I started the Pacific Crest Trail earlier in the season to account for my slowness. To my surprise, it turns out I am fleet-footed when it comes to hiking. For the sake of slowing down my hiking pace a bit in an attempt to outsmart mother nature (impossible), I took the train from Tehachapi, CA to Oakland, CA. There I met with friends and family for a week.
During that week, I was hoping to waste enough time to begin my trek safely from Kennedy Meadows into the High Sierra. Oakland was a bit of a cultural shock. I’d never been there before my hike. Being the first densely populated city I’d encountered in weeks, it was overwhelming. I had a very good time, though.
Upon my return to the trail, I hiked slowly, to ease myself back into my groove. I felt uneasy, but I assumed that I’d grown lazy during my trail break. I pushed on. I walked a total of 5 miles the first day before setting up camp for the evening. My entire being ached that night as I lay in my tent and slept.
The next day refreshed and renewed I set off to increase my distance from the before. I made it two miles before I couldn’t stand. Nothing is scarier, in my opinion than feeling dizzy and lightheaded while hiking on the side of a windy cliff. Fearing for my safety, I stopped at the first makeshift campsite I could find.
I thought about heading back to town, thinking I just needed more time to acclimate from being at sea level, before continuing my entrance into the Sierra. For miles, all I could see were mountains, surrounded by more mountains. Though incredibly beautiful, I was becoming ill, and I knew it.
Being so close to town, I had cellular reception. I got a few pep talks from friends and family, and I slept it off that night. Admittedly, I woke up weary, no longer excited from the support rally that took place the previous day. I packed my bag and stood to return to town. That’s when I met a woman who follows my blog, and she told me I was an inspiration to her.
She said that she admired the way I took control over my health and inspire others to do the same. She reminded me of why I started hiking. With a new sense of dedication, I set off, forcing my body to move. I hiked 22 miles that day, suffering for most of those miles.
Suffering is not the intent of my journey. The altitude mixed with the various barometric pressure changes caused me extreme discomfort, dizziness, and vomiting. My Medtronic neuromodulator, though amazing, offered no relief for the symptoms.
The following morning while breaking down my tent, I leaned forward and fell head-first on a small rock. (The science of things: my leads are subdermal, any impact causes discomfort, contact sends a stinging pain throughout my head). As I lay there, physical pain mixed with negative emotions and swelled inside of me. Determined not to fail, I gathered myself and finished breaking down my site.
I thought about the hiker I’d recently met. Suddenly, I knew that pushing myself through something painful is the exact opposite of health and well-being.
Of courses being a badass, I wanted to go on record as saying I did not need my ACR Personal Locator Beacon. Furthermore, wanting to say, “I never turned back,” I insisted on hiking myself down the valley to past the PCT mile marker 600. With a hiker a few distances in front and another following from the rear, I hiked to the road to the waiting trail angels.
More than anything, my hike is about reconnecting with myself. Seven weeks, 6.5 sections, and 614 miles on the PCT are what it took for me to connect. Again, I took control of my health and decided to end my journey with a few tears, bruises, and fond memories . . .
600 miles hiking the PCT with a neuromodulator, and one headlight. I mean headlamp, seriously, did you catch the reference? It’s been a long journey, and there are miles to go . . . However, for me, those miles will not take place on the PCT.
Finally in tune, connecting I can hear myself speak, and my voice is filled with pride.