Begin and End in Weakness

It's easy to develop a superiority complex as a thru hiker. Once I made it to Washington all the day hikers, weekend backpackers, and section hikers on the trail would congratulate me on hiking as far as I had, and they'd tell me and all the other thru hikers how awesome we were.  The more I basked in the light of praise the more prideful I became. Towards the end I began to see myself as an elite superhuman, but life always seems to find a way to humble me.

Forty miles from Canada, just past Glacier Pass, without warning I found myself face down on the trail. I had missed a step, and for some unknown reason my trekking poles didn't provide adequate support. I'm a very clumsy hiker, but nine times out of ten I am saved from ending up on the ground with the help of my well worn trekking poles. This time, however, I hit the rocky ground hard. I rushed to get back on my feet, because I knew several other thru hikers were in the vicinity. I wanted to salvage the remains of my pride before anyone would notice, but I fell with such force the sound of my fall resonated across the hillside; several hikers looked my way to see what had happened.

I got to my feet and continued hiking as if everything was fine but, in addition to my pride, my right hip ached. I stood at the beginning of a 1200 foot climb and I realized I would have to slowly limp my way to the top of the ridge.  With each step I hoped the soreness would subside. The climb took much longer than normal, and by the time I reached to top of the climb all of my hiking companions were miles down the trail. Luckily my hip only seemed to become inflamed on ascents so on the flatter sections and the descents I was able to hike somewhat normal. 

I had hoped that with some ibuprofen and a good nights sleep my hip would heal, but to my dismay my hip remained tender and sensitive for the rest of the hike.  As I slowly pushed towards Canada I recalled the discomfort I had endured in the first forty miles of the trail. In weakness I began the trail and in weakness I would end the trail.  Humbly I rest in the satisfaction that I was able to complete the PCT. Countless hindrances could have ended my hike at any point along the 2660 mile journey, but through grace I reached the monument at the Canadian border.