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