So.. my hike on the Oregon Coast Trail is over. I was 10 days away from the finish line. 10 days! But my dad hurt his leg, the season was coming to a close, money dried up.. shit just kind of happens. Obviously I was really bummed out that it ended to put it lightly. I just wanted to run back out to the trail and sprint to the finish line, but with payments looming ahead in my future and no way to pay them should I push on I knew it was over. Just another disappointing end to a long hike, another unfinished trail to add to the list. I felt like a failure. But after a couple hours I just accepted it was over and was just happy to have been able to do what I did considering I left home this summer with barely $1,500 in my savings account. I got to experience the agony of taking the bus from one end of the country to another, I got to hike a section of the AT (though I hated it.. it was still an experience), I caught the total eclipse, and it all came to a beautiful close with the Oregon Coast Trail. My dad and I celebrated the end with pizza and going to see Blade Runner 2049 (Philip K. Dick is my favorite author so that was a great consolation prize. Pizza is pretty good too).
As I got out of my “woe is me” phase I still had a lingering disappointment that I haven’t finished a single long hike I’ve set out to do and it gave me a lot to think about. My dad and I were planning on going to Europe next year but my mind went back to the PCT, the one trail I have an immense need to complete. That’s the one unfinished thing in my life that I just can’t stop thinking about, and all my failures since then are just an echo of that initial failure. I decided I’m going back to the PCT in 2018 rather than 2019, I need to go back. I need to start at the southern terminus and reach the northern terminus in a season. There’s no logical reason for that, people who say “It’s all about the journey not the destination” think it’s silly. But the thing is I loved the journey, and there’s still more journey ahead of where I left off. I want to hike through the desert again, I want to reach Kennedy Meadows again, to make my way through the Sierra, and then hit the rest of the trail I haven’t hiked yet. It’s a nonsensical personal goal of mine, I wish I could say why it’s so important to me but I can’t come up with words. I’ve never been so obsessed and focused on something like this to the point where it rules my life and every other minute of my thoughts.
I’ve learned a lot from my failures thus far, I have my hiking style and gear totally dialed in now, and if I want to finish the PCT this time I feel like I have all the resources I need to do so. I’m going super light this time (my base-weight is now half of what it was when I started it), I’m not going to spend so much time in towns, I’m not going to do crazy miles from the beginning unless I know I can handle it. I’m going to condition myself this time instead of hopping aboard the “I’ve done nothing to prepare for this hike” train. It was somewhat thrilling the first time to go that route, but injuries on-trail aren’t thrilling. They suck, they hold you back, and.. well, they hurt. Anyways, I’m back in Washington now. I really missed this place being away from it for a year living in gross Utah (despite its beautiful hiking trails). I’m back near the trails that inspired me to hike the PCT the first time, and I’m looking forward to hiking them again to gauge how far I’ve come physically. I need a win this time and I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that I do.
In any event, the OCT was a wonderful experience and I’m planning on going back to finish it when I can. Along with my usual trail videos I’m going to be doing a write-up on it to hopefully help hikers in the future, but that’s not for a while until I get my stuff out of storage and get settled in, which may be a month away. Until then I’m kinda sitting on my hands wondering what to do with my time after an abrupt end to my hike. I was just kinda thrown back into the world this time where on the PCT I kinda had an impending sense that it was going to end, then had a further month or two to wander around and live outside a la car camping and all that. The difference is this time I’m kind of excited about it, because I need to start saving money for the moment I’ve been thinking about the last year: Going back to the trail that started it all. I can’t wait.