If there is one thing I've learned in the last week it's this; pride can cloud judgement and ruin an experience.
When I began this trail, I desired to do as many miles of the PCT as possible. I wanted to say to myself and the world that I didn't cut corners and was man enough to do the journey. No one would ever question my journey and whether or not I could be considered a Thru Hiker.
Nothing but pride gave me those sentiments and now I'm almost embarrassed to admit them. It's true though, but I'm out here to learn about myself one way or another; be it good things or bad.
I am writing about pride because skipping the Sierra range in order to avoid deep snow was weighing on my mind. It felt wrong and my mind was beginning to question my own self worth.
I intended to hike out of Tahoe, but the trail there was bad as well. Jessica visited me there in town and on her way home dropped me at Donner Pass. I was going to hike out alone to Sierra City, but the snow made progress a snails pace due to navigation and trail conditions. Again my pride was beginning to show itself in a negative light.
I met up with the guys in Truckee and we made our way to Sierra City with an Uber, fully intending to hike out from there the next day. When morning came with news the trail was still a mess, we decided to road walk a bit. This was salt in the wounds of my pride. Who was I becoming?
After 10 miles on the road, my right shin began to give me issues and my left knee was acting up. I was in so much pain I couldn't take full strides. About that time, a retired couple stopped us and begged us to come with them and get off the road. They brought us home to coffee and made grilled cheeses for no reason other than to be kind. They then drove is an hour north where we heard the trail was much better.
When I was finally on the trail again, it had been a week. I felt lethargic and heavy in my mind knowing that I had just skipped a large section of the trail. My pride was telling me I was dumb for doing so, but my logic was sound. I wanted to hike, not mountaineer. I also wanted to come home and not quit the trail like some had done already because of the snow. Living to die another day was my logic.
With 2 miles left on our first day out, my left knee began hurting so badly I could barely make 2 miles and hour. It felt as though a knife was stabbing me with each step. My knee would buckle on it's own from time to time and it was all I could do to keep moving. It was the only time that crying was a real option as it was the only emotional outlet I could think of besides yelling and throwing things. I held it together and made it to camp.
The next day my knee was fine, however now my left shin was beginning to show signs of splinting. The funny thing is, I was no longer concentrating on the whole pride thing. I was upset my body was hating me and seriously questioned how much more my body was going to take.
I felt better the next day and the day after that. Finally, hiking felt great. Covering 19, 20, and then 25 miles in a day was making me feel confident again. Funny how movement can help the human psyche.
I don't know what will come if this trail to be honest. I'd like to finish it all this year, but maybe that's not in the cards for me. Or maybe it is. Regardless, I'm at peace now. I will hike as many miles as the trail allows and be grateful for all of it. For me, it's no longer about the miles hiked so I can prove myself to those reading this. It's about the personal and intimate moments this trail has brought me and will continue to bring. Moments of unbearable pain, moments with the love of my life dropping me off on the side of the road, moments of awe, and moments of experiencing incredible kindness from complete strangers.
Pride? Pride just gets in the way and overshadows the best parts of life. This trail has a funny way of showing you the good and the bad in a person. No matter the miles hiked or the time that passes between now and the time I leave this earth, I'll never forget this trail. It's a gift and I'm incredibly blessed to have experienced it in any given amount.
The miles don't matter By Land,