Pacific Crest: Mile 1804

It’s all about perception.

I woke to rain drops falling on my face. It was 4 AM. I’d been sleeping under the large branches of a pine tree, their protective embrace turned the rainstorm into nothing more than a drizzle. I sat up and began to pack my things. I knew it would rain sometime in the night, but left my tarp in its bag anyway. The rain made the perfect alarm clock, the kind you can’t ignore.

I woke to rain drops falling on my face. It was 4 AM. The tree overhead was letting all kinds of water through its branches. I should have been smarter and put up my tarp. I had to toss my soaked gear into plastic bags and hope the bags didn’t break inside my pack. What a start to the day, it was pitch black outside and I needed more sleep.

It’s all about perception.

The rain-soaked me as soon as I stepped out from under the tree. It was cold and miserable walking in the rain at night. All you can see are drops of water falling through your light. The rain seems to seep into every inch of your body, stealing any heat you have until you feel like you’ll never be dry or warm again.

The rain-soaked me as soon as I stepped out from under the tree. It didn’t matter really, there was no way to stay dry, better to embrace it and start walking. If anything, the rain quickened my step, kept me moving to stay warm, the perfect inspiration for a long day.

It’s all about perception.

I always knew I couldn’t resist going for fifty miles. And once there, I knew I’d crawl another three. I couldn’t pass on a chance to hike two percent of the trail in a single day. It was the perfect day to do it. I needed the miles to meet my mom tomorrow in Crater Lake and just like when I did the four state challenge on the Appalachian Trail, it was raining. Never underestimate the power of a mom’s hug and a good omen.

I always knew I couldn’t resist going for fifty miles. I just wish it hadn’t been today. The rain made everything difficult. My feet felt swamped with water. I remember when I walked fifty miles in the rain on the Appalachian Trail. By the end, it felt like my feet were peeling off and I had a dozen blisters. Why the hell did I ever agree to meet my mom in Crater Lake tomorrow? It couldn’t have been a worse day.

It’s all about perception.

There’s nothing like the end of a long day. It’s the worst experience ever. The bottom of your feet feel like someone has taken a hammer and beaten on them for twenty hours. Your muscles feel weak and broken, like they’ve lost all will to live. Your joints feel like moving parts in an unoiled machine, grinding together and ringing with pain. Nothing is happy in those last few miles. You’re just filled with bitterness about the whole idea.

There’s nothing like the end of a long day. It’s the greatest feeling ever. Who could pass a rare chance to know what pushing yourself to the very edge of your ability is? You are there, standing at the edge, staring at yourself in such a raw state that you can’t help but see through all the veils you sometimes wear. Just you and yourself at the edge for those last few miles and the infinite satisfaction of an almost realized dream.

It all about perception.

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