PCT trip log days 45 – 48

📍this section is on Molalla Land, in the Three Sisters wilderness, along the Ring of Fire.

August 11, day 45

16 miles

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I haul out of Big Lake Youth Camp after procrastinating all morning charging my stuff and talking to Willy Wonka. He’s a fun hiker from Britain and we had a nice chat. He had front row center at a Fleetwood Mac concert, a ticket he paid over a grand for, and was showing my videos of this. Of course I was interested, as a gay. This got me listening to Rumours as I left and hiked the next 16 miles up to where I am camping tonight.

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Music! I hadn’t realized how much music really makes my morale better. I’d gone without last section because of my battery charging issue. But now my batteries are all fully charged and I got to jam out today. Sometimes when you’re an enneagram 4 like me, you really need to get out of your own brain and hear someone else’s voice. Music does that for me.

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In today’s hike was a miles long lava field. Walking across actual rocks. I hated every moment of it and cursed out loud several times when I’d almost trip. At least my new insoles were keeping the rocks from poking my feet. Still, my feet were sore on the forefoot again today. A trip to REI in Bend may happen. I’m so irritated with my constant shoe issues.

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When I was coming up to camp, I was listening to Loudspeaker by MUNA on repeat and feeling every word. I’m finally, finally in a good mood hiking! Last section was so bad for my morale, it’s really nice to feel good. I take a picture of myself to celebrate. I feel emotional being in the Three Sisters wilderness for lots of reasons, and the emotions include sadness but not all sadness. I feel gratitude to be in a place I’ve dreamed of being since I first saw a picture of it 9 years ago.

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I have reception at camp so I stay up way too late talking to people and Instagramming, just enjoying having the ability to connect with loved ones while on trail.

August 12 day 46

27 miles

“Being radical isn’t just about your role, is about how you show up in the world.”

“The work that I do is my healing work.”

(Snippets from the Healing Justice podcast I listened to today)

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I drag myself out of bed this morning and tell myself to move. Nothing in my body wants to be awake. I don’t get out of the tent site until 7:30, later than I like.

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My first miles are slower than I’d like. I’m having huge anxiety about the email I sent to my email list this morning, wondering if I worded things well, wondering if it was in any way problematic. It takes me a few miles to chill. At least the terrain is gorgeous. I’m loving walking by the Three Sisters.

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I’d been worried the Three Sisters would be hard for me, but for the most part I just feel so grateful to be here. It’s so beautiful. I decide I’m the South Sister, Rachel is the Middle Sister, and Stephanie is the North Sister. Of course.

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Having my headphones back charged has me going ham on music and podcasts today. I listen to Tarot for the Wild Soul’s August Forecast, then listen to episode 41 of this season of Healing Justice. In one part they are talking about how desire is our guiding force, and getting down to what you truly desire. I think about all the dear relationships in my life. I think about my deep desire for connection.

Suddenly it hits me that I am trying to build a family. This comes when I am walking through a burn just below the South Sister, and I feel the synchrony of place down into my bones. I cry and cry. I think about my close loved ones and how all of them remind me of my sisters in some way. I see what I want and what I’m trying to do and my heart feels both so broken and so whole and desirous. I think of the dear one whose moon is in Gemini like Rachel’s. I think of another love who sent me cards scented with earl grey tea and how her handwriting looks like Stephanie’s. These are the examples that spring quickly to mind but there are hundreds more. I think about how both my sisters, but especially Rachel, echo through all my relationships and leave traces. How I’ve tried to rebuild a family since they’ve gone. How they were my family within a family, the safety from the nightmare. I think of how I want kitchen table polyamory and how the desire is, at heart, for a family. I think about how this is the deepest desire I have, and how my biggest fear is to find it and then lose it again. How I sometimes feel doomed in a way. How I’d had some of that with Heather and Dave, and then everything happened with Noah and a part of me felt like I brought it with me. I think about this because I’ve been in Sisters and I’m hiking in this space that holds so much of everything, Noah and Heather and my sisters too. I think about a dream I had recently about someone I care about, I think about how scared I am that I’ll bring doom to someone else. I think about how since I was young I’ve always been able to feel the boundary between life and death, and sometimes I hate it. I think about all this and I cry and cry. And this feels like the most significant moment here in the Sisters, this moment where I realize that all I’ve ever wanted in my soul is a family, and all of my fear is about losing it. This so far also feels like everything this hike has been about, working with a fear of loss.

