Country: United States
Begins: May 21, 2015
Date: Mon, Oct 12th, 2015
Start: Portland, OR
End: mile 400 in California
Daily Distance: 25
Trip Distance: 45.0
Entry Visits: 2,036
Journal Visits: 7,516
Pacific Crest Trail Map
Sitting at a picnic table at a campsite in the Burney Falls State Park, with my pack freshly loaded with food for the next couple of days and I realize, I don?t want to hike anymore.
The past week had been filled with hazy days where the smoke from the wildfires in Northern California have obscured the sun and made it hard to know what time of day it was. My feet had been hurting the past couple of days due a pair of broken down and ill-fitting shoes. Maybe most importantly, the novelty of the trip had faded and I didn?t know what to do with myself.
Fast forward 2 months and I have hiked through all of Washington and all but 30 miles of Oregon. I?m writing this in Portland, OR at Molly?s house, waiting to catch a Craigslist rideshare south on I-5 back to the Oregon-California border to hike the last 600 miles of the trail.
What happened to me is fairly common among thru-hikers, burnout. Luckily for me, I was able to make my way north from that picnic table in Burney Falls State Park to Portland to hang out with family and recharge for a couple of days. It?s a little surprising how quickly I started to long for the hiking life again, despite being in a generally charming and invigorating city with loving family.
To the trail I returned and these past 2 months have been great. So much has happened that would be hard to share it all. (I apologize to folks who were checking in on this blog as my motivation to post and access to computers diminished some time ago). However, I can share a couple of things.
I reached the Canadian border in the company of two good trail family members, Veggie and Square, on September 12th. Then I flipped down to Oregon and started hiking south. I?ve had a more solitary experience since flip-flopping. I?ve gone 2 days without seeing anyone and on days when I did see people, it was often no more than 4 or 5 people hikers and non-hikers put together.
There have been times when I?ve missed having other people around, but most of the time I haven?t mind the change.
On an unrelated note, I was surprised to realize how much of my life when hiking has certain rituals and routine. For instance, my pack lies next to my sleeping pad down by my feet, and then I place my foot bags and finally my sleep system stuff sacks. On the other side is my electronics bag. Every night. Same order. Overall, I?ve found comfort in the predictability of my evening and morning routines.
Another integral part of the pattern of the trail is the weather. I enjoy living in close relation to the weather. Being outdoors all the time an exposed makes me feel more alert and awake. In addition, walking outside all day helps me sleep at night. Especially since I learned that I am a light sleeper and started wearing earplugs to block out the smaller noises. Despite my efforts, sometimes I still can?t calm my fear of being eaten by bears and axe murderers in the backcountry. But, I?ve noticed that I?ve gotten more comfortable at night the more I do it.
After sleeping and eating well this past week with family in Lawrence, Kansas for Sandi?s wedding, I?m looking forward to setting off for my last month on the trail. All goes well, I think I?ll be finished with the hike by mid-November and home for Thanksgiving.
Since blogging hasn?t played out as I thought it would, I decided I?m going to try something new for this last month. I?ll be posting on Instagram instead of blogging, though I promise to do a final blog post at the end.
If you would like, you can follow me on Instagram at dobrien7
Until next time,
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org