HAMMERTIME #2 -AN ELEMENT OF LUCK
PCT DAY 100: Rest Day # 10
Friday July 22, 2016: Zero trail miles
Believe it or not Hammer prepared this post before I had a fall. It has been edited to add reference to it.
While hiking I have been thinking about the element of luck which pervades our lives. While passing above Squaw Valley one minute I was standing on what appeared to be solid snow and the next minute I had dropped through the snow to the rocks and creek below. I was a bit bruised and bloodied, but no real harm done. It got me thinking about other events in my life which could have ended far worse.
I regularly commute to work by bicycle through the Sydney traffic. One afternoon about 2 years ago, on the way home I was heading down towards the Spit Bridge, a steep descent on a curved road. The buses are pretty slow going down this hill and often I have to overtake them. So one time doing about 30 mph (50kmh) I attempted the overtaking manoeuvre. One minute I was upright on the bike and the next minute I was on my side sliding down the road wondering if the car behind was alert enough to stop. Satisfied that they were on the ball, I next wondered when I was going to stop sliding. Eventually I did, having left a considerable amount of skin from my hip and elbow behind. Each time I see the scar on my hip, I thank my good fortune that the driver behind was alert to the situation. I got lucky that time but it could have ended really badly.
Doing anything in life has its risks. And sometimes the cards don’t fall our way. I’ve heard some hikers say that that to finish the thru – hike of the PCT all you need is to want it bad enough. It reminds me of the ultra runner Dean Karnazes mantra “Run when you can, walk if you have to and crawl if must. But you must finish the race.” A sort of finish the race at any cost mentality. Clearly this is rubbish. Common sense tells you that there are times when this does not apply.
Corkys fall was a case in point. She really wanted to finish this hike. She was the main driver for us to undertake it in the first place. On one hand she was unlucky to fall in the first place but at the same time somewhat lucky that fall was not much worse. It was obvious that she was hiking the last few days in immense pain. Continuing was not an option in so much pain. She will be one of many DNF (did not finish) statistics. An element of luck, not lack of commitment.
It is disappointing to hear of other fellow hikers who have also not been so lucky on the PCT. With some people having some challenging river crossings resulting in being swept considerable distances downstream suffering significant injury. Others have struggled with the steep snowy slopes resulting in injury.
I think everyone can relate to the element of luck when you think back to some of the foolhardy things you probably did when you were young.
I hope our PCT journey continues. It will be different but it will continue.