My Big Decision

Day 58: Bishop, CA

As mentioned, there was an unbelievable level of fearmongering at Kennedy Meadows. There is incredible machismo in the hiker community, even amongst the females, so when things are challenging, or downright scary, there will be in attitude about it’s the scariness commensurate with the strength we think we possess. After the retreat from Forester Pass to Lone Pine, the group as a whole (meaning all of us that exited the mountain, 20 or so persons) needed prove to ourselves that we left something truly dangerous.

You can thus imagine the level of fear talk at Bishop, where people had left in the storm, knew friends who were still in the storm, or were considering other options. What were the options? They were: go home; go back in tomorrow; go back in later; or go north and walk south back to the Sierra, when there was much less snow. I sat on this decision, threats in mind and joys to be had. I sat on it longer. I called home. Frankly, I called mom. Mom always knows how to read what I already know in a way that I didn’t know that I knew it until I talk it through. And then I decided to do the hardest thing, and yet the thing that was most important to me.

I knew that at this point I had to risk losing all the family that had meant something to me for the last 900 miles. I knew in my heart that I had to go forward. I also knew that those that came out of the mountain we’re going to flip north to avoid the snow. I thought I wanted to stay with the “family“. And yet, my heart knew I needed to go forward, north, without break, without pause. I wanted a winter traverse, even though I may have to do it either alone, or with relative strangers. And so I made the tough choice: I chose to wait it out in Bishop until I found suitable partners to enter the Sierra in snow alongside me. I felt alone, distraught, unsure, and yet incredibly relieved to have followed the choice of my own heart in this decision.

Returning to the group from the other side of the patio where I made my decision, I first ran into dunks and told him that I would not be on the van headed to Mount Shasta. My voice cracked in the saying of it, I was so emotional about my needs versus my opposing desires (fomo about everything I can’t do).. And yet, I stuck with the decision, and continued to walk into the common area To announce my radical decision to reenter the Sierra as soon as possible with full resupply. I would walk as far north with whomever was qualified as soon as possible

On this news, I found that both House and Salmon aimed to do the same. What joy! What relief!

Later that night, in the festivities before the 17 out of 20 would head north, and the others of us would reenter the Sierra, there were happy and expectant grins all around. We had our goodbyes, laden with both best wishes and potential forever-goodbyes. But beautifully, Brewhiker offered me a ride to an unusual pass: Shepherds Pass. This was a ride that would be almost impossible to hitch, and actually brought me back to a point where I would miss no PCT miles. To be clear, I would be able to do Forrester pass from the south, making my journey complete. Of course, I immediately said yes.

This story, more than any other, showed me that following my own heart made everything better than it would have been if I didn’t listen. I would be entering the Sierra in winter conditions, with two great friends whom I trusted, now. Let the games begin!

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