July 4th, 2018
First off, I want to note that connectivity has been spoty and I am going to have to post some blogs with few or no pictures. Who knew internet would be worse in the US than New Zealand! I will update these first posts when and where I can (I’m in Stehekin, WA now).
The theme of my Te Araroa thru-hike was serendipity. It’s such a beautiful thing to experience even once in a lifetime but it became a common occurance on the trail. I was blessed with the rewards of careful and long thought-out planning but also a lot of luck. Everything came together so perfectly, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first long thru-hike.
Deciding to do the PCT so closely on the heels of the TA feels like I’m riding the proverbial coattails, a bit. I’ve struggled with thoughts that I haven’t given each enough separation or haven’t had enough time to fully process my TA experience before embarking on another huge endeavor.
But I also feel a pull to return to the peace and way of life I’ve known on the trail. Thru-hiking feels like the most natural existence…a lifestyle that just suits me. It becomes an addiction for people like me.
So I was a day away from beginning a long trail again and I had some mixed emotions. There were loose-ends from the TA, uncertainties about the upcoming 2700 miles, the regret of abandoning loved ones for more months on end, and not having a proper bathroom for the foreseeable future…what was I doing?!!!
Everything would work out on the trail, that I was sure of. The trail may not solve all your your problems but it certainly dictates the priorities of life on the trail. I guess it was that simplicity that I realished once again.
So to start things off with, I had the perfect flight from DC to Seattle. My seat assignment was randomly chosen as 7A, which is premier class. I was using frequent flyer miles for my one-way ticket to Seattle, which cost me all of $5.60. The miles were with American Airlines but this segment was on their partner Alaska Airlines, so when making the reservation, I wasn’t given the option of selecting a seat. I had to leave it up to fate and checking in 1 hour before departure usually doesn’t fate well.
Luckily, it did this time. I got a window seat with leg room galore on a 6 hour flight. On top of that, there was no one in the middle seat and the upgrade included free drinks…any kind of drink! The flight attendant even gave me a double gin and tonic. It worked as a sleeping aid and so I broke out my quilt and settled in for a great flight. At the very end, I got to see the little fireworks all the way from Yakima to Tacoma and Seattle. What a treat it was to see them from above, like so many thousands of multicolored camera flashes at a concert.
I was picked up from the airport by my friend Jon Peters. He was the chief engineer on the Point Sur when we sailed down from Moss Landing to Punta Arenas, Chile, on our way to Antarctica. We have kept in touch and he just happened to be visiting family this week. He hooked me up with staying 2 nights at his daughter’s apartment in Redmond, where I was able to relax and reprovision. It was so great to share Jen’s comfortable abode before roughing it.
There were several highlights from my day in Seattle. I had a huge bowl of poke with no fewer that 30 ingredients for lunch. It was so good and filling. Then we all went over to Jon’s brother’s house for dinner, where grilled steelhead trout, corn on the cob, and tomato salad were waiting. I drank some glasses of wine too. Then Jon’s sister in law, Karen, showed me around her beautiful garden and we picked huckleberries. They got mixed in with my last mango for breakfast the next morning.
Eating such good food the day before a big thru-hike is like having the proverbial ‘last meal.’ It was so nice to share it with a great group of people, too, even if Jon and I dominated the show a bit with our silly sea-stories. Hopefully they were somewhat entertaining! A huge thanks to Jon, Jen, Karen, and the rest of the family for such amazing hospitality. Serendipity has definitely returned.