I think I may finally be done with the PCT. Over the past two years I have done roughly 800 miles (from Campo to Independence). I got off the trail June 1 to spend some time with my family (my wife and I went to Mexico and New Orleans with my brother and his wife). And, while I definitely miss it, I think it is time to start planning the next adventure (the Great Loop is looking good…).
I learned a lot. Mostly about people. Mostly about what you really need. Everything I “needed” for five weeks I carried on my back and weighed less than 15 pounds (not counting food or water), which is pretty cool! Most people, Americans anyhow, have never been hungry. Most take clean, abundant water for granted. Most people have no clue what they really need. I know. I need about 1L of water for every five miles I walk. I need about 2 lbs of food a day (including at least 2 Twizzlers). I need a warm place to sleep on cold nights. And that’s pretty much it.
And the people. Strangers gave me rides, gave me food, gave me water. Just about everyone I met was nicer than I had any right to expect. The trail angels were crazy nice. Scout and Frodo and the Hiker Heaven folks and Ziggy and The Bear. They open their homes to strangers. Every year. And the other hikers were great. You become part of a rolling community.
Okay – some random memories from the trail this year…
- Walking down to the North Fork Ranger station saw OB (Orange Blossom) sitting just off the trail.
Me: “Hey, OB, how’s it going.”
OB: “Okay – just stopped to do a little surgery.”
OB: “No, I got an abscess on my waist from my pack. So I just lanced it and was draining it.”
Me: “Sounds like fun.”
OB: “Not really, but very satisfying”
- Overheard at Hiker Heaven…”Yeah, that one 50 mile day really wiped me out… Probably not a good idea.” 50 miles??!!?
- A Hiker Heaven helper, Burning Time, explaining why he had done the PCT more than once…”Well, did it the first time and got home and my wife said she was leaving me. Bitch! So I did it again!”
- I saw the Milky Way one moonless night. I have only seen it a handful of times.
- Hikers at the Acton KOA explaining their system for eating the microwave meals sold in the the little store there..”You zap the burrito and then the little pizza. Then you roll the burrito in the pizza and eat it like a taco….”
- Butterfly to me one morning….”wake up bitch!”
- List of injuries other hikers told me they had:
- Blisters (of course).
- Septic blisters (more than one hiker)
- “Swollen foot”
- Achilles strain
- Shin splints
- Sprained ankle
- Unexplained, strange, pains in various parts of the feet
- Swollen knees (I saw several people with knee braces)
- Stomach issues (maybe Giardia).
- Cuboid Subluxation
- And, of course, with our lovely health system, I ran into at least one hiker (from Israel I believe) that should have been at a clinic but was not going because of the money.
- Bear (of Ziggy and the Bear) to a hiker who asked him if he could go along after overhearing The Bear say he was going to the store: “No.” Hiker: “Why not?” Bear: “I don’t want my car to stink.” Hiker: “Oh… Okay.”
- Me, to a day hiker near the Devils Punch Bowl when asked where I started: “ The Mexican border.”
Hiker: “Where do you sleep?”
Me (looking around): “Anyplace flat.”
Hiker: “No! Where do you go to the bathroom?”
Me: “Anyplace kinda flat.”
Hiker: “NO! What about showers?”
She just walked away shaking her head which was too bad because she smelled really nice. Much nicer than Butterfly anyhow.
- 73, to me, when I said I was thinking of taking an extra zero in Big Bear: “I don’t do zero days, I do zero WEEKS!”
- Clare and Will (England) explaining their discovery of Honey Buns: “They’re like squished doughnuts…. Really wonderful!”
- A stunned female hiker at the Acton KOA pulling a “white” hiking shirt out of the washer that still had big grey stains on it..”I JUST washed this!!!….it looks the same!”. Me: “Yeah, but I bet it smells a lot better!”
- Clare (of Clare and Will) on being asked at a restaurant if she wanted Habiscus iced tea or black ice tea…”Uh…uh….uh…..a coke please.”
- Butterfly to me (on more than one occasion)..”Okay, I’m calling your wife!””.
- Overheard hiker “I used to do drugs….. I mean, I still do ‘em… But I also used to do them.”
- Another hiker to me as I walked by at Hiker Heaven (I had a 10 day stubble going at that point) “I didn’t know John Stewart was hiking the PCT!”