1499 to 1506 (I-5/ Castle Craigs)
Last day on the PCT for this year. I can't believe this is ending!
Just like a normal morning, I was up at 5 AM, eating granola and jerky in my hammock, and hiking by 5:20. I savored the night hiking, trying to tuck the experience into my heart. The sparkle of headlamp reflected in spiders' eyes. Sounds of crickets. Moon shadows. The rhythm of footsteps, crunch of leaves and pine needles underfoot. All of this so familiar because it's been part of my mornings for so long.
After a long while, the glow on the horizon appears. Slowly, it brightens enough to turn off my headlamp. Finally, morning light shines through the canopy and warms up the yellowish bark of the ponderosa. Before the PCT, I used to rely on caffeine to wake me up in the mornings. But now I just start walking and my senses come awake and my mind gets sharp as I watch the sunrise. No need for anything else, I've got it all here. But that's ending now and I wonder what I will do.
|Ponderosa pine bark.|
Before I know it, I am down to a road, crossing the train tracks that I've heard in the far off distance but which, all if the sudden, are right here. Then I am over the Sacramento River and to the I5 overpass. This is where I stop hiking. For now. Dang how did I get to the end so fast?
|It's not Canada, but I'm proud of my 1500 miles.|
I am torn about getting off the trail here. When I planned this weeks ago with my parents, it seemed like a good stopping point. I know I can't finish the trail this year, that the snows will come, or have already come at the higher elevations. So I-5 seemed like a good place to stop hiking because it is easy to access and it is right before a series of fire closures and some active fires. And 1500 is a nice round number and today is exactly six months since I set out from the Mexico border. But I don't feel like stopping. The trail is still captivating and endlessly interesting, still challenging. I've adapted to the solitude, love being out in the fall. I feel strong and happy. I want to keep going, keep hiking on and on. But I need to stop somewhere, and hope I am leaving myself with a good PCT trip for later.
|I made it!|
I thought I'd know more of what's next. More hiking somewhere? Get a job? Thought I'd have it figured out once I finished but I don't. What I do know is that I can't go back to how things were before I started. My priorities have shifted. I know I want to do something meaningful, something different.
It hasn't sunk in yet that I won't be getting back on the PCT tomorrow.