PCT Day 92: Cranky and Confused

July 19, 2022

Peavine Creek Campsite at mile 1432.7 to campsite along dirt road at mile 1460.5

27.8 miles

We wake early, planning for a 31 mile day. Secretly, I really do not feel like I am capable of this. My feet are hurting and I just don’t feel up to the task. But I pack up my gear and take my ibuprofen and start moving.

I hike with Jumbo for the first four miles or so. It’s lush, green, and cool in this early morning. We catch up with Tribute, who started slightly before us, and then Jumbo holds out his arms. “Before we keep going, bring it in, guys. Happy three months on trail.” I’d forgotten! We share a cute little group hug and express our amazement that we’ve been out here for this long. In a lot of ways, the desert and the Sierras feel like another lifetime, another trail. But in other ways, it feels like I’ve just arrived at the airport to catch my flight. Time is weird.

There’s a water source, and I make coffee at it because I’ve apparently slipped back into the habit. Jumbo stops for a bit but then keeps going, followed by Tribute. Then I have to dig a cathole, and then I finally start walking again. I put in some music, pass a few folks, zone out, and wind up at another water source, passing Tribute not long before it. I expect to see Jumbo’s pack at the trail, thinking he went down to the water and left his stuff up here, but it’s nowhere to be found. Then I see a comment that there’s water right on trail and reason that he probably just kept going to that, so I do too.

He’s not at the source when I get there. I collect water, chugging some because I’m gasping, then ask a couple of hikers sitting there if they’re seen a tall blond English guy in a blue sun hoodie. One of them seems to think that he’s ahead, so I keep going, reasoning that I’l find him stopped for lunch before long.

It’s a long, steep, exposed uphill for a while, and I start getting crankier and crankier as I make my way to the top. Why wasn’t Jumbo stopped at the water? That would have been a perfect place for a break. I guess he just has cheese today. I keep setting little goals in my head: He’s at the road. He’s at this campsite. He’s at this place at the top of the hill. But every time I make it to one, I see no one.

I’m annoyed. Jumbo had said something about wanting to film us explaining our trail names at lunch today, and now he’s zoomed ahead. I really like our breaks and lunches together, and I feel kind of left out. I get to the top of the climb, where I’m sure he’s going to be, and he’s simply not there. I’ve let myself get very hungry at this point, and I get progressively crankier all the way down the slope. I decide to text Tribute asking if he’s seen Jumbo. Apparently he has, they’re hiking fairly close together, and they are behind me and have been ever since he last water source.

I’m so frustrated. I passed tons of good lunch spots thinking that J had blown right by them too. Now I just need calories. I sit on a log that’s right next to the trail and in a patch of quickly diminishing shade and shove several tuna and mayo wraps in my face. I start to feel better instantly, but that feeling of irrational FOMO sticks around. It’s absurd because (a) it doesn’t matter who’s ahead and behind, (b) I’m allowed to eat when I want to instead of waiting for anyone, and (c) It isn’t Jumbo’s fault that I didn’t see him taking a break. I can cognitively recognize the irrationality of my feelings, yet I still feel them.

The sun starts to creep up on me, so I tell Tribute that I’ll be pulled over taking a nap somewhere and that they should wake me up. But when I get to the campsite I was planning on snagging in 0.6, there are already some people there. I keep going along some hot ridges with lovely views until I reach an abandoned dirt road with a few campsites. I lay out my tyvek and put my aching feet up on my pack.

Jumbo and Tribute both text me asking where I am. Then they send a photo of them chilling at the campsite I’d just bypassed because there were other people there when I went by. My anger flares. “Come here,” I type. “There’s tons of space.” But they stay where they are. Whatever, I think. Alone time is good, I tell myself, trying not to give into that completely stupid and irrational feeling of being left out, less than, rejected.

I stay there for a long time, and I eventually hear the two of them coming down the trail. They see me and come over. I’m really salty at Jumbo, again, for no real reason. “I thought you were ahead!” I whine. “I worked my ass off thinking you’d skipped lunch. I thought we were going to eat together.”

He’s perplexed, and rightfully so. “You can do your own thing, you know. You can take a break when you want, you don’t have to wait or anything. Hike your own hike.”

And therein lies the problem. It’s really hard to hike your own hike. It’s hard on the trail, and it’s hard in life. At least for me. I’m so susceptible to comparison. It’s very, very hard for me not to compare myself to my peers. I feel like I should be following some kind of script or order, but my life is chaos. It’s easy for me to slip out of my own track and look at someone else’s and ask, am I doing it right? And then there’s that FOMO, that weird rejection. Why do I hang so much on other people? Why is it so hard for me to just do my own thing and not worry about anyone else’s approach?

These are some of the questions that swirl around my mind as the day goes on and we approach our last water source. I drop behind and find myself sobbing in a thicket of pine trees. I feel so frustrated with myself and how I react to things. I wish I wasn’t such an emotional person. I mean, there are good things about it, but it’s caused me a lot of pain to feel everything so acutely all the time.

By the time I get to the water source, I’ve calmed down a little. I apologize to Jumbo and Tribute for being such a mega bitch. “It’s okay,” Jumbo replies. “I just don’t really understand.”

“It’s rarely just the one thing that I’m upset about,” I try to explain. “There are a lot of things behind it.”

He asks for clarification, but I leave it at that. I walk down a dirt road and collect water from a little trickling spring. Then we cook our dinner at a campsite on the dirt road. If we’re going to do a 31, we have six more miles, but I’ve already decided I’m not going that far. I need some time alone, and I’m sick of getting to camp so late. I tell Jumbo and Tribute this and say that I’ll see them either tomorrow or the next day. Then, they head off, I finish my dinner, and I’m alone.

It’s a relief. I listen to Amanda Palmer, which you have to be in a really specific mood for. She reminds me of the AT, wam orange evenings climbing hills in Massachusetts after a rainstorm. She builds me back up and hands me myself back on a shiny platter. “You are not so strange,” she sings. Life is so messy. Being a human being is like having a universe full of stars and worlds and things you can’t explain shoved into a body that needs and wants so many silly little things. Silly little things are universes too, though. Everything feels beautiful and full of meaning here on this ridge with the sun setting over the hills of Northern California.

I make it to my tentsite—a dirt road at the top of a climb—around 8:30. I set up my tent after semi-successfully persuading my tent stakes to go into the rocky ground. I’ve set up for the night and am just about to go to sleep when I hear a mountain lion wheezing and what I assume is a deer prowling around in the woods. Ugh. I guess I’m not going to sleep well tonight. But it’s beautiful and quiet up here, just me and the critters and the night under the bright spray of stars. I’m a whole universe inside a beautiful silly plastic bag. How amazing is that.

One thought on “PCT Day 92: Cranky and Confused

  1. HaileyB

    ❤️❤️❤️ There’s a few paragraphs in here that I’m going to keep chewing on for a while. How hiking ones own hike, life, and chaos are all sort of the same thing. Thanks so much for all your honesty, and throwing these questions out there into the sky. I’m glad I’m here to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

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