I listened to All Things Considered as I walked into town today, so all is well with the world. Except for my parents' house being in danger of burning down, along with the rest of SoCal, it seems.
After a quick stop in Pie Town, I hiked over John Kerr peak and imagined it was really John Kerry peak and busied myself making puns--I didn't climb John Kerry peak because of its French-looking North Face, but I wish we'd gone over John Kerry peak because anything would've been better than the 4 miles of bushwhacking before and after. Lame, I know.
Then I got to Snow Lake and walked the Middle Fork of the Gila River from end to end. My love/hate relationship with the canyon continues. In the afternoon I was thinking "if we ever run out of petroleum and Tina Turner runs the world with a disguised midget named Master-Blaster as enforcer and good people have to hide in surprisingly well-watered canyons in the desert, I got dibs on the Gila." Then in the morning it was 20 degrees and my waterproof socks didn't keep my feet warm so I had two icy stumps beneath my calves and I found some sunlight and rocked back and forth on the ground with my toes in my hands muttering swear words for a couple hours until it got over 34 degrees.
Then I walked 42 miles on the highway to Silver City, and I've got maybe 4 days left to go. Apparently Francis will be done in under 24 hours. Congratulations, Francis, you've earned it. You're the first, and I'll be "one of the first" and the fastest, for the time being. (The idea of a speed record is kind of dumb since the trail is such a free-for-all, but I digress.) How do I feel about not being first? Well, I'm a little confused that Francis said he was finishing on the 31st and is now done a week ahead of that. Maybe he was going to finish then in order to let me catch up, but then changed his mind when I said I hoped to finish on the 29th to make it 180 days because he thought I was spurning his offer of partnership. Or maybe he's just really bad at math, and honestly thought it would take him 19 days to get from Pie Town to the border (insert MBA joke here.) I might've preferred it to be a straight-up competition--I lose in races all the time and it doesn't phase me.
Anyway, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be first (actually, a tie was honestly what I was hoping for) but I wasn't really doing this to be first. I was doing this to do something no one had ever done before--to expand the set of things the human race has accomplished, if you will. A slight difference, but a real one. If someone had already done this before I started, I probably would've tried something else. But if you had told me that Andy Skurka or Squeaky was going to try and yo-yo the CDT this year, then I would've known they'd be able to pull it off, and probably 20 days faster than me to boot, and I still would've done it, because I was still venturing into the unknown, and it was still going to be the greatest adventure of my life thus far.
Congrats again to Francis. He's from the Bay area too, so I hope we'll keep in touch. I've told him I'm looking forward to the day when we hang out with all our maps and go through the entire trail and I say "I did X nobo, and Y sobo" and he says "I did Y nobo and Z sobo" and we both say "Cool."
On to Mexico!