Nov 082013
 

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I never considered myself the kind of person that would be tearfully grateful to be sitting in a truck cab full of power tools winding woefully fast down a narrow mountain road. But I was that grateful. After a solid hour of standing on the side of the road, these beautiful men gathered me and took me to a virtual Disneyland of amenities, meaning to food, a shower, and a hot cup of non-instant coffee. It was everything. Help is HUGE  on an endeavor like this, and I was showered with it. Here’s the cast of the biggies:

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Linda Figone

No, you didn’t accidentally get shuttled back to the 2012 gratitude roll. I mentioned Linda first last year too and the reason is because I simply would not have been able to do this without her, and by “do this” I don’t just mean hike the PCT. What I mean is that I would not have been able to set off, die, gestate, and be reborn with such amazing Grace without her. Physically, her support was everything, what made it actually factually possible, but most importantly she kept me loved and tuned and aware, of what I was really doing, who I really am, and what it was all about. I felt her with me, palpably, with every step, an invaluable gift on a venture where loneliness is only second to foot pain in insurmountables. She also crowned me “Queen of the PCT”, and if you doubt it, notice the white crown I was wearing the entire last day to the finish line. That was bestowed upon me by Linda.  I love you, Linda, and cherish you in my life. THANK YOU!!

tav and charTav Huffman and Charlene Mulder

So, arriving in a resupply town is not all exhalations and hot water. It’s chores. And it can feel very overwhelming. The first time I received a resupply box from Tav, I melted with the relief that not having to go to the grocery store provides. I had food,  good food that I’d never be able to find in the Chevron stations and IGA’s I was usually stuck resupplying at. When I arrived at the next resupply town and there was ANOTHER resupply box from Tav, I was speechless. Not only did I not have to go to the grocery store AGAIN, but there was my favorite black licorice and those little square caramel thingies in there that make me feel like a happy 8 year old. And there also was a “You’re a rockstar” handwritten card tucked in between some Abbazabba’s and cinnamon gum. Yes I need to be fluffed like that, I do. And then, yes there’s more, there was another resupply box, and another, and ANOTHER! There was a resupply box from Tav and Char AT EVERY SINGLE RESUPPLY TOWN!! EVERY ONE!! Geezus wow!! And because it wasn’t enough, Tav and Char showed up for joy and rescue at three different locations, pulling me and a friend OUT of some bad weather and gear deficiencies into nests of warmth, fun, and better gear. Thank you for the intense amounts of support you offered to me. I love you immeasurably.

IMG_2115Tomi “Icebucket” Tiainen

I walked many many miles with this man and he quickly became my on trail sanity rod. Whenever I would become intimidated by any particular circumstance, for example snow, or bears, or filtering out whole dead animals from  a repulsive water source, he would always submit the perspective that this shit was really really easy and stand firm and stubborn in that. And he made it so. It WAS really really easy when he was there with me. And I am incredibly grateful for that, and for the laughter and companionship. Thank you, Tomi!

IMG_1834Christopher “Ipod” Condap

A good definition of “friend” would include someone who believes in you. Ipod believed in me, to the degree that he truly thought I could make it to Sonora Pass a full 3 days before I actually could, and patiently waited there to surprise me, and shower me with love, wine, bacon bits, and the pleasure of his company. He gets two big awards, one for “Best Wrapped Care Package Ever”, and the other for “Best Trip Cheerleader Through the Energetic Use of the Facebook Like Button”. He made sure I knew I wasn’t forgotten about, that someone was still there and paying attention to where the hell I was and even cared about where I was, and showed up for me in a zillion ways. Thank you, Ipod!

NicoleNicole Dijiacomo

Nicole doesn’t know this, but she became an intensely motivating force for me to finish. She is my spiritual sister in that she suffered the same type of stroke that I did, right before I was leaving for the PCT. I visited with her only a couple of weeks after it happened, when she still couldn’t walk or talk, and I left her a card letting her know that there was the “other side” and that she would get to it, something I truly wish someone could have said to me when it was me in that hospital bed. A few months into the hike, I received a short message from her that simply said, “Hello from the other side”. I cried for hours after getting that message, and felt that we were crossing an enormous bridge together into new and more vibrant lives. We’re strong and beautiful women, Nicole, and I am grateful for the parallel pathways we get to walk together, whether we’re in each other’s lives or not.

