July 9th – Oakland, CA
Its been nearly two weeks since I got off trail at Sonora Pass, and honestly at the time I had intended that to be as far as I would go on the trail. After sitting in the desert heat down in San Bernardino sometime in early May and questioning why on Earth I was out on this desolate trail at all in the first place, I decided that to make it worthwhile I would go to the 1000 mile mark, which would enable me to traverse high Sierra and feel that I hadn’t just gone camping in the desert for a few weeks.
So that had been my plan but now I’m sitting here in Oakland getting ready to head back out tomorrow and continue on this journey a while longer; which is strange because I have indoor plumbing, comforts of home, a variety of entertainments, and the companionship of loved ones all making compelling arguments against continuing, but still I’m going to give it a bit more.
There a couple reasons for that. First I feel like I had just started to get competent on the trail. I wasn’t making as many bone-headed mistakes every day (though I was still kicking a lot of rocks). I had made it to the 1000 mark in better shape than plenty of others, and was actually feeling better than I had in a long time at that point (the constant pain in my legs and feet notwithstanding). And the hike on the last day across the ridge to Sonora Pass was one of the most beautiful and most exhilarating of the trip so far. I was actually passed by a couple on the top of that ridge and the guy said to me with palpable enthusiasm “can you believe we get to do this for free?” (discounting all the gear and supply costs, I suppose.) In that moment I was taken with the same enthusiasm for the adventure of it all, but I knew that in a couple hours I was going to be done with mine, while everyone else would keep heading north up to Tahoe and beyond.
So even though I had been preparing myself for a month to get off trail at that point, as soon as I did it didn’t feel right, and I felt that I had more left in the tank. Since then I’ve watched the Instagram feed of some of my trail family, and have seen some of the shared experiences that they’ve had since I left, and I do feel like I’m missing out. So even though I’m so far behind them at this point that I’m sure I’ll never see any of them on the trail again, I do feel compelled to push on and get some more out of this undertaking while I still have the opportunity to do it – before I get another job, or feel the pressure of my savings diminishing, or just getting so far away from it that its hard to start back up, or the weather turns and its not possible to.
This is probably the one time I’ll take this much time to just do something frivolous like this, so I’m going to draw it out a bit more. That’s not an easy decision to make – I do feel the pressure to get back to normal life, and I know I’m leaving someone behind again who relies on me and that’s not easy. So my internal compromise at this point is that I’ll set out to finish California, another 700 or so miles that I should be able to finish in about a month. At that point I would have walked the entire length of the state from Mexico to the Oregon border, following the contours of the major mountain ranges.
I think I’ll be satisfied with that. And hopefully my feet won’t be angry with me too much in the process. I do feel just about as nervous as I did before heading to San Diego, like I might have forgotten how to actually do this in the 11 days that I’ve been away from the trail. And of course everyone I know and have been sharing this with are now long gone so I’ll have to find new companions for this next part of the journey. Hopefully they’ll be as fun as the last folks I met.
Oh my sweet disposition,
May you one day carry me home.