Day 81

PCT Diary :: Day 81 – September 21, 2019

‘It won’t always be like this’. ⁣

I’m awake in the wee hours, again feeling nausea. I’ve had it on and off for a while and it’s getting me down. In the throws of discomfort it’s hard to have the imagination that I’ll feel normal again. This feels like the new normal. ⁣

Day 81

~⁣

It’s 7am and I’m feeling rested and a bit better. It’s a frigid morning, there’s frost around my tent. I walk as fast as my body will let me in attempt to warm up. It’s a struggle – I need to keep stopping to catch my breath. It’s hard to imagine feeling warm again. ⁣

But just as the frozen grasses and wild flowers by my feet thaw out from their frosty shells – so in time do I. In time the sun shines on my skin and it warms me through. ⁣

As I walk up a hill I see a couple with a dog sitting watching me. They ask me how I’m doing and I can’t lie. After a short chat and several throws of a stick for the dog, it turns out they are both A&E nurses. They are convinced I have altitude sickness ( we are at about 8900 ft). They give me anti emetics and encourage me to drink lots and rest as much as I can. ⁣

And I’m now tucked up in my sleeping bag at 7:30 pm, having walked a short 16 mile day. I’m feeling much better physically. And I feel relief in knowing it won’t always feel and be like this. This has been a hard few days with slow progress but I drift off to sleep with hope. ⁣

This feels like a universal message but a hard one to feel in your bones. Circumstances may be hard and it may be hard to have the imagination for change – but it won’t always be like this. ⁣

Day 80

PCT Diary :: Day 80 – September 20, 2019

‘Hickup and Two Puff’⁣

It feels really hard to leave the comfort of my hotel room here in Lake Tahoe. I’ve been here 2 days, 3 nights – the longest I’ve stayed anywhere in Trail. ⁣

I’m going for breakfast with Hickup and Two Puff and their Mums who have come to visit. They are going to drive me to the Trail Head. ⁣

I sometimes forget how young these women are – just 18. They seem much older and wiser than their years. They are kind and smart. Sitting with them and their mums, sharing breakfast feels like such a privilege. Both mums have taken a couple off days of busy jobs and lives on the east coast to spend time with their daughters. All, apart from me, all order vegan scramble. As I watch them interact I see where the girls have inherited their spirit from. ⁣

I see the love, trust and pride the mums have in these two as we share stories of the trail. Letting go and giving your children this space takes great courage. ⁣

They drop me off at the trail head, and head back to the city where they will be taking part in the climate change protest. ⁣

~ ⁣

I only walk 13 miles – but it feels a lot more. I’ve a nausea that I can’t shake. I’m working hard to self care, so I’m in my tent, ready to sleep by 8 pm. It’s chilly. ⁣

I’m starting the High Sierra and it’s already stunning. I just wish I felt better. I know I will in time. And I’ve Hickup and Two Puff to inspire me!

Day 78

PCT Diary :: Day 78 & 79 – September 18-19, 2019

‘Kindness & hunger in Lake Tahoe’⁣

Carole and I knew each other only vaguely from social media. Yet she’d kindly reached out to see if there was anything I needed from REI Sacramento. ⁣

Today, she and her hubbie Armando made a 4 hour round trip visit me here .More than that, they took me out for lunch, a lake side walk and they came bearing gifts which they wouldn’t accept a penny for. Including gorgeous Patagonia shorts. It felt like my birthday. ⁣

Carole and Armando

As we hugged goodbye I felt a familiar wonderment at the goodness of people. And amazement that people read my ramblings and connect in someway. This is all I ever really want – to connect with others over things that really matter (things like beauty and kindness). ⁣

~⁣

I woke up at 1:30am with a painful hunger – so much so that I had to get up to walk through the dark streets to an all night store. I needed something savoury and calorific quick! A breakfast croissant egg thing and a bag of crisps – that will do. I ate then greedily from my hotel bed. (Go on, judge me!!) ⁣

At lunch time the same feeling came. I couldn’t wait for my food to come and I made a pretty good dent in an all you can eat sushi buffet. And again this evening. Urgent, hollow and sore. But it’s good. I’ve struggled a low appetite and wasn’t enjoying food for a while now. It was pretty miserable and a worry. Hunger feels like a symptom of wellness. ⁣

~⁣

Super 8 hotel

I’ve rested for 2 days in this quirky city with its gorgeous lake, 80s hotel signs, Casinos and the comfort of my hotel room. I’ve experienced great kindness & I’ve connected with loved ones at home. I’ve eaten a LOT of food. I feel very ready to get back on trail tomorrow. Bring on the High Sierra! ⁣

(PS signal will be sketchy so posts will be less regular for a few weeks).

Lake Tahoe
Day 77

PCT Diary :: Day 77 – September 17, 2019

‘Come, lay your head down’⁣

Awaking from yesterday’s drama I feel nervous to get moving again. Like I’ve lost confidence in myself and my ability to hike. Yet it’s only 8 miles to town. I’ve no appetite but force myself to eat some cereal. ⁣

I break camp and slowly make my way along the trail. Turning around to look back on my camp, the whole area looks so benign and beautiful. I was camped near Velma lake – a stunning stop that I can only now appreciate.