JanJan McEwan

Jan looked out for me. She continually posted updates for me on weather conditions, trail conditions as reported by other hikers, and genuinely worried about me when I didn’t post regularly. It was wonderful to spend time together in Mt. Shasta City and meet her out on the trail where she provided some excellent trail angeling. Thank you, Jan!

IMG_2069Preventer of Scurvy

The orange. Who sent the orange, dammit?? And THANK YOU!!

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IMG_0081Kevin Weiderstrom

Yes that’s Kevin. He is standing there with a towel after drying off the train seat so I could take a miniature train ride in a pouring rainstorm in Skykomish, Washington. Kevin ADOPTED us there when we were stuck for 8 days waiting for the weather situation to improve. We were surly. We were impatient. We were damn near depressed. But Kevin picked us up and shuttled our wet asses all over the place, taking us to interesting historical places, awesome bakeries, trailheads, and was fabulous company while doing so. Thank you, Kevin!

IMG_1989Drama and Wendy

They’re not a couple. I don’t think they even walked together really. I’m just putting them together because, well, they were both ushers in my Surviversary together, and awesome trail friends, and it was the picture I had, and I miss them both.

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leslieLeslie and Hoppy

Could I get enough brownies and other yummies in the mail? No, I could not! Thank you for the packages and the loving cards. You are incredible friends!

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IMG_0111Bob Nielson

Bob built that house and damn near everything in it. He is an amazing human being. He had a GUMBALL MACHINE at the end of his driveway for people walking/biking by! But where my gratitude for Bob became insane is when we showed up in Stehekin, Washington to find that the government had shut it down. There was no place to stay, camping was illegal, no stores, even the bakery was closed and it was a ten mile road walk back to the trailhead because the shuttle was shut down. Bob solved every problem. He pulled fresh vegetables out of his own garden to feed us, made sure we were housed and warm, drove us where we needed to go, and hooked us up with essential wifi (no phone service in Stehekin). He organized interesting and happy social encounters with other locals and made us feel like Stehekin was truly the best place in the universe. He even found me shoes, that fit me, that weren’t sandals, for the snow. Thank you, Bob!!

IMG_1947Donna Saufley

I know. EVERYBODY thanks Donna Saufley. How can you NOT thank Donna Saufley? She’s got the efficient and helpful trail angel dance really down. She knows what she’s doing. She could teach it. And not a single hiker would have an easy time of it in Agua Dulce without her. But I really want to thank Donna for being such an inspirational and emotional support for me. She followed  my story and encouraged me from the fateful moment in 2012 until I reached that northern terminus. Thank you, Donna!

kidsThe “Kids”, Bier and Ranch

I don’t even know if they knew that Icebucket and I called them our “kids”. We did. But not because we felt responsible for them. On the contrary, they ended up taking care of US in some emotionally intense situations. But mostly we had an immediate bond with them, crazy amounts of laughter, nights spent hot-tubbing and painting the boys’ toenails. I love and miss those guys.

IMG_1853Paul and Alice

The Kickoff party and corn tamale crew! These two were happinesses from 2012 that met me in Idyllwild and took me to Kickoff so I could commune with the other 2012ers that I needed to touch base with. Thank you for the friendship and support guys!

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IMG_1748Mark and Heather

There’s a story about these two. There is an entire blog post dedicated to them in the early miles. But in short, these were the two that rescued me from an overwhelming panic attack and led me to walk with God. They stayed with me the entire trip in Spirit.

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IMG_1907Dip and Rebecca

I have never been trail angeled as eloquently as these two awesome people did for me! 8 people in a Kia sedan that I still laugh about, amazing food, and the first genuine bout of off-trail happiness that I experienced. Thank you for being such a spark of FUN and for all of your work in monitoring the water caches! You guys are WONDERFUL!

dadRichard Dame, otherwise known as “Dad”

Thank you for the grand championing of my blog and for the loving care packages sent my way! It felt incredible to know that you were following me and proud of me!

