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[pct-l] News from the Trail: Goforth

Joanne "Goforth" Lennox is sending me reports of her thru-hike for me to
post here with news about trail conditions for this year's hikers and a
glimpse of our beloved PCT for the rest of us.

Karen Elder


June 18, 1999

Dear List Members -

        I may have made a spelling error in calling the horny toads
gentile - I meant to say that they have gentitlity and a certain social
grace. I encoundered one which scampered into my shadow, and I stroked its
back with the tip of my trekking pole. It seemed not at all concerned, so I
adjusted its short straight spiny tail into a modest curl. It still had no
inclination to move -- the relationship seemed satisfying on both sides.
Well, OK, I am a little lonesome.

        But I do find it disconcerting to be traveling through the
countryside and have the wildlife fleeing madly away at the mere sight of a
human. I only thank God that the vegetables are rooted in place, and have
not developed the ability to scream. I certainly think that the plants have
more to fear from me than the animals.

        I have been examining my goals and motivation for this hike -- I
think this is a question that must occupy most thruhikers all the way to
Canada. Basically, I consider this hike a pilgrimage. What is that you might
ask -- well, it's highly personal + I don't completely know myself, so I'll
just leave it at that. But it seems that the advance of time and mileages
keeps interfering with my pilgrimage.

        One of the central problems is that I am just SLOW. I am short +
short-legged, and my gait is small. And I also take small steps to save my
knees, which have been getting more + more inflamed. In addition, I think
that there is just a natural tendency to be POKEY. I am truly starting to
wonder whether I am thruhiker material. I always get up at about 5 am, am of
between 6 to 7, and walk until 8 pm, somtimes later. In the Sierras, I have
rarely covered over 18 miles/day. Most of my eating + drinking is done on
foot. It is discouraging.

        When I asked myself what I enjoyed most about the hike, the first 3
items were: getting into camp at night, sitting down and resting, and
getting up in the morning with first light and the birds singing (and eating
breakfast). This is discouraging. The great overwhelming backdrop of the
High Sierras is just kind of looming in the background as an adjunct to
making mileages. (Streams at Spat have to be crossed early morning; Forester
Pass late afternoon is a hell of postholing in soft snow or walking in water
which is everywhere between the snow pieces)

        After climbing 44 peaks, I decided that since my knees are so
inflamed, no more mountains for a while. It seems I can get stronger on the
uphill, but my knees are getting more + more tender on the downhill. Ditto
for my heels and arches, which are now so tender that I cannot sleep on my

        When I got to Independence + looked at myself in the mirror + saw
the black circles under my eyes + how puffy they were, I decided on a day's
rest. I am not getting stronger; it appears that I am getting weaker. This
is discouraging.

        I have still not hiked with a single thruhiker. I see somebody about
every other day + they are going in a "different direction" -- the
Norwegians down as I was going up Olancha Peak; Katie Gleason to Whitney +
me to the John Muir; Traveling Man + Southern Harp to resupply at Lone Pine
(Trail Pass) + me at Independence. This is discouraging. While I am
competent to be alone, it sure would be nice to commiserate in the High
Sierras now + again -- the scale of these mountains can be awesome and
overwhelming at times. It would be nice to have somebody around at the worst
of the river crossings or after about mile 15 of water running down the
trail. OTOH, talking takes time . . . .

        I think the Ego uses the body as a distraction, the source of
problems incapable of solution (Murphy's Law -- use body beyond level of
competence -- level will be sought where body is used beyond limit of
repair?). It is time to move my mind rather than my body. There is some real
learning yet to be done and it does not include mileages.


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