July 27, 2015 (17th Re-Ration – Castle Crags)
West Trough Creek (1487.1) to Castle Crags State Park (1509.1)
22.0 PCT miles today, 2.5 non-PCT miles
1546 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,456 ft, – 6,719 ft
Today was one of my favorite days of the year…the day I get to celebrate the birth of Pickles, my best friend, life partner, and hiking buddy extraordinaire. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ve heard numerous references to Pickles. You’ve probably wondered about this other character in the story who goes along with all my crazy adventures, supports my every move, and also happens to be successfully thru-hiking the PCT this summer. The truth is, Pickles is my other half. He colors every story I’ve told and has been there through it all. Of course, his side of things might have sounded a little different, but every night he listens attentively as I read my writing out loud to him and then without fail gives me positive feedback and important constructive criticism. He loves having our story written down, too, and some days, when inspiration strikes, he’ll toss out some suggestions for the blog or remind me of what I should include. It’s not always easy spending every moment of every day hiking, sleeping, and eating alongside your fiancé, but Pickles and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
This isn’t the first adventure Pickles and I have been on together, and it won’t be the last. Ever since we met, adventure has been at the core of our relationship. Pickles is a “yes-man” and it doesn’t take much to get him inspired and excited. Just 6 months into our relationship we biked across the U.S. together, a 70-day journey that we both recall fondly on a daily basis while out on the trail. Then after working and saving for almost a year, we took off on a 9-month backpacking trip around South America. If that wasn’t a sort of proving ground for our relationship, I don’t know what was. Of course we had our fights, we were constantly on the move and completely dependent on one another for months on end, but we couldn’t have begun to imagine being there with anyone else, and we made a million wonderful memories along the way.
Besides his bold, adventurous side, I think Pickles’ greatest trait might be his ability to put others first. He is hard-working, compassionate, and insightful. I remember being irked more than once when, in the hottest an driest sections of the desert, Pickles would freely offer up water to a tired or hot looking hiker after carrying it for 20-plus miles himself. I felt like that hiker should have planned ahead better, Pickles just thought he might be able to help. He works tirelessly to show me every day how much he loves me, and no matter how exhausted he might be, he always pulls more than his own weight around camp. Here is a somewhat embarrassing fact – I have eaten hot breakfasts and dinners every day of this hike and I have never once touched a stove or cleaned a dish. It’s not that I’m not willing, but Pickles has so thoroughly taken up the ask of cooking and cleaning that I just haven’t needed to. I do my part to, but it is nice to know that if I need extra support, I can ask him and know that he’ll do all he can to help.
I can’t finish writing this blog about the love of my life without mentioning his sense of humor and conversational skills. I have the immense privilege of laughing constantly while out on trail. Some afternoons my cheeks actually hurt from smiling. I get to hear crazy made-up stories about the origins of pine cones, songs about our day sung to the tune of our alarm clock, and chit-chat that can go on for countless minutes between Pickles and the surrounding birds. On occasion, Pickles and I will engage in conversations about world history, psychology, and sociology. We’re both planners, so we can spend hours planning out our future together, from the kitten we’ll get for Christmas this year to the children we’ll someday have, to the trips that will best be left for when we’re in our 80’s and 90’s. I spend most days without headphones in just because I look forward to talking to Pickles so very much.
So I propose that we make July 27th a national holiday, and all take the opportunity to celebrate a man who makes the world a better place by being in it, and makes me the luckiest woman in that world. I’d like to wish the happiest of birthdays to the strong, loving, and fun man we call Pickles.