Day Four: Crying my way to Mt Laguna

Mile 32 to mile 42
10 miles hiked

It’s cool to wake up and see the beautiful campsite in the daylight.

My feet are a mess. I should have dealt with my blisters last night but I just couldn’t. Fuck. Cate and Mike are getting ready quickly this morning; I know they don’t want a repeat of yesterday and are anxious to get to Mt. Laguna. They have a box there and Cate wants to buy new shoes. I suspect I won’t hike with them at all today. (I’m right.)

I can’t decide if I should make hot breakfast – I haven’t done it yet this trip – but Cate encourages me to before she leaves. “It’ll make you feel amazing and it won’t take too long.” I think she’s right. I make two packets of oatmeal with chocolate hazelnut butter and dried blue berries and it’s incredible. I’ve gotta figure out a better system to wash my pot though – it’s kind of gross right now.

I chat with Lucky Strike and Hot Sauce about blisters and other hiking they’ve done before I leave. Lucky Strike asks about my trail name and I tell him the story; he says it’s one of the best ones he’s heard.

I head out of camp and know it’s going to be a rough day. My feet. They just hurt so much. Everyone starts to pass me, a pattern I usually don’t mind but feels offensive today.

I have to pee so I take my bag off and hide behind some bushes. I look around and it’s stunningly beautiful. But my blisters are making me go 1 mph on “easy” trail and I suddenly miss Alley so so much and then before I know it I’m crying. That will be a theme for today.

I check to see if I have service and I do. I don’t want to scare or upset anyone but I need to text my people. I send Alley a million texts explaining how sad I am but assuring her I’m okay, telling her I’ll be in town later and may even take a zero. I text my mom and dad too, then I write a dramatic Instagram caption because I’m nothing if not a true millennial. It’s honest though.

I put my phone back on airplane mode and keep hiking.

The day continues like that, basically. People stop to offer kind words or hugs if I happen to be crying. Lots of people hear about my blisters and everyone has advice though of course none of it is the same rendering it mostly overwhelming and unhelpful. I try to take more breaks, eat more than I did yesterday, take my socks off and air my feet, tape my hot spots and blisters. They are really gross – the threading method Hoosier Daddy taught me at Lake Morena is not working for me and when I pull out the thread from a couple yellow pus oozes out. Neat. I keep crying and walking. I’m getting to Mt. Laguna today no matter what.

I meet cool people but it’s hard to focus because of the pain in my feet. Dana and Ann Marie, a pair of women who have known each other since third grade and have been friends for more than 50 years. Claire and Hannah, a mother and daughter who are doing the first 100 miles together (and then mom is carrying on solo!). My friend Tim from Oregon who has a sun umbrella. Everyone is kind and generous but I just feel so crummy. I try to remind myself I want to be here, and I do, but walking 10 miles when your feet hurt is a task. I know there will be days that will be worse than this one and I’ve gotta buck up, but today this is really hard.

I pass a nice man and he tells me I’m about an hour and twenty minutes away. I thank him but mentally adjust it in my head – for me and my poor feet that probably means like, three hours. Can I hike faster?

I check to see if I have service and I do. Everyone has left the kindest messages on my dramatic Instagram post – 30+ little notes from friends and strangers that are so encouraging and wonderful I start sobbing again. Alley and my parents have texted me too. Everyone believes in me, can’t wait to talk to me. Okay okay okay I can do this let’s go!

After what seems like forever I start getting close. The terrain changes to remind me of home – tall pines and the perfect smell that accompanies them – and I’m a bit buoyed. There’s a restaurant in town and I’m going to get there before it closes. I’m going to drink a beer and eat a hamburger. I can do this. I just keep telling myself that, hoping to make it true.

And then I’m hobbling into town! My feet are on fire but there’s the restaurant! I drop my pack in “pack parking” on the porch and ease my poor feet inside. A whole group of hikers are there and they happily welcome me – Dana and Anne Marie, Claire and Anna, and some others I don’t recognize. I order and inhale a beer and a burger and then I’m off to find my friends and figure out where I’m sleeping tonight.

A few hundred feet up from the restaurant is the gear shop, and all my friends! They cheer for me and I cry again. Hi, guys. A bunch of dudes at the shop have been helping them all day and one takes one look at my feet and says “oh yeah, you need new shoes.” How does he know?! “My feet hurt so much,” I say. “Come back tomorrow and we’ll do an Epsom salt soak and I’ll check out your blisters and we’ll get you better shoes,” he says.

Who is this magician angel man?!? He introduces himself: he’s Hot Legs, he knows Carrot, and he’s seen my blog because she linked to it. “I’m Scissors,” I say. I love him immediately. This trail is filled with so much kindness. I plan to be at the gear shop at 10am. Thank goddess, please let this man fix my feet.

My friends tell me we can all camp at the campground for free and I’m happy. I may try to get a lodge room tomorrow night if my feet are still so bad – the rooms feel expensive ($90) but I have to fix this problem. But for tonight I get to be with my friends.

Cate and Mike finish up at the store while Sarah (who has acquired a trail name – Shakedown!) and Lynn and I walk to the campground. Well, they walk and I limp/hobble/try not to cry. They try to cheer me up.

“I think you’re really brave, Scissors,” Shakedown says. “You’ve never been backpacking before and you decide to take on the Pacific Crest Trail!” I laugh. “Yeah, what an idiot,” I say ruefully. “No!” she chides. “You’re not an idiot. You’re amazing. And I know you’re gonna make it, that’s the thing. You’re gonna get to Canada!”

I hope she’s right. I’ve just really gotta fix my feet first.

