Let's Try This Again

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

Leaving the trail to heal was a good decision. Very few things are worth getting injured for; the PCT is great, but I can recognize an obsession when I see it.

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Not only do my knees feel good to hike, I was able to adjust my gear and some perspectives. Do I feel 100 percent? No. Will I ever? Probably not. I don't think I was 100 percent ready when I started the hike; perhaps the idea of being fully ready is a bit overrated. As my god parent once said to me when stating I wanted to be ready (in the way of being perfectly set) before having kids, "No one is every ready, [we just do the best we can and it is great]." At this point, I feel like my current struggles are reduced and manageable, so why not give the trail another try?

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As a side note here, I'd like to thank my family and friends for the positive support and encouragement towards me deciding to take time off the trail to heal. I'm sure you thought about how that might be a struggle, it was. As imagined, I started to beat myself up about everything and had thoughts of "failure" and such, which of course is rediculous. I snapped out of it, but your thoughts and encouragement that I was making a good decision helped immensely.

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The Logistics (What a Boring Sub-heading)

My knees suffered from tendinitis and a minor strain evident from a dime sized redness/bruise on my knee cap. All soreness and discoloration fully retreated and my knee feels strong again. I'm sure they will continue to be tight and slightly weakened for a bit, requiring careful attention. After some hikes at home, knee braces, and a slower pace, I think I can continue on doing less mileage until things strengthen. The slower pace will be nice; there will be more photo opportunities and time to enjoy vistas.

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Compared to my original plans, I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be by June 4th. I've pretty much abandoned the original plan and pace; not only would that plan discourage me, I would also feel like it was something I needed to catch up to. Right now, my knee makes the decisions and I'm merely its representative...clearly the more responsible part of me needs to take the helm.

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I've switched out some gear since I had the opportunity. My gear switch ultimately changed my base weight from 12 lbs to 15 lbs; with 6 days of food, the pack weighs 20 lbs. Not bad. I switched out gear to help keep me a little warmer at night. I had a down sleeping bag that was excellent if it wasn't windy (and the weather was nothing but windy), otherwise, any draft into the tent would penetrate through the bag. I now carry my synthetic mummy bag which has been tried and tested for 10 years. I also reduced gear that I didn't use very much or gear that served my original plan but doesn't help me now.

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How Do I Feel Now?

Well...how about something between C3PO and Captain Kirk. Timid with rediculous "what if" foresight and motivated to jump back into the unknown. I'm excited to continue. I can see the next steps of the trail; they are on the trailhead I saw as I left Warner Springs. I like my new plan and feel confident about it. I also know that I'm late in the season for a thru-hike. But then again, summer appears to be running a little late this year too.

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With a late start and slower pace, snow storms in Washington could be a definitive problem down the road. I considered waiting until July to restart the trail in the north and head southbound, effectively renewing my timetable. A great alternative plan; without sharing my pros and cons, continuing northward was more appealing. Besides, who goes southbound while keeping a blog titled "Wayfaring North"?!

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The truth is, who knows what the weather will be in Washington during September? Summer does seem late. Also, I may regain my strength and pace after a while. Not to mention, a little more time for snow to melt in the Sierras is helpful. How about the fact that I ran into problems within the first 100 miles...Washington is several other problems ahead to be worried about that right now. Lastly, if I manage to make it to Washington and get pushed away by storms, I'd be pretty happy to have made it that far.

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This second start seems like it will suit me well logistically and personally. I think I was so excited and in a "go mode" that I didn't turn off before I first started that I didn't quite feel like I was on a PCT journey. Perhaps the recent challenges were necessary to force me to adjust my approach, much in a way where all things come to a balance. Or I'm just a ding-bat who jumped into the cactus like a dog playing fetch.

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I do worry about my knee and about weather conditions later this summer and whether or not this will be a thru-hike. All reasonable thoughts...but I do have plenty of hope that things will work out and I know that plenty of good moments are ahead. With that said, I know I'm in the realm of good and am happy to move forward.

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