Normalcy, Redefined

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Amidst all the chaotic and ridiculous that exists here, we naturally tend to strive for some sense of normalcy. Despite whatever may happen from day to day, there are certain things we rely on, anchors, to keep us from drifting out to sea. These little comforts like books, conversation, a good dinner, and a little bit of booze, are constants we depend on when everything else is unsure and unfamiliar.  When on the trail, I switch into a mentality I adopted when abroad in a foreign country; stay tough, sharp, and above all, positive. This attitude, in combination with certain material comforts, is absolutely vital to the survival and progression of this project.


After our new, old mediocre RV was finally delivered to us around 8 p.m. on Monday (9/19), we picked up some food, crossed into California (yay!) and drove up to PCT trailhead at the Etna Summit in the Klamath National Forest. We arrived there around midnight, and Eric told us that he was expecting Sam within the next few hours. We set our alarms for two hours later and crashed. Two hours later and still no word from Sam. Went back to sleep and woke up a few hours later to Eric attempting to radio him. Nothing. The rest of the night went like this, and we finally woke up at a decent hour, with no updates or news. The usual gamut of situations ran through my head, but no one was ready to say anything out loud yet. We all figured he slept longer than he planned and tried not to worry.

PCT 4 Lyfe

At 12:30 p.m. and still no word from Sam, we finally expressed some verbal concern. Eric decided to hike in and try and find him, while we remained at the trailhead with our walkie-talkies and cameras ready.  We had books, chairs, water, and the weather was hot and sunny. If I closed my eyes, I might even be at Narragansett Beach, minus the film of dust on my skin and the smell of horse manure. This is what I mean by maintaining a sense of normalcy. Sitting outside in the sun and reading, I almost forgot what I was doing, and then quickly remembered my concern again about Sam and wondered where he was. It is this constant tension of recreating comforts and then suddenly being yanked back into very real and bizarre situations that is difficult to balance.

Sam gets in around 5 p.m.

At around 4 p.m., Marion returned from the town of Etna where she’d been on a conference call, and joined us waiting. At 5 p.m., after several hours of worrying, we heard from Eric on the walkie. He had found Sam, and they were headed back. As it turns out, the terrain was steep, the weather was hot, and Sam ended up sleeping much longer than we expected. All these factors contributed to a much later arrival than originally planned. But the bottom line was that Sam was fine. Feeling relieved, we all had dinner together. Eric made a huge bowl of delicious stir-fry, while our crew cooked up some beef fajitas, and there was beer and music.  As a large tractor-trailer truck rumbled by, Eric acknowledged that we had made this parking lot our own personal space, even though it wasn’t. Yet within the confines of our small mobile home, we were enjoying a completely ordinary dinner.


This morning, Sam’s dad, the indefatigable Jim Fox, arrived at the trailhead. Like father, like son, never one to back down from a challenge, Jim flew to Sacramento and drove to Etna arriving at 3 a.m. just in time to see his son off. The arrival of Jim Fox to our newly constructed life on the trail seemed to further confuse our boundaries of typical and absurd. But instead of trying to constantly separate the two, maybe it’s best to combine them and redefine what we know as normal, and to bear in mind that our daily struggles are the result of a conscious decision we all made to pursue a great adventurer who is doing some good.


Until next time,

Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran

We Like to Break a Mental Sweat Too

Dear friends, Here are some books that the Run While You Can team has been reading on the trail in order to reflect on themes like endurance, the Pacific Northwest, and adventure/travel. Please comment if you have any suggestions for us!


Pickets and Dead Men

Bree Loewen reflects on her three years as a Mount Rainier National Forest Ranger


Born to Run

Christopher McDougall describes the superhuman abilities of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico


My First Summer in the Sierra

John Muir, the Grandfather of Conservation writes witty observations of the area's beauty



Writer Elizabeth Eaves travels restlessly across five continents


And primarily informative, yet equally interesting are the PCT guidebooks:


Pacific Crest Trail

These books, which chronicle Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and Southern California in three volumes provide detailed description of trails, topographical maps, and general words of wisdom

Day and Section Hikes: Pacific Crest Trail Washington

An detailed account of day hikes and trails that lead to the PCT