Total distance: 1716.7
When I started this hike, I had hopes and dreams of impressing myself and others with how quickly I moved and how fast I finished. All through California I was pushing myself and stressing out constantly from worries of time and money. I thoroughly enjoyed the hike in that state, but there was definitely this pressure I put on myself that put blinders on me so that I could keep my goal in sight and press on without any distractions. As soon as I hit the Oregon border I over strained my body and pushed it too hard. Something tore in my right shin and forced me to take time off the trail. The amount of stress and frustration I’ve felt since that happened have left me feeling drained and a sense of failure has ruled my mind. Thankfully I have been taken in by a thru-hiker and given an opportunity to rest and take sometime to readjust my mindset on what the rest of the trail will look like for me. I can’t see the trail as something I’m going to blast through anymore, but now have to slow down and appreciate it in a different way. It’s as if the PCT has a lesson for me to learn and wasn’t going to allow me to make it to Canada until I got it.
I have a deep embedded desire to control things. When I feel like I’m not on top of what is going on in my life or in my mind I feel anxiety and fear of what will happen. I want to be able to feel confident and powerful over what is in my life so I don’t feel beaten or owned by anything, but I’m beginning to realize that not only can I never truly be in control, but also that trusting the waves that toss your boat might just lead you to land where safety and stability can be found. I have always had a hard time trusting what I cannot see and what I cannot understand, but these past few days have instilled a peace in me when I’m out at sea.
During my first day off trail I was with Napolean and my two hiker friends from Reno in Goats home in Medford, Oregon. We spent all day lounging on the couch and eating all the food we bought the day before. We watched a few movies and drank a few beers while going in and out of conversation and rest. Goat eventually got home from work and took us to a pizza joint that we all felt was way out of our price range and after sitting inside for a few minutes decided to go to Walmart and buy 20 Tostinos pizzas for the price of one at the restaurant. We made it back to Goats and drank some beer while the sun set. After a few hours of relaxing together in the living room we turned on Wet Hot American Summer and passed out on the couch.
The next morning we were all going to head out to the country and help one of Goats friends on her Marijuana farm for a few days, but the guys from Reno had to end their stay and get back to Ashland. However, Napoleon and I had nothing better to do so we joined Goat and made our way east to make a few bucks and relax by a river.
We got to the farm around 1 pm and quickly got to work. I ended up not being able to do much with my injury so I sat down and sawed bamboo for a few hours while Goat and Napoleon built a fence around the plants and began making webbing for their structure and girth.
We worked a few hours straight and then took a walk to the river where Goat and I stood in the cold water and talked about future goals and what we hope to do with our lives. We stood in the waters for an hour or so before we all made our way back to do some more work.
We put up a little more webbing until it came time for dinner. The sun was getting low and the birds were starting to become more active. A kingfisher flew across the farm and landed in a tree while a few osprey hovered above us. This is a special place and located in a gorgeous area. We ended up getting in the car to go eat at a sushi buffet that would be paid for by the farm owner. The sushi buffet blew my mind with all sorts of incredible rolls and a separate section with meats and rice. The sushi came around on little boats in a stream and you just pick them off as they come around. Heaven. We joked a lot about feeling more connected to our ancestors and how they hunted for their food as we slowly picked away at the passing boats.
We made our way back home and I was ran a bubble bath with salts and cedar oil and candles by the farm owner. I enjoyed a little bit of her product and melted into the warm water for thirty minutes. I came out of the bathroom and they were beginning a movie called Holding Onto Jah, which is a cultural documentary about the history of Jamaica. I only watched a few minutes before closing my eyes for the last time of the day.
I woke up this morning to the sound of laughter and the smell of eggs and coffee coming from the kitchen while I felt the owners dog, named “Ruben cumquat Carolina squirrel dog Appalachian apartment weasel Tennessee rabbit hound shiva the destroyer smith jones Patel party of seven esquire the third junior”, curled up in the open space within my arms. I opened my eyes and saw the three of them sitting around a table and eating breakfast and talking about the work that needed to be done today. I got up to join them and ate a huge breakfast before we all went outside to enjoy the cool Oregon morning air.
I was given the job of pruning some plants while Goat and Napolean got back to webbing. I sat on the ground with my leg elevated and dug my hands into the thick marijuana canopy in her greenhouse. My fingers became incredibly sticky and eventually my arms caught the sticky substance as well. My body would smell of pot all day as I baked in the heat of the greenhouse.
After I finished my job we went to eat lunch in the house and ended up taking a three hour nap together in the living room. We all were exhausted and one by one dropped like flies in the comfort of cool air and goose feathered comforters.
When I woke up the woman was gone back to work and Napolean and Goat were getting ready to do the same. My shin had gone down in swelling and I got up to finish my work in the greenhouse. I picked up the dead leaves I had pruned and cleaned up the area before going back to the house to elevate my leg and read a book called The Four Agreements.
Once the sun went down everyone returned home and rejoiced in the evening light for ending a hard days work. We sat around a table and ate burritos that Jen, the farm owner, had bought for us while she was running an errand in town. I went to shower in attempt to wash off the sticky substance that was caked on my arm from the plants in the greenhouse. When I came out of the bathroom Napoleon and Jen had 2001: A Space Oddesey ready on the tv. I smiled at the world I have found myself in and took a seat on the couch to watch the movie with my leg elevated and iced. I have never seen 2001 and still could say I haven’t after listening to Napoleon cracking jokes the entire way through the movie and giving us more entertainment than we imagined getting.
The movie finally ended and left me confused and exhausted. We turned the lights out and laid down to pass out in euphoria. We all said goodnight and each drifted off at our own pace. I laid there for a while thinking about where I was and what the trail has led me to experience and as I thought about it I realized I was wearing a smile. I never thought I would be working on a pot farm in Oregon , but here I am in the company of three wild humans who are full of joy and life and so welcoming of anything that comes their way. I fall asleep feeling inspired by their light and love for the world and all that it contains. I remember a conversation I had with a hiker a few weeks ago when I was at the VVR in the Sierra’s about his “Crest Theory”. He explained to me that our path in life is like riding a wave and if you find yourself on the crest you can ride it out and be guided along in it’s benevolence. Sometimes you miss the wave or get pummeled if it crashes on you. I definitely feel like I’ve been on a few waves so far, but I haven’t been looking for them. I’ve been looking out at the sea and exhausting myself in swimming for the horizon rather than watching the ebb and flow of the water and finding my place in its expanse, but I feel like I am beginning to find myself on the crest of a wave and all I want to do is release my control and trust the water to carry me to shore.