Since then, I’ve walked 454 miles up the West Coast. In 248 miles, the desert section ends, and the Sierra section begins.
Most of the desert hasn’t been what I pictured, some sections are full of water, and lots of lush green plants. We’ve been hiking mostly in the high desert.
Today I’m at Hiker Heaven, a trail angels home in Agua Dulce, and when I return to the trail I’ll drop to the desert floor, where hotter days and less shade will be in store.
We had our first summit last week at Mount Baden-Powell, just about 9,400 feet. I was a little dehydrated that day and could feel the elevation. Sprite and I dropped our packs just before the summit (which isn’t actually on trail) and joked about our bodies feeling like jello while making the final climb to the top.
The first couple weeks of the trail were very surreal to me. Similar to when you plan for what you hope will be an extravagant vacation. You get to the airport, go through the motions of printing out your ticket, board the plane and soon enough, arrive at your destination.
I vividly remember the drive to the terminus. It seemed like it took forever. There were dusty desert mountains to stare at outside the window, a distraction that mildly calmed my nerves.
We stopped at a rest stop just before the trailhead. I remembered thinking this was my last opportunity to use a toilet for a while. Things were about to change, but I was ready for it.
A little over a month in, I’m certain that this experience will be the best thing I’ve done with my life thus far. Scout, who hosted me and 26 other hikers the night before I started the trail said it best: “the trail provides a community that I always wanted to be apart of but never knew existed.”
I think about a lot of different things out here. I think about what I want to do with my life in the future, where I want to travel to next, the relationships I have with my friends and family and how important it is for me to maintain those bonds in the coming years, and I’m often thinking about what I’m going to eat next (I’ve always loved to think about food).
I remember my mom asking me once why I was hiking the trail, and I remember telling her because I didn’t want to be angry when I grow up. Crazy to think I’m 25, and most people already consider that pretty grown up.
What I meant by that response was that I wanted to get to know myself better, and get to know the world that I live in a little bit better. I don’t want to grow up and be bitter because of the pressures in society that I feel like I’m constantly facing. The pressures to feel adequate to your peers, wondering if I’m doing what a typical 25-year old should be doing.
Since I’ve been on trail I’ve learned that everyone’s path to happiness is different, but also very much the same. Everyone sets up camp at night, and everyone packs up in the morning. Everyone smells like hamburgers, is covered from head to toe in dirt and has the gnarliest boogers.
But the streams of thoughts running through every hikers mind is different.
While on trail, I’ve learned how to be thankful for my friends that wait up for me because I’m last person to pack up camp instead of wondering if I’m irritating them.
I’ve taken off the mask of makeup that I cover my face with every day, and now when I look in the mirror, I see the most raw version of who I am.
I’m working on training my mind to constantly see beauty in every situation, instead of succumbing to a tainted state of frustration when tragedy strikes.
Day by day, mile by mile, I know I’m becoming who I am supposed to be out here. I am so grateful that the PCT will be a chapter in the story of my life.
Today is a zero day, but tomorrow, I’ll put one foot in front of the other with one direction to go, forward. I can barely wait to see what’s just up ahead.