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I decide I want to hike into Elk Lake for dinner. It will mean 27 miles, and I haven’t been hiking very fast. But I am starving and I want real food. I pop a couple of clif bloks and bang it out. About a mile out, my stomach turns and gets upset. I’m stubborn, so I kept going, making a beeline for the toilet as soon as I arrive. Despite this I again stubbornly ordered a blackened chicken salad. Because of my stomach upset, I couldn’t finish it. But it was delicious. And Elk Lake itself was gorgeous, one of the prettier lakes I’ve been by here in Oregon (there are SO MANY LAKES). At dusk, a sailboat drifted softly across the top of the water and made it look like something out of a dream.

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It got to be 8pm and I desperately needed a place to set up camp. I walked up to the forest service campground, but couldn’t find a spot. A woman called out to me (we’ll call her Pam 1) from her picnic table and asked if I was hiking the PCT and offered to let me pitch my tent at their spot. At first I said no. I wanted a quiet spot and to be alone. But after walking the whole campground I realized it was my only option and went back. Both ladies at the spot were very gracious and Pam 1 was obviously somewhat drunk. In chatting with them both, I discovered that both of them were named Pam, and both of them were born on the same day, they were “both Leo’s”, they informed me gleefully. They were here celebrating their birthdays. Pam 1 says, “we’ve been together for many years!” Pam 2 laughed and looked vaguely uncomfortable and said “not like TOGETHER, we’re not lesbians.” But Pam 1 kept repeating this phrase throughout the night. I have a theory that Pam 1 wants more, lol. Pam 2 regaled me with stories of them hitchhiking around the country in their early 20s. Pam 1 offered me wine and poured me a heavy glass of very good Chardonnay. I sat and sipped. Pam 1 kept saying “I’m so happy you’re here!” and Pam 2 would look slightly embarrassed at her effusiveness. At one point Pam 1 said this and gave me a hug. Pam 2 meanwhile was asking me “as a therapist” what I thought of past lives and if I believe in them, to which I said yes and then mentioned trauma and resilience being passed down in DNA. The whole thing was quite amusing and I was glad I’d decided to camp with them just for the story of it.

August 13, day 47

27 miles

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I woke up at 5:15am, not wanting to be up. I was still so tired. I tried to go back to sleep, but to no avail. Around 5:45 I got up and did my camp chores. But I didn’t really leave until around 7:30am. Again. I was just. so. tired. I didn’t even want to move this morning.

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I tried something new. I let my body be tired and I just moved slowly down the trail for the first couple miles. My body is tired… I will let them just do what they’d like. After about 3 miles, I woke up naturally and started to move faster. Much faster, to my surprise. In no time at all I’d done 10 miles. What? Okay, then. I guess I should let my body figure things out more often. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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I wasn’t feeling in much of a music or podcast mood today, but I was turning over lots of thoughts around gender in my mind. Fretting and worrying about my own gender identity. It seems like I have a couple stable months of feeling very solid in my identity, and then it shifts again. It scares me, because my deepest value is to be authentic, and what if I’m not being authentic? These thoughts run rampant through my mind, and I find to my great luck that Dara Hoffman-Fox has recently done an episode for Multiamory, and I had forgotten but had downloaded it before leaving town. So I pop it on, and it gives me great relief. I still feel kind of out in the deep end, but at least I feel a little more normal. I resonate so deeply to what Dara says about their name being their gender. Dara uses their name more than a particular pronoun, and that feels really true for me too. And I clarify that I fall somewhere around non-binary trans genderfluid/agender. I can’t decide if I’m fluid or a gender or both. Still thinking. I feel like fluid has to fit in there, because lately I’ve noticed that sometimes “she” feels okay, and sometimes it doesn’t. And that in written form ALWAYS I want to be referred to as “they.” It feels like such a weird combo, but whatever.

