PCT trail log, days 27 – 30

📍on Yakama land

7/24

Day 27

12.1 miles

We hitch out of Packwood this morning and up to White Pass and lazy drink coffee and use WiFi until noon, then we hike.

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I hike slower and more intentionally today. My inner foot still throbs at different moments. I continually try to correct my gait and keep my foot pointed forward instead of in. It takes a lot of my concentration. But I actually feel more present this way. It’s nice. I think about all the things that made me hike too fast before and try to forgive myself for the deep fear of loss that dogs underneath it all. Of course it does, Laurie – and we’re wired for connecting. It’s okay.

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I camp and have to force myself to eat all my dinner again. My stomach is resisting trail food with a passion but is totally fine in town. I’m hoping I’ll hack it at some point and get my stomach to take it in without feeling sick.

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I’m still worried I won’t finish the trail. My foot is still throbbing off and on. My money is so likely to run out. I’ve been spending so much. But it’s more my foot I’m worried about. I don’t know why it won’t stop hurting. I’m crossing my fingers that the gait change will help. I don’t want to get off trail. But I may have to.

7/25

Day 28

14.7 miles

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Today starts off with a long climb. My foot feels better to begin with, and I’m hopeful. I elevated it and did a lot of stretches last night, and it seems to have helped. But I’m still careful, because, long climb.

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Today is Goat Rocks, a famed day on the PCT and in Washington. We climb up to 7,000 feet, not much in Colorado but here, we’re climbing from about 3,000 feet up. The climb is gorgeous. All of it. This kind of terrain, the rocky uphill, is my favorite. Some of the climb is across small paths hugging the mountain – scary. And I love it.

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We climb and climb and climb and finally get to the Old Snowy alternate. Old Snowy is a mountain that you can summit. Me, Muffy, and Carrot break and have a snack. I’m still worrying about my foot because it’s hurting again. I roll it out with my ball and hope it gets better.

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We keep climbing and I decide to summit the mountain. In terms of my foot, I don’t think it will be too hard for it. I climb up and holy fuck. This is maybe my favorite view on the PCT so far. Shubahlup/Tahoma/Tacoma (Mt Rainier), Pahto (Mt Adams), and Louwala-Clough/Lawetlat’la (St Helens) are all in view. I feel fucking phenomenal and so proud of myself. Proud for getting this far. Stoked that I am here. It’s a glorious sunny day and I fucking did this.

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I ride this high down for a few miles. The sun is glorious. I think about the first people on this land, partially because the Yakama reservation is marked, and partially because I’m curious, angry about what my ancestors have done, feeling the depth of the land and the depth of what it might mean. I don’t know. I’m still processing it all.

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It slowly creeps up on me that there are still several miles to go before sleep, and I start to feel tired. It’s taking all my concentration to maintain my gait so my foot doesn’t hurt, and it’s a lot.

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Eventually the mental exhaustion and the pain catch up to me. I run into Carrot and she asks how I am and I tell her the truth. She and Muffy are lovely and happy to camp early for my sake. I’m so grateful and so tired. We set up camp and I hope I can figure out my foot in the morning. I’d swear that’s the only problem with any of this, because the trail and scenery are fucking gorgeous.

7/26

Day 29

24.4 miles

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I’m worried about my foot so much, but after elevating it and stretching it this morning, I just try to take it slow. The first six miles are fine, but then the mosquito horde descends. I find myself going much faster than I mean to, and the foot pain ratchets up. Finally, I think about putting my glove in my shoe under my arch and seeing if that resolves some of the pain. I sit down and dig it out of my bag and try to stick it in my shoe. I can’t get it positioned well though and it just ends up under my heel. “Oh well,” I think, and I stand up.

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In shock I realize my foot doesn’t hurt as much in this position. Hardly at all actually. What in the world?! It must be the zero drop of my shoes! I’m terribly relieved to realize this because it’s such an easy fix. Hooray! I can just go into Portland when I’m in Cascade Locks and go to REI and exchange them. Easy peasy. I’m thrilled! I was so so scared I’d have to leave trail altogether, but this can be resolved!

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I catch up to carrot for lunch and she lets me hang in her shelter since it’s already up. I’m stoked for a break from the bugs and we munch and chit chat. Muffy comes by a bit later; I had missed seeing her on the trail before, I guess. I’m not sure how, because I’d been looking for her? But somehow I didn’t see her. She’s trying for 24 miles so she keeps going.

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“Maybe I will try for 24 miles too, with how good my foot feels,” I think. I decide to check in with myself in a few miles. There’s a spring called Lava Spring because it comes right out of the lava fields from Pahto. I’m stoked about this location and decide I’ll think on more miles there.

