Balloons (Kyle)

Mile 2,591


(1) Where are you from?

Bakersfield CA, USA

(2) What day did you start?

June 1st from Paradise Valley Café to Canada

November 3rd from Paradise Valley Café to Mexico

(3) What day did you finish?

October 6th at the Canadian Border, and November 10 at the Mexican Border

(4) Do you have a trail name?

Sure do!

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

My hiking partner Little Foot and I noticed a balloon floating 10 feet off the trail and I told him to tie it to my pack so we could take it to town as we were heading into Bigbear that morning. While Little Foot was tying it to my pack he asked if I wanted it to be my trail name, but I wasn't convinced it was my name as I felt most hikers would pick up trash along the way and to be honest wasn't in love with it. A few days later while hiking with Little foot I found another balloon, the next week when I was hiking alone I found a third balloon...and eventually someone left a balloon at the PCT intersection of HWY 58 when I was leaving Tehachapi, CA which I also found; I suspect someone in our group had left it for me. After the second balloon I adopted the name and happy I did because the world was telling me I should be known as Balloons.

P.S. The first balloon I found was a Mylar Balloon which had " Class of 2018 " printed on it which I carried with me the entire trip.

Double P.S. The Mylar Balloon could be found strapped to my head when hiking in the desert lol

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

There were horrifying and delightful dreams throughout the trail but in all honesty while on trail it felt like I was awakening to a wonderful dream every morning even when the days were long and exhausting.

(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?

Courtesy of Google :

occurring through divine or supernatural intervention, or manifesting such power.

"a miraculous cure"

highly improbable and extraordinary and bringing very welcome consequences.
"I felt amazed and grateful for our miraculous escape"

Short Answer: Yes

Long Answer: There are countless instances along the trail in which the miraculous (aka Magic) occurred and the montra "The Trail Provides" rings true in everyone's journey.

I climbed to the top of a mountain in Oregon alone at night to cry out loud because I felt an emotional pain I thought I would never experience.

After two solo days in Washington during which I spent my time writing a letter to be read at my cousin's funeral I reached a road to attempt a hitch to white pass, and after only five minutes three cars full of my trail family and other hikers I've never met pull over to pick me up. Had I been just a few minutes late I would have potentially not seen them again.

Hiking southbound from Paradise Valley Café after I finished in Canada a few weeks prior I found a hiker at a water source in the desert whom I had spent time with in the Sierra months prior. We ended up finishing at the Mexican border together.

I witnessed the most clear and starry sky I had ever seen above Crater Lake while drinking a beer at Watchmans Peak (tower) in the middle of the night.

After both sleeping in by accident at different locations just a mile from one another, myself and another hiker met on trail at about 10am and started hiking together. We eventually got lost (off trail) and stumble upon a hunter who shares his home made moon shine with us. We get lost again ( :  )  ) and find the PCT to finally camp at a lake where Elk Bugle all night while we sip hot drinks and talk about life and the world.

Take your pick, miraculous things happen daily. Sometimes we have to open our eyes to see them, and others we have to be or create the miraculous. 

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

Elements: Howling winds along knifes edge, the sleepless night on snow just after Rainy Pass, and realizing I was in the middle of a thunder storm on top of Muir Pass in the Sierra : L .

Wildlife: The deer who moved only two yards off trail for me to get by because he was eating. (do humans count as wildlife? haha)

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

I'm no longer afraid to communicate with others. We have way more similarities with someone who lives on the other side of the world and around the corner than we may think.

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

First, I miss the people and how open/close everyone can become over a short time. Second, the daily challenge and goal setting.

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

Being unprepared, Injury, and Thunder...I'm still scared of thunder.

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

Never seeing my trail family(s) again and not living my life to the fullest,  but more so how I thought my life should be while on trail.

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

Lots of things, its hard to explain but when you are on trail you are free in so many ways. Being off trail, which is necessary, can easily break your spirit if you aren't kind to yourself and don't surround yourself with people that encourage you.

(14) Would you like to add anything else?

The PCT isn't for everyone, but if you find yourself longing for a dream year after year you should probably give it a shot because if you don't start living your dreams, you start living a nightmare.