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I take a break because my feet are absolutely killing me. Are my feet always going to hurt? I notice I have a bad wear pattern going on my heels – both feet have blisters on the outside edges of my heels, which probably means I need to change my shoes again. I’m deeply irritated about this. Beyond that, the pads of my feet ache and ache and ache and never stop. I use my little ball on them and run it back and forth trying to soften the fascia.

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After break my mind wanders and I think about a recent conversation with Jacklyn about what makes a good kiss. I’d been telling them about the most magical kiss I’d gotten last year, almost a year ago in September. She had pondered then what makes a good kiss, and I said “awareness”, which made them laugh. While I walked I thought again about that whole line of conversation. What does make a good kiss? I took this note so I could tell you all about what I was thinking:

“kissing the idea of someone vs the actuality of them, awareness, more lips than tongue but little bits of tongue, gentleness, softness, tenderness, knowledge that you are touching someone’s soul. Most enneagram 4 description of a good kiss ever.”

I can always tell when someone is kissing their fantasy of me rather than ME because they lose awareness of the present moment and kiss how they think their idea would like to be kissed rather than feeling the energy of the moment. Anyway, it was all a very very enneagram 4 line of thinking. On that note, if anyone would like to offer me a really good kiss, I’m quite in the mood for one. Lol.

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Just after I pull myself out of this train of thought, I look off trail and see a bear not 25 feet from me, eating berries. A bear! This is my first time seeing wildlife that’s actually EXCITING. Lol. I’m more nervous than I thought I would be, because when I look at it, it looks back at me and doesn’t seem afraid. In fact it looks curious. I feel a thrill of fear and keep moving. I grin to myself though. I finally fucking saw big wildlife while hiking! This never happens!

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I fly through the next downhill section just like I’d done earlier in the day. As always, the last 2 miles are the hardest. My feet won’t stop hurting despite taking an ibuprofen. Finally I throw on a song and sing to it to distract myself. “Ohhhhhh I wanna DANCE WITH SOMEBODYYYY” I belt out, and that gets me through the last half mile. When I get down, Marylou and Fab have heard me and are amused. “We heard you singing,” they say. I tell them I had to get through the last half mile somehow.

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Tonight I’m camping at a gorgeous lake. I’d planned 27 miles just for this. I’d seen it on the map and it looked beautiful, so I decided I needed to camp there instead of doing the 25 miles I planned. I don’t regret it one bit when I arrive. I soak my aching feet in the water and clean them gently, they had been filthy. I watch the sunset, and then the almost-full moon rises over the water. The water softly catches its rays and sparkles in welcome. Peace drifts over my soul. I’m grateful to be here.

August 14, day 48

19 miles

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I wake up naturally around 5:30 and see the sun rise over the lake. It’s glorious, and I’m still sleepy. So I roll over and sleep longer. I keep doing this. Maybe it’s just what my body wants to do. I finally leave camp around 7:30. Like usual.

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I decide to continue following what my body wants, and my body wants to fly. So I do 10 miles in the next 3 hours and 10 minutes. I’m floored. Okay, cool, body. Glad we are doing what you like. I take a break in a cool little shelter. There aren’t many of these on the PCT, and this is a ski cabin. It’s old and witchy and has a loft and I love it.

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It’s only 9 miles to Shelter Cove from here. I make quick work of it. As I get about a mile away, the blister or whatever’s happening on the right outer heel starts to hurt so bad I can barely concentrate. I slow way down and hobble. What is the deal with this thing? The only way I can move forward is to dissociate from it, so I do.

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Finally I get to Shelter Cove. I order a hamburger and a side salad and eat it all. I run into Sonic, Gman, Fab, and Marylou. I tagged with them this section and I like their energy. But they hike out this afternoon so I probably won’t see them again until Crater Lake or Ashland, which is kind of a bummer.

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I get lost in my phone, and the store closes early, so I have to wait on quarters to shower and do laundry until tomorrow. I’m frustrated with myself, but it’s fine. I’m not in a huge hurry. I’m going to have to stay here part of tomorrow anyway.


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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PCT trail blog – Days 39 – 43

📍on Molalla, Warm Springs and Wasco traditional territories, as well as Paiute relocated territory

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (including Molalla) have a detailed history of this area on their website. The US government forced many people in this area into a “trail of tears” and made them travel 200 miles from their ancestral lands. You can read it here.

