A Deer, A Handkerchief and the Halfway Marker 

Day 46

Mileage: 34.9
Total distance: 1350.4

There is almost nothing more terrifying than waking up alone in the woods in the dead of night with footsteps all around you. At 2 am my eyes opened and my ears were alerted to something moving around my tent. Sticks were crackling under its weight and weird ripping noises were coming from its direction. My heart began racing as I slowly rolled over to grab my headlamp. I flipped it on not knowing what I would do if it were a bear, but desperate to know what it was. It was a deer. A damn. Deer. It jerked away from me quickly and I laid back down. 

Normally that would be the end of the story, but this deer had its heart set on one thing. Salt. Within seconds of laying down I heard it creeping back, but on the other side of me where another tent was about fifteen feet from mine. A man turned his light on and we both saw the deer with his hat in its mouth. The man yelled for it to drop the hat, but obviously that didn’t work. The man got out of his tent and the deer darted away with the hat in its mouth. The man pursued, but stopped when he realized he was scaring the deer further away. Eventually the two had a stare off and the deer dropped the hat for a second and the man took the opportunity. He ran towards the deer and as the deer went to grab the hat it missed and ran away empty handed. The man slowly returned to his tent mumbling curse words as I watched from my bag. 

Minutes later the deer returned to get my things and I had to get up and put it all in my tent with me. I found my bag ten feet from my tent and everything else in place, except for my handkerchief. The deer would move around for the next hour eating grass and trying to find salt, but eventually went away and I went to sleep. 

I woke up late after snoozing my alarm for thirty minutes and stumbled out of my tent to gather my things. I looked around for my handkerchief and found it twenty feet away and sopping wet with deer saliva. It was absolutely drenched trough and through. I stuffed it in a ziplock bag and started down the trail. 

Five miles in a came to the midway marker of the pct and sat for a while to take in the moment. I’ve been counting up miles until this point and now will be counting down until Canada. I can’t believe after this long I’m still in California. After a little stretching and a photo shoot I kept on moving. 

The first thirteen miles were all downhill to a highway where I found trail magic under a tree. Cokes and oranges and bars and candy and chips and all the goodies you could ever imagine. I sat for a while feasting and drinking with another hiker while we both were smiling from ear to ear. 

After the feast I had a ton of energy and knocked out ten miles in three hours to rest in a burned area of the ponderosa forest. Most of my day was underneath the canopy and traveling slowly up and down some hills without much effort. I had a lot of time to reflect on the trail and what I’ve seen and experienced so far and what it’s done in me and shaped me to become. Hindsight is crazy in that you have so much of a better awareness of how you felt about something than you did in the moment. I personally romanticize the past and even now feel nostalgic for the southern sierras, but I remembered all those times I reminded myself that I got all that I could in those moments of being surrounded by so much majesty. This trail has taken me through so many different environments and I’m only halfway done. Thru-hiking is a wild trip that is nearly impossible to regurgitate in a worthy manner. 

After my last climb of the day I was feeling extremely positive and energized. The lowering sun ended my day though and I pulled over at Kings river to make a fire and kill mosquitos for an hour. Falling asleep next to a river is one of my favorite things in the world as its constant flow never hesitates, but never repeats. You can listen to it like an orchestra full of movements and power. 

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