Captain (Cynthia)

Mile 2,591

 
 
 

(1) Where are you from?

Growing up my dad was in the military, so we moved around every few years. I went to highschool and Collage in Washington State, so in a way that is now my origin.

(2) What day did you start?

I started April 5th 2018.

(3) What day did you finish?

I finished October 7th 2018

(4) Do you have a trail name?

Captain!

(5) If so, where did it come from?

I was telling some friends about where I was from/who I am and I mentioned I am a licensed boat Captain. It just stuck and I went with it.

(6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?

In the desert, I dreamed about going sailing and swimming back in Washington. I was pretty homesick in the beginning, so my thoughts always went back to Washington. In the Sierras I dreamt of food, mostly meat and fresh bread. Through Northern California I imagined crossing into Oregon because I was sick of being so far into the trail but still in California. Through Oregon I had day dreams about eating fresh warm bread with butter (a family that picked me up while hitchhiking actually gave me some and it was the BEST!) Through Washington I would daydream about soft cotton clothing, a warm bed and swim-up bars. It was very cold at night in Washington, so warmth  is what I would always think about. At one point I almost wished to be back in the desert!

(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?

On the first day of hiking (April 5th), I developed the worst blisters I had ever experienced. After taking a nero in Lake Morena to try to mitigate the damage, I attempted to keep hiking. I had had blisters before, but they had never caused me so much pain. The day was truly terrible and it took everything I had to keep

walking. I had only planned to hike about 7 miles that day, but other hikers told me about trail magic at Kitchen Creek. With this in mind, I figured I would get the the Trail Angles and ask to be taken to the next town so I could find new shoes. Unfortunately,

the Trail Angels were not at Kitchen Creek, but at a campground much further down the trail. I felt like I had no other choice but to keep walking until I got to the campground. By the time I reached them I had hiked about 15 miles, I thought my thru hike was going to be over at that point. One of the Trail Angels then told me there wasn't going to be a place to buy new shoes on the trail until Warner Springs. I was feeling so low about the whole situation and could only think of how I was going to have to tell my friends and family that I wasn't able to continue the trip. After seeing how badly I was doing, one of the Trail Angels offered to take me to San Diego where I could get new shoes and stay with him and his wife for a night to recover. I was so relieved I wasn’t going to have to hike the next day, I took up his offer, recovered and was delivered back to the trail safely. I simply couldn’t believe someone would offer up so much for a stranger, the whole situation was a turning point for my hike. I had many other bad days on trail, but to receive so much help right from the beginning felt like a miracle.

(8) Any memorable encounters with the elements, or wildlife?

While resting near an alpine lake in the Sierras, I happened to see a marmot watching me. After a moment, I began to turn away from the marmot, only to see him immediately bolt for my backpack. Realizing that it was going for my salty pack straps, I ran towards the marmot. He showed no fear and kept advancing, so I began yelling and waving my arms around and was planning to get between the marmot and my pack. Luckily once I was by my pack the marmot backed off. This was an encounter I expected to have with a bear, not a marmot.

(9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?

The trail offered many situations where there was no way I could back out. All I could do was keep hiking, keep moving. Even if I was in pain, tired, overwhelmed or anxious, there was nothing I could do but keep pushing forward. I think these situations where

perseverance is the only choice helped me learn more about myself and what I am capable of overcoming. I would say I was even headed before the trail, but now that I have experienced more situations that I couldn't back out of I am more ‘in-tune’ with myself and my needs. When I had a hard day on trail, it was because I was

overcoming my threshold for misery. Post trial, I feel stronger both mentally and physically. I feel like I can take on more in my personal life and in my outdoor pursuits than I could before.

(10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?

I miss having a tangible goal for every day. I would wake up in the morning, look at my map and decide on where to camp that night. I could see the progress I was making and where that would literally get me at the end of the day. It was like being immediately

rewarded with for my efforts, and eventually those efforts led to the reward of overcoming larger milestones (getting to town, crossing state lines, finishing the whole trail, etc.) Everyday had a measurable goal and reward. I also miss the movement .I miss getting up in the morning and walking. Not just walking, but walking for hours through new areas and not having to decide where to go, I just had to go.


(11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?

Before starting, I was most afraid of hitchhiking, and animals such as snakes and mountain lions. My fear of hitch hiking and snakes went away very quickly.

(12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?

I am now more afraid of dusk and the dark. Something about dusk makes my senses hyper alert, I become more focused on the woods and noises around me rather than the trail, making me more clumsy. The dark was scary because that’s when all the animals come out. There’s nothing scarier than looking into the trees ahead only to see big eyes reflecting back at you.

(13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?

Life on trail was fairly simple. You wake up, eat, stretch, do camp chores (pack up/organize). You have a tangible goal for the day, there are challenges and stressors but like anything else, you just work through it. Life off trail seems to move slower, you have to wait for more things happen. There is more time to use in the day, but honestly without a goal all this free times feels somewhat arbitrary. On trail I could think “okay, if I hike this many miles, I can be at this place in a week or a month” but life off trail is full of little goals that are not as fulfilling because your not physically moving towards them. Also, life off trail is more expensive.

(14) Would you like to add anything else?

The PCT was an amazing experience .It brought out the best in people, in hikers and anyone I met along the way. If you want to be a part of a wholesome,supportive community that is working towards the same goal, you should hike the PCT. I wouldn't change anything about my hike. It was empowering, humbling and downright fun!