You can also read the history of the Warm Springs band (Wasco, Warm Springs, and Paiute) here. Like many tribes, they were forced off their traditional lands but were “given” the fishing rights to them.

August 5, day 39

9+2.5 miles

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I’m blogging about the rest of this Nero because it felt important. Muffy arrives at the lodge and she is going to get off trail due to an intestinal bug. I’m so sad about this and also really want her to feel better. I’m going to miss her a lot. I kind of dread hiking out without her. She invites me to come to Portland with her. I think about it a lot. It’s been such a hard day emotionally. I feel so much grief. But I also feel like I’m going to lose momentum if I stop. So I tell her I’m going to stay. When she leaves I feel bereft and sad.

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I dawdle. I don’t want to go alone. I finally drag myself to get my Resupply box around 4pm and restock my supplies. Then I get a pizza. When I hike out, it’s late and I only hike 2.5 miles. I feel sad the whole time, and lonely. I miss Muffy. And the trail is so so quiet. I pass tons of northbounders, but no one is going south. It’s just me.

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I get to my tent and I set up all my little tokens I’ve brought from friends. I decide to leave them out all night with me. The loneliness feels stark. I know that’s why I spent all day at the lodge dilly dallying.

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I pee and come back, and when I go to close my tent, a piece above the door rips. It’s not in my tent proper, but it just feels exhausting and frustrating that this has happened at all. It’s too much today. I’m going to go to sleep and decide how to deal with this in the morning.

August 6, day 40

30 miles

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I set my alarm for 5, but I don’t get out of camp until 6:30. I don’t want to do any of this. I’m sad hiking without Muffy. I miss her company. I don’t want to hike alone. But here I am, and I have to hike. That’s why I’m out here. So I leave camp and get going.

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It’s a slow day. I can’t make myself move fast. My pack is so, so, so heavy with my resupply and my heart is just as heavy. And I start my period today, so that’s happening too (I am going to talk about everything here just FYI). I walk but I feel dejected and unmotivated.

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By 9:30 I’ve done about 8 miles. It’s slow for me. I stop because someone left trail magic at a road crossing and campground area. There’s a huge jug of water, 3 mountain dews, and 3 prerolled joints. I laugh and take a picture and take one of the Mountain Dew. The joints are stuck in the Mountain Dew pull tabs, but I hate to smoke and hike, and really don’t like pot most of the time except to sleep anyway, so I leave the joint for someone else.

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The Mountain Dew is refreshing and the caffeine lifts my spirits for awhile, so I fly the next few miles. But when the caffeine jolt lifts, my heart drops again. I just can’t shake the sadness, no matter what I do.

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I get to another road crossing just after I eat lunch and there is MORE trail magic! Twice in one day. I feel grateful and recognize the universe/queer divine whatever really is trying to help me. Another group of southbounders shows up and we chat. I introduce myself by trail name and give my pronouns as usual, and one of them, Goose, says “I figured, since they were on your hat.” He smiles, a friendly smile, and I smile back. I’m shocked. He says something about his genderfluid friends and then compliments my stickers and we get into a whole long conversation about indigenous place names and Black Lives Matter and a whole bunch of things. Men always will make me skeptical, so I’m wary still, but also pleasantly surprised. It’s so nice to have this conversation when I’ve been feeling so lonely.

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I leave before them. I’m trying to get some miles in, dang it! Once again the caffeine lift takes me awhile, until the afternoon heat zaps my energy. I’m so bored and still sad and walking on boring flat ground around the huge Timothy Lake. And I’m so so warm. I pass a hiker who says he got in the lake and I decide this is what I need to do. So I take a short break, strip off my socks and shoes and skirt and shirt , and wade into the lake half naked, only in my sports bra. I’m at a campsite marked “closed” so I just hope no one comes by, and I’m feeling fun and dangerous half skinny dipping out here. My body temperature drops and I sigh with gratitude.

