Wednesday, May 13, 2009

April 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th and May

Sorry this took so long to get up, there is a lot to catch up on! The 27th, the Sunday that we started back to the trail after skipping Fuller Ridge, was such a great day. Gumpy, "2Pack" ;) and I all agreed that it had been the best hiking day yet, we hiked eleven miles through the Mesa Wind Farm, bizarrely a junk yard, beautiful rolling hills and slept in a sandy wash out. The coolest thing of the day was when I, always on the edge of panic, saw a bush move and speedily looked to see what it was.

Well, it was a desert tortoise! They're incredibly rare and have been tracked now because of housing developments moving into their territory (they can only eat a small select group of plants). On the shell you can see a little tube shape, that's the transmitter that they use to track where it, #147, goes, we've got to remember to look it up!

The day started out wonderfully and ended even better, we had soft sand to sleep on and even made "trail cheesecake" for the first time. It was so sweet, and our bean flakes had really filled us up that night, that we couldn't finish it all. We were going to save it for breakfast when a white haired, blue-eyed man, in shorts that were short enough to show of his beautifully toned and darkest tanned legs I have ever seen, walked up. His name was "The Bear" and he had tried to go through Fuller Ridge, it had taken two days longer than he had expected and he nearly ran out of food. We gave him some "trail magic" with our cheesecake and sat down to talk for a bit before passing out.

The next few days weren't so good. We had HUGE elevation gains that were hard, but that was only after two days of "following" a creek and the trail next to it that disappeared at a moment's glance. Here is Alex trying to find the trail one of the many times that it was no where to be seen.
A lovely little surprise that I would soon learn is that as we got further and further away from our previous town and were still days and days away from the next I was getting terrible panic attacks. I had thought when I was getting them before it was due to the fact that we were in the desert and nearly out of water and the heat, etc. Now I was getting them still and they weren't getting any better. It is hard to try to explain to someone the feeling of panic when you think that should, heaven forbid, something go terribly wrong, there's not really anything you can do, for days. Aside from being air lifted out, which panic attacks most likely do not qualify for. I had an itchiness in my skin that was screaming to just get to a town. One of the hardest parts to grapple with was that my feet were finally healing, my body was adjusting to the strenuous work and now our huge goal was being threatened my a PANIC ATTACK! It was horrible and still bothers me now.
Alex and I had to try to get to Big Bear as fast as we possibly could or I felt quite honestly like I would die.
After two days of the worst panic we finally made it to Big Bear, my panic began to subside and we had to have a very serious talk about how and if there was any way we could keep going. The major problem was the fact that we were starting to get further and further away from other towns. The stretches between each town would become longer and longer. I would start to cry and hyperventilate at the very thought of being out for more than three days now. It just couldn't be done. We talked about all of the possible solutions and came up with a compromise that we would come back in a few months and do parts of the Sierra's (they are the crown jewel of the PCT) as well as sections of Oregon since they're so close to family and friends should we need them. We also plan to take a roadtrip and camp and backpack, just for shorter periods of time, what we were doing on the PCT only with a car!

We caught a very depressing bus ride from Big Bear to the town where we could pick up our rental car. We've now been in Oregon with family for the past week or so. It has really been a daily roller coaster of emotions. Alex and I are still having dreams about the trail nearly every night and every few days I seem to come up with some idea of how to go back to the trail. The bottom line in that along with all the other great discoveries we've made while on the trail, we also discovered that I get terrible panic attacks when too far from what I see as "safety". I'm glad I found this out before we were really far into the mountains, but we still miss it, a lot at times. We miss the friends we made, and can't wait for them to make it to Oregon so we can see them again and hike with them. We can't really say what our "plan" is, we're taking the time and the money (and all the food!), that we had saved for the PCT for our roadtrip, camping etc. And we will reassess later.
We had an amazing few hundred miles and weeks and we'll never forget it. See you further down the trail...