Today my man hunk turns another year older and I’m feeling all mushy…I won’t put you
through that, promise. Anyway, as I enter another year with this stud I am reminded of a conversation I had on the CCT trail during “Day Motherfucking Two” (the link will take you to the clusterfuck that was day two on the Creekside to Coast Trail). I had just lost my mind and had slightly embarrassed myself with an adult-sized tantrum when it dawned on me. I had gone through very distinct phases of emotion that seem to happen in order every time things get a little hairy on the trail. So, when I was calm I shared my new found knowledge with Zack and Danger and it has been dubbed, The Three Stages of Backpacking Emotion (when shit hits the fan).
When I realized my watch was off by more than 5 miles and we still had a grueling 4+ miles to go, I descended into the first stage: denial. If you recall from my last post, I without meaning to, started yelling at Zack; “NO! THAT CAN’T BE! THIS WATCH DOES NOT HAVE A 5-MILE MARGIN OF ERROR! I JUST CAN’T BELIEVE IT!” He was consistent with his message to me; we’ve only gone 5 miles and it took 6 hours. “How can this be?” I thought. “There is no way we’ve only gone five miles…I mean….huh??” In my mind, this man was lying to me and it was a joke that would be over around the next curve. I waited for him to say, “Ha ha! Just kidding, we were only one mile off!” We got to the next curve and no such dream came true, which leads me into the second emotion of backpacking: sadness.
After losing my denial I went into this stage of feeling completely defeated and really fucking sad. I started to cry and threw my backpack down and decided to succumb to the heat and dirt that was creeping up my nose from the road. I’ve noticed this during other trips when things have become super frustrating. Once in Yosemite I had the hardest time making it up a mountain due to the altitude and my generalized exhaustion (we had hiked the Grand Canyon a couple days before). I sat down on the rocks, delaying an entire line of people and just cried. “WAAAHHHH WHY IS THIS SO HARD?” The point is, once the denial of why you’re in a shit-show ends, you just have to cry it out like a wet, gross baby who’s just lost his ice cream on the hot pavement. And like any child who’s just experienced frustration, the sadness turns to blind and irrational anger, step three.
On Day Motherfucking Two, after I’d cried and apologized to Zack and Danger, the adrenaline set in and a hell-fire rage bubbled up. There would be no beer. No. Motherfucking. Beer. Click. Boom. I threw on my pack and went into an anger fueled march. “LET’S JUST GET THERE, DAMNIT!” We’ve all been there and I think this is the best stage of the three simply because you’re so angry you forget your pain and exhaustion. I was able to make the last four miles in record time because I was practically running with my 38-pound pack through the woods of Big Basin State Park.
So, fellow nature lover, when you’re lost and/or WAY FARTHER away from the destination than you thought, just allow yourself to experience the three stages of backpacking emotion and then enjoy the surprises at the end like that awesome waterfall, vista point or for me, unexpected open store with cold beer. Happy birthday, Zack! Thanks for just letting me act like an asylum patient on the CCT.