Archive for September 12th, 2006

Destination: Snoqualmie Pass
Starting Location: Weather Station
Today’s Miles: 19.60
Trip Miles: 2338.10
Weather Station (2382.2, 3950) to Snoqualmie Pass (2401.8, 3000) ascent (3307) descent (4150)

Walk 10 feet, eat 10 huckleberries – my life as a gatherer is full. The berries are amazing & prolific. There are multiple varieties and the best ones look much closer to a cranberry than a cultivar blueberry. Our hands are stained from the juices of these remarkable berries. Unfortunately, when we are really grazing them we have an eerie concern that we will have a hole the “size of a Frisbee” after a hunter mistakes us for a bear.
Got to the Summit Inn early & am very excited about 36 hours of rest & food. I did however jinx us & mentioned that maybe we would luck out and see our Belgian friend. As soon as we arrived we began to hear stories about how the management had to ask him (twice) to put his clothes on in the Jacuzzi. I am sorry but I finally have to say it – Herman is basically a nice guy but his exclusive self interest actions have created ill feelings with many businesses as well as many hikers. He is completely unaware or uncaring about how his actions taint the overall great reputations of current & future hikers. And yes; many of us have talked to him and the response is now a cliché on the trail: “Yea but it is good for me”. Disappointing for sure, but that is part of the trail experience.
The Summit Inn is great & totally hiker friendly; extra towels – no problem, 4 people in the room – no problem, PCT hiker rate – no problem . . . really nice people & a nice place to crash.
We had a perfect up hill conversation the other day & boy did I get trashed. I was even accused of reverting to my “uncaring Republican ways”. I suggested that when many people quit the trail they write an explanation that makes them look good rather than saying something like “it was tougher than I expected, therefore not worth it, so I quit”. I personally believe this happens a lot, & that is totally cool & understandable. In fact it nearly happened to me. That said, I do understand why but am amazed at some of the explanations regarding the “why”. Thunder & Andy suggested that the “whys” were the actual reason & that they were not stories designed to make the person look better. I pushed back & certainly lost the debate. Certainly the stories are true, but I still contend they are often not the underlying reason. Everyone out here has reasons to quit that are absolutely valid. Some quit, some do not. But if you do quit you communicate the most flattering reason. Not always – but that is what I see.
Getting off the trail is a tough decision and it has a lot of scrutiny associated with it – some from the outside but most internal. And so I still believe often times explanations make the process more palatable because no one, particularly in the west, wants to label themselves or be labeled by others as a quitter. Or maybe I should say – I certainly do not want that, particularly if I am labeling myself.
I just read this to Andy to see if I captured this correctly. He reminded me that we also discussed how priorities shift & “the hike” may become less important or that it may not be meeting expectations. These changes are also, I would suggest, difficult to fully express and “own”. And why do people not quit – often the same phenomenon at work. For example, I have been needing to modify expectations based on reality – had I not done this I would have been off long ago. Okay, we are really complicated creatures & why we do & do not do things can not be captured in a few words or many hours of dialog – but it is damn sure interesting. Of course I stirred the pot a bit when I stated emphatically that some people are just plain quitters. That got ‘em riled up.


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