It’s been almost a week since I’ve arrived home.
My backpack is still partly full, sitting right beside me. My inability to completely empty it and put it away is diagnostic of my reluctant, part-way re-entry into what Birdlegs has so aptly dubbed the “shower world”.
I do not miss the end of the trail. I’m clearly happy here. The last two and a half months of the PCT hike were tough, not only in daily mileage, which was dialed in each morning at 25, but also the very taxing progress through the Glacier Peak Wilderness, where a week of cold and rain pummeled MeGaTex into a wet pile of humanity wrapped up in wet taco sleeping bags. We each fought hypothermia several of those days, which would have been very serious if any one of us were alone. We needed each other survive. It was that simple.
I have yet to muster the courage to view my photos from the Great Snow Walk of the high Sierra. I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I even think about revisiting that section.
I do best here if I stay home, out of town. Town was also my downfall on the PCT where I lost my wallet, money, checkbook, passport, earphones, gloves, and even my shirt.
I have visited with every one of my neighbors, who each presented me with a coming home present. The best one was from my neighbor Bill, who informed me that he was buying a 25+ acre parcel that abuts my land on two sides. He plans to put it into conservation trust. Now, I will only see woods and fields, as long as I live here.
Let me give you a taste of how quickly one of my town excursions ended.
Last Sunday I drove my son down to the Portland, ME airport so that he could get back to his life in San Francisco. After I saw him, I went over to the Maine Mall where I planned to use my debit card to withdraw some money, get a dinner, and stop at the Apple Computer store to see what new stuff came out while I was gone. (Speaking of Apple, one of the few objects that did not tear, break, or fry on the hike was my iPod Touch.) I was not able to get my pin number right, so eventually the ATM rendered my card void. I had no phone, no money, and it was getting dark. Somehow I also activated the anti-theft alarm on my 1999 Jetta diesel, which has never happened before. I was not only unable to start the car, but when I did try and turn the key in the ignition, the very loud loud alarm activated and the lights blinked on and off. Luckily I went on the internet with my Touch and MiFi and was able to locate a key turn code that disabled the alarm.
Yesterday, more snafus. At the counter at the Hope General Store I knocked my large coffee over spilling the contents into an open drawer in back of the cash register. Later at lunchtime, the person in line in back of me at the Brown Bag pointed out to me that I dropped a wad of cash on the floor. I appear to be sorely lacking several skills that must be re-activated if I am to be a functioning member of society.
On the other hand, I love the unstructured time, which has been mostly devoted to fixing things that have broken while I was gone, like the garage door opener, the DVD player, the trailer I use to haul things in, my bicycle, a broken window, and several pieces of gear. There is a crate full of mail that has to be dealt with. I dig vacuuming, and plan to wash some floors this afternoon.
I have received several calls from people who have wanted to talk with me about the PCT. Auntie Mame and I had a great time visiting with my friend Andy and his wife last night. Andy lives here in town and just completed his own thru-hike of the Appalachian trail a few weeks ago. He’s pumped!
I am trying to avoid paid work until Nov. 1.
Last night I even got to watch my favorite movie, Hoosiers, wrapped up in my sleeping bag on the couch, sitting right next to Auntie Mame.
Again, a huge thank you to my sponsors.
First and foremost is Don Kivelus of Four Dog Stove , who supplied me with the multifuel Bushcooker LT 1 titanium backpacking stove, two cases of Coghlan (hexamine) tablets, and twelve cases of Mountainhouse freeze dried dinners. Don believed in me, early on. I consider him my outdoors guru, whose specialty is fire building and know how about efficiency in subsequent heat transfer. His company has been a treasure trove of survival and back country tools and resources. I used his stove every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I consider it the ultimate backpacking stove. There is nothing more I can come up with about the stove that would improve it.
On The Beach/ New Balance provided me with Bushmaster boots for the whole hike. I have REALLY bad feet and would not have been able to complete the trip without the benefit of composite mid-sole of this boot. I also never had even one blister on the hike. It wasn’t easy to make deliveries to me where I most needed new boots, yet Dan came through for me when necessary.
Rock City Roasters supplied me with two huge bags of Dark Star drip grind coffee, for those many days where I was jonesing for caffeine. I had enough to supply General Lee as well. I will miss the owner, Pat, who died after I started hiking.
The Freeport, ME Patagonia store supplied me with a Houdini jacket. It was one piece of gear that never failed or ripped, a rare situation.
I would also like to thank my faithful and primary support team, the Speedy Sisters. V8 not only transcribed and posted all my daily entries, and she encouraged me to label each and every photo posted on the Trailjournals site. People loved the photo section, I heard about it. Auntie Mame primarily sent me love and her unwavering faith that I would finish. She also provided me with 11 mail drops, each more thrilling than the last. It is very tough work being at home while a partner hikes. I know, as the Sisters hiked almost half the AT in 2008, when I was Mr. Stay At Home. Craig, thanks for making the pemmican that got me through northern Washington. Chris, thanks for the earphones. Mom, thanks for being my mother, being proud of me this time, and sending me all the home made bars, granola, and treats that sustained me. Brad, your instant Curry In A Hurry mix and your Brad bars were so tasteful. They powered me up numerous uphills. Roy, thanks for the New Balance socks and Powerbars.
Readers, thanks for writing in my Trailjournals Guest Book. Your kind comments were what cushioned my steps when the ground was the most frozen and rocky. David H., thanks for your voluminous pipeline of inspirational quotes and encouragement, my Friend for Life.
I also want to thank Water, Heathen, Larry, Dusty Roads and the dozens of trail angels who went out of their way ( often WAY out of their way) to bring me food or supplies.
If there is anyone else that feels they deserve thanks let me know so that I can suck up an apology and list you here too.
Lastly, I am forever indebted to my fellow members of MeGaTex for all that they did for me, all the times they waited for me, all the food, pain, laughter, and adventures we created for ourselves.
I would NOT have completed the PCT without their personal power and energy. We were the strongest group of the Class of 2010, all proud matriculates of The University of Adversity.