August 9, 2015
Ashland (1726.5) to Little Hyatt Reservoir Outlet (1748.8)
22.3 PCT miles today
1789.1 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,965 ft, – 3,524 ft
Today was much harder than it should have been. The trail was nice and smooth, the weather moderate, and the elevation gain and loss was almost imperceptible. However, coming back from two and a half days off trail, we felt horribly sluggish and exhausted. Starting out this morning I had the realization that how we felt was how most people (including ourselves pre-PCT) feel when going out for a short hike or backpacking trip. It only took a couple days of sitting around, watching TV, and eating heavy, processed foods for us to lose much of the conditioning that was making hiking, and exercise in general, feel so great. Today was a great lesson for me on the vicious cycle of laziness. You feel tired and worn out, so you rest, but the more you rest and the less you use your body, the more exhausting and challenging it is to get out and exercise. Fortunately, the discomfort and pain do go away, as long as you’re willing to put one foot in front of the other and push through it to the fun part.
It really was pure stubbornness that got us through our miles today. All morning I kept visualizing the bed in the hotel room and imagining how very delightful it would be to curl up for a nap, but we have a very important goal to meet and the only way to accomplish it is to keep moving. Taking a double zero brought me perilously close to giving up on the trail all together, so I don’t think we’ll be doing one of those again if we can help it. There is a sort of momentum that keeps thru-hikers moving toward Canada, and when that momentum is brought to a halt for too long, it is much harder to get going again.
Throughout the day today, we did start to feel a little bit better. It felt to me like I had pumped poison into my body while in town, and the sheer acts of walking, drinking water, and peeing were slowly but surely cleaning it out. And I didn’t even drink alcohol! I honestly don’t know how some of the young kids out here on trail party in town and then get up and hike the next day.
At about 20 miles into our day, Pickles and I finally succumbed to some of our exhaustion and took a 5 to 10 minute power nap, more out of need than desire. It actually did help a bit and it was just enough of a boost to get us to water and our campsite. We are hopeful that an early night of sleep in our cozy little tent will help reset our bodies and make tomorrow much more manageable. Today was the start of a 10-day hiking stretch to Bend, so we’re going to need all the energy and motivation we can get.