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22 thoughts on “Day Four: Crying my way to Mt Laguna

  1. Lucky says:

    Hey, be you already found a solution to your listers, but foot pain is a bitch and not something you can forget about while long distance hiking! So I’ll add to the pile of unhelpful advice, and say these things worked for me on the AT!
    #1 is new shoes. Bad blisters can really only mean bad fit in trail runners… lots of people’s feet swell more than they realize… my feet got wider but not longer when they awoke so I actually had to switch to men’s shoes. But proper fitbwill take care of 60-80% of your problem (which sucks because shoes are expensive)
    Hike Goo- buy on Amazon prime, one day ship it if you can. Apply every morning and every time you stop. This is a foot lube… seriously. It should help with hot spots.
    Badger Foot Balm- a pepperminty balm for your feet at the end of the day. This helps your feet harden up, and grow callouses faster. It also forces you to give yourself a foot massage every night. I applied nightly, and also when it rained. You can even start with a travel size and upgrade once you decide if you like it or not. Also available on Amazon and at a lot o natural food stores…

    Once your feet toughen up and grow better callouses you won’t need the hiker goo and foot ball as much, butbim convinced that these two items were the best options for tender baby hiker feet!

    Good luck! Hope you get some relief soon.

  2. Michele says:

    Ouch poor woman – foot issues are no joke! Hang in there, get them patched up and the keep on keepin’ on. You can do it! Does the shop also have camp shoes? Well worth the expense right?

    Let those dogs rest up if you need to, then you’re feet will feel so good you’ll make up the mileage somewhere down the line.

    You’re an inspiration!

  3. Ray says:

    And now you’ve been on trail for EIGHT days! (If I’m tracking you right…) you’re amazing and an inspiration! I want to hear more about your shoe change at some point and how that’s working out for ya!

  4. Jenny Bruso says:

    I’m crying, too! It sounds SO HARD. Like, really, really hard. I honestly, never take to heart the experiences of people who are doing 20 mile days right off the bat. No offense at all to them, their stories are exciting and interesting, too, but I don’t relate to them. I relate to yours!

  5. Fay Lewis says:

    Hang in there Vanessie I am sure the Epsom Salts and new shoes will fix your problem. Also, maybe rest up for a day…….love πŸŒΌπŸŒΊπŸ’žβ€οΈ

  6. Rhonda Johnson says:

    Thanks for keeping it real. I love following your journey, however I’m not loving that your feet are so sore. I really hope the magical trail people can help you get them sorted & you will be on your way painfree. You’re an inspiration for me. Hugs & healing from Downunder.πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί

  7. jillhomer says:

    Hey Vanessa. Loving your blog posts β€”Β vulnerable and descriptive and real. I was wondering if I could possibly send you some foot lube. It’s homemade and amazing stuff. I’m a trail/ultrarunner and it’s done amazing things for me. I haven’t had a blister in years, since I started using it, and I used to get them during every long run. Now I can do many-hours-long hikes in my three-sizes-too-large bike boots (long story) with no issues! If it’s possible to send you a care package, let me know where you’d like to pick it up and about the time you’ll be there. Hope things start looking up!

    • Vanessa says:

      Wow, Jill, thank you! This is so so kind and I would absolutely love that! If you don’t mind, sending me a package to Idyllwild would be ideal. Here’s the info:

      Vanessa Friedman
      PCT Hiker, ETA: 5/3/17
      General Delivery
      Idyllwild, CA 92549

      There are also a lot more annoying instructions, like always using priority mail for example, over here: https://vanessapamela.com/2017/04/18/how-to-send-me-love-letters-on-the-pct/

      I know it’s sort of annoying so if you’re regretting making the offer no worries! But mail on the trail seems to be a bit tricky, so if you do go to the effort of sending a package I want to be sure I receive it. Also – let me know if you do decide to send the package. I have to ask for all my mail so I’ll need to know to ask for it.

      Whew okay!! So much info. Thank you again though so much for even making this offer. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog and I can definitely say that things have been looking up a lot!! XO

  8. cjgiaimo says:

    go v!!!!! it’s really so cool to read these updates and i know you won’t be able to post them in such a detailed manner for the entire trip but i’m learning a lot. due to your various social media presences i already know that hot legs fixed your blisters so i hope you are having a better time today!

    p.s. also did you know that there’s a certain kind of snail that also buries its poop? i just learned that. so if you ever want to call it a xenophora hole instead of a cat hole (just, like, to yourself, for amusement) you can.

  9. Ilana Silverman says:

    Oh Vanessa, I am SO sorry for you..foot pain at the best of times is HORRIBLE..like hobbling to the car after an evening out in high heels with cramped toes… but when you’re looking at a 10 mile hike….. SHEESH!!!..I feel for you!!! Hope that epsom salt soak worked wonders!!! You are truly an inspiration..hope to hear that your foot issues are MUCH better:)..and sending hugs and best wishes!!!! XOXOXOX Ilana

  10. rachdcook says:

    Hey V! I’m feeling super proud of you and am really enjoying your writings about it all (also feeling quite jealous – wish I was out there too, but I’m “all-in”, as you know)! Love you! Your strong, sassy, sweet, gay perseverant attitude is going to take you to Canada!!!

  11. jinsing21 says:

    Oh, Vanessie, I think you are just amazing. I so hope there’s been some improvement with the feet – I’m a few days behind here. Your writing and photos are incredible, as are you. Sending love and cheering you on from Boston! xxx

  12. Judy Newton says:

    Your determination is inspiring!!! You want it so badly and are enduring a lot of discomfort to follow your dream!! I look forward to every one of your updates! (My grandson that is on the same trail is getting close to mile marker 600!) I am your cheerleader from Oklahoma–GO VANESSA!!!!!!

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