Friday, September 1
lodging north of Bend, OR to Subway on Route 97, Redmond, CA
Total Miles Hiked: 1999
Things were not going very well this morning and I was fighting with everything I had to keep going. Traffic whizzed by; big rigs throwing up big gusts of wind that tried to knock me off my balance and steal my hat. Instead of trail dirt, I was covered in road grime and I was constantly trying to blink out specks of sand from my eyes despite wearing sunglasses.
Although not at all enjoyable, I could have survived with all of that had it not been for the increasing pain I was experiencing from my left heel. I’ve tried to ignore the pain and not talk about it much so that I could maintain a more positive perspective. In reality, my heel was aggravated enough that it was affecting my gait, causing aches and issues elsewhere. In a 12-14 hour day of hiking, I was only able to find relief for an hour or two before the pain killers wore off.
Over the last week, I’ve found myself constantly trying to dig out of yet another bad patch and I was relying heavily on support from friends and family to keep going. The highs just were not lasting long enough for me to endure the next round of lows.
Today, after 11 miles of road walking away from Bend on Highway 97, I stopped for lunch at a McDonalds. After briefly resuming my walk, pain skyrocketed from a newly blistered and borderline infected toe. I stopped at a Subway to remove the bandaging and check it out. When I did so, a glob of pus oozed out from behind my toenail.
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I reached my limit. I was staring straight down at the “line” and I couldn’t make it move farther on down the road. I was done.
I am ok with my decision. I tackled this journey exactly as I wanted to. Everyone has their own approach on how to hike the PCT. For me, my goal first and foremost, was to hike a continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada. No skipping, no flip flopping. I chose a very difficult way; the path less traveled. I was going all out big…or I was going home.
Yes, I failed at my attempt. And I say that with pride. Failure cannot happen without effort to achieve something. I hiked nearly every day for 4 months. I know that I squeezed out every last drop of determination that I had. I can now walk away with peace and freedom from self-doubt.
Although I did not reach Canada as I had hoped, I walk away today with more useful tools in my toolbox. Some are not necessarily new but more that I previously did not know how to use them and now I do. I’m going to state a few here, mostly just to remind myself:
1. I am already strong and determined. I don’t need to prove that to anyone.
2. Competitiveness is my friend and motivator but comparison is my enemy and destroyer.
3. My values are important to me and I am happiest when I live by them.
4. Self acceptance and self improvement go hand in hand. It is together that they create balance.
5. My life is my journey. Every day holds lessons, challenges and adventures. Some days are just more spectacular than others.
In parting, I have discovered there are many amazingly wonderful and caring people in this world. This trek has created new friendships, strengthened older ones and has turned acquaintances into friends. A huge special thanks, in no special order, to Ann, Brendan, Caroline, Leslie, Halfway, One Day, Adam, Athena, Sara and my honey, Michael. Thank you also to my mom and dad and two sisters for their constant encouragement and support. To everyone I’ve met on the PCT and to every one of you that has reached out to me in relation to this trip, thank you for your contact and interaction. It meant a lot to me.
Live BIG everyone!