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IMG_1928Trail Angels

There were so many other trail angels that made things so much more pleasurable for me out there! Mike Hererra who does an ass-kicking barbeque, Terry Anderson at Casa de Luna who didn’t actually do a damn thing for me this year except be an inspiration with her Bridge of the Gods yo-yo but only because I snuck past her hypnotic grasp in the name of progress, Shrek, Tom at Kennedy Meadows with his super funky accommodations and knowing facial expressions while he scrambles the eggs,  Half-Mile with his amazing maps and friendship, Scout and Frodo who midwifed me out of the world onto the trail, Margaret in Sierra City without whom I’d have had to sleep on a bench somewhere,Meredith “Pipers Mom” who made the midpoint easy, Chief”s wife with the killer cookies, all of the amazing people who stock water caches for us in the desert, and fruit, and candy, and soda, and countless other goodies, all the people who stop and pick us up on the roads even though we smell like yak vomit, Ned Tibbets who is always there with the weather updates and safety advice, and basically everyone who let us talk to them incessantly about the trail and our ridiculous adventures upon it. Thank you for being such an enormous part of making the trail a happy place to be!

IMG_1820The Not-Currently-On-Trail Trail Community

By this I mean the awesome friends I made from last year and the just genuinely wonderful people who are just sort of “around”. Kat, you’re the coolest! And I thank you for the birthday yummies and time together at Kickoff and in Mammoth and for just being wonderful. Ryan gets his biggest points for saving my life last year, but thanks are reshowered this year for the incredible reunion at Kickoff and the encouraging letter sent to Kennedy Meadows that I carried with me the ENTIRE walk! An enormous thank you to Kolby Kirk “Condor” for being an inspiration and saving our asses in Cascade Lockes. Kish gets love sent his way for being an inspiration and helping out so many of my fellow comrades. Sugar Mama was my birthday mistress in Mammoth even though she didn’t know it. And all the people I reunited with at Kickoff and PCT Days that gave me some love and a big fat “You can do it, Weeds”, I super appreciate your existence and support.

zirqueZirque Bonner

My re-entry shaman. Bringing me food, coffee, company and all without making me talk or saying a word about the fact that I haven’t unpacked yet. Thank you, Zirque!

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So, I know I’m missing people and that this list could go on for scrolling miles.. My gratitude is bursting. It’s hard to be so needy, and to receive so much for no reason other than the truth that people are wonderful. This trail has proven that to me. I’m having a difficult time being home again. Everything still hurts, hurts WORSE actually than it did on the trail, and I’m sooooo tired. My emotions have flattened out after a solid six months of wee-haa and I have no idea what’s next. But I can remember and feel the gratitude and it reminds me that I’m okay and life is more than good.

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  7 Responses to “Putting A Bow On It – The PCT 2013 Gratitude Roll”

  1. Fourth of twenty … awesome! I’m so glad you noticed that I was like-ing all your status updates. Those things tend to get hidden or remain unnoticed so that made me smile today. Just like this … :-)

    Well, of course I always believed you could make it all the way. Hopefully you do too, now. My only regret is that I didn’t think to send you a big box of hand-warmers when I figured out you’d be on the trail in October.

    Love you and miss you and hope to see you sooner rather than later. :-)

  2. congratulations, once again, for have the courage to embark on such a challenging and life changing adventure. it sounds like you met wonderful people all along the way who i am sure appreciated you, and what you did, as much as you value them.

  3. Weeds, my thanks go to you. Why? Because YOU were such an inspiration to me and countless people who have challenges to overcome, be they real or imagined. Because you’re a witty, insightful, strong, sensitive, and beautiful woman who did not let the fear of death stop her. For many that fear is an amalgam of imaginary possibilities; for you that fear was real. You had to come to the very real place where you almost lost your life, and move beyond it physically and emotionally. And you did it!!! I admire you so much for that, and for the way you handled the conditions faced near the finish. Too bad your brand of determination can’t be bottled and sold.

    I am really going to miss your “Good morning from the PCT” posts, but I look forward to keeping a connection with you. I really want to know how your amazing adventure continues, and how the trail’s magic manifests itself within you going forward.

    Much love from your friend for life,

    Donna Saufley

  4. If I could “like” iPod’s comment, I would. And holy crap! I made the list? Aw shucks lady :-) I am so happy to have heped you on your victory lap. Truthfully, you are a HUGE source of inspiration for me (and many others I am sure). Lots of love to you my dear Weeds <3

  5. Your love of people and life blows me away. I’m so proud of you :)

  6. Be gentle with yourself – you have the ability to walk in grace no matter where you are – don’t let the “city” persona fool you!

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