June 29th-July 4th, 2014
Zachary and I had a solid six days, from Sunday to Friday, to recuperate in Sacramento, and we took advantage of it in every way. We watched hours of television; we split a tub of yogurt every day; he treated his fungus foot with medicinal cream; we called home and actually talked (instead of “summarize the past month in five minutes, please”).
Grandma Kathy declared that this week was, “Grandma’s Fat Camp,” and proceeded to feed us full meals, or the caloric equivalent, every two hours. Despite this, I never felt too full, and often got a little hungry between meals.
My sister Mary was there all day Sunday, so the three of us went to church together— and happened to show up on the day when there was a church-wide potluck day with homemade Mexican, Indian, and American food. After gorging ourselves, we returned home and Mary and I baked a cake and just talked. Her life is ever-changing, and my trail life seemed oddly serene next to hers. For the past couple months I had gotten up, walked a lot, gone to sleep, then repeated. It was a hard life, but next to her freelancing career it was certainly not complicated.
Mary had to leave on Monday, but seeing her did me a world of good. With the celebratory weekend over, Zach and I turned our thoughts to preparing to head back on trail. I told Zach, “I’m not in a hurry to get back on trail, but I’m actually really excited about it!”
Monday afternoon Zach and Grandma Kathy watched TV while I called home. Every time I wandered through the room, Zach was eating a different kind of food— potato chips, pumpkin pie, tortilla chips, a quesadilla, more pumpkin pie. I snacked constantly too, eating slices of cake, snagging some of Zach’s food, and then retreating back to the bedroom to call someone else.
Over the course of the week we took short walks, to get fresh air or to run errands, and, oddly enough, we both had a very difficult time walking. We realized that walking and hiking with a backpack are two very different motions. We’d jerk our legs forward with way too much force, swinging our torsos side to side doggedly. With every step, I threw my whole weight into it, bracing the muscles in my shoulders, back, and butt. So we walked like strange marionettes, our legs jerking, our feet slamming flat-footed onto the ground. Swinging both arms, as opposed to holding a trekking pole in one hand, now seemed strange and awkward.
Grimacing, I said, “I think we just undid twenty-three years of learning to walk.”
We shopped for food at Target (which, after so many National Park grocery stores and small-town gas stations, seemed ridiculously cheap). We talked about the next section of trail, and we vowed that we would never let ourselves get that hungry again. We agreed that, at minimum, every resupply must include two jars of peanut butter, two pounds of trail mix, and a lot more snacks in general.
|My sketch of the Red Rose Ranch Band|
Over the course of the week, we took care of a lot of details: washing our sleeping bag for the first time, in a bathtub (it weighed about seventy pounds when we were done, but was bone dry in just a few hours. Desert heat!), sending our bear canisters back to the loan program (we weren’t required to carry them in the next section, so we were happy to shed the weight), sorting all our supplies and getting rid of a couple odds and ends, replacing the tip on Zach’s trekking pole, and, of course, fattening up.
We watched a lot of television, mostly movies (School of Rock, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Little Women) and Food Network shows like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen. I often got overwhelmed by the amount of media and had to retreat into a quiet room to recuperate.
On Thursday, one of Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Ray’s bands, called the Red Rose Ranch Band, came over for practice. Zach and I sat and listened to them play (Grandma Kathy sang and Grandpa Ray played pedal steel). I doodled in my PCT journal and felt more relaxed than I had in ages.
Friday, which was Independence Day, was our last day in Sacramento. We bought some fireworks (being from the Midwest, I was disappointed that we couldn’t buy any projectile fireworks because of the fire danger), watched Mythbusters, set off snakes and smoke bombs and fountains, watched the neighbors setting off illegal projectiles, and laid out on lawn chairs in the sticky heat.
I stared up at the fireworks showering the sky with white shards of light, and thought, Tomorrow, you’re going to be back on trail.
With that thought, I felt a surge of joy.
To my surprise, I could hardly wait.