It’s been a little under 72 hours now since we last had contact with Astro (Andy). He’s at a section of the trail between Snoqualmie and Skykomish where the elevation gets trippy and there is absolutely no cell phone service. My mind wanders continuously – is he all right, is he in pain, is he at peace doing just what he wants to do? Many thru-hikers say this last 260 miles of the PCT is some of the toughest terrain other than the section through the Sierras. There is a lot of climbing and then descending which is particularly difficult with a bad leg. There are no roads that cross the trail so once you start this section you are committed to walking the 76 miles to Skykomish. The good news is that it is gorgeous in Washington State right now with temps in the 70’s, and the weather looks to be cooperating all week long!
As any mother would do though, in my shoes, I play worst-case scenarios out in my mind – imagining him walking blindly over a cliff, tumbling thousands of feet down a deep crevasse and being eaten by a bear (although bears in this area are essentially herbivores.) With Andy’s preference for his veggies I am hoping he will not be too tempting a morsel for a starving bear. There is a small Grizzly Bear population in the Pacific Northwest, but I don’t want to even think about that.
Yesterday we had 5,500 hits on the blog. Wow. There is a certain amount of peace of mind knowing so many people have taken an interest, like somehow it’ll protect him and he’ll be healed.
Yesterday morning I sent my very last food drop — number 39 — to Stehekin. Stehekin is 98 miles from Skykomish and is one of the longest stretches on the trail without a chance to re-supply. This means he will be carrying more food and a heavier load. Sending the package off felt so final, like the journey really is going to come to an end. I can imagine what so many of those PCT-thru hikers feel as they recognize that they will be finished very soon, how their lives have been changed and wondering what the future might hold.
On another note, a representative from Seattle Genetics, contacted me. This is the company that produces the medication Brentuximab vedotin that Andy was given on Wednesday to reduce the size of his tumors. The company has been so inspired by his story they are planning a rendezvous at the next Trail Angel stop in Skykomish. Trail magic = food, companionship and well wishes. Some representatives from the company might even hike along!
For now it’s just playing the waiting game for the next text or phone call with the latest up date and trying not to sound too anxious when that time comes. In the mean time I try to focus on my own life, the work I need to get done and recognizing I just don’t know how this journey will play itself out. Finding a place in my own mind where I can find peace as Pema Chodrom says, “And living in the unknown with uncertainty.”