Hello all! It’s been a while since I’ve made a post about, well, anything. I have a lot of updates for you. Some good, some bad, some really bad, and some really good; you get to choose which is which. Lots to catch up on as far as Katana, Jessica, hiking, and all of those things combined go.
Some bad news first… I will not be hiking the CDT northbound with my girlfriend Jessica (Dixie) this year. As much as it pains me not to, there are a lot of factors contributing to these changes of plans. Some good news though, I will maybe be hitting the CDT southbound again in June, maybe. I’ll get into that some more later.
Some more bad news; the biggest reason I will not be going northbound with Jessica is due to circumstances surrounding Katana. It pains me very much to inform you all that little CatFox is nearly completely blind. She is only seeing shadows now, and only the shadows a couple of feet in front of her face. She can still get around and find her way, but it’s a lot of stop and go, as well as route finding. I’ve been working with her on verbal commands, mostly “right,” “left,” and “straight.” She has “stop” and “go” pretty well understood already. With her sight fading to nothing, and the need to remove her remaining eye fast approaching, I couldn’t take her out on the trail, nor leave/pawn her off on family or friends while I leave. She needs me now, more than ever to be with her and help her adapt. I’m nervous as hell about the entire thing, but I’m trying to stay positive and hopeful. So that’s where I am with Katana. She seems to be taking it pretty well, but she has good days and bad days due to the pressure building up in her eye from the Glaucoma. The eye drops can only do so much. On her good days, she’s just as playful as she ever was, but she keeps to running, jumping, and sprinting in tight circles, so as not to run into anything when she’s outside, or even inside; so she’s figuring out how to play safely on her own terms!
Nextly, I was recently diagnosed with an “Umbilical Hernia.” I’ve actually had it for close to two years (I hiked the PCT and the CDT with it), but it’s only recently been starting to give me digestive tract issues. This is due to the strenuous workout regiment I undertook when I moved up to Auburn with Jessica. The resistance training exacerbated the hernia and pushed a little more intestine through my abdominal wall. The doctor says I can still hike with the hernia in its current condition, but that it’s likely to get worse as time goes on, especially if I continue to exercise. So, I’m on the fence about repairing my hernia before the next potential hike, or letting it ride. I’ve been cut on so much in the past decade, I’ll put off any more surgeries if I can.
Thirdly, I’ve had a lot of people ask me when the PCT book is going to be done. I’ve given several (hopeful) release dates over the months, but it keeps getting pushed back. I’m hoping to have a final draft finished before the potential CDT hike this June. I wouldn’t say I’ve been struggling to write this book, but I have been taking my time. I will say I am very pleased with what I have so far. Writing an engaging book about long distance hiking can be very difficult. Long distance hiking itself is extremely repetitive, and writing about it can be the same way. My first book, “Lost on the Appalachian Trail” felt repetitive at times, but for the most part, I think I was able to keep it engaging enough to not end up in the “repetitive pitfall,” which as reflected in its subsequent success, for which I am infinitely grateful! As you might have guessed, trying to write a second book about long distance hiking without getting repetitive, and without reusing the same observations, revelations, and descriptions of the experience from the first book has proven challenging. So as to not let this PCT book feel like, “same shit, different trail,” I’ve had to dig fairly deep. Thankfully, I’m happy to report that I’ve hit pay dirt as the process has unraveled. I ask you to please continue to be patient, and I promise you will not be disappointed with the final product!
As far as hiking the CDT this June goes, certain stars need to align. Let me start off by saying I’ve been up nights thinking about the CDT. It feels like my entire life is on hold until I can complete the Triple Crown. I think about it every day, it consumes my thoughts. I’ve been finding it impossible to focus on anything else other than completing this endeavor which began four years ago. Right now Katana is the biggest factor determining whether I’m going to hike in June. I have absolutely no idea if I’ll be able to take her with me, and I have to make the decision whether I’m even willing to go without her. If by some chance she was able to go, it would have to be after her remaining eye is removed, so that she would have zero pain. She would also need to have the new commands mostly mastered. And I would need a better method of carrying her other than across my shoulders. I’ve been looking into slings and chest packs for carrying dogs, but I don’t think anything was meant to carry a dog for the distances we’re talking about. On top of all that, the snow levels in Montana are 150% of normal, and they’re still getting snow. All conditions and sources are pointing towards this year being a terrible year for a southbound of the CDT. I have no problem going into snowpack by myself, but while carrying a dog… I don’t think so. If there aren’t any major melts before June, then the decision will probably be made for me. But wait, it gets even more difficult. My parents are really the only people who can watch Katana, and they have summer plans that won’t allow a dog to tag along, especially a blind dog. So as of right now, I have nobody to watch Katana if I was to go hike. Unless something changes, the only way I’ll be able to hike is if I take Katana with me. Part of me relishes the challenge, but the other part of me is scared shitless. I don’t know. I have to get this trail done, and I want it to be done this year, no matter what. If I don’t finish it this year, then I’ll have to do it next year while Jessica goes on some other adventure. I’d really rather adventure with my girlfriend than continue to have separate adventures which leave us not seeing each other for months at a time. I’ll be honest; this whole “getting the CDT done this year,” thing, has me very stressed out. I’m trying my best to go with the flow and rely on things to work themselves out and fall into place the way they need to. It seems they always do when I let go of all anxieties and expectations. I’m trying.
My gut feeling tells me I’m going to be on the CDT this year, one way or another, and without making decisions I’ll regret or worry about.
As far as I can recall, I think that’s about where I’m at in life right now. Girlfriend is hiking without me. Dog is nearly blind. Intestines are pushing out of my abdominal wall. PCT book is coming together. Lots of snow in the north. And hopefully everything falls into place and I’m back in the wilderness where I belong this summer.
I’ll be posting more regularly now. The past month and a half has been very hectic and busy with Jessica preparing to leave and Katana preparing to go totally blind. Things have leveled off a bit, so I can think a little more clearly now. My next post might be of great interest to some of you, as it pertains to a new pack I received the other day. A custom pack from a new gear manufacturer who takes custom orders, then builds your pack to your desired specifications. I must say, I am very pleased with the pack they built me, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.