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I take off again and go up the next few miles. I keep stopping. My bag is so, so heavy. All the food. I hate every moment of it. At mile 25, I stop and lay on a log and look up. Towering skinny pines look back down at me and wave gently. I can feel their compassion, how they hold me, how they say “it’s okay, it’s okay.” I cry for a minute. Then I pull myself up and walk what I think will be my last mile until camp.

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Just as I’m pulling out my tent to set up, Smokes comes by from the earlier group. We start chatting, and it’s so pleasant. I feel less lonely. Goose shows up too and we all chit chat. Then Smokes offers to carry my backpack if I want to come camp with them? I’m stoked and so lonely that I say yes almost immediately.

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We take off at a blistering speed down the mountain. Smokes’ pack is way lighter than mine. I’m deeply jealous. We continue chit chatting as we go. It’s fun lighthearted conversation and I’m grateful for the company. We get to a spring that I had thought we’d camp at, but they tell me they’re going 2.4 more miles. I am tapped and when I see its uphill, I tell them I’m going to stop and camp. They high five me when they find out – I’ve made my first 30! I can’t believe it myself. I wouldn’t have done it without so many things – both trail magic that happened today, the lake, the trees, and Smokes and Goose’s company to spur me on.

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When I backtrack and go to set up camp, I see my site is underneath a huge beautiful tree and tears come to my eyes. “Yes, this is my site,” I think. And I feel so incredibly held.

August 7, Day 41

25.1 miles

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I’m currently eating beans and rice noodles by the light of the moon while I write this, and I thought you may like to know that.

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I let myself sleep in this morning. Doing 30 miles in one day seemed like it deserved no alarm. I didn’t leave camp until 8am, which felt late, but my body felt well rested. The miles inched past to begin with. I took lunch at a lovely clear cold spring. The water was delicious and it may be one of my favorite water spots so far.

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I’m on a mission to make it to Olallie Lake this afternoon, maybe 5 miles further. Olallie has a place where I can charge my phone, and running water. I have my period on trail right now, which is a pain when I’m so dirty. I use a diva cup which involves a lot of sticking fingers up into places that I could get a bacterial infection! Yay? So running water sounds amazing – I can wash my hands before all that business. I’m kind of prissy, what can I say.

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Also, my charging brick didn’t get charged enough before I left timberline, so now I’m having to be very sparing in using my phone. I’m worried about it, worried about making it to Big Lake Youth Camp without a charge. Olallie has a place where I can charge my phone up, and this is super important to me. So I race there, hoping to get there mid-afternoon.

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The day is soul crushingly hot. I pull myself up the mountain and down, up and down. A lot of up and down today. The uphills are worse in this heat. The heat zaps my energy and I can barely drag myself uphill. I am still going at a good pace, but it takes everything in me.

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By the time I get to Olallie, I drag myself into the store and have just enough cash at the cash only store for a Coke and 2 Otter pops. I sit on the porch chatting with other hikers and cooling off, letting my phone charge inside.

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I chit chat with Hummingbird the most. We talk for a long time, off and on. What we do outside of the trail. She mentions her time on trail being time she doesn’t have to take care of someone, so I ask her occupation, and she says nurse practitioner. Us folks in the caring profession. I get that whole statement a lot. We talk about our writing, she asks what books I’m reading, we talk about some queer related things, whether or not we want to have kids… it’s a nice conversation. She is an ultra marathoner and is doing a chunk of trail in 7 weeks, so I feel lucky to have met her. She’s going very fast and it may be the only day I see her.

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I hike out again around 6:30, planning to go another 5.5 miles. And I do. The evening air has cooled things down and the temperature is lovely. The mosquitoes are not so lovely. I finally put on my rain jacket. My tolerance is increasing, but I still have my limits. I finally get to my tent spot and it is lovely and FLAT and when I lay in my tent and make dinner, I find that I can see the moon and the night sky out my door. This is the first time I’ve had that on this trail, and one of the few times I’ve been awake past 9pm, and I soak in the loveliness of the quiet, moon-softened dark.

August 8, day 42

20 miles

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I wake up at 4am and have to pee. But first I lay in my tent and I just stare at the sky. The stars are out and it’s spectacular. I can’t believe I’m here. I’m totally in awe, and this moment feels so lovely.

