July 2, 2010

Just thought I would send out a quick email letting you know that I am alive and well after my first 8 days on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Currently I'm sitting at a cafe in Lone Pine, CA along Highway 395.  I spent last night in a hotel room and let the air get to my blisters and my back sink into the luxury of a mattress and pillows.  The blisters are the only complaint I have, otherwise I am totally and completely taken with the trail and trail life.  I started last week from Kennedy Meadows, a backcountry resort popular amongst hikers because it lands right at the 700 mile point for those walking the entire trail.  The next day I started walking around 5:30am and quickly fell behind my walking partner, a heavy pack and an altitude I was completely unprepared for, left me to struggle along the trail all day, sometimes only walking a few hundred yards before putting my bag down and collapsing in fatigue. I managed to walk 13 miles that day and gain about 2000 ft. in elevation.  The next day I met Larry, "Wounded Knee" a real estate developer from Southern California, we keep the same pace and walked along together for the next several days.  As my guide book puts it the first 40 miles of the trail are relatively easy but 'decidedly uphill'.  The phrase 'decidedly uphill' haunted my thoughts for the first days but I now understand the great difference between 'decidedly uphill' and uphill- namely that uphill means up mountain side and you might die.  The highlights of this last week include climbing Mt. Whitney the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states- lots of people do it, but from the PCT you climb up the backside and the views are stellar.  This was my first experience climbing in snowfields and I was lucky enough to be climbing with more experienced hikers.  The next highlight is Forrester Pass the highest pass on the PCT (13,000+) - a wall of granite with a small snow packed "V" and the top to climb through- I climbed 1,000+ on all fours though talus fields mixed with snow, then marched across the packed snow at the top.  The views at the top are completely failed by vocabulary and pictures, they are burned in my memory as well as the feeling of accomplishment standing atop giants. Some other highlights have included river crossings- there is SO much snow up here and it is melting fast- the rivers are swollen and running fast and deep, at some crossings you hold your walking poles for balance and they're vibrating and shaking because the water is moving so fast and you can't see the rocks below you- and its cold too! But again- the feeling of accomplishment is amazing.  

I wish I could be a little more eloquent and descriptive, but my mind is a bit all over the place at the moment.  I know this experience has already changed me in a way I couldn't have anticipated and I don't know what kind of person I'll emerge at the end.  I feel so alive right now- I think its something like being in love.

I don't know when I'll have internet next- but thanks for all the good thoughts and I'll post pictures when I can!  And if you're ever in need of a hiking partner give me a call- an addict has been born!


Cheers, Love and Happy Trails


~Grete, aka, "Tatonka"