Part two-‘You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them’ – and The Pacific Crest Trail

“Sometimes in life we choose opportunities to test our limits; sometimes we must simply deal with what is.”
– Kirk Sinclair

It was August 7th, south of Crater Lake (Southern Oregon), at the end of a Humanity Hikers post I see the above words. (http://www.humanityhiker.com ) A statement that really came home for me and so I am sharing it with you on the opening of this post. It seems like a good Be Here NOW statement! Our opportunities, our limits, our possibilities — sometimes we get to choose —sometimes we don’t!

The heading for that particular post of Kirk’s was Limits. In the second paragraph of his post he says, “Occasionally at a road crossing we see an inspirational note for thru-hikers pinned up. One such note near Little Hyatt Reservoir read: “You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them.”  It got Kirk to do some reflection on his past PCT hike, and now his present one with his current challenges. I will let you read his words on your own — http://www.humanityhiker.com/limits/. As for me, I can’t read that and not drift into my own thoughts — what are my limits and boundaries that I am personally and professionally pushing? What are the things I simply must accept and “deal” with? Always good to think and about. Always good to be mindful of. Always good to have some clear thoughts on. I hope you give some thoughts to your own journeys, spend a little time and labor over the thoughts, I can almost guarantee it will be time well spent. I am all for following the path and the flow, but that must be accompanied by, and with, mindfulness. The river and current do indeed glide where they want, but you direct your own boat!

In early August, two friends joined in the PCT hike (Mike and his girlfriend Jill) and they are now hiking what Kirk calls “high country.”  Skirting around “Three Fingered Jack and a long approach to the ever looming Mt. Jefferson. At one point we joked that we must be in the Twilight Zone, as we would hike around a similar looking knoll to an open view of the towering strato volcano, without it looking much closer. Only once we got to Jefferson Park did we see the mountain in its full majesty, though obscured somewhat by the haze of recent fires…My knees were aching that night from over 16,000 feet of elevation change in two days, but all together they were full days worth the cost.” The next post he mentions there was a 10,000+ feet elevation change over 22.6 miles. O.K. – let’s be real -the mileage alone is impressive! Add the elevations changes, backpacks , etc., and it is actually a bit intimidating as well as awesome! By the way, he does also say-“I foresaw lots of ibuprofen in my future.” That made me feel a teeny tiny little less sluggish and unfit! …Then again — a rain deluge falls on them. …”After about 20 minutes, the rain abated and we continued on. We first saw the beautiful results of a cloudburst. Flowers sparkled with raindrops, and mists rose like smoke from the distant valleys. Yet we were traversing the spurs of an imposing mountain. In between those spurs were creeks to be crossed, creeks now swollen from the funneled waters of a cloudburst streaming down between those spurs.” I can only imagine how beautiful that must have been!

Montage

It is now mid August (8/16) and the gang is actually on a rest day! They are at Kirk’s sister-in-laws house and getting ready to hike what is apparently the “the most remote, rugged section of trail a section in Washington State. I figure if we complete this section we’re golden.” The post is in actuality about the strange and mysterious ways the brain can work. It is called A Conundrum, and it is an interesting view into what/how actions, reactions, sights, senses, and exercise can work with our brain synopsis. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/a-conundrum/) – Very interesting and worth a read!

August 19 and they are driving up to Rainy Pass (a mountain pass on State Route 20 in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington State.) Here they are to begin the potentially most difficult section of trail. As they arrive they were greeted with an “increasing parting of the clouds. When we crested at Cutthroat Pass we witnessed what John Muir once phrased as “a new heaven and new earth” with a new panorama of steep, snowfield blotted mountains before us. So this is what the North Cascades looked like! Wow! Right up there with John Muir’s Sierra.

The North Cascades
The North Cascades

They had a forced rest day – “The trailhead bulletin board at Rainy Pass announced that three sections ahead were obstructed by blowdowns and washouts. There was a reroute around the section north of Harts Pass, but that was marked by blowdowns as well. Anticipating the worst, as is wise to do for Cindy’s affliction, we had to conclude that reaching the Canadian border might be impossible for us. We arranged for Charissa to meet us at Harts Pass for that contingency. I started thinking in terms of an incomplete thru-hike, not uncommon, as we met several thru-hikers that skipped sections that were rerouted on roads because of forest fire.” Now, you may, or may not, have been paying close attention, but this seems like a very big statement to me. Kirk goes on to say in a few days later posting, that they will indeed keep going until Thanksgiving, doing their “long hike” now (which by the ways means 2,000+ miles!!!!!), and that hopefully, next year they will return to finish up the last parts/bits they cannot complete this time around. Charissa has a cold and so is doing the support role and to boot gets a flat tire… a very scary realization that indeed rocks FALL on the road and a beach ball size rock had rolled into the road a little further down from the flat tire happening… Mike is indeed with them so I imagine that is a plus… but Cindy is in tears, “while up on that beautiful ridge, a tearful “hiking is not fun anymore.” I (Kirk) knew changes needed to be made; I (Kirk) put my arm around her and discussed what those changes would be.”  Clearly a bit of a rough ride, but there is more to come. Posted on August 24, Kirk says “All along the Stevens to Rainy Pass stretch worried me the most. This was the longest stretch with the longest climbs on our journey.” It was clearly a tough 3 or 4 days. It is much than I can do justice to with a recap- so again I provide you with the link, enabling you to read it first hand. http://www.humanityhiker.com/when-a-cold-is-good-news/ I will tell you the result was a few changes, shorter mileage days, and a rest day every 5-7 days.

This seems like a good “golden rule” to end up on at this point.

‘Our original goals have changed, but not our resolve.

And so that takes us to today — next weekend happens to be Kirks birthday. If you hike over to his site-send him your good wishes for another year of goodness and hiking.

My next post about The PCT journey willbe an interview from Diggerfoot to Kirlk.
Stay tuned!

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