As you may have guessed if you’re following my posts, Northern California isn’t an easy stretch of the trail. In many ways it feels like the doldrums of the PCT: it goes on forever, it’s not all that interesting, and you really just want to get it over with as soon as you can.
One of the reasons for this, I’ve realized, is that we now feel more alone, socially, than we have on the entire trip. Our trail friends, who’ve meant so much to us, are now scattered or gone. Of the folks we started with and got to be close to, probably half a dozen are now “off trail” — a polite way of saying they’ve quit. Not that there’s anything wrong with quitting; believe me, I know the impulse! But it means they aren’t out here, we don’t run into them in towns, and we can’t have fun with them or talk to them any more, at least not in person.
Of our friends who are left out here, some of the best ones are either far ahead of us or far behind: Treeman and Hedgehog have somehow managed to get nearly five days ahead of us, while Dilly and Dally are almost a week behind us (largely due to an amazing week they seem to have spent in Tahoe). Everybody has to hike at their own pace and do this trail in the way that’s right for them, but it makes me sad to have people be so far away.
I didn’t really realize how big a deal this was to me, in fact, until I got a text message from Treeman and Hedgehog asking where we were, and telling us their upcoming schedule. Discovering that they’re planning on taking some zeroes such that we’ll only end up about a day and a half behind them, instead of the five days we were behind them, makes me incredibly happy. And seeing a blog post from Dilly and Dally talking about their recent adventures similarly made me really happy to see.
I have high hopes that Oregon will bring us back together with some of our friends, and be a more enjoyable section of trail, to boot. Until then, I’m just keeping my head down…and pressing on!