Day 15, 7/22
Mileage: 197.2 – 209.3
We sleep in again, really late, but we don’t care. We aren’t walking until close to 10, which is like, extremely extremely late for hiker standards, but we really don’t care. Today we only have to go 12.4 miles if that’s all we want to do, since last night we did the big climb to shorten today’s day. We COULD go 18+ miles if we are feeling good and the miles pass quickly, but we will let the day decide that.
We share a mountain house blueberry granola breakfast, and I drink a breakfast essentials with a Starbucks via in it. Deliciously chocolatey… I recall Jabba, one of the CDT thru hikers we met at Twin Lakes, telling me there’s no need for water with a Starbucks via- you just dump it down your throat. I told him I would try it… I think maybe I’ll try it tomorrow. But for today I’m gonna drink my coffee the tasty way.
The trail shoots up almost immediately, marking the beginning of a 3 mile climb we need to conquer this morning. I don’t stop. I decide to make it to the top before I take any type of break, so I just shoot on up the thing, not even stopping for water.
I’m doing a lot of thinking on the trail today. Sometimes I think about nothing, sometimes my mind races and skips around and I think about 30 things all at once, but never think about a full topic for long enough to find a conclusion, sometimes I think deeply about one or two topics. Today is the latter. Today my mind wanders on about what I might want my life to look like when this trip is over and into the future. I think about building a tiny home on wheels so I can take my home wherever I want to go. I think about possibly buying a new car soon and when I might have the money for it. I think about my options for moving this winter, and how to best prepare and save up for the PCT. I think about boys.
Eventually my brain takes me to even deeper topics- God, religion, and spirituality. I think about what I believe. I think about what I don’t believe. I think about the fact that I actually believe a little bit of everything, how I’m open to so many different ideas. I like living that way- just being open. Open to opportunities, open to different lifestyles, open to new ideas I have yet to explore. Trips like this really teach a person to open up, I think. Meeting so many different people who live their lives in such drastically different manners, hearing about so many ideas I’ve never really stopped to consider, observing the lifestyles of those I meet along the way, who I never would have crossed paths with if it wasn’t for trips like this.
I stand and look at the mountains all around me, and I think about them too. They are so big, bulky, overpowering, daunting. They stand in mighty glory, rising above all else. They can withstand the wind, the rain, the lightening, the stands of time. But the mountains can only conquer through apathy. They can’t decide to move, and do so. They can only sit, and look big, and pretend to be too much for us little humans. And you know what? Here I am, this little tiny human being, and I’m walking up all these mountains that tower over me, threatening that I’m not enough. They try to make me think I can’t do it, like I’m not strong enough, yet here I am. I DO have the power to wake up, tell myself I am going to go tackle one of those big scary things, and do it. I DO have the courage to put one step in front of the other, slowly and surely making my way to the very top of the mountains, until I can look down and scream at all I’ve overcome. And that, is pretty awesome. The mountains are awesome too, but not nearly as daunting as one would think they are. Us humans are pretty legit.
I think about all these things and more, until I am suddenly at the top
of the climb and I return to the present, here on the trail. I take my pack off, take a swig of water, check my cell coverage, text my mom about training hikes she should go on for our upcoming Wonderland Trail hike, take a selfie, and walk up the side of the hill to the top of the ridge for a better view. Simone shows up and yells for me from below, so I walk back down and we decide to take a lunch break already since the rest of the day is mostly downhill.
The next 9-something miles pass very slowly. They aren’t hard per se, it just seems like it takes an eternity to get to the end. My left knee is starting to give me some trouble. It never hurts on the uphill, doesn’t usually hurt on the downhill, but the flats and almost-flats really get to it. I walk carefully, finding a way to walk so that it doesn’t really hurt, but then every once in a while a step sends a shooting pain through it, and I cringe, then the pain is gone. I am mad at myself for sending home my KT tape so soon. I wasn’t having any pain at the time so I sent it home in Breckenridge, to save the weight. Now I’ll need to buy some in Salida on Friday. I hope that it doesn’t get worse until then, and I hope that Salida even has it. Oh well, I think, this is nothing I can’t handle. I spend the rest of the walk carefully placing my foot down as not to jolt it, yet trying to walk a good pace and not think about it too much at the same time.
It’s 3:15 when we finally get to the end of segment 12. Before I look at the time I guess that it’s 4:30, and I’m pleasantly surprised to find out I have much more time to relax than I had thought. We decide not to make the climb tonight, since that would put us into camp late and we’re already tired. Today was only 12.4 miles, but it seemed longer for some reason. Probably just because we started so late. Tomorrow, I think to myself, we have got to be on the trail by 7 or 7:30. I’m sick of this sleeping in crap, yet I love it so much.
The rest of the afternoon passes easily as we wash up in the river, eat a mountain house dinner, and relax. Only an hour after we eat our dinners I’m hungry again, so I open up my food bag and eat most of my bag of white-cheddar cheez-its. I’m hoping they’ll have snacks at the hot springs we’re stopping at on Thursday, otherwise I’ll be hungry on Thursday and Friday. I’ve noticed my hunger has kicked up a notch, so I make a mental note that I need to buy more snacks and treats and yummy things to eat after dinner and between meals, for our next 6-day stretch, which is coming up after Salida on Friday.
It’s a beautiful night with no signs of a storm. The weather has been incredible the last few days. How luck we are. I lay in the tent, rain fly off, watching the sky above me move ever so slowly, and the trees sway back in forth in the warm breeze. I am content.