Being Sixty on the Pacific Crest Trail - 2nd Set of Stories
Will Bev's battered ol' body be ready for the PCT? Her story continues:
August 2012 I went back to work. In addition, in September my older daughter, who became our 'Trip Concierge,' got married. Sharky retired as a tanker pilot in October and left for Baja in November, to kite board. I was gradually creating closure to my teaching career, both in the daytime classroom and for the night class I taught at Columbia College...and...while still healing from the hamstring surgery, an accident at school resulted in a torn meniscus and torn labrum. With surgeries scheduled for December 2012 after retirement, I was aware that I might not heal in time for the PCT by April. Fortunately, I crossed paths with my friend Kestrel who reminded me about our mutual friend and local new physical therapist, Dr. Ellora Weston. I saw her in October and she got a plan going that would get me strong and capable without surgery. We went full swing into 'correct' action. December 21st I retired, and December 22nd I turned sixty. I said farewell to a thirty-year career and amazing co-workers and children, and then we got serious. I continued physical therapy, and awakened to the very strong possibility that I'd be able to do this adventure. When we discussed the PCT in February, Ellora said "Go for it." (From me she received a certificate for "Surgery Prevention Specialist Supreme". which she framed and set on a table right next to where she worked with clients.)
Then, in March, we went to Europe for three weeks to visit friends Elizabeth and Sonja in Geneva, and for Sharky to ski the haute route. What were we thinking??? Realizing how crucial it was to get home and start organizing, we kept trying to change our return flights to an earlier date, to no avail. So we kept eating croissants from the corner bakery and doing day hikes. We also got to go with our friends to Cern for a special tour of the Hadron Collider, the location of the Higgs boson discovery. We got home at the end of March, with a plan to be on the trail April 13st. Yikes!
It was nose to the grindstone. Our living room floor was covered with boxes and supplies. We got realistic, and even cancelled our tickets to the Strawberry Music Festival, realizingwe could not take that time off the trail. We hunkered down and took details seriously.
WELL, HOW THE HELL DID WE MAKE ALL THOSE KICKASS MILES?
With a little help from: trail angels, trail crews, our packs, house sitters, auto pay, re-supply boxes, laughter, other hikers, the physical therapist (PT.), the doctor, the dentist (dental adventures will follow), a positive attitude, determination amidst being scared to death (me, not Sharky), sheer willpower, lightheartedness, lots of pre-hiking, thinking outside the box, no attachment (mostly) to the outcome (getting to the Canadian border).
We did not realize the strength of that attachment until we had to let go of it.
And with masterful assistance from Tessa, our 'trip concierge'. Without Tessa, my daughter who was living in Los Angeles, the trip logistics would have been a major struggle. Unlike the majority of hikers, we did not carry an i-anything—no ipad, iphone, etc. We carried my flip cell phone and the paper maps. So, Tessa helped smooth out the problematic areas. We would email when in a town, or call when there was reception, such as a mountaintop. Tessa would order a new tent, new poles, make reservations for a motel, for the Amtrak train on our return home. She would contact people for us, mail the boxes we'd left at her house, check weather reports, shop for our Washington boxes (not an easy task) and then mail them. In each box she put a handwritten card mentioning the history of the area, places to see, highlights. That was a sweet and thoughtful touch. We would try to call her when we reached a town to let her know our progress and location. She also drove us to the starting point at Campo in April, and later she left my car at Cajon Pass (with the help of her husband, Haggai), so we could hike there, get the car, and drive home for two graduations in June. When we took the bus from San Francisco back to Los Angeles, she drove us to the trailhead and hopped on for a few hours. All of this was done with a generous smile and lots of humor. She had a calendar and map posted at her home to follow our journey. Because of Tessa, the trip details became manageable. She saved us many a time. When asked to define her job, she said "a go-to for everything. It was a fascinating experience being able to see what you were doing, living vicariously." She could quite skillfully do this as a side business.
"Walking is a man's best medicine." Hippocrates
Doug's note: Follow along with the Forest Service's interactive PCT map here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/pct/
Photo of Vasquez Rocks credit Jeff Turner.
Here's the table of contents for Bev's stories.
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