June 8 at 6:20 pm, we made it over Glen Pass in Kings Canyon National Park. After climbing to 12,000 feet, it was time to face the north side of the snow packed mountain, which is always the toughest feat of the day. Tread lightly, heal then toe, trekking poles dug into the snow, no music, full concentration, and DON'T LOOK DOWN.
But halfway down the mountain, I DID look down. I looked down because I was confused at what I saw. I don't have the best vision and everything from up high looks like ants, but this stopped me. I saw multiple people right on the trail, not hiking on the trail, they were stopped. My gut instinct immediately told me something was wrong. Ten minutes later when I heard the sound, I knew I was right
The yellow helicopter made that chilling chopper sound as it hovered over us and circled to find a flat place to land in the High Sierras. This took minutes. Kevin and I made it down to the spot where 21-year-old Anna, a Pacific Crest Trail hiker, laid on the trail. She was wrapped in a sleeping bag, propped up by a bear vault and backpack.
The medics and pilot started asking her questions: Could she feel her feet? Did she feel nauseous? Was she dizzy?
Anna's feet had become stuck between two boulders, her trekking poles stuck too, and when she went to take a step forward, still stuck, her body catapulted about ten feet straight down, landing onto boulders. She laid there from 12:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Fortunately, a friend in her hiking group is a nurse. He took vitals and decided to push the SOS button at 3:00 p.m., just an hour before medics stop flying for the day.
Kevin and a handful of fellow hikers carried Anna on an inflatable stretcher to the helicopter, sloshing through slippery snow.
The Sierras are hard. The Sierras are hard. People are dropping like flies and speaking of flies, the mosquitoes are just as relentless and unforgiving as the passes we climb. You walk up 3,000- 5,000 feet, just to walk down 2,000 feet, all in one day. For two weeks, we cut our miles back from 20-25 a day to 15-17 a day.
June 21, I had my first meltdown. I took five steps on the trail and started crying in Yosemite National Park. Uncontrollable crying, the ugly kind. I didn't feel motivated to hike that day. I didn't care, I didn't want to do it. It's not that I wanted to quit and go home, I just wanted a break. After all, I have been hiking and living in the wilderness nearly every day for seventy six days straight. Every freaking day.
The honeymoon phase of the trail is over. I've now hiked more than 1,100 miles and I'm tired. In fact, I'm exhausted and Gatorade doesn't always do the job. Please don't discount this as being ungrateful. I love this adventure that not everyone is fortunate nor gutsy enough to experience by taking a hiatus from "normal" life. But now I'm at the place where I must find new motivation. I signed up for this adventure because I wanted to explore. I need to figure out what motivates and excites me to jump out of my comfy sleeping bag and tent and walk a quick 20 miles.
I stumbled across this quote that a trail angel wrote to another hiker, "No matter what happens, no matter how far you seem to be away from where you want to be, never stop believing that you will somehow make it. Have an unrelenting belief that things will work out, that the long road has purpose, that the things that you desire may not happen today, but they will happen. Continue to persist and persevere." - Brad Gast
Oh- and on a side note, we fit in a four day trip to San Francisco. It was FANTASTIC!