Ups and downs

Over the last week, I’ve experienced the extremes. In terrain. In weather. In energy levels. In mental resiliency. In pain. I’ve heard that the second week of thru-hiking is usually the hardest when the hiker questions wtf they were thinking. For me it was week three. We started out hiking uphill out of our second rest break. Packs full of food and water and way too heavy. We hiked up in sideways rain and rapidly dropping temperatures. All day I kept wondering why I was putting myself through this. And then I found this tent sight: …and then the next day we decided to hike up. 4000 ft. I started to have some pain in my quad so climbing became more and more challenging. And then we hit the snow. I was chasing the sunset so I just kept going and finally met my buddies and got to see a beautiful sunset. Nature always has a way of balancing things out.

The next day was the beginning of the mental struggle. My quad hurt with every step and there was a lot of uphill and downhill. And snow. A lot more snow. I tried hard to smile through it all but the 14 miles we did that day were exhausting. But my I met up with my buddies for the toughest part and we got through it. And then again I slept in a spectacularly beautiful area.

The next day we went downhill. 6000ft, 20 miles and an increase of 40 degrees into the desert. I discovered then that was what aggravated my leg more than anything. But we hitched a ride into town and got some more food and then camped out in the wind. The next couple days were full of windmills and hills, rattle snakes (this time I didn’t see any but they were definitely there) and river crossings. And route finding. And then climbing again. And a revelation. Food. Calories. I wasn’t eating near enough and it was making my mind, heart and soul suffer. Once I corrected that everything started to get better. Uphills and downhills got easier. We saw more snow after the crazy desert wind. And landed in Big Bear. I’ve heard a lot of people recently say how this is on their bucket list. While it’s amazing it’s not all fun. It’s fucking hard. It’s dirty. It’s gross. It stinks. But nature always has a way of balancing things out.

What’s that smell?

Ooooh it’s me. 🤢. It’s the norm out here but lord I could clear a room with how amazing I smell right now. For reference, I’m wearing the same clothes every day. Hiking 15+ miles in the heat. Showering about maybe once a week? You can do the math. But the good news is that I got new socks yesterday! They’re ingenious toe socks that help with blisters. I thought they would be uncomfortable but they’re great. I still lost one toenail from the toe squishing fiasco last week but now I’m in pretty good shape. Shoes that fit and toe socks. What more does anyone need? Terry helped me celebrate my 100 mile mark today. It’s actually mile 123 on the trail but because of the aforementioned toe fiasco I missed 23 miles earlier. I will eventually make those up but shit I just walked 100 miles! In 8 days. I’m not mad about that.

Taking a stroll in the meadows

The last two days have been remarkable. We had to battle crazy gusty winds. Rattle snakes and the heat. But we were rewarded with amazingly beautiful fields of flowers not commonly found in Southern California. The rainy winter here produced some of the most amazing scenes I’ve ever seen. I have found I’m hungry all the time. I voluntarily ate a whole package of ramen noodles with instant potatoes in one sitting and I was still hungry afterward. But I’m always craving spinach and other veggies. I’ve got to figure out how to balance my diet. But I’m happy to eat whatever i can get my hands on right now. Everything tastes so good. Not showering for days is also something I swore I would never do again. But here I am. Stinky and salty and I volunteered for it. I feel bad for anyone around me. But it’s worth it. also I broke my pack 🙄. Leave it up to me. Good thing this stuff can get replaced. But I’ve got about 70 miles to go before I can get the replacement. Wish me luck. Let’s see how this turns out!!

Warriors

5 days. 52 miles. Torn up feet. A lot of humble lessons learned. I have the utmost respect for these guys I’m hiking with. All veterans. All warriors. Every one of them have been through more than most people could imagine. Each with their own sense of humor and take on things. It’s going to be an interesting journey.