Rancheria Creek, Mile 981 to MILE 1000!!
Well, I can't believe I made the next huge milestone. A few reflections on today, and the first 1,000 miles...
Today was harder than expected, which meant the day mentally kicked my butt. I've learned that, while hiking, some of the highest highs come from successfully completing a challenging day more easily than expected, and some of the lowest lows come from an unanticipated struggle on what was supposed to be an easy day. A climb that was listed in my maps as only 400 feet (a walk in the park) was actually straight up over 1,000 feet in less than a mile - that's SUPER steep in the PCT world! That climb began only a few miles in, so it didn't set the tone for a good day when I was sobbing at the top of the surprise climb. To add insult to injury, it was SO HOT. We lingered in camp in the am with KingStreet (KS), Rocky, and TRex - enjoying coffee, breakfast, and companionship before what was expected to be an easy day. Really wished I'd gotten moving sooner after the sweltering heat!
As the miles dragged on, the sky darkened and we anticipated another afternoon thunderstorm - I was happy to have at least completed the climb and descended from the exposed granite before the dark clouds materialized into an electric storm. Slosh and I hiked on and soon heard familiar voices yelling our names - Rocky, TRex, and KS had taken shelter for lunch away from the building clouds under the eaves of a cabin right off the trail in the middle of the wilderness. After enjoying lunch and socializing for a bit, we determined the storm wasn't going to materialize, and made the decision to charge toward mile 1,000. My heels are pretty torn up right now, and my feet have been constantly wet the last few weeks due to stream crossings - the last few miles were absolutely brutal.
At long last, I crossed the 1,000 mile marker! The campsite we're all at is awesome and right on the river (although absolutely overrun with mosquitoes...) We had an awesome bonfire before hopping in bed.
ONE THOUSAND MILES BY FOOT: I feel stronger than I have in a very long time, and I feel empowered! I'm frequently struck by how hard this STILL is (today=good example!), and everyday I still hope for the moment when all this seems to come easily. I'm so happy to have great friends out here, and I'm so much happier when we all get to hike together. It's funny to think back on my biggest fear - that I wouldn't make any friends. I've made some awesome friends - people who I click with and have felt close to since the moment I met (or re-met, in the case of Rocky!) - but I also have learned to enjoy my alone and quiet time more than expected. That's pretty refreshing. I'm more in touch with nature and the world around me - I know when the moon waxes and wanes these days! Today was one of those days I was ready to have HAD the experience but wasn't enjoying HAVING it, but those days have become far more scarce. I've never yet actually gotten close to giving up though...as LT pointed out in one of our early conversations, I'm far too stubborn to ever turn around or give up; I've already told too many people I'm doing this! Still, the thought of our sweet apartment in Oakland and a fully furnished bedroom/living room/kitchen always sounds pretty alluring.
We've gotten to the point where, as of tonight, we all sat around camp talking about reaching the Canadian border together, and what that would be like. That will be so crazy! I've given far less consideration to "Post-PCT Life" than expected, but I feel pretty happy just living in the now...for now. I know that's not necessarily the most responsible long term plan, but it's nice to just enjoy life as it comes. Mostly, tonight, I am exhausted and in need of a good night's rest. Amigos arrive tomorrow - must be on A game!