Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day 2: What's Important in Life?

Lake Morena to Cibbets Campground
13.0 Miles

What's important in life? Is it how much money you make? How successful you become? The things you own? The experiences you have? The relationships you form? This question and all its potential answers have been funneling through my mind over the past two days. I'm sure for most, the answer to this question is some or all of these factors. Or maybe none of these at all.

I'm a very goal oriented person. I make up my mind to do something and I do it; at all expenses and sometimes regardless of the consequences (both positive and negative). I don't like to fail. So when we strolled into camp tonight and my partner looked at me and said she didn't think she could do this I blew her off. It took her breaking down into tears explaining in between sobs that her heart kept skipping beats and she had pain running through her chest for me to start looking beyond my own selfish goals.

Cori does have a heart condition, Wolf Parkinsons White syndome. Basically her heart has a tendency to race and/or have extra beats. She has a regular heart doctor that she sees annually who believed she would be okay out here despite the heat. She is active and healthy. She's ran marathons, played roller derby, and hiked the Appalachian Trail; all with no heart problems. On most accounts she is a healthy person. Still, the condition exists and she's had episodes in the past that caused her to modify her activity levels.

We knew this coming out here so we were careful to train and prepare ourselves to the best of our abilities. While hiking we've been extremely careful to stay hydrated and nourished. So when she first mentioned that she was in pain, that her chest hurt and she could feel her heart skipping beats which was making her uncomfortable I dismissed her. She needed to drink more water. She needed to realize that this was going to hurt. Thru-hiking hurts. We were going to be uncomfortable for a few weeks until we adjusted. She was fine. We hiked on. When we strolled into camp tonight she was in tears before she could even put her pack down. She hurt. Her heart was skipping beats and she was dizzy and nauseous. She couldn't do this. What do I say to that? OK, go home I'll see you in five months? You're being a hypochondriac drama queen. Get your shit together?

Cori and I have been together for almost six years. In that time I have seen her cry three times. Maybe. This was real. So at this point, what's important? The thought of leaving the PCT is devastating. And we just got started. But what are the consequences if I stick to my selfish goals and somehow convince her to stay with me? Daily sobbing episodes? Constant fights? Or something worse? Could she really have a heart attack? Is flirting with the line of dehydration for the next 700 miles really worth it?

No. It is not worth it. This wasn't some leg pain and sore shoulders. Tight calves and sore feet. Blisters. These things are to be expected. We were about to enter the Mojave Desert, the hottest desert in North America. We would have to hike 15-20 mile stretches in blazing heat daily just to replenish our water so we could keep ourselves hydrated.

I've come to believe that the relationships we form and the experiences we have with the ones we love are going to be what we cherish most in life. For that reason (and a few others) I am choosing to leave with Cori. Sending her home alone with no home to go to, and no job, and three dogs to pick up and take care of is not what a good partner does. I wouldn't want it done to me.

We are trying to make the best of a very devastating turn of events. We have rented a car and are making our way North. We plan on visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Tetons while we make our way home over the next two weeks.

The PCT will always be there. I'm sure we'll find our way out west sometime in the future.

P.S. I almost stepped on a rattle snake today and it scared the shit out of me.

Drying our stuff out in a lunch break


  1. Tough tough decision...sorry it didn't work out. Good for you to put relationships first. I hope you have some great experiences on your trip home.


  2. Yes, that's a very difficult decision indeed, but it's hard for me to see how you could have made a decision other than this one. You are a great couple and I'm SO looking forward to seeing you in Asheville soon...

    1. Thanks Jonathan! We'll see you as soon as I can pull Cori away from the West Coast!