July 1, 2014
Miles hiked today: 19
Total mileage: 188.6
Hiking the PCT is hard. Harder than I could imagine.
I get up every morning around 5 am, the physical body still sore from yesterday’s miles. The weight that I carry on my back every day, provides all the essentials to survive: my kitchen, my food, water, my house and my bed. Sometimes I walk through dry sections, which are deprived of water so I have to carry extra (1 liter equals 1 kg). The last few days were really hot, there’s a heat wave going on. Despite this fact, I’m still putting in about 20-30 miles a day.
So I get dirty. And sweaty. And sore. And my whole system has no idea what the hell I’m doing. Hiking, in the blazing hot sun for 14 hours a day straight on? What’s going on?
Because of the heat and the exhaustion, I’ve no appetite, thus less energy, headaches from high altitude, and nosebleeds from the dry air. My system is totally messed up. I burn a lot of calories every day (4.000-5.000 on average), I just can’t eat that much, let alone carry all that food for days on end.
There are mosquitoes everywhere. Pesky flies that sting. Bugs all over the place. It’s not easy to keep the mind cool while power hiking uphill, trying to outrun the critters while they are annoyingly buzzing around my head, trying to fly into my ears, eyes, mouth and nose at the same time.
My skin raw from bug bites, strong sun rays, sweat and dirt. I have one pair of clothes I wear every day.
I don’t smell ‘nice’ anymore. I don’t wear any make up anymore.
I take a shower once a week, when I am lucky. And when I’m very lucky, I can even do laundry then.
There are rattlesnakes waiting to attack me. Bears that keep me from sleeping at night. And squirrels that steal my flip flops and socks.
Today, I arrived at the middle fork of the Feather river. It was so hot, I stripped down my clothes first thing and jumped in. The cool water felt so good, so fresh, it was a real treat washing all the sweat and dirt off of me. I swam to an outstanding rock in the middle of the river and allowed the sun to dry my body. As I sat, on that rock, I watched the dragonflies hovering the fast moving water flow, I listened to the roaring sound of the water crashing down and I observed the curves of the rocks. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed by all the beauty around me. Not only the beauty of the river Feather but of the whole trail. How amazing it is to walk when the sun is just peeking over the horizon in the morning! How beautiful the animals are which I get to see on the trail: the deer, the butterflies, the lizards, the colorful birds and yes even the snakes and the bears are so pretty. I’m visiting their world. And I’m observing it in complete awe.
While I was sitting on that rock, in the middle of the river Feather, feeling the warmth of the sun rays on my bare skin, the wind that blows my hair dry, I felt so ONE with nature.
Nature rocks! Big time!
How could I forget? This is exactly where I need to be.
Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail may seem like the weirdest choice one could make. But in fact, it wasn’t a choice after all. Something just drove me to this place. And I can’t even begin to explain it.
It is so incredibly hard to do this. But so heartbreakingly beautiful.
So, by the river Feather I sat down and wept.
For a long time.