People always ask me, "Wait, you're hiking alone? Aren't you scared?! Are you caring a gun?!"
I finally got a real tast of fear last night. I decided to camp early after a 25 mile day and be in my sleeping bag to watch the sunset. I haven't used my tent in over a month, as the weather is perfect and mosquitoes are nonexistent. I turn to the left to find a giant caterpillar on my pillow. This thing was HUGE. I'm talking almost three inches. My old friend Scott Haas stopped me from picking up a itty bitty catapiller on a pre-PCT hike and informed me that they are poisonous. Shit. I'm going to bite the dust from a little bug and not something more prestigious, such as a wild bear attack?
If you know one thing about bugs, it's that they love to crawl into warm, dark, moist openings (good thing my sleeping bag was zipped tight). He was headed straight for my mouth, I just know it. I was trembling and the thought stream invaded. If you touch it, will it kill you? Do you need to eat it to get the full dose of lethal poison? If it touches your pillow and then you later touch your pillow, will you die? Where is Wikipedia when you need it?
With little time to spare, I quickly grabbed my trekking pole and made an attempt to fling him across the forest. Little success. It landed two feet away, maybe a twenty minute crawl. Flung him again, and again until he was out of sight. Now, as the sun had already set, everything was out of sight. Great. In the darkness, I made a mote around my sleeping bag to keep out all other deadly insects and tried to think of a white ring of protection surrounding me. I was terrified and sang myself lullabies to help me sleep.
I'm embarrassed. Really? This is your scariest PCT moment beside self arresting with the ice axe? It's not all that bad out here... I mean the bears run from me and I haven't seen a mountain lion to be afraid of yet. When I think about it, I'm more afraid of falling down, bad weather, rodents getting into my food or forgetting an important piece of gear behind. The city scares me more, these days. Violence. Hatred. Aggression. Injustice. I can handle a caterpillar now, and I still don't want a gun.