Trail Torture

Day 95: Sierra City

Why in the world would you put yourself through five months of torture? There are those that seem to do just that here on the PCT.

Take for example this classic: we met Olga when she rolled into our campsite at dusk, having walked since sunrise. She asked if she could sleep with us because she saw a bear cub and didn’t want to be cowboy camping alone. She saw our group and marveled at our giggly laughter. She asked questions, and we asked questions of her. We came to discover that she was Indeed quite unhappy on the trail. She was homesick, deeply homesick on that day. But more, every day she said she wants to quit. She doesn’t know why she’s even doing this. She doesn’t like it. And yet, she hikes 30-something mile days sunup to sundown with tears in her eyes, wishing she were anywhere else.

Another example: I saw two new hikers yesterday (or new to me anyway). Ramen King seemed friendly enough, but he was shadowed by a person 6 feet behind. She wore a smile (if you could call it that) so grim it made her look like Dennis the Menace. The only word that escaped this person’s mouth was her name: Drop. And on she marched, up the hill, scowl on face.

Gandalf has also openly spoken to me about his lack of desire to be hiking this trail. He has explained the nuances of why he continues anyway. Reasons for most of these questioners probably include things like “I don’t know what to do instead” if they stop. Or that they want to finish out of pure stubbornness.. That someone else thinks they can’t finish. Or that they can’t figure out if they really want to stop or if they really want to go, but the seasonal clock keeps ticking, so you may as well stick with it as long as you even might want to finish.

So in contrast to this misery, I can only say I am relieved to still be happy walking this long, long trail.

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