10/13: A Conclusion, and a Start!

Thf2 end post 

(I had to make a very difficult decision recently, to end my thru-hike and come back to “civilization.” After almost 2,000 miles, I felt it was time. I wanted to relate the reasons why and what went in to the decision, as well as let everyone know how I’m doing with the decision. I wanted to write this sooner, but I struggled with finding the right time & words to write).

I crossed the dirt road, and looked for where the trail would pick up again. Figuring it was down the road to my right, I began walking. I was going over the list of things I’d need to be focusing on that day and the next to make a smooth resupply.  A large pickup passed  headed the other way, three men in full hunting gear out for the day it seemed. 

Two minutes later, I stopped walking. An unreal thought passed through my mind and made a home: 

“This is where you get off the trail. Time to go home.”

I stood there, struck with a sad, numb feeling. But…at peace. 

If not for the peace, I would have fought it. I’d be in Canada right now, barring injury, and looking forward to visiting with my cousins in Seattle. I would be right where I had imagined, right where I’d pictured myself for over a year, with a sense of accomplishment at being counted as one of those who completed the 2011 PCT thru-hike. It had been such an incredible experience, the most challenging test I’d put myself through, and I’d made it this far. 

But there on that Oregon dirt road, I knew this hike was over. 

This hike has never been about me. It has, from the start, been about those whose lives have been devastated and changed forever by the horror of human trafficking. That was who I’ve been hiking for. Not myself. But, to have made it that far, there’s a need to be fully invested and sold out for the complete hike. I wouldn’t have made it 2,000 miles otherwise. 

But, in the process, I ended up combining everything together. The cause I was hiking for, success, and finishing all in one. To make a difference, and for the hike to be a success, I had to finish. This didn’t become my thought process all at once, but once it was there, it was ingrained and made it difficult to separate one from the other. 

Understanding finally came to me on that dirt road in Oregon. The hike would have been a success if I had stopped after 200 miles. Or 500. Or 1,200. The distance or the fact I finished or not was not as important as other aspects. 

I had raised awareness of human trafficking. I had raised funds which will go to help those affected by human trafficking. And, I had made myself available. In an entry from Ashland, Oregon, I had included some quotes regarding hiking. Essentially, a lot can happen inside a person when they spend time in nature. I felt that God had had close to five months with me…and especially those last 1,000 miles that I had been hiking solo. I came to realize that finishing the PCT on this attempt was not the goal…getting me away, alone, on a trail like the PCT…THAT was the first step. Then, breaking me down, physically, emotionally, spiritually…that was the second step. Then, once God had my full attention, showing me what I was supposed to do once I returned from the trail. That process was one of the main reasons I was led to take this adventure. 

So there I was. Standing there, my trusty McHale pack strapped to my back, in need of a good bath, but otherwise feeling great, physically. And, I was at peace with my new realization. 

It was just “time.”

I turned around, and began the long walk towards civilization. Down this road twelve miles…head south on the next paved road, then southwest on US 97 to Klamath Falls. I was sure to find a train or bus heading down towards Sacramento from there. Thankfully, the kindness of strangers who were brave (or crazy?) enough to pick up an extremely homeless looking, dirt covered & odiforous vagabond, I was able to get around the potentially long walk to Klamath.

As I walked down US 97, though, before I found a ride, I asked God to show me a sign. Something that would be a definitive answer to my question of, “I’m doing the right thing, right?” as I walked, at that exact moment, a shiny object caught my eye on the ground to my right. It was a CD. I’d seen a lot of stray CD’s laying on the sides of roads on this hike, but this one was different. This CD had actual printing on it, like a store bought CD; the others had all been blanks, undoubtedly used to make mixes with. This one was professional. I stopped walking, bent down to pick it up, and read the front. It was a John Denver CD. (I’ll admit, I like John Denver!) and then read the CD title:

“Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

I just broke out laughing. Ok! There it was! I asked, and got an immediate answer. 

So, what now? 

Well, thankfully, I’m safe, healthy, and despite losing some crazy weight, I feel amazing. My pants don’t fit, some shirts are baggier, my feet hurt as if I’ve taken a hammer to them, and I crave burgers and food that’s terrible for me!

I’m back home in Sacramento, all moved in to a new place, and back at work. So I’m feeling a bit in ‘whirlwind’ mode, not to mention the adaptive post-trail shock of being back in society. That alone has taken some getting used to. I generally adapt pretty well to any environment, but going from the natural beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail to living where there’s hundreds of thousands of people…cars…pollution…STUFF…I mean, I even heard someone honking their car horn this week! I hadn’t heard that sound for almost 5 months! Air conditioning? Restrooms? Of course, with the crazy came the good: water anywhere anytime, loved ones, football on tv, and my cat. Oh…and food that you don’t prepare just by adding water to!

Ultimately, I felt as if God had taken me out there, to a place where His beauty was on full display, thrust into daily situations where I needed to lean on Him for strength, guidance, and support. It was out there, where He had my full attention, where I felt He wanted me. There were some great conversations we had, and He showed me what He wanted me to do with the project I had started for human trafficking victims, and how he wanted me to proceed with that. I’ve shared a little about the non-profit I’ll be starting, and will be sharing more about how that will look in the next few weeks. 

