4/20 – 4/21/2013
“A” is Complete
The fatigue from radiation therapy was more emotional than physical. I was losing motivation. I felt fine but slept half the day. It was time to hit the trail. This section was the last one to connect the dots from Campo to Indian Flats, a few miles north of Warner Springs. We were looking forward to seeing one solid line on our map. This section is formally known as Section A. A is complete! We’ve done 184.6 miles of the trail. That’s only 2465.4 miles to go.
The first day was FUN! We parked in a small lot off Montezuma Road and headed south. It took us 8.5-hours to hike 13.3 miles. We could have done more but a lot our day was spent stopping and chatting with the class of 2013 thru hikers. The excitement they carried was catchy. Since I am not back to work yet, I had grand visions of being on the trail and flying home every three weeks for my chemo. Just not practical. And Lynn can’t take that much time off work. And we still have three college educations to fund. And I can only play the cancer card so many times. But each hiker we met was still enthusiastic about the trail less than 100 miles into it. I hope they maintain it till the end.
On most of our hikes so far we rarely run into people. Off the top of my head I can think of less than a handful. But, this trip we met Koko and Bald Guy, from Oregon, (http://jeff-n-sue2013.blogspot.com), Legend, from our town actually, (http://www.trailjournals.com/location.cfm?trailname=14083) Kiwi Legs, from New Zealand, G-Bird from Germany. We scared Birdhouse. (Sorry Bird!) She was from London. She was hiking with Tapper and a friend. We met a couple from Michigan and David from Scotland. There were others we didn’t catch a name or talk to much. There were about 15 thru-hikers who started their hikes this week coming from Campo that we ran into. We were impressed with the camaraderie between this group already.
Overall, this hike was better than I expected. I thought it would be all desert and dry. But this first day had plenty of nice shade. The trail itself was soft, dirt, very few rocks. It was a gorgeous day and I just felt like it was the connection I needed to move on with more treatments. Lynn teased me that with all the radiation I’ve had that I must glow in the dark by now and that has stuck now as my hiking name. We found a nice sandy flat spot to camp overnight with a fantastic view of the San Felipe Hills. Camp site mile 88.8. I called it our living room window. We couldn’t see the sunset but it still cast shades of pink in the sky and moon shadows after that. We knew the road was down there but it was barely noticeable in the moonlight.
The next day we hit the desert. The very, very hot desert. We hit it almost immediately after breaking camp. Anticipating the heat, and hoping to lessen the weight in our packs, we did not bring the cookware, this time. We tried cold foods. Our biggest concern with this was our morning coffee which we both love. I picked up chocolate covered espresso beans figuring that would give us the coffee and caffeine. But I have no idea if it really does have caffeine. And it broke a rule I already know – chocolate makes a big mess on the trail. At least in the desert part. Not cooking saved us 30-minutes at least on our pack up time. We had these homemade peanut butter and honey bars. That and a piece of some dense toaster-bread and we really had a lot of energy to go for hours.
We met a few more of these great adventuresome people the next day. Chris was the first one we were able to use our trail name on. I think he has since picked up the name UB as in UB Serious (http://ubserious.com). He “blessed” our names so to speak. He had a great story. All of these hikers had their own story, just as we have ours. So I am now Glow in the Dark. Lynn is “3-Guy.” I don’t think I need to explain mine. As for Lynn, he’s got a thing about 3’s. The last couple we met was Double Sprainbow and Oli. (http://www.rikaandolislongasswalk.com/blog/) They did half the trail last year and restarting it again but with a plan to do the whole trail this time. They actually like the desert!
Then the sun hit us…and hit us and hit us. There was so little shade anywhere. The scenery was full of burned out trees alternating with cactus flowers. On this second day, we hiked 7.5- hours and went 11.2*/11.4-miles. It was probably 90-degrees. At one point I was so hot that I finally took my hat off for Lynn to see. It was an emotional moment but liberating as well. (I’m shocked at how long it takes hair to grow back).
There’s an asterisks, just like many sport stats, because I went 11.2, Lynn did 11.4. After the 4th hour we found ourselves needing to stop every hour. Truthfully it was because the shade was about an hour apart. After the 2nd or 3rd stop it was getting harder to restart. At times one or the other felt dizzy. With 3.9 miles to go, I had a meltdown. My pulse was fast. I was dizzy. I honestly thought, ” Why am I so stubborn? Why did I think this was a good idea to do during treatment?” I told Lynn I didn’t think I could go on. He took some of the heavier items from my pack and put them in his. For the last mile he took my pack altogether. I love that man! When we finally got to the trail head where we should find our car, we realized the car was 0.2 miles down the road. Lynn parked me under the only tree in sight at the trail head. There’s very few times when Lynn puts his foot down and he strongly suggested I stay by that tree. I didn’t have much energy to argue while he hiked on to get the car.
This was a great hike, except for those last 4 miles. What are you gonna do but keep on going? And here I am the next day already planning the next hike. I think I’m a PCT junkie.
April 22, 2013