PCT days 31 – 34

July 28, Day 31

20 miles

📍Yakama land

I didn’t leave Trout Lake until 11am, so I got breakfast at the cafe with Carrot, then an Americano, then putzed around with resupply and internet for most of the morning. I was determined to do 20 miles today despite starting so late. My foot had been hurting so much last week that I did low mileage, and I was ready to turn it up.

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So when the shuttle (the back of a pickup truck) dropped us off at 11:30, I was off to the races almost immediately. I hiked fast and hard. I took a break at 10 miles for water and a snack. And then again at 15 miles. That’s where Carrot and Muffy left me; they didn’t want to go any further today. But I was hungry for miles and had promised Waist Deep that I’d catch up to her, so I kept going.

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I didn’t get into camp until almost 8. I was dragging so much. But Waist Deep was there! I was so relieved to have caught up with her as promised and it was so good to be hiking with her.

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Also at the camp was a National Forest Service ranger named Keegan, who I found out through the course of conversation, is half Chinook. She had mentioned primitive trails and so I asked her more about the indigenous people of the area. We talked about something called the Huckleberry Handshake, a time when indigenous people were given the right to pick huckleberries – ON THEIR OWN LAND. This concept was infuriating. She also graciously informed me that the area I was hiking in had some sizeable indigenous history, which I had wondered about due to it being named the Indian Heaven wilderness (shuddering writing that term). The indigenous in this area called it Sahalee-Tyee, which online has several loose translations. I cannot find any indigenous based translations so I will not repeat them. There was an area called Indian Race track where it seems that indigenous folks would horse race. I am grateful to Keegan for graciously sharing this information with me. I couldn’t find further information online that was indigenously sourced, so I leave you with this link about the history of the area. History of Guifford-Pinchot National Forest.

July 29, Day 32

26.6 miles

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Last night, when we were planning where to camp the next day, Waist Deep said, “we could hike 26!” I was hesitant and felt doubtful my body could do such a thing. But I got up and started hiking and felt so good. When we stopped for lunch at 10:30 already having done 11 miles, I said, “let’s go for it!” She agreed, so we excitedly forged ahead.

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We made 18 miles by 2pm. I was floored and my feet ached. There had been a climb, and the day was hot, and I needed a snack. We stopped at a forest road where there was a water cache for the long dry section we were in and I put my pack down and used it as a pillow. Delicious. I rested in the shade and ate and drank.

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It was here we met Metric Ton, a male hiker. Waist Deep had asked me earlier if she could be a good accomplice for me in any way and I told her to use her pronouns when she introduced herself. So she did, and I did, and a complicating and awkward conversation ensued with Metric Ton, a man in his mid-50s who could not stop equating sexuality with gender. I patiently explained non-binary to him. “So you’re not a lady, and you’re not a man?” he asked. I explained that I didn’t exist within a gender binary. He asked if I was then bisexual. I said yes, but that isn’t really the point and tried to explain queer and gender as separate things. He sort of got it. He at least got that I didn’t identify as female. But then he felt the need to bring up his own sex life, how he’d dated a bisexual woman assuming endless threesomes, how at his age he was getting more action because he was “healthy” (thank you, I really didn’t need to know either of those things). I pulled my energy out of the conversation and just gave short answers, and blessedly he got the message. When he left he said, “I guess I can’t say ‘goodbye ladies.’ What would I say instead?” We suggested folks, Waist Deep suggested ‘hikers’, we both suggested ‘y’all.’ So when he walked away, he said “goodbye, y’all!” So was it a productive conversation? Who can say? It was very awkward in the end for certain, but perhaps some headway was made? Who can tell.

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This was also the day that Waist Deep decided how queer hikers should flag on trail. We’d been discussing how you could tell someone is queer. In the middle of a climb she blurts out, “Bogwitch, I know how people should flag! The gaiters (gayters)! It’s both like GAYters and Gaydar!” It’s PERFECT. So I have decided to spread the gay gospel and let all you fellow queer PCT hikers know – get gayters to flag please! I’ve got pin up girls. I know someone who had scissors (Hey Vanessa. Lol). Waist Deep wants tacos. I’m believing in you all to find other ones!

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As I headed downhill to camp, I started noticing a burning sensation in my back. “Ohhhhh it’s chafe,” I knew immediately. I had said to Carrot only a few days ago, “I don’t have chafe yet!” I had known even then to add the ‘yet.’ See, out here on the PCT many of us say “it’s always something.” So I wasn’t truly surprised by the appearance of said chafe on a hot sweaty day, rubbed into place where my pack met the skin of my lower back. The way we treat that out here is wet wipes and vagisil. It would be a wet wipe and vagisil evening.

