I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel being back on Trail after completing the thru hike. Without the goal, would I still feel the same about hiking through the challenging parts? The heat, sore feet and bugs are still out here but would I focus too much on those now that I don’t feel the pressure to finish? Did I really love the hiking or the accomplishment? I talk a lot with other hikers about how much of this is ego vs adventure for them. Everyone has a different approach and that is the beautiful thing about thru hiking. Some want to race it and others take a year to get it done. Both groups are fiercely proud of their approach and I love to hear them talk about it.
It turns out that I like it even better. I feel a sense of freedom that I didn’t have when I was so focused on making miles. I can spend more time at the summits, hunt down butterflies and take side trails to dip in cold waterfalls. Boogie and Scoobie must be feeling the same because they joined along with me. The highlight of our day was an awesome blue blaze trail down to a series of waterfalls and swimming holes. The cold water felt amazing on our sore and dirty feet. We never would have left the Trail before to explore like this and it was great. We lingered for about an hour and devised plans for how we can hike the Pacific Crest Trail together when they graduate from college. It’s four long years from now but it was fun to daydream about hiking from Mexico to Canada.
We got in about 27 miles today and found an amazing tent site next to the Tye River. The lightning bugs are out and there is a big moon rising up over our tents. It’s setting up to be a great night’s sleep once it cools off a bit. I also got some great news today from a dive instructor named Bruce in Monterey, California. He is going to be able to conduct the instructor certification course for me staring August 30. I got in touch with Bruce through a shop in Maui and we instantly hit it off. He was a real estate lawyer for many years before he started to teach scuba instructors and he really went out of his way to put all this together for me and another student. I’m really happy that I won’t have to leave the country. Although it will be cold diving in Monterey Bay, he swears that we can dive in a wetsuit instead of a clunky dry suit.
Coming back on the Trail was the right thing for me right now. I needed to give some space for things like this to come together. I had done all the outreach and coordinating that I could and refreshing my Gmail account was just making me crazy. I took one of the lessons that I learned on the Trail, applied it and it worked. Give things time. Slow down a bit. That’s big for me. I tend to plow through problems and it usually just ends up frustrating me to no end. Giving things a little space feels good. I’m still going to push like hell but I think I’m learning when to back away a bit to let things fall into place if they are going to.
We are getting up super early tomorrow to attack the southbound ascent up the Priest and deliver a new trail journal to the shelter. I’ll take good notes for you on some of the best confessions and I might have a few of my own. We want to do as much as we can before the sun starts to bake us again and then we plan to stealth camp on Cole Mountain Bald. We will have to hike our water up there but the sunsets are supposed to be amazing from the treeless summit. I’m a sucker for a great sunset and the last time I was up there we were socked in a cold rain.