What would compel a person to walk until the pain from their broken foot became unbearable?
Fear of death? Sure.
The pursuit of happiness? Most definitely.
I'm not sure much inbetween fits the bill.
Over the last 900 miles I've spoken with atleast one hundred thru hikers. They've shared hundreds of first and second hand accounts of hiker struggles on the trail.
Many of these stories fall into the category of the inspirational. One girl from Washington I met several hundred miles ago left her job to thruhike the PCT. And by God she walked until the pain from the foot she broke on trail became unbearable. I spoke with another hiker who witnessed a man push himself to the point of a physical breakdown. That thru-hiker had to be airlifted from Mt. Baden-Powell.
Other thru-hikers face serious adversity and continue inspite of their troubles. Back before Walker Pass I met a guy whose hiking partner had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Despite the incident, she had returned to the trail and he was killing time so she could catch up.
Another hiker had told me about a man that had fallen 800 feet down the slopes of Mt. Baden-Powell but had returned to the trail after a month of recovery from injuries sustained during the fall.
Other scares include the girl I saw stumble into camp out of the desert so dehydrated that her nose started bleeding as soon as she began to drink water from a spigot.
And from the non-inspirational category, there's even a story floating around about a thru-hiker whose hike was ended by tearing his ACL during a fight with a local at a campsite.
By now most of the thru-hikers who, for whatever reason, didn't have their heart in this trail, have left.
Of all the hikers that remain, some push through serious adversity to keep marching on. They're not here for the fear of death. I'm left only to assume the pursuit of happiness is what compels them. And as such, this trail stands as a testament to power of that truth the Founding Fathers' declared to be self evident.
Little more than 1/3 of the way to 2,650 miles, many challenges await. More mountain passes, the Washington rains, and the threat of fresh October snow loom in the distance.
No one's walking these miles for us. To continue our pursuit of happiness we must keep marching on.
PCT Mile 929.6
Word on the street is I may be losing cell service until Lake Tahoe, 160 trail miles from here. We'll see what happens.