Velma lake

I’m weak and slow so the 8 miles take me much of the day. But I’m in motion. I meet lots of day hikers and a lovely couple who are section hiking. Chatting to them lifts my spirits. ⁣

Eventually I make it to the Trail Head. It’s a notoriously hard hitch but I see a lady drop off two hikers. I nervously approach and ask if she’s going to town. She sweeps me up and makes everything okay. And before I know it I’m in a hotel – and I’m giving myself two full rest days here. Bliss! ⁣

Trail views

I’ve a few health concerns so I message a doctor friend back home for advice. He replies with much wisdom and insight. I’ve a plan for how to self care better. (Shout out to Dan!)⁣

Later I go out to the laundry. Two scooters fly past me – with voices singing “My Sherona”. ⁣

Trail pals and pizza

It’s Dejure and Pilot! ⁣

Dejure gives me a ride in the back of his scooter and invites me to join them at Pizza Hut after my chores. I’m tired but I’m so fond of these guys so I’m all in. And I’m already feeling the love and goodness flowing back into me.⁣

Day 76

PCT Diary :: Day 76 – September 16, 2019

‘The Indifferent Stars Above’⁣

It’s 6am and I’ve only had 1.5 hours sleep, having walked most of the night. I could put my tent up and sleep through the storm but I choose to push through and hike to town. It’s 22 miles – I can do this. ⁣

After a mile of walking I know something’s not right. I’m groggy, my stomach’s upset, my heart’s racing – even on very gradual incline. ⁣

Gritting my teeth I push on, taking stops when necessary. The aptly named ‘Dicks Pass’ lies ahead of me – a short steep 2 mile climb. After that it’s just 12 miles downhill to town. ⁣

day 76 mountains

I stop for water and rest half way up the Pass and can’t miss the front of grey cloud moving towards me. With haste I throw on my rain gear and keep moving. At the summit it’s hailing. And then the hail turns to snow. The path is quickly covered and it’s getting cold. ⁣

As I descend the Pass my spirits are still high. I know snow. As long as I keep moving to stay warm I’ll be fine. But I need to keep taking my right glove off to check the GPS on my phone. Each time it’s harder to get the sodden glove on. ⁣

I can’t feel my fingers nor toes. I can’t do this anymore – I’ve no strength – I’m too cold. Only 8 miles from town but it might as well be 800. ⁣

I don’t know how I manage to get my tent up, but teeth are involved. I’m shivering but just as I’m about to get in to my tent I urgently need the toilet. Now I’m retching. With relief vomit comes. ⁣

Exhausted I crawl in my tent, into my sleeping bag liner, into my bag. I’m scared – I’ve never felt so cold – my body is shaking, teeth chattering. I feel very alone. It’s 3 pm. At some point sleep takes me. I sleep fitfully – with the regular inconvenience of needing to get up to pee – until morning light.

Today nature soberly showed me my limits, my vulnerability, my aloneness. I feel sadness in this recognition. After the sadness comes a wave of relief that this episode is over. With the relief comes gratitude. Gratitude for shelter and for tomorrow. ⁣

Day 75

PCT Diary :: Day 75 – September 15, 2019

‘Walking through the night – a 38 miler’⁣

A snow storm is due to hit the PCT leg I’m about to walk. From Truckee it’s 60 miles to my next town stop, South Lake Tahoe. ⁣

As Connell drops me off at the Donner Pass Trail Head I question the wisdom of my plan… The storm isn’t due to hit until midday Monday so I’m going to try and out walk it. ⁣

My very sketchy plan is to walk through the day and night – a sort of 24 hour challenge. And then to cover the remaining miles on Monday morning. ⁣

My walk starts at the famous Donner Pass – named for the famous and tragic ‘Donner Party’ of 87 pioneers who wintered near here during the winter of 1846. Only 46 members of the party survived. With a storm coming I shiver as I think of this story. ⁣

Yet it’s a beautiful area and the sky is blue. ⁣

I’m loving the day’s walking – stunning open ridge views looking on the Sierra Mountains in the far distance. And I keep walking for hours and hours. ⁣

I’ve arranged to meet Kai for a late dinner at a Trail Head bench. He’s also going to walk through the night. ⁣

As I approached the bench, with the huge moon shining more effectively than my head torch, I heard music. Kai’s playing the ukulele. Surreal but beautiful! ⁣

It’s hard to light my stove in the wind and it’s chilly so we eat with urgency. By midnight we are back on the trail and Kai tells me about a book he’s reading – ‘The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride’. ⁣

What are you taking from the book I ask? ⁣

“It’s making me walk faster! Don’t **** with the weather!”⁣

And Kai does walk faster. Whilst I plod on contently in the darkness till 4:30 am. Too tired to set up my tent, I cow boy camp in the woods. 38 miles walked – still 22 miles to safety. And as I drift of to sleep I remember Kai’s words: ⁣

“Don’t **** with the weather…”