We don’t get washed away by high tide, which is good, so we get walking. I am not feeling it this morning. My body is still saying no to the PCT and I few confused about what I’m supposed to do. I’m running scenarios through my head, paying attention to the feeling in my chest. It’s making me slow.
“What’s wrong?” Dexter asks.
“I don’t want to hike,” I say.
“You could catch a hitch,” she says.
“No… I don’t mean today.”
“Well, you’ve been trying to find a way out of hiking for a while now,” she says.
I don’t like the way she says it. It doesn’t feel true. I realize I want to be alone.
We get to a picnic area and take a break, but I want an even longer break. I tell Dexter and Energizer to go ahead. I stay behind to make lunch but my lighter is broken. I feel stupid and like I’ve proven to myself why I keep grouping up with people, like I’m incapable. The feeling is sloshing around in my chest. I try to breathe. I manage to figure out how to use the flint I’ve packed.
I look over at the parking lot full of beach-goers who could take me back to town if I wanted to. Finish the OCT? I ask my gut. Okay, it says. So I get up and head to the trail. Still, my brain spirals as I try to hike. It’s exhausting. I see beautiful views and don’t really see them. I take a wrong turn and end up backtracking walking an extra three miles. This is why you have to be in a group, a nasty voice repeats in my ear. I hit my head hard against a branch.
I think: I want to feel human again. Brush my hair. Wear a bra that fits. Smell good. Be around people who like me. Sit in a cafe and write.
When I get to the roadwalk I call Mark and chat with him. I get to camp and take a shower and eat with Dexter and Energizer Bunny. My plan had been to take the bus tomorrow, but instead I’m going to hike to the border. I tell them not to wait for me in the morning. I might get breakfast on the way, I might lay around camp. But I want my last day to be of my own making.