PCT: Day of Reckoning

Noelle here:

I woke up sore from all the falls and sliding yesterday. My shoulder is super stressed. It was a beautiful morning though as we were above the clouds.

As we descended, we were in them. I could smell them. Kind of like the smell of rain. Soon it turned to actual rain, then hail, then more rain. We were drenched in no time. It went from a fun new experience to miserable.

We crossed more snow patches and I fell twice, jarring my shoulder, yanking my back. I felt dizzy and scared, like my back might completely go out. My pack felt so heavy, like it suddenly gained ten pounds. It feels melodramatic to say that. But it just felt heavy. My heart felt heavy.

I discovered recently that all our grandchildren have names that are four syllables first and last. I repeat them in kind of a little march in my head, sending them good thoughts, prayers and wishes, while also getting out of my own head a bit. I don’t know how many times I repeated their names today. ๐Ÿ’•

We went downhill. I wished for a car to magically be at the upcoming parking lot. I knew it was unrealistic but still felt devastated when not only were no day hikers there, but the road was actually still closed from the winter and there was no cell service. I knew I was feeling sorry for myself but struggled to make it stop.

The only option was to head up another hill and find a campsite. On the way up I met a couple ladies who section hike the PCT. They’ve done a good portion of it. I told them I thought today was my last day on trail. I’m kind of at my physical limit. One asked my trail name but since I still don’t have one I just said Noelle. She said, “oh, Steve and Noelle, I read your blog!” I was stunned. I see the numbers so I know people read it, but I was still surprised to meet someone who did! The other lady right away knew that my shoulder was the biggest issue. She said there’s just no good way to carry a pack. She’s right! I shared with them how worried I feel that Steve will eventually quit if I do. It’s our dream to do this together. Those two beautiful ladies have no idea how much they helped me get the rest of the way up that hill. Thank you both so much!๐Ÿ’•

We made camp early, climbed out of wet clothes and I felt so grateful that we regularly put our belongings into trash compactor bags inside our packs. Sleeping bags and shorts and T-shirts were dry. Everything else, dripping wet!

We talked and cried and talked and cried. I’m sure the crying is not yet over, but I am going to leave the trail. Steve says almost 400 miles makes me a badass but I feel anything but that right now. I don’t know what happens next. It’s one thing to say I’m going to stop but truthfully we’re not super close to anything right now. Tomorrow we’ll figure something out. They say you shouldn’t quit on your worst day. And the funny part is, this was not the worst day by far. Especially since at the end of it, we were mostly dry, not too cold and I got to look into these amazing eyes! โค๏ธ

19 thoughts on “PCT: Day of Reckoning

  1. CAROL KRAJEWSKI May 19, 2019 — 6:54 am

    Whatever you do is the right thing for you! You are a warrior! <3

  2. Our phone and internet r out. I am down drive now to use Internet. More rain today Sunday no doubt. I think the post I just read is from yesterday .

    1. Thanks Rosie. Weโ€™re staying safe and dry!

  3. Liz from Fresno Retro May 19, 2019 — 7:09 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with youโค๏ธ You two are amazing ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liz from FresnoRetro

  4. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Know that regardless
    of your decision, you are a warrior and we love you! And we are so very proud of both of your for embarking on this adventure!! ๐Ÿ’•

  5. You ARE a badass. You have continued through adverse circumstances long past the trail-honeymoon stage! Whatever you you decide is the right decision by definition.

    1. Thanks VFat! Cโ€™mon back, we can take turns driving or hiking! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’•

      1. Iโ€™ve got work to do back here before I can come back. And more weight to lose. And lighter gear to acquire! Tentative plan is to fly into SD on 4/23/19 (the day after Emmaโ€™s eighth birthday) and restart at the Southern Terminus, and just โ€œgo for a walkโ€ without expectations.

      2. 4/23 is past! Canโ€™t you just start wherever we are and walk along? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Dear Noelle,

    I feel your pain. I’ve been there.


    1. I know you have, Gregory. ๐Ÿ’•

  7. To a pair of champions. Steve n Noelle, Only you can decide when youโ€™ve had enough-we would have become statistics long before now. Whatever you guys decide will be aok. We think you two are amazing with your grit, tenacity and Hutspah(sp). Love and Kudos from Mom n Dad. Enjoy the thrill of the achievement of CHAMPIONS.

  8. May you be Happy. May you be Healthy. May you be at Peace…

    1. ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

  9. Not sure how I found your blog, but I have been following along and living vicariously thru you. I did the trail back in 2012 and loved it! Only you can make the decision to continue or get off the trail. But……realize that you don’t have to do it all at once. Do sections, do shorter days, wait for better weather, pick the best sections…..there are all kinds of ways to hike the PCT and they do not have to be a thru hike and it will still be a wonderful experience. Good luck with your choice ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you very much Nancy! I love hiking…I just seem not to be great at hiking with 23-28 pounds on my back anymore. ๐Ÿ˜ Iโ€™m looking forward to doing more of day hikes out here. Noelle

  10. Noelle, it was such a pleasure to meet you and Steve on that rainy day. I’ve loved reading your blog. Getting off the trail is never an easy decision. One thing I do know for sure – you are truly a freakin BADASS! Hiking 400 miles is something most people will never ever do in their lives. (I’ve never hiked 400 miles at one time.) Give your shoulder time and maybe you’ll find you are hiking this summer. My best to you and Steve. ๐Ÿ™‚ Flash (in the pinkish-light magenta raincoat

    1. Flash, it was such a pleasure to meet you both! Thank you for your kind words and your encouragement. That walk up the hill with the two of you is one of my highlights. How quickly I have felt connected to people on the trail has surprised me! Short bursts in time with very intimate connections. Iโ€™m so impressed with the two of the you and with the miles you put in! I hope our paths cross again! Noelle

  11. Noelle and Steve, I have enjoyed all of your postings and I can hear your sweetness in your words; I can also “feel” your pain. I know how much you push yourself and your tenacity is what has defined you as I know you. I can read that its not been an easy decision for you, but from where I see, you are so strong and that inspires others. Thank you for all of your sharing, all the beauty and the raw. You have so much to be proud of. We love you both and wish you all nothing but the best.

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