28 August 2016
Day total 9.7 miles
Tally 9.7 miles
Total up/down: +1954/-1860ft
Campsite: Lake Janus
LL: 47.825071, -121.099114
Endless is reading us a bedtime story; Mauki by Jack London. We are tucked into our fart sacks for the night. Our ultralight gear slightly different, but mostly the same. The people are Endless P. Summer, S+M, and Tim Tam. This is all too familiar. The reality of the trail not quite tangible. Everything from the last year completely wiped away. It could be August 2015 all over again. Where has the last year gone? Being here, together again on the PCT, things make sense. I have missed this. The last twelve months have felt like the life of a stranger. Today felt like coming home.
To catch you up, I will give some back story. In May 2015 I stood at the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT. I hiked anout 2461 miles before the horrible fires in northern Washington forced an end to the trail, just 200 miles shy of the Canadian border. I went to the northern Terminus with my trail companions at that time, but it didn’t feel real. To be honest, I am not sure it would have felt real even if we had hiked to the end. Regardless, I have felt a longing to return and cover that final gap.
In the mean time, I moved to Southern California for grad school. I went from a comfortable salary in the oil and gas industry to borderline poverty on a grad salary (I am still elated to have made that change!). I had a rough start with school, and am still transitioning to a new project and advisor. I don’t think I was quite ready to go from the outdoors and personal freedom on the trail, to 15+ hour days at a desk. I understood the physical and mental endurance of thru-hiking. I woke up every day excited. Every day seemingly the same yet actually new and exhilarating. I was addicted to the challenge. I was not prepared for the mental and psychological warping of grad school. I felt stretched in thirty directions, expected to excel at everything, and spend all my time on research with no thought to anything else. At first I took solace in working out. 7 miles of bike commuting each day, alternating long swims and long runs, climbing in the evenings, and hiking on the weekends. The true embodiment of a weekend warrior. When school hit the fan, exercise completely ceased and my lifestyle took on fast food and late nights on coffee. I am slowly putting myself back together. It has been a slow process. The biggest move towards sanity has been knowing I was returning to the trail. My life for the next four years is grad school, but I live for the moments of adventure. I live for putting ideas into motion.
That brings us back to the PCT. About one year after stepping off the trail, I am back to finish the last stretch to Canada. Two days ago I flew into Seattle. I met up with Endless, my hiking companion of over 1700 miles last summer. You can check him out on Instagram @endlesspsummer or his blog at establishinganewbaseline.wordpress.com. He hiked the AT and CT, as well as several hundred miles on the PCT this summer before joining us. He is a formidable hiker and great trail presence, providing us with unlimited entertainment. S+M joined us Saturday night. We caught up for supper at a great ramen restaurant, Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya, with her friend Gen Ma. S+M is an amazing artist and now a skilled electrician, as well as the happiest person I know. She is also my idol, so I have nothing but great things to say about her. In December she leaves for a PeaceCorps position in Guinea, which is incredibly exciting because my sister will be starting her PC position in Guinea at the same time! Stay tuned for upcoming adventures to the west coast of Africa! She can be followed on Instagram @katehendricksonart. This morning we were joined by Tim Tam, or Tim Tam Slam, otherwise know as Tami from last summer’s accounts. She might have the coolest work life, working for Clif Bar and Outward Bound. I can definitely see myself wanting to be like her when I grow up and venture back into adult life. She has a great blog at tamiankeny.wordpress.com and on Instagram @tamiankeny. She has an eloquent way of putting into words the experiences I also grappled with. It felt right to be surrounded by these incredible people. Tim Tam drove up from Portland and then the four of us drove to Baring to gather ourselves at the Dinsmores before hitting the trail. The Dinsmores are these incredible people who open their home to hikers as they pass through on the PCT. In trail lingo they are called trail angels. They have a garage bunkhouse, dedicated hiker box, big lush lawn, and shower setup for hikers to stop in and stay the night before heading back out on trail. Of their many generosities, they also accept and store hiker resupply packages. Since the SBA TSA doesn’t allow trekking poles in carry-on bags, I mailed my poles and food to the Dinsmores.
So here we are. Ten miles into the trail. I stayed up too late to spin off this first post. But I have been thinking about the trail for so long. I am happy to be here.