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I plan a shorter day today. 20 miles to a spot that apparently has a killer view. It’s a day with two big climbs, so I feel like that’s a good decision. I start around 7am, not having set myself an alarm.

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A couple miles in, a man riding a horse and pulling along a pack mule goes one direction, and we both think it’s the trail and get pretty lost. I bushwhack back to the trail and guide him and his animals back up. His name is Don, his horse is Rusty and his mule is Pearl. I am annoyed by the 45 extra minutes we spent getting lost, but heartened by the presence of animals. We hopscotch with each other all day, and it’s kind of lovely.

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The climbs suck. There’s no other way to say it. Since I wasted a bunch of time getting lost, I’m slower than usual, and the first climb is hard and rocky. My feet hurt already and I’m less than 4 miles in. Plus, why bother? Why try hard? No ones gonna be waiting for me at camp tonight. It’s just me.

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I can’t get that thought out of my head all day and it’s weighing me down. It’s only a 20 mile day and it feels so hard. The second climb, I speed up for the most part. Near the top I feel myself slow. The thought loops itself around and around in my head. No one’s waiting for me at camp. I tell myself I didn’t come to hike the PCT for company anyway. I tell myself I didn’t originally plan to hike with someone, hiking with Muffy was such a stroke of luck. It wasn’t my reason. But now somehow it is my reason, and I miss Muffy almost unbearably. I drag myself uphill.

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I turn reception on, a risky venture with my low battery, and get some news from my best friend that puts me in my feels. It’s about an unresolved sticky situation from last year that involves so much for me. And there is a piece of it I need to respond to. I spend the next few miles planning my thoughtful measured response and feeling a lot of anger, sadness, betrayal. Writing this now, I wonder if I should call my therapist from town when I get there.

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There’s another jaunt uphill, then I’ll be at my campsite. I’m dreading it. I have a water carry because I’m dry camping and my bag feels awful and weighs me down. Plus, I’ve been avoiding taking care of my diva cup all day so I really need to do that. I find a place off trail and oh my god. I have never felt more disgusting in my life than crouching in the woods, being harangued by mosquitoes, and dealing with a diva cup explosion on top of shitting in a hole because I’d delayed shitting, too. It is so gross. I feel so gross. I go thru wet wipes trying to just get clean again while mosquitoes delightfully feast on my body. There’s blood everywhere. I shudder and clean up as best I can and hurry back on trail.

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Today and this stretch I have felt so godawful dirty. I haven’t showered for over a week. I wash my hands in creeks (without soap – LNT) but I can’t get them clean for more than an hour or so. Last night, the spot I pitched my tent got very damp, and it was sandy, and the sand was black and went everywhere so now my tent is covered in black mud. I feel like I look as if I’ve hiked through an apocalypse. I kinda feel like I have too. I’m dirty and lonely and I’ve hiked bigger miles in succession this week than I ever have. In any case I feel so gross that all I want is a shower and it is the singular reason I am drumming up the will to hike all 25 miles to Big Lake Youth Camp tomorrow.

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I finally get to camp and set up and get eaten alive by more mosquitoes. It’s still not as bad as Washington though. I think that I have a full charge on my battery pack, so I’m lavish with my internet use for awhile until my phone nearly dies, so I plug it in. After a bit, it stops charging, and I realize I only had a tiny charge left in my battery pack, and now I only have about 10% battery life to get me to town tomorrow. I’m terribly sad and so lonely and I hate everything and I cry when I put my phone back in airplane mode.

August 9, Day 43

22 miles

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I wake up at 10:30pm and have to pee and when I lay back down I sob and sob. I realize in that moment that I’ve done too much on miles this week and that’s part of what’s happening with me emotionally. My body feels wrecked and is dumping it into my emotions. My internal state feels so overwrought and intense that I make a conscious decision to smoke some pot to both lighten my mood and put me to sleep. To my relief, it works without putting me into paranoia, a place I can go with weed and why I normally only smoke to sleep.

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In the morning I’m in a better mood. I laugh to myself thinking about my breakfast. “Hey body, guess what I have for you for breakfast? Surprise, cream of wheat with Nutella! Your fav!”

Body: *turns up nose and is visibly repelled* “what the fuck Laurie this isn’t a surprise we literally have this every day and I’m not eating this.”

