John "lakewood" Fegyveresi

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pacific Crest Trail: One Year Later

Southern Terminus (1 year ago)

One year ago, I was sitting comfortably in Dulles airport having missed my connecting flight to San Diego.  Already, my pre-adventure to hike the PCT was off to a not-so-fortunate start.  Washington DC was blanketed with a thick fog and our plane, having attempted three landings, was forced to divert to Pittsburgh.  After an hour on the ground in the lovely steel city, we then made our way a second time to DC and landed.  I was already stressing about how I was going to make it to the kick-off in time.  I had a whole detailed plan for taking various city and rural busses to make it once in San Diego.  Now it was all up in the air.    I sat there waiting to be moved up the flight wait-list for another flight to San Diego and turned my attention to a TV that was showing some "Breaking News".  It was about the large explosion that happened on some oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  Many people were thought to be killed or injured.  I quickly realized how trivial my "bad day" was and made a decision right then and there, to relax....and no matter what obstacle or challenge came my way on this upcoming adventure, to not get worked up or stressed about it.  I was supposed to be doing this hike as a way to bring myself back in to alignment...not put myself further out of it.  I breathed in, and breathed out, and told myself, "things always have a way of working out".  (As a side note, we all know how the oil rig explosion turned out.  11 men were killed and the environment was severely impacted).

Six hours later I walked out of the front doors of San Diego airport, stood at the curb, took in a deep breath of the ocean air....with absolutely no plan or idea how I was going to get to the kick-off.  I had missed all busses and had no place to stay.   

No stress......I kept thinking.

15 seconds later, a car drove by, honked at me while someone screamed out the window, "PCT HIKER? Hop in!"   That's when I knew, things were going to be ok.  The trail magic had started.  I was graciously allowed to stay with Scout and Frodo (trail angels).  I ate a whole mess of food, slept in their back yard, and met lots of great hikers.  The next morning, I got a free ride to the southern terminus at 7:00 am, and was able to hike up to the kick-off right on schedule.   Little did I realize this small taste of trail magic would end up heralding an entire theme of kindness along the trail.

Scout and Frodo house (1 year ago)

For almost my entire journey along the twisting and often snowy tread of the PCT, I was greeted by wonderful people, altruistic attitudes, and honest intentions.  Sometimes it's easy to forget in the busy lives we all lead, bumping our way through crowds full of short-tempered and often short-sighted people, that true kindness and those with real vision, still exists.  On so many occasions, houses were opened up to me.  People drove me around, never asking for money, and often for tens of miles.  I was constantly offered free food and had the amazing experience of hearing the most wonderful stories from just about every walk of life.

One year later I look back with an almost disbelief of it all.  I have been gradually compiling my blog entries, journal entries, notes, and photos over the past year into a sort of personal "memoir".  A single source that I can go to to relive my experience.  Just as I wrote a year ago in my epilogue, when I read through it, it still feels as though I am remembering a movie about someone else.  It's hard to truly believe that I was in that "movie" despite having many very lucid and detailed memories from the journey.

Sitting here at my sterile desk, in my sterile office back at school trying to put together notes for my next thesis/manuscript, it's hard not to wish I were back out there.  There is certainly a part of me that wants to just say "screw it", and leave this to go on another wandering.....but now is not the right time.  I am content with where i am right now.  I am focusing this year on school and the ultrarunning as well as a potential smaller trip this summer.   There is that next big idea floating in there, in the back somewhere, which will someday make it's way front and center.  Thru-hiking is a part of who I am now and that will never change.  Part of my being is now inexorably tied to it and will be as long as I live.

So moving forward, I hope that we may we all enjoy the various wanderings and adventures in our own lives, and show as much kindness to others as we can.


"A life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.  It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically" - Thoreau

"Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life, that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them" - Thoreau

Leaving the border (1 year ago)

Filling up vial with Mexican Dirt

Dumping Mexican dirt 2663 miles later in Canada

Note:  The actual date for this should be April 22nd.  I arrived in San Diego on the 22nd, and started hiking the 23rd. 


Ryan Linn said...

So true, buddy. I almost always wish I was back out on the trail (not specifically the PCT, but long-distance trail for sure). I'll be on the Long Trail for a little while this summer, but it never feels like enough. Through-hiking is a way of life. I have to constantly remind myself that the rest of life is just as much of an adventure much of the time, even if it doesn't seem that way all the time.

So... did you say something about the CDT somewhere in the future?

EJ said...

My favorite part is the way the "Trail Angels" recognized "your kind" and swept you away to begin your journey.