Monday, October 5, 2015

There Will Be Tears (Section J of the PCT-Part 2)

As soon as our friends left and we were on our own, it suddenly felt real. It didn't take long for things to get really real, when out of the blue my ankle just gave out and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. I've preached about trekking poles before, and I'll preach it again--they are a life saver!!! I know they helped disperse the weight and keep me from actually spraining my ankle, though the down side was that they also sort of acted like a catapult, launching me face first into the dust. Seeing me lying there like a felled tree freaked Leigh out quite a bit, (she got the "shaky legs" syndrome) but after realizing I was unhurt it proved to be the mental image that made us both giggle the entire trip. Unfortunately, it was also the image that gave me shaky legs whenever we were on precarious ridges (NOT where you want to be catapulted!) which seemed to be half the time...but that comes later.
Reenactment photo
(for some reason Leigh did not think to get her camera
out when she thought I might have dropped dead;))
Part of the reason I finally decided to cheat so we could make it to Trap Lake on day one was because I knew we wouldn't want to bolt out in the morning while our friends were with us; and starting at 11am means your not going to get super far. The second day proved way harder than I expected, so I was incredibly thankful for the mere 6 miles to Deception Lake. We found a great spot, away from the smelly horse camp, and settled in.
We had decided to take separate tents because we knew we'd have at least one day of rain, and space in your tent makes keeping stuff dry so much more manageable. But having "decompression" time--alone with your own thoughts and emotions--proved invaluable too. (decompression also meant "gas release" much of the time for me, so I know Leigh was more than thankful to be a few feet away...though she still laughed just about every time. Darn those dehydrated meals!)
It's sort of a tradition for me to look through my pictures and recount the day before I fall asleep. I had gotten through them all, then clicked the back button one more time to see my newly born grandson's precious face. It's not just things like flushing toilets that backpacking makes you acutely appreciative of; but more importantly just how much you love, need, and cherish your family and friends. First tears of the trip, that night alone in my tent...but there would be more.
Rain is a comforting sound while coming in and out of sleep, but completely comfortless when trying to get your butt in gear in the morning. After finally getting our stuff packed (including our bear bins, which we stashed at a nearby site thinking it was too late for anyone else to come in. Wrong! We tip toed when retrieving them, hoping not to wake anyone up and have them yell at us. I know, it was a bad idea...sorry!) it was a mostly uneventful day; until the dreaded log crossing. If you've read any of my other trips, you know how much I hate these.
No, most people don't crawl. I'm not sure if I was more scared of slipping and breaking my ankle, or of a thru-hiker coming around the corner and seeing my patheticness.("thru-hiker" meaning those hiking the PCT from MEXICO...yeah, they would have laughed) 
The rest of the uneventful day was mostly an upward haul to get over Cathedral, with a few desperate pleas to the thru-hikers as to how much longer. (they always said "almost there". I think they like toying with the novices) 
Cathedral Rock
Finally at the end of "up" for the day, we gazed down upon our next camping stop, Deep Lake. So close...and yet so far. You think you're so happy for some "down", until it's only down for what seems like hours. (actually, I think it did take a couple hours) And the switchbacks here are RIDICULOUSLY long--you can see the lake, but you just keep going back and forth like a Newton's Cradle, seemingly getting nowhere. 
This was our first "fight" of the trip. After having to rescue me from the previous day's face-plant (I seriously couldn't get myself up, with the weight of my pack up around my ears) I expected Leigh to check on me every now and then. But, I do understand what it feels like to be "over it", and I knew those switchbacks were pissing Leigh off. She was going to get to that damn lake ASAP. I stopped even trying to be within a reasonable distance of her. (This would be a reoccurring problem...what can I say, I'm SLOW. If your hiking with me, you get to have a lot of breaks. It is what it is.) 
By the time I made it down, she had had to double back because it had been like 15 minutes and she was wondering where the hell I was. Fifteen minutes is an eternity when your in "over it" mode, so the fact she was so patient and didn't yell or make me feel bad speaks to why this was an overall great trip and partnership. I gave a little "if you don't want to wait so long, you shouldn't get so far ahead" speech, and then we were good. 
Leigh hosted the party at her "house" that night (so much more roomy! Plus she had the best view) and I knew she still loved my sluggy self because she shared her wine. Hey, I'm always happy to help reduce pack weight! Hard to believe only 1 more day, and we would be over half way done! Though of course, the real suffering was still to come. 
P.S. No hiking lessons, so I'm going to try and do better with times and miles. I promise, nobody should be hiking slower than this, unless they are crawling. (and more than just over the log bridges :))
Trap to Deception/6 miles/5.5 hours hiking
Deception to Deep/12 miles/7.5 hours hiking

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