Me: “oh but you are my dear! Yum yum yum!” I laugh for awhile thinking of this internal exchange.

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I am planning on 25 miles today, and by some miracle I actually leave camp by 6:30. I prefer leaving early. I love leaving by 6. I get a lot more miles covered that way. And the same is true today. By 11am I’ve hiked 14 miles. I’m stoked! The highway intersection is only 5 more, then 5-6 to Big Lake Youth Camp.

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On the way down to the highway, I am struck with the impression that I need to go into Sisters today instead. That it makes more sense to hitch in there today than to try and get a ride there tomorrow. I go back and forth on this. I break with a couple of dudes at the parking lot by the highway intersection where I’d hitch, eating snacks and discussing this decision with them. I hike another mile, past where I should hitch, and then think, “no, I really DO need to go into Sisters today.” So I turn around and head back to the highway to get a hitch. I pass a couple I’d seen earlier in the day, GinGin and Edbear. They ask me why I’m going backward and I explain. I keep going. Right as I get to the highway, it starts to rain.

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The couple burst out of the trees moments later and Edbear says “we changed our minds too!” GinGin yells at Edbear, “come on, we need to cross now!” as I’m standing on the edge of the busy highway trying to hitch. They run across the road and head back to the parking lot and trailhead I was in before.

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I try to hitch to no avail. No one will stop for me. It’s pouring. I just know I’m supposed to go to Sisters, but why will no one stop? Then it starts hailing. I run back across the road up to the parking lot where I know there is a pit toilet. Edbear and GinGin are huddling there and invite me in. They say they have a ride to Sisters and if there is room, theyll ask if I can go, too.

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There is room, and the woman who picks us up, Shari, runs the gear shop in Sisters. When we get there, she won’t let me go to the campground as I planned and instead invites me to stay at her house with Edbear and GinGin. I’m floored and thank her over and over. I’m in heaven. She makes us a big dinner and I get to shower in a shower in a house. What even?

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For dinner I have a taco and a taco salad and two brownies with ice cream and berries. As we eat dinner and chat, I notice that GinGin is specifically using my name and not using gendered pronouns to refer to me. She’s using my name mainly, and I can tell she noticed my hat even though I forgot to tell her my pronouns. I’m so touched by how she noticed this and instantly feel more comfortable with her and Edbear.

This is magical. And on top of it all, I get to sleep in a real bed. I go to sleep around 11:30 feeling tired and so grateful.


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.

PCT days 36-39

(Day 35 was a zero day in Portland and I didn’t blog)

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📍Chinook, Wasco, Wishram, and Molalla Land

August 2, day 36

16 miles

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I dilly dally in town, doing last minute things: eating breakfast, sending mail, buying coke to pack out with me. Finally around 10:30am, I leave. On the way up, I run into Muffy and Vanessa. It’s so fun to finally meet Vanessa! I’ve followed her on Insta for years and meeting the #softeggcontent creator in person was amazing. Also, she’s even more stunning in person, internet be warned!

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We are only hiking 16 miles today, because we are meeting up with some of Muffy’s queer fam at Wahtum Lake. But first, we have a huge climb. 4,000ft of elevation gain. I dawdle more on my way up to the climb and use my prolific LTE. Finally I put my phone into airplane mode and I climb.

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Boy do I climb. I have never climbed like this. My muscles feel so, so strong. This hill feels like nothing. WHAT. Is this what hiker legs feel like?!? Or is it just the Coke I’m steadily feeding into my system?! Either way, I don’t stop once up the entire 4,000 feet. It’s a miracle. I feel so alive and so stoked.

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Then after I get to the top, the rain starts. This kills my good mood. I pull out my rain gear and trudge through the muck. I hate it, but at least I’m used to it now. I also know it will be short lived, so I try to just put up with it. Today will probably be the only day it rains for awhile. I also think it’s hilarious. Is rain my welcome committee to each state? First day of Washington: rain. First day of Oregon? ALSO RAIN. Fitting, maybe.

