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Archive for August 24th, 2006

Destination: Below Alpine Garden Pass
Starting Location: Porcupine Creek
Today’s Miles: 23.30
Trip Miles: 2555.90
Porcupine Creek (2595.3, 5080) to Below Alpine Garden Pass (2618.6, 6600) ascent (4908) descent (3711)

Sunglasses all day long & a forecast indicating more of the same – most excellent. And yet more good news: the PCT has been officially reopened north of Harts Pass and into Canada. It’s funny, the awful weather we had during our last leg into Stehikin put out the fires thus allowing the reopening. No way do I think this is a coincidence.
My mom had her fourth chemotherapy treatment the day before yesterday and she is likely on her way to Manning Park as we speak. During her first two treatments she ended up in the hospital with severe dehydration due to the nausea. And she is coming anyway. My dad suggested she was not up for it. My sister said she was in a mode of doing what ever she is capable of as she does not want to miss any of life’s opportunities. I am mixed – I want her to come to Canada but I do not want her to overdo it. Bottom line – it is her call, & like me she decided to go for it 100% and let the results be what the results are. I think we just might both make it to Canada.
I was day dreaming about being finished and was thinking nothing could stop me. And in that instance a wasp stung me and reminded me that while I am close I am not there yet. About 10 minutes later I was dreaming yet again and had forgotten the reminder. I stopped to check the status of the sting, surmised the benadryl was working and thought again. nothing could possibly stop me. In that instance – smack – another wasp stings me right on my ass. Okay, okay “hubris” I hear you.
The walking today was magical. Fall colors – replacing the greens with gold & crimson. Every chipmunk in the North Cascades got the memo winter is approaching fast and they were all scurrying around making last minute preparations.
I slowed my pace today and I let this warm fall sun warm my body & my heart. It was very peaceful and the hours drifted into miles.

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Lonely

Destination: Saddle north of Bobby Lake
Starting Location: Shelter Cove
Today’s Miles: 12.00
Trip Miles: 1925.30
Shelter Cove (1912.2, 5003) to Saddle north of Bobby Lake (1924.2, 6106) ascent (2438) descent (1168)

When Liz dropped me off at the railroad tracks where I had gotten off the trail one week ago today I was as lonely as I can ever recall. And when I hoisted my pack onto my back and my leg felt the full weight I began to cry. Not from pain, not from loneliness, but from gratitude for an opportunity to try & from fear of the unknown.
Decision time – 1.6 miles and I am limping. Turn back to Shelter Cove & call it a season or keep the needle pointed north. I stood on Willamette Pass at Highway 58 and thought long and hard. Short goals – 44 miles to Elk Lake Resort – you have 5 days of food, you are still on your feet boy, cross the f@#$%&g road.
Made it to Bobby Lake, mile 10, in about 6 hours. For a thru-hiker that pace was excruciatingly slow and the first hours were both mental & physical torture. Then a mantra: it is not go-BIG or go-home; it is go-slow or go-home. The forest at 1.5 miles an hour vs. 3.5 miles per hour is a very different place. You hear more, you see more, and you feel more.
My grandfather was Robert and they called him Pete, my father is Robert and they call him Bob, I am Robert and, like a boy named Sue, they called me Bobby or worse, little Bobby. Bobby Lake reminded me how I hated that name. Not even sure why exactly now but being a geeky kid was bad enough, I did not need a name to match. When I returned from the First Battalion 5th Marines, my name had been restored to its proper place – Robert. I like Robert.
I promised myself I would stop early regardless of how I felt. Liz wanted me to take more time off, but at 20 miles per day I will arrive in Canada near October 1st. I could not wait any longer – fish or cut bait. At mile 12 my leg was sore but I was managing okay but keeping the pace of a slug. Tomorrow I will try to go farther but not faster. Go-slow or go-home!
Saw a southbound hiker today. As I stepped aside I said hello. The hiker looked up like he heard something; he looked right through me and kept walking without any kind of acknowledgement. It was weird and matched exactly how I am feeling. I am here but not really. I am grateful I hiked alone for a few days earlier. It was good practice for actually being alone now. My friends are now approximately 200 miles to the north. I do not know who if anybody is behind me – it’s weird but okay.

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