As you might well have figured, my mentality during the last stretch of trail that I did was predictable. The snow was a big reason, however, everything took a toll. I wasn’t enjoying it as much as when I first started. Being by myself led to constant negative thoughts, or predicting where or when I would get to in the day. I felt anxious, maybe even paranoid about not being the way I was during the southern section of the trail. The effort that I gave was more than I bargained for every day. I would go to bed exhausted and wake up the next morning dreading the number of miles I had to do, whether that was in snow, mud and water or on very rare occasions, the trail itself. I wasn’t having fun anymore.
Looking back on it, like most things I’ve done before, I could have kept going. I just didn’t have the desire to. And when that goes, it’s hard to stay positive, especially when you’re by yourself with only your thoughts to keep you company. Hitching was part of the routine in most of the Sierra’s. When I was off the trail, the itch to go back lessened. Plus, the food was a lot better in the towns. No wonder I gained a few pounds during that last stretch. When it came down to it, I was drained. Physically, emotionally and mentally. What can you do when all three of those things go?
Doubts crept in like usual. What if’s led to switching decisions every so often. I remember vividly on that last day on the trail, nothing else mattered but getting to town, no matter how I got there. You do anything possible to have the pain stop. I wouldn’t say I chickened out or even gave up. From all that I had gone through, the time was upon me on whether to keep going and see if the negative aspects would suffice, or decide to head back into the real world where the unknown was still there.
I battled with myself those last few days. Maybe it was my pride that hurt, but even that shouldn’t be in the conversation. When you’re emotional, decisions aren’t as valid and logical.
During my time in the Sierras, the ordinary didn’t exist. Most of that was by my doing thanks to my poor planning. That was the first big hit I took. Forrester Pass was another since I was burned to the touch. Like I said, the struggle and the will to keep going didn’t seem like it would pay off. Looking back, I have no regrets about stopping where I did. Yes, I think about the trail on a regular basis. The bad times seem to be the fondest memories, considering they weren’t even bad times at all. It was tough. Beyond anything, I’ve ever experienced before. I know in my mind I didn’t give up. I knew it was my time, and I gave everything I had to that trail. Blood, sweat, tears and more missing articles that I can count.
Would I finish the trail? That’s a no-brainer. I’m already focusing on going back this very moment, wanting to test myself even more than before, to go past that threshold to unlock something even greater. I can always come back to where I started, with a fresh mind and some amazing experience for the second go around. Would I do the whole trail again? That hasn’t been decided yet. I know I said the PCT would be my only long distance hike, but I’m starting to believe that that was a total farce.
Going back would be for me, and me only. Every memory I have of that trail, I smile. I knew so little when I started, like a baby learning to walk for the first time. Try and fail, or try and succeed, it didn’t matter as long as I was doing what I wanted to do. I guess that more than anything, is what I got most out of it. Knowing that I’m capable of way more than I ever could have imagined. I know that sounds cliche and all, but it can’t be overstated enough. Timing is everything. Time is how we look at things the way we do. Looking back on the past memories can be great to some and devastating to others. It’s all about perception. No one can take away the things I did and will still do. I shattered my expectations I set out for myself. That in itself brings more joy and happiness than looking at what could have been. Because I know that in the future, whenever that will be, I’ll be in Canada with a new sense of excitement and innocence.