Elevation- 5,896 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 25.7 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,153.4 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 60s 70s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 0
I ignored the 5 am alarm, and was instead hiking before 6:30. It was windy as hell, all day. Some gusts were strong enough to make me stumble sideways, as a good portion of the day was on open ridges.
I crossed over 2 big passes today, plus a couple other good climbs. Once again, I found myself very bored with the relentless pace. I had plans to do 33 miles today, but had a personal revelation atop one of the wind swept ridges. A revelation that sort of negates my feelings and goals from the last couple days. I can only guess that it’s because I’m beginning to think a bit clearer now that I’m getting some more “trail time.”
I spoke to Schweppes around noon, while sitting atop one of the passes. He’s been doing 25+ miles a day, and talked about doing some 30 to 35 mile days. I was not happy to hear this. Schweppes is very competitive (I can be too), and when he knows that I’m going to be pushing big miles, I know it kills him to not try and match them. For example, if I did a 40 miler, he’d have to do one, if only to prove to himself that he could. I understand it, cause I would feel the same way; we both challenge each other. So when he hears that I’m going to be pushing consecutive 30s, he wants to prove that he can too. That’s all well and good, but these are special circumstances, if anything, he should be doing half days, but I don’t think he can even force himself to do it. So when he told me that he was pretty much taking it to the “max” every day, I got a little frustrated. If he’s going to push big days every day, then I have to push huge days every day, and even then, I would only be closing the gap by 10 or so miles (at the most) every day. Long days, every day, missing town visits, not getting to interact as much with other hikers. Not the hike I want to hike. On top of that, Schweppes recited the dates that he would be in certain towns, plus his forecasted “finishing” date. I did not come out here to put myself on a schedule. If I wanted to be on a schedule, I’d go back home and get a job. I don’t mind having a window time for certain locations, but for the most part I want to go with the flow.
This was the revelation/self talk that I had with myself. I made peace with the idea that I may not finish the trail with Schweppes, or even see him again on this hike. I could chase him down, but it wouldn’t be fun for me, I’d miss out on a lot, and I wouldn’t be hiking “my hike.” For me, long distance hiking is 50% about the hike, and 50% about the places, people, food, and experiences. The hiking and the solitude enriches the latter. I’m going to continue to hike my big days, but I’m not missing/skipping any opportunities to make side trips into towns, or whatever may lie shortly off the trail.
My food situation got tricky today, and contributed to my decision to go into town. I’ve been packing out some old jerky that I had today at lunch. Within two hours, I had diarrhea and sharp stomach cramps. My only other snack foods were some cheese, and these weird chocolate brownies that I picked up in Tahoe the other day, right before I hiked out. They were a terrible mistake. They’re dry as the desert, and eating them is like eating chocolate flavored sawdust. I have to force them down, and even then I feel like I’m going to puke.
So shortly after 5 pm, I’d completed nearly 26 miles, and reached a road into the town of Truckee. I’d done more than 60 miles in 2.5 days. I had planned to go almost 8 miles further, and had plenty of time to do so, but I decided to put my new hiking strategy into effect immediately.
I stuck out my thumb, and to my complete surprise, the first vehicle to go by pulled over. The young man inside called out his window “You passed me coming down a mountain near Dick’s Pass on Saturday, I remember those shorts!” Very cool coincidence. The young man’s name was Joey, and he gave me one of my quickest rides into town, ever.
I threw away all my saw dust brownies and rotten jerky and bought new snacks at the local supermarket. I’m not giving myself a deadline to get back to the trail tomorrow, but I’ll hike hard whenever I get there.
It was a tough decision, but I feel much better making peace with myself over it. I’m going to continue to smell the roses and make the most out of this journey that feels like it’s been turned upside down at the moment. There are people out there that can only dream of doing what I’m doing right now, and it would be an insult to take it for granted, or rush through it. I’m anxious to see how my hike transpires from here, under these new circumstances…