Day 22 – Tehachapi – standing by

David from the Roadside: The Spot Tracker is a pretty amazing tool – when I have cell service. I use it in parallel with the Halfmile PCT map overlay on Google Earth and I can dial into the terrain Runningbird is in as well as the mileposts. It has come in really handy to keep me on time to our designated rendezvous points. The down side? I know how long Runningbird’s days are and the shadeless terrain she is often going through. I’m a logistics kind of guy and looking at all this stuff on a day by day basis, sometimes hour by hour, really makes me respect nature and Runningbird’s determination and ability. There are a lot of hikers out there that have picked up the same challenge of the PCT (certainly not the 50 per day as expected by the number of permits issued per day) but a lot of them. They each have their own challenges, strengths, and purpose. Some are young, some are more experienced, most all are joyful, and in my opinion, all are a little bit crazy.

Here I sit, in the comfort of my trailer under the shade of an old pine tree, listening to the peaceful chirp of the birds. I look out and see the ruggedness of these foothills on the rim of a desert and watch the rhythmic turning of the giant windmills. By upbringing, I feel a little guilty. I’m here, they are out there, certainly not comfortable. It’s maybe like they’re doing the kind of penance Fr. Caslin would dream up and make us do in Catholic school. I doubt that those of us who haven’t picked up the pack and stepped out on the path for months at a time could ever understand. I do know that I now more than ever respect these folks for picking up the challenge, regardless of whether they manage the whole stretch or not.

For Runningbird, yesterday was a 31 mile day, the day before was 30 miles, the day before that was 28 miles. There were laughs, tears, fears, hunger, thirst, cuts, gashes, and aches. There was the broken femur last year, the training in the rain, snow, and at night. Through it all she has had great support from her friends, family, and total strangers which has fortified her resolve. When you take up the PCT they say you should tell everyone you know. It locks you in, pressures you to push on. As the Hash House Harriers say, “On, On”!

I’m standing by.

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