Mile 2476. 174 miles to the finish. For a total of 2,650 miles.
The days without the knowledge of where Astro (Andy) is and how he’s doing have been daunting, filled with highs and lows, what ifs and how comes. It wasn’t this way before . . . before he went to the hospital in Yakima and we learned he had a cancerous tumor pressing into his spinal column. Before all this, we knew he was safe because he was in nature.
On Monday morning (Oct 8), I get a text from Wolverine, who’s turned out to be Andy’s guardian angel and my main man trail contact, when I don’t hear from Andy. He tells me the other hikers have started appearing off the trail in Skykomish, WA heading towards the Dinsmore’s (trail angel’s home) early in the morning, all reporting that they thought Astro was in front of them.
The hours started to tick by . . . and no Astro sightings, and no cell phone coverage. Odd. He was in front of them but was yet to appear. By now everyone knows his story and is concerned about his well-being, so they rounded up a posse and turned the little town of Skykomish upside-down, inside-out, figured he may have stopped in somewhere for a quick bite. Couldn’t find him anywhere. He must still be on the trail. But this late? By now its 5:30 in the afternoon, the sun is going down and all his fellow hikers are sipping lemonade and eating sandwiches. Everyone thought Astro was in front of them, but they hadn’t seen him for two days.
A mother’s worry. It was going to get dark soon. Could we call the Forest Ranger and see if he could send some rangers down the trail and look for him? In a mother’s panic I call and get this response, “Well, yeah sure, but he has to be missing for more than 2 days.” And I say, “Well, he has been missing for more than two days, no one’s seen him, and plus he could potentially be ill, he just back on the trail after being at the hospital for several days and psychologically he could have gone down a dark hole, I mean after all, he just received another cancer diagnosis”. I’m pleading by now (I hate to admit.) And all my concerns fall on deaf ears, “If he’s still missin in the mornin maam, we’ll go out after him.”
Another restless night without sleep?
I feel helpless, I can’t eat, I can’t work, I can’t meditate. I can’t blog. A dog walk is the only remedy. An hour later, my phone rings and it’s Deon, the angel, a very special lady from the Seattle Pharmaceutical company who is determined to create some “trail magic” for Astro and his buds at this juncture in Skyhomish.
“Hello”, I say.
Long pause . . . and then, “Hi Mom.”
“Uhhhh, ANDY, are you okay?, where have you been?, we’ve been wondering where you where, you were supposed to get into town hours ago.”
Andy, “I’m doing fine . . . but what are all these people doing here at the trail head looking at me? When I walked out of the forest someone shouted, hey are you Astro? and when I nodded, this lady came up to me with her cell phone and said, ‘Talk to your mom’.” After a deep sigh, realizing he was okay, I said, “Well, we were just worried about you.”
He goes, “Mom, I’m alright, I just took a detour to the hot springs to soak myself and it felt real good and I figured I didn’t need to get in town till sundown, so here I am.” There was a bunch of commotion in the back ground — people moving, talking all at once and I realized he must be standing in the middle of a bunch of hikers, trail angels, forest rangers and god knows who else. I better get this kid off the phone so he take off his pack, go relax, enjoy a hot meal. We said our “I love you’s” with the promise to talk later, which we did.
He got back on the trail today (Wednesday, Oct.9) and will be hiking into Stehekin (98 miles). This next section of the journey is long and very remote. The weather is predicted to change and get rainy, it will be the first time Andy has seen rain (he did hike through snow in Mt. Laguna) on this entire journey. This is incredibly amazing when hiking thru on the PCT. There must be a protective energy surrounding him.