|Castle Crags state park|
Well on my way to a twenty-six mile day, the farthest I had ever backpacked. I stopped wearing underwear (with a long skirt, who needs it?). I talked to myself, and answered. I plopped down in the dirt when I felt like sitting. I saw nobody for miles and miles. The people I saw, I never saw again: the Weed Brothers, who took frequent smoke breaks and fell behind; Daniel, who had just gotten on the trail himself and was hoping to make it to the Bridge of the Gods. It was his first backpacking trip. "I guess I could have done something less challenging," he said. In the first six miles, he had lost his hat. He was also carrying a large knife, a GPS he didn't know how to use, and a full size bottle of sunscreen. He stopped to take a break when I did, and asked where I was going to camp. I recognized someone in need of a buddy, but I knew if I wanted to get very far, I would have to leave Daniel to his own devices.
There was Chuck, who mansplained that I should change socks every five miles, and who said that doctors had diagnosed a hairline fracture in his foot, but instead he kept hiking, and it healed itself. Never saw him again either. Nor Dizzy and Brownie, two older thru hikers who claimed they "aimed for twenty miles but rarely made it." Or L-Rod, a legendary trail angel who was finally doing a hike of her own. They could have been five miles back, or twenty. There was no way of knowing. The trail stretched out, empty and glorious.
|First night's camp|
|So many lakes, so little time.|
While I missed having a hiking partner, I loved the freedom of being solo. When to stop, when to go: it was all up to me. I paid a lot more attention to the maps and the next water source without someone else to figure that out. This was my longest solo trip, and the first one where nobody asked me if I was solo, or why. The PCT is like that.
|This "Bloody Run" trail junction seemed a little ominous.|
My feet were a little sore, and the long miles could be a little lonely. But I had survived them, and I was almost halfway. What could go wrong now? I was, in fact, about to find out.
to be continued...