Life in a Motel Room

Day 5. Thursday, July 7, 2005

Start: Quality Inn in Mammoth Lakes

Stop: Quality Inn in Mammoth Lakes

Mikes Hiked: Zero

It has been another great day until the very end…

I got up about 5:30, sat in the spa, cleaned up, read the paper, worked out the exact plan on how to get to Vermilion, made a list of stuff to buy and do today, and then got Wes and Allen up at 8:00. I am now convinced that I will hike to Vermilion, with or without company. My plan was to get Wes and Allen to breakfast and woe them to go with me.

We had a great breakfast at one of the little café. Egg burritos. There, Wes told me he would go with me, but Allen still wants to go home. So these decisions set the course for the day. Wes and I would resupply: food, water pump, batteries, medicine, sunglasses, fuel, and so forth. For Allen, I would plan a bus trip to that he could go home tomorrow.

By 10:30, we had almost all the shopping done. We decided to ride the bus up to Mammoth mountain, and goof around there. One last stop at an ATM, and I realized that I didn’t have my ATM card, so no cash. By then, Wes's face started a massive peeling exercise, and we both were having doubts about going on. We talked. I decided that no matter how I felt at the moment, I would go on hiking tomorrow. But I agreed with Wes, that his face and eyes looked so bad, that it was not a good thing to spend any time in the sun, and that he should go home too.

To get out of the noonday sun, we decided to turn back and go to the movies instead of up to Mammoth Mountain. Of course we missed the noon shows, so we had to wait until 3:30. We had lunch at a deli. We window-shopped. And I got to use an Internet terminal: the weather for the next few days is going to be perfect. Then I ran into Chele again… this time we had a really long talk. Turns out that Andy is a sail maker; I could have used his help in my last project.

We saw "War of the Worlds". Kind of a lousy movie. I am thinking that it will be sad to say goodbye to Wes and Allen. We went home and repacked. I sent the rope and ice axe home, as well as one of my hiking poles and radios. After repacking, with all the new food, and a 2L bladder full of water, the pack didn't seem to be unreasonably heavy.

At about 8:00 pm, I asked Wesley and Allen to vacate the room so that I could have a private talk with Carol. I was thinking of all the reassurance that I needed to give her when I told her that I would be hiking alone for a few days, and that Wes and Allen where going to go home tomorrow.

Carol told me that Kenneth left the trail and was at a hotel in Independence. What! I couldn't believe it. Was he okay? Why? Of course, if he was in Independence, he would not be in Vermilion for at least another week. What was I going to do? Go to Vermilion and stay for a week! A few days might be okay, but not a week. Then it started to dawn on me that Kenneth might not continue the PCT at all… Wow…

It took many hours into the night before I finally got to talk to Kenneth. He is actually leaving the trail, at least until after his brother Tim's Wedding on July 22. That means he will not be able to complete the PCT this year. I was very sad for him, but he has my complete respect. I told him early on, that the trail was not worth his life -- and that he needed to be able to make good decisions about his ability and the reality of the trail, even if it seems like a failure. I think he got to a place where he is doing just that.

So now what? Even though I am completely ready to hike tomorrow, there is no point in me going on. All my sons are going home. I guess I will go home too.

Quitting really hurts. However, I have had fun this year, and got to experience completely new conditions. I think this has made me a better hiker. I am looking forward to more extended hikes soon.