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The day becomes very hot and then the trail dries out. This is great – I strip off my rain jacket and pants which I use to guard against the bugs. The heat is tiring. By the time I get to the spring I’m definitely ready for a break. I run into Gravity there and a person whose name I don’t know. We chit chat a bit. I soak my feet in the ice cold water and it feels glorious. Carrot shows up so I sit for a bit longer than I intended. Muffy was nowhere to be seen when I arrived so I assume she’s flying.

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I know by this point I’m gonna try for 24 miles too, and when I hear it’s a gentle uphill, I’m even more set in my decision. I start off around 5. It’s late for me to hike another 5 miles, but it also means only 15 miles to Trout Lake tomorrow! I take the gentle incline with ease. It really is a lovely climb and I’m relieved, because I’m exhausted. I can feel the exhaustion as I walk. I play my music and force my feet forward. My feet feel fine; it’s my mind and soul that are tired and want to sleep.

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Eventually I reach the campsite. Muffy is there and already tucked into her tent. I go get water and soak my feet and make a late dinner I hope I’ll finish. I’m so tired. There are also so many bugs and I’m hiding from them in my shelter.

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I’ve thought a lot all day about Pahto and the Yakama people whose land I’m on. Pahto was a sacred place for them, and I wonder if I’m picking up on that. There’s a quieter feeling here that runs deep. It’s a bit similar yet different from Tava in Colorado Springs. I feel a lot of honor and respect and an intention that my feet honor whose space I am in.

7/27

Day 30

15 miles

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Today I wake up at 5 so I can get into town early. Town town town! I’m so excited and ready to be there. I feel dumb for this, but I haven’t had internet reception most of this section, and I’m desperate for that connection. It gets a little hairy and edgy out here for me without it.

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Also, I can’t get over how it’s been 30 days already since I started this trail. It feels like a fucking year. The first two weeks were something I’ve been calling the “trauma tunnel”. It’s something that’s happened to me before, I do something new and it’s hellacious and I lose all perspective and my world becomes very small and I am one giant landmine triggered by everything. This happened the first time I got acupuncture, too. I got needle shock and had to go in the bathroom and lay on the floor while I had flashbacks. I told off the woman who ran the clinic and said she needed to be more trauma informed (I still stand behind those words). But then I went back to the same clinic (different practitioner) and I fell in love with acupuncture. I feel like the same thing happened for me with the first two weeks on the PCT, it just lasted longer. It is my least favorite thing, honestly, to be constantly trauma reactive, but I did make it through and I feel soft and brave towards myself for that.

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I hike all morning through lava chutes with rivers flowing down them. Sometimes it smells a little sulphuric and silty, as if the earth is half on fire. And I know it is, somewhere deep down. It seems like I can feel the mountain, and I wonder if I’m making that up. It’s foggy outside, and windy, and everything feels a little eerie. I fucking love it. I put on a playlist with melancholy music and I drop into all my haunting feelings for awhile and it is glorious. I’m listening to Death Cab – Transatlantacism, The Antlers – Kettering, and other appropriately haunting music.

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I hike hard to the place marked in Guthooks (the PCT app that shows us where the trail is) as having Verizon LTE, 9 miles from where I’m camped. When I get there, I’m disappointed to learn it’s “fake” LTE – the kind that allows calls but no data. “Fuck it, I’ll just hike hard to town,” I think. There is a shuttle at 11:30, and it’s 9:30 now and I’m 6.7 miles up. That is really fast for me, faster than I’ve ever done, but I’m gonna try it.

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I speed down the hills, taking care not to push myself too hard and cause pain. I pass the person who started before me at 5am. I’m gonna be so close. So so close. 15 miles in 4.5 hours? Am I actually gonna?

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The last 2 miles I’m pushing 4 mph. I know it and I watch my body wisely but push on. It’s gonna be so close, aaaah!!! The shuttle leaves at 11:30 and I’m due there just after. Finally I push out of the forest at 11:31 and DAMN IT. I have just just just missed the shuttle! I sigh. But then I grin to myself. I fucking just did that. And I can hitch into town anyway, it’s fine.

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It takes me about 20 minutes to get a hitch to town. But my first few hours in town are glorious. I eat a burger and holy SHIT a huckleberry milkshake! I haven’t had huckleberries since I was a kid and I’ve been thinking about this shake for the last week since I heard about it. I die and go to heaven I’m pretty sure. Later on a guy brings a gallon of fresh huckleberries by, and Carrot buys a gallon of ice cream and we all eat huckleberries and ice cream out of our pots. Is this the real life?!? Am I even living? I can’t believe this and I love every moment of it. And my foot isn’t even hurting.

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I love this fucking trail.


During my hike I am raising money for Indigenous Women Hike! Please donate to provide indigenous women access to travel to their own land. GoFundMe is here.

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