Well, first of all:
“Thank you for all your kind words, comments and private messages. It touched my deeply that you are with me!”
I can postpone the letting go just a little bit longer for now, as the three of us are still up here in Canada, driving around, looking at nature, and sleeping in Dodgy.
We have a few more days before we drive back down to the US, where the guys will drop me off in East Glacier village, where I will take a train to Seattle (it’s going to be a 16 hours train ride).
I try to ignore this for now and soak everything in as much as I can.
Glaciers! Rivers! Lakes! Woods, and of course the company!
It’s funny to visit all these places by car!! We just drive, park, get out of the van, walk somewhat 5 minutes, and see landscapes like this here!!
Ha! Too easy!
But whenever I walk I still get my familiar pain bursts. Even though I have learned by now to walk very very causiously.
So my decision to stop hiking the CDT and have this bloody knee looked at and treated properly is smart and right.
We are on our way back South now. A few more hours and I have to say goodbye to Dale and Felix and to the almost four months of hiking.
I dread the moment so much, as I know I am going to cry loads.
We are back in East Glacier.
I feel terrible.
We all stand outside the van.
“Please just go quickly guys, no long goodbye, please just go!”
I give them both a hug while sobbing, they climb into the van and drive away.
Not many words.
It hurts so much to see the van dissappear.
They are gone!
Oh my oh my. I am sooo sad.
I sit on a bench in the shade for about two hours, as I don’t want to do anything else then just sit here.
I am so full with memories, and emotions, so very full, but also totally empty at the same time.
How is this kind of feeling even possible?
I finally make a move, book my train ticket for tomorrow, and go to the tiny cabin I had booked for tonight.
I shower, order a pizza, listen to Beethoven’s 9th symphony on my phone (as it reminds me of the time in “The Bob” , when I sang “An die Freude” to scare away the bears!)
I sob loads and eventually fall asleep.
I am still hikertrash, sort of, so my breakfast contains of left-over pizza from yesterday and coffee.
A sad looking breakfast, when one eats like a hiker but is no longer a hiker…
Now I need to wait 10 hours for the train. (There is only one train per day here).
I spend a rather long time near the station, as I can’t really walk or do anything.
I get my seat and eat some more hikertrash food (coldsoaked freezedried in a Ziplock bag).
I am still miserable. Jesus. Just look at my face!
16 hours and some sleeping later, I arrive in Seattle. My flight is in three days (I had to obviously rebook and there was no earlier flight available.)
The hotels in Seattle are incredibly expensive! I spent a while online and figured it will be actually cheaper to take the bus to Portland, and spend two nights there in the Youthostel, and then come back to Seattle. And since I can’t really walk much anyway, I can as good take a busride (another 3.5 hours).
And I have never been in Portland but only heard good things about!
So decision is made.
I arrive in Portland. Wow, this city really feels good indeed! I am so not a city person, but this one here feels good to me.
I carefully walk me and my knee to the nearby Youthostel, and come across this sign:
I walk on and see the Youthostel. My mood lifts up instantly.
My room is in this historic house. The one on the the upper right hand side, with the bay window!
Feels good, the room has such good vibes. I love sleeping in old historic buildings!
I hobble around the neighbourhood a bit, get something to eat and go to sleep.
Today, I have two jobs to get done. I need to see another doctor as I apparently need a blood thinner pill for the flight (thank you so much Andy for your awesome help with this!)
And now I need (want) to buy a skirt and shoes. The hikertrash outfit does not feel right anymore in the city.
I begin to feel much better, as I had some time now to let all sink in and digest, and slowly begin to make the transformation back to a normal life.
Thruhiking really is “another” (not normal) life.
Yes, it is often a very hard and exhausting life. And it’s a (for me at least) often frightening life, as I so often have to push and extend the boundries of my comfort zone. That’s hard mental work.
But it’s extraordinary and it’s so real and so down to earth. (Litterally!) It’s so pure and basic and simple. And it’s a way to feel so connected with life, with the earth, and the wind, and the cold, and the heat, and the hunger, and thirst, and pain and happiness, and freedom!
These very basic things I am not really connected with in my other life.
Oh I will miss all this!
And I will miss Felix, who is such a smart, extraordinary and gentle and good person whom I can trust a 100% in every situation.
I will miss all this so much!!
I will miss the sensation of having a hot shower and washing my hair after having spent another week outdoors!
I will miss that I can eat whatever I want, with as much sugar and/or fat in it as possible, while still loosing weight!
I decide to make a mental list of things that I look forward to see and do in Switzerland, in my normal life. This is an active thought process, as I feel, I have a choice now to either actively try to feel good, or passively just feel miserable.
I choose the first, active path.
I remember how hikers talk about “post trail depression”, and I don’t want to go down this alley!! I know “PTD” is a real thing and it exists and happens.
So I think of all the people in my life whom I will see again soon and look forward to see. And I think that I am lucky to be able to go back to a beautiful country with lots of mountains in it!
And I think of my awesome job with awesome colleagues I can go back to!
And I think of the process of finding a new place to life for me, as I had quit my flat before I came out here. I have now the choice to find something good for me!
And I also think of actually also having indeed survived the worst and most scarry night of my life in “The Basin”, when I was convinced that I am going to die, then and there, in the lightning hell, so I also think:
All is good Heidi, everything that is coming now is sort of a bonus in your life, you are still alive!
I am at peace with my knee accident. I am at peace that I have to be off trail so abruptly.
I do feel so very sorry for Felix though and it makes me cringe! It’s hard for him too!! His CDT also came to an abrupt halt…! He has to mentally rearrange himself too! I know him well enough to tell that he is still humming and hawing about what to do now? He is not back on trail yet, he is spending some time with his family.
“I am so very sorry Felix that this has happened! That was certainly not plan A! Whatever you will decide to do next, it will be the right decision!”. Remember what we used to say:
“If two options feel OK, you can’t go wrong with either of them!”
And of course, I hope you follow our credo, which we so often used to say:
“smarter, not harder”.
(For you European folks who read this, the word “smarter” has to be pronounced in the American way, with a soft “d”. British English does not work here!)
Anyway! Enough thinking. I am hungry.
I hobble around a bit in Portland and see a Vietnamese restaurant and get a table (outside of course!). Ohhh holy moly! This is by far the best food I had in four months!
Look! The food has actually real colors and texture!
Ohhh it is sooo good.
Time to get back to my amazing room and go to sleep.
Alright, back in the bus to Seattle.
“Are you a PCT hiker?”,
a young girl with a french accent asks me as I swing my ÜLA Circuit backpack over my shoulder.
Turns out she is a PCT hiker who also has an injury and is also on her way home. We chat quite a bit! It’s nice to talk to another hiker here in Seattle! She tells me how everybody over there on the PCT had to skip the Sierras due to the massive snow!
Sounds oh so familiar!
I check in to my (expensive!) hotelroom. They upgraded me to a King Size bed!
Ha! This bed is enormous!!
Tomorrow I fly home. I wish for a 100% eventless and gentle and smooth flight!
For now, all that’s left to say is:
“Thank you Felix! I can’t wait to go hiking with you again! Whatever you decide to do now: keep enjoying and be happy and never loose your spark and glow and that awesome smile of yours!”
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR EVERYTHING YOU HAVE DONE FOR ME!!
You are awesome!