We are now officially closer to Canada than Mexico. Woohoo! I’m in Etna, 10 miles off the trail, and this has been the first time I’ve been to the internet in quite a while. Lifetime’s have passed.
Since the last update, we’ve hit what I call the dirt trail zone. Days fall into eachother, we spend less time near towns, and more time on the trail, and are finding a rythym that feels good. Miles have increased, and our bodies are more adapted to this walking thing. Changing seasons has certainly been a theme on this thru-hike, and not in the typical progression we are all familiar with. We started in Spring, jumped into Winter, went back to early Spring, and most recently felt the heat of Summer on the Hat Rim Trail north of Drakesbad and Old Station, a dry and hot section with killer views of Shasta and Lassen. I was reminded by my dad that we’ll be passing by all of the volcanoes in the Cascades. I love these changing seasons, and when I stop and take a look around me, my heart actually almost breaks and I think of the song by Modest Mouse, which admittedly isn’t the best song in the world but it epitomizes what I’m feeling, “There’s so much beauty it’ll make you cry.” Repeat. Repeat.
There have also been shifting seasons in the attitudes and behaviors of thru-hikers. Since we started this new chapter, we’ve spent less and less time around other hikers. And there have been many new faces. Seems everyone is in their own zone. It’s certainly been a growing time for Pyrite and I, and has been a nice change. We spend most days letting conversation pour, and spend evenings alone. We run into other hikers at the typical bottleneck town stops and enjoy pleasantries, and then get back into our rythym, as do those around us. This is all nice.
One of the uglier shifts that we’ve both noticed in the last few weeks has been the increasing intensity with which hikers feel the need to proclaim their “status.” In talking and in the trail registers (notebooks left at various points along the trail where hikers can write messages, or sign in their name to let people know when they passed through) people have started to classify themselves, some going so far as saying there are “true” hikers and those who aren’t. “No skips, flips, road walks or quits” (referring to anyone who skipped sections, flipped up to a different section on the trail, walked on a road-which actually if they took the detours designated by the maps they did that anyway, or those who quit all together) has replaced “Hike Your Own Hike.” One hiker actually wrote in the register that is placed at the midpoint that anyone behind him wouldn’t be able to finish a thru-hike this year.
Most hikers work hard to keep their pack weight at a minimum, but seriously, some of the people out here are carrying around inflated egos that must be a burden. And worse than the common body odor which cloaks all hikers, are the delusions of grandeur that leave a putrid scent in the wake of some of these “true” thru-hikers.
I wonder how many of them have received help along the way? How many have family members or friends supporting them by mailing packages, how many have taken rides from kind strangers? How many have gone into someone’s home on this trip? How many have walked on those trails maintained by strangers?
In a community that is sustained by the efforts, support, and love of untold numbers of people, I guess I just can’t understand why some feel the need to put others down. There is a difference between celebrating in your accomplishments, and feeling the need to break another’s spirit. And that behavior just doesn’t fit in with the spirit of the trail. We should be in the habit of encouraging eachother, not discouraging.
Enough of my rant. I just needed to get that off my chest.
So, we plan on getting to Oregon in a few short days, moving into a new state!
As always, to family and friends, readers and others,
Love and Peace,