September 1, 2013
Clear skies mean cold as there is nothing to trap the earth’s heat. This knowledge came to me in a shivering way. Learned on day 122 that your tent also can serve as an extra blanket. Education through necessity. But I’d say a little late. Still it made the difference. Awoke to a correction. Arriving in the dark allows one’s imagination to dictate the scenery. Thus I imagined we were snug up against the river as I could hear it clearly. Went to collect some water in the morning and met the reality of light. We were on the edge of a canyon, the river far below. Neat.
Hi bridge ranger station and package delivery center
Off quick, as the success of the day rested on catching the 9 AM shuttle into Steheekin. Was back to three mph so the six miles were not an issue. The only hazard being an aggressive squirrel who threw pinecones from ahigh at every passing hiker. The maniacal laugh following each throw didn’t help. Rolled into the Highbridge Ranger Station with plenty of time to spare. The station now appeared to be more of a private home. Nonetheless there were two packages innocently waiting on the front porch. The morning sun spotlighting their importance. Orbit and I laughed at the perfectness that life can sometimes be. Way to go to Jill. A plan that worked.
We tore into the packages. With my passport and permission papers I was now good to enter Canada via the PCT. On to Doc’s package full of brownies, photos and heartfelt messages to each of Orbit and Sons. The highlight being a Doc In The Box. (Currently unavailable in stores.) Kisses Doc, who, by the way, is back in med school and finishing up. The prelude to what will be an unusual life I hope. We sat in the sun and ate the brownies as they warmed. And decided that Steheekin was in need of our brief company. The 9 AM shuttle in, the 12 back out. Plenty of time then for the necessary miles in the afternoon.
Red magic bus
The red retro bus was on time, and we sped at well above three miles an hour into town. Stopped at Rainbow Falls to have a look for gold. Then to an extensive organic garden. There I enjoyed the preferred destination of my second half century, a finely crafted rocking chair. And then the stop of stops, the bakery. In the eight minute layover Orbit took care of our immediate calorie needs, while I ordered a pick up pizza for lunch on our return journey. Has anyone ever heard of a $51 pizza? If interested, proceed to Steheekin. Which we did shortly.
The village is tiny and set on a 50 mile long lake. Immediately we ran into Bob from Ithaca, who I had picked up hitchhiking in a borrowed truck way back in Mojave. He was off trail now and just up for a hang out. He shouted beers and we headed over to the campsite for a chat. But before that I popped into the general store and bought a little foot love. The REI stocks went into their namesake. A good conversation with Bob. He spoke of the frustrations of teaching biology in intercity New York where policing trumped education. His relief at retiring still palpable. Another goodbye. Another bus ride.
Picked up our pizza topped with diamonds and headed back to the trailhead. A woman sat down next to us. “Are you guys through hiking?” “Yeah.” “Cool.” We talked a bit about hiking. She was very knowledgeable. I asked her if she had done the trail. “Yeah I did it this year and 2005.” “Wow we didn’t see you, when did you start?” “June 3.” The dawning of awareness. “And you’re finished now?” “Yeah.” It could only be one person. Anish. This speedster who finished the trail in 60 days and broke the record. Of course she was out for a day hike with her boyfriend. Some people just can’t get enough miles. An instantly likable person.
The speedster herself, Anish, who averaged 45 miles a day for two months. Think about that one.
A brief report of her hike. She slept 5.5 hours a night and walked the rest of the time. Eating on the move. She listened to no music, and took a total of two ibuprofen in two months. After finishing she slept 15 straight hours and then felt fine. She did it for her own enjoyment as there is no award or prize money for breaking the record. Finally, she was of the opinion that Scott Williamson (who passed me going south) was shooting to get the record back. What a lucky break for us to have met her.
Doc’s brownie bake
Orbit was quiet as we tore into the pizza. The whirling obvious. “I think I could do it.” “Probably you could if you didn’t stop to boil coffee.” Stay tuned. The giant ham croissant, two Mountain Dew’s, a similar sized bacon croissant, brownies, two chocolate milks, beer, two scoops of ice cream and multiple slices of pizza anchored me to the table. Don’t know if the eating disorder that afflicts all through hikers has been formally diagnosed. If not it should be as its elements are quite simple. If there is food you eat it.
At two it was time to go. Right. I heaved up, judging my pregnancy to be at about seven months. I was working my way up to 2 mph when I rounded a bend to see Orbit pointing. “Rattlesnake. No disasters this close to the end.” I waddled cautiously by. The heat and the kicking begin to get at me. Early labor. Off trail quick. Whew, glad to be rid of that. Now it was time for miles. Except that it happened again, and again, and again. Seven times in all. I spent more time in the bush then on the trail. The blaster overworked and exhausted. The PCT keeps knocking me down. I pop up and say is that the best you got? Knocked down again. Okay, that was better. I’ll stay down longer in the count. Repeat the mantra. September 3, September 3, September 3.
Another tortured bridge
Eventually there was no more fertilizer. I was empty. Cautiously picked up speed. Found Orbit in the dark. Her headlamp fading. Together we pushed on to snowy pass. At a trailhead parking lot full of Labor Day cars, we put two and two together. It was late. The camping spots ahead were probably full with the occupants of these cars. Here was flat. Here was a toilet. Here one could start in on leftover pizza secure in the knowledge that comfort was nearby. So I lay down and ate myself to sleep.
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde
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