Emotions on the Pacific Crest Trail, Part 2

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Here's the link to part 1, if you haven't had a chance to see it.

Bravery: I did not think that what we were doing was brave, until people commented that it was. So I thought about what that might mean for me; dealing with discomfort, going forward amidst exhaustion and overwhelmingly challenging terrain, being damn tough, not succumbing to weakness or mind chatter, stepping continually and literally outside my comfort box, thanks to Sharky’s encouragement and support. Bravery came with the help of many a deep breath and long sigh, thinking “Okay, let’s go.” Flexibility and openness to what we faced, without judgment, allowed for bravery.

Awe: I felt awe for the young people and their intelligence, humor and visions; awe that they wanted to hang out with us, that they would stop to take breaks with us, that they would share their stories, ask us questions, laugh at Sharky’s jokes, keep us posted on trail news, such as where the next water cache was. We had similar interests. We had the same trials and tribulations. Everyone got aches and pains. We just did not have the same energy or stamina and recovery time. We felt awe at ourselves each time we’d tum around to see where we’d come from, before heading out of view, and be staggeringly fascinated at how far we had just walked. We intentionally stopped, stared back, gave high fives, and then continued north.

Irritation: Sharky wanted more leisure time and I wanted less. I was driven to hike, and not in a strolling manner. This was our only couple's irritation. Off the trail he liked to imitate my actions, which were to be far ahead of him, stop, tum around, look at him, wait and then keep going, over and over again. He did say that what bugged him was the feeling of being left behind, that it was important that I do check on him, and once in a while mellow my pace. He also would say, “You go ahead and find camp and I’ll meet you there. You go ahead and get into town and I‘ll meet you there,” which I did not do. I’d rather hike with my partner (well, in the vicinity of my partner)...that’s what it was all about, until a thousand miles later, when he started to speed up. He had left behind the bear canister, ice axe and mandolin, and had gained speed. We ‘upped’ our miles per hour. We finally found a good rhythm together, taking tums in front, in back, as we together grew in strength and stamina and determination to make it to the border before the weather turned.

Grief: At the Mexican border, seeing the ‘wall’ right behind the PCT monument. I was so shaken that I forgot to sign the register. A message of separation is what started our route north. That message, of us vs. them, of good vs. bad, aroused deep sadness within me. We felt grief for previously burned areas in southern Califomia and Oregon, for areas that bumed along the way, and then as we walked through smoke for a month in northern Califomia and southern Oregon, which were experiencing new fires. Simultaneously Yosemite, our ‘backyard’ , was on fire. That was an extremely tough one, being so far away yet knowing intimately what that meant. Then there was the sadness for logged areas, and for the horror of what was left behind. Is there such a thing as conscientious logging? Facing the blizzard in the Glacier Peak Wildemess and deciding to tum back, saying good-bye to the trail, brought out far more and long-lasting sadness than I had anticipated.

Contentment: I found myself sighing often. They were sighs of contentment. My heart was fully present to where I was. Just as the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is,” the trail was home because I was content within my heart, and because I was with the man I loved. I was also content with being temporarily ‘whacked,’ in other words, compelled, consumed, addicted, driven, to be following a bliss, a passion .... hiking in far away places of solitude and solace. The wildness in me resonated with the wild I was in.

Abundant gratitude: I said gratitudes daily, for all kinds of gifts: gratitude that we had a knowing, independently and together, that this hike was for us; gratitude for knowing that the time was now; gratitude for all the trail angels and magic; gratitude for beauty and grandeur and simple moments and tiny specks of the natural world; gratitude for friends, new and old, who cheered us on; gratitude for our strong bodies; gratitude for food and good gear; gratitude for my partner and traveling companion extraordinaire; gratitude for our hiking accomplishments.

Never boredom.

Photo by Nicholas Kristof, accompanying his great story about his multi-year PCT hike with his daughter, found here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/30/opinion/sunday/nicholas-kristof-this-l...

Here's the introduction and index of all of Bev's PCT stories so far. 


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