Updates from the Trail – Stories of Social Struggle

Hi all,
I figured I’d provide some quick updates.

  • the trail is lovely and my feet are happy 
  • I passed mile 100 (just 2540 to go.  Almost there!)
  • I decided to take a half day off so I don’t end up with stress fractures or shin splints later. Yay food!
  • my schedule is changing a bit due to an idyllwild trail closure.  I’ll be in idyllwild a half day later than scheduled but 30 miles further up the trail
  • Other bits:The first part of the PCT really just seems like training for burning man.  Where else do you hang out in the desert all day with a weird sleeping schedule, see the sunrise several times a week, and crave salty foods and pickle juice? However, if the heat doesn’t get to you, the sudden rattle snake appearances sure will freak you out!  No one needs that rush of adrenaline!
PCT Swagger

Stories of social struggle:
The hardest part of the trail so far has not been the hiking, the eating, or the rattle snakes.  Instead, it’s been trying to make sense of the glaring inequity of our social system.  

While hitchhiking to the town of Julian in the hot noon desert sun on a 106ish degree day, our ride passed by a homeless woman walking in the heat.  He stopped and told her about the PCT water cache setup under the highway overpass, and that she could get out of the sun and drink some water.

A few hours after feasting on free, delicious pie, I returned  to overpass to wait for the sun to cool off before hiking. I was glad to see that the homeless woman was also avoiding the heat, and that around 30 other hikers had taken shelter under the overpass, looking dirty and spent.

Over the course of the next hour, the woman’s state of lucidity waned, and she started conversations with people that didn’t exist.  The temperature gradually declined, and many of us packed up to get some more miles in.  At this point, the woman made a plee, to all of us: “Please everyone, I need your attention! I have this medical problem, and I don’t know how to fix it.  I don’t want this, and I’ve tried everything I can think to try.  I don’t know what to do.” She then went back to communicating with someone that was not there.

While I also don’t know what to do, I’m sure we could do better than to provide free apple pie, 8-mile rides to towns and showers, and water caches to those privileged enough to act homeless for 4 months, while shunning and rejecting those that have nothing and are struggling to get by.  Perhaps the 30 of us could have talked to her, invited her into our weird community, treated her as a fellow human,  and made an attempt to help her in some way.  Instead, we hiked off knowing that in another 15 miles we would come across 50 gallons of water and a first aid kit that some trail angels keep well stocked to help PCT hikers.

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