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A couple of hours later, after finding a second wind and speeding downhill, I found myself crossing the river! 26.6 miles later – practically 27 miles! I had walked a marathon! I was absolutely floored and awed by myself. And totally exhausted. I haven’t been sleeping well on trail the last couple weeks, but I knew I would knock out tonight. And I did. I set up my tent, ate my double pack of ramen, just barely able to stay awake through finishing it. Then I lay down, killed the one mosquito torturing my already tortured skin, and fell into a deep dreamless sleep.

July 30, day 33

22 miles

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My alarm went off at 5:30 after a blessedly good sleep. I’d been so exhausted after our marathon day yesterday that I’d actually knocked out pretty hard. I was ready to go when the alarm went off though. Or so I thought. Waist Deep and I dawdled and used the pit toilet at the nearby campground and emptied our trash there. We didn’t leave til about 7:30. Both of us were dreading the big climbs. We had 2 today, both at around 2,000 feet of elevation gain.

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I could not make myself wake up. My head felt so foggy. I tried caffeine, food, everything, and still before the first climb I couldn’t shake it. For the whole climb I dragged behind Waist Deep, feeling so so tired. She was wired on caffeine and a strong climber. Meanwhile my muscles seemed to be still in shock from yesterday.

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At the top of the climb somewhere I yelled at Waist Deep to stop. We ate lunch in the sun and I stuffed myself. I realize I have never had true hiker hunger until this day. I’ve been eating all day and I’m still hungry. At lunch I eat four beef sticks, about 2-4 inches of cheese, sour patch kids, crackers, and mint Oreos.

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We hike back down down down and then break again at the water for a long water carry. I KT tape my ankles again; out of exhaustion I’d rolled both of them on the last downhill, so taping it is. Waist Deep and I mentally prepare for the big uphill to camp. I’m so tired. She’s so tired. We pep talk each other, saying over and over, “last big climb of Washington!!!” Then we put on our most inspiring music and start uphill. She leads the way, going into what she calls “mountain goat mode.” I follow, letting her speed set mine. I’m listening to so much Sia and Miley Cyrus and Pink and everything that would make me feel energized enough to get up this climb. Our friend Footprint brings up in the rear. In the middle of the climb, we start singing at each other. Waist Deep has Fight Song playing, so we yell sing that song before heading up another hill. And it helps. I yell sing Fuckin’ Perfect. And we go up the hill.

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Finally, finally, we reach the top. We can see all the way back to Pahto and ahead to Wy’East (Mt. Hood). It’s incredible. I’m stunned and awed and can’t believe this state is almost over. And I’m so tired.

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We get to camp and my camping spot is flat! Bless. Me, Fluffy Bunny, and Waist Deep all sit together and have dinner and talk about music. Then I go hibernate in my tent and watch Netflix and finally pass out, thinking, “tomorrow is the last day of Washington.”

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July 31, day 34

12.9 miles

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There is an indigenous legend about the Tamanawas Bridge, the area that I crossed today. You can find that legend here. I couldn’t find any indigenous sources history on Google. If you know of some, please direct me to it! Deep honor and reverence to this space that carries this power.

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I wake up at 5, and roll over and snooze til 5:30. But still my first thought is, “Bridge of the Gods in 12.9 miles!” I am so very excited. I am so in awe. I am so grateful to have made it through an entire state. So many times I didn’t think it was possible, due to either injury or emotional stability. But here I am.

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Waist Deep and I leave camp and 6:30 and zoom down the mountain. Washington is almost over! I try to take in mostly every step. I am somewhat distracted by the availability of phone reception and finally firmly put my phone away, telling myself to catch up with people later. The hike down isn’t easy. It’s rocky and slow going, my least favorite downhill. And it’s like that til almost the last mile. Waist Deep had gotten behind and she catches up to me 3.5 miles from the bridge, and we do the last miles together. It’s hot and muggy and the trail is rough. I am struggling to stay positive but firming up my self talk. I tell myself this will make the bridge that much sweeter.

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Finally we get to the bridge and I’m overwhelmed with emotion. A whole state. 550 miles. And this is the place where Cheryl Strayed’s book ends and I feel a little shivery in a good way thinking of that. I take so many pictures with Waist Deep. I feel so much awe and gratitude. I am full up to the brim. I am utterly amazed at this journey and just trying to stay with each step, walking, and walking, and walking.


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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