Until then, I’ll be working to get my feet back on the ground here, and piecing together the details of the non-profit. Please stay tuned, as I’ll also have some analysis of my hike, gear breakdowns, food & diet overviews, pictures (lots of pictures!) and more. 

What an adventure, right?? Thank you for following along, and for all of your support in so many ways. What an honor to have shared this with you.

Again, my apologies for keeping you all in limbo as to where I was!

Blessings,

Rawhide. :)

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11 Responses to 10/13: A Conclusion, and a Start!

  1. Night Moves says:

    You were an inspiration to me the short time we hiked together. The honest candor in which you explained your success and failures in life left a lasting impression on me. It helped when I started to try to find my way back to God, but I found out he was not very far at all. I have been attending a Quaker church regularly and enjoying the fellowship and conservationist philosophy.

    A lot of things have changed since I got off the trail in Big Bear, but I never intended to hike past Warner Springs. I was just a hippy out for a weekend that turned into a month. However, I am now in full planning mode for a PCT thru-hike. I think I am going to model my hike after yours and use it to raise awareness for a cause. I discovered this area of Pennsylvania is one of the worst places in the US for human trafficking because of the proximity to larger cities and amount of semi trailer traffic.

    Night Moves

  2. LEWIS HALL says:

    So glad to have met you along the way Dug and so very much happy that you are at peace and safe at home. You had such a positive attitude when we met you on that dirty Oregon backroad that I had no idea that we were meeting you at such a turning point. I only wish we had the room in that packed pickup to give you that helpful ride into Klamath Falls……..it would have been an honor.

  3. Dan johnson says:

    Thanks so much for letting is all live vicariously through your journey. I looked forward to your video updates as they helped me feel as if I was there with you every time you posted. Thank you for putting us all at ease with this entry as to your safety and where-abouts as I am sure many of us followers were worried about you. Best of luck with your non profit and I can’t wait to see some videos or entries about your gear.

    Thanks again Rawhide,

    Dan Johnson

    • thf2 says:

      Thank you for such an awesome affirmation, Dan. I’m a little humbled and overwhelmed by the response to my hike, and the cause. Thank you, and everyone who was a part of this…

  4. John Hewitt says:

    Hey Rawhide, Wheelchair John here. Ditto all the other comments from me too. I am so glad I came across you, think I found you on Youtube first. You inspired me to hike my own hike and I had a great summer trying to lighten my gear and spent the most beautiful days and nights in some beautiful places ( norcal ) and though I was solo I was never alone, hehehe… As for your cause, I wish I had a million bucks I could slap on ya but thats not gonna happen. I can be supportive and help pass along what I learn from you though, as I have been doing with those I know. Thanks again for the killer journey and I will keep in touch.

    • thf2 says:

      Hey John, thanks for that! A million bucks? Wouldn’t that be great?! :). I’m really stoked I could be a part of your hike. I’m in NorCal too, maybe we can do a hike sometime.

  5. Hi Dug!

    Thanks for the update on your trip back home. You did okay. You did great! You did wonderful! Thanks for sharing via updates. I look forward to seeing some pics. Looking forward to hearing about your non profit too.

    You said you are in Sacramento? Did you move from the Bay Area?

    Best of luck in your new home and new job.

    Dianne

  6. lesliedlucas says:

    Dug, I am so pleased you were able to hike such a wonderful hike. I loved reading your entries and sharing in your experiences. I’m very much interested in hearing about your upcoming projects, and would love to assist in any way possible (minus donating money-Peace Corps doesn’t really pay me much). But anything else you need that I can do for you in Ghana, I’m just an email away. I really connected with your experience that you wrote about here- I am constantly amazed at how God directs my life and helps me take the paths that are necessary for me to fulfill His plan for me. I hope we may be able to stay in touch.

  7. Scott Sprenger says:

    Doug, what a journey!!! You are truly and inspiration to many. Two thousand miles hiked? Seriously? That is an amazing feat. I love the story about the “John Denver” CD, that was so cool and of course, we all no GOD works in mysterious ways anyhow. That was a good example of how GOD does answer us.

    I really enjoyed following your journey and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. I am trying to put together a PCT trip for 2012. If I am able to, I hope it becomes as successful as your trip became. Congratulaions!!!

  8. Rawhide – It’s ‘Alaska’ (aka Dan) I had a great time hiking with you early on and seeing you move through the mountains and down into the Mojave. Seeing you on your rest day out of Aqua Dulce and in the mix of the desert was a true inspiration. A little teary I am even now writing.
    Keep up the fight, the struggle, the smiles and the life. It’s people like you that help keep the world going round. You ever find yourself up here in Alaska – look me up!

    • thf2 says:

      Alaska! That means a lot…I had a blast hiking with you, from the van ride in to the border, to heading out from Lake Morena that very cold morning, to Agua Dulce…I hope you’re well, and when I’m in Alaska I’m calling you first! Send me your # when you get a chance!

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