodated. 

And I’m feeling good. Now that my decision has been made to finish at the Oregon border, there’s no more pressure. I’m not racing trying to just tick off miles (never was, though, really!). I can enjoy these last days with the people who have made my journey what it is. Plus, taking it slow and lapping it all up seems a fitting end. 

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