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I get up to the camping area at the lake and wait for Muffy. I’m guessing her friends are up in the proper campground up the hill. I wait for about 45 minutes and just when I’m about to go find them, Muffy’s friend Alley comes down the stairs. It’s so good to meet them! She’s also someone I’ve followed on Instagram for forever and after she says she’s going to hike to meet Muffy, they ask if they can give me a hug. I’m delighted. Then I walk up into the campground to meet up with their friend Meredith.

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When I walk into the camping area, Meredith is reading a book called Inner Witch and I’m immediately stoked. My people!!!! We proceed to have amazing and pertinent conversation and I’m so glad. I can feel my on trail defensiveness begin to relax. On trail, no one (except my lovely hiking buddies!) gets my queerness. But here, everyone does. Finally.

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We have tacos for dinner and I eat three plus two s’mores. I’m so full. And so grateful to these people who insist I eat what I need. I try to help as much as possible. The generosity floors me. Everything about this floors me. “I can’t believe this,” I keep saying. I’m thrilled, and tired in a good way, and I feel so, so safe.

August 3

Zero on Trail

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I wake up luxuriously late, not getting out of bed until 8 am. I can’t believe this is happening. I feel so safe. I feel so happy. I’m with my people and everything is okay.

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I have two cups of coffee, just because I can. While everyone else goes to use reception for a bit, I watch the rest of Tales of the City (UGH turns out I hate everything about that show and it is triggering af, do not recommend). Then I listen to a bit of a Multiamory podcast. When everyone gets back, we pack up and go to the lake.

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What even is this day? I wonder this over and over again as I laze around in the sun on the lakeshore, sipping root beer and real beer and eating chips and salsa. We tie together the inner tubes and form a flotilla on the lake and stare up at Mt Hood. It’s a hot day and the lake water feels so nice and cold. We’re all silly and laughing and talking about nothing and everything. I keep wondering if it’s real and then knowing it is and feeling so deeply content and so deeply grateful for a day of true rest with people I feel at home with.

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When we go back to camp, I am very quiet. I’m not upset, I’ve just rested so much that I’ve gone internal. I feel a silence that goes down to the bottom of my soul. It’s the first time I’ve felt this level of rest in at least a month. Probably longer, because I was so busy before I came out here.

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I make burgers for everyone and we sit around the fire chatting until we can’t stay awake, and I ask everyone for some physical touch before we go to bed, so everyone hugs me and I feel even more full than before. Gratitude is seeping into my pores. I’m smiling as I fall asleep listening to everyone talk and laugh around the fire.

August 4

Day 38

24.4 miles

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Muffy and I don’t leave camp until 7. Neither of us really want to go. Even though I’ve just met these people, I so want to stay with them in this space that feels safe, with other queer witches who care about the same things I care about. It feels a little like culture shock when I get back on trail and start moving. I’m grateful for Muffy’s presence and we talk for around an hour about all sorts of things as we walk.

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The trail starts to climb, and Muffy falls behind, and I speed up and race a little. It’s fun for me to run this speed especially when the terrain flattens out, like it does at the top of the hill. And then, the dream – I have LTE! I hike and chat with my friends for like an hour. Finally I tell myself I’m not gonna get any real hiking done like this, so I put my phone on airplane mode.

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In the afternoon, the air gets hot and close. I feel lethargic, like I can barely pull myself along. My feet hurt so bad. I’m so tired of my feet hurting constantly in some way. I wonder if I’ll have to change my shoes again and I feel totally frustrated. Some of this is just hiking foot pain that happens. I’m trying to decide if some of it is more serious. I can feel the ground jarring me underfoot as I walk, and it hurts.

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I reach an area packed with day hikers. It’s Sunday and warm in the Pacific Northwest, so everyone is out. I hate it. I hate the day hikers and all their dumb comments and PCT questions, and I’m hot and tired already, so I feel irritated when I see all the people. I start going up the hill and it’s a bigger climb than I want to do. I’m so, so warm and I can’t make myself move as fast as I want. The terrain is not a big deal for me at this point, but the heat drains my body of all energy and I drag myself along. When I reach the top of the climb, I pull out my electrolytes, and as I’m pulling them out of my bag am swarmed by biting black flies. I throw all of it in my hipbelt pockets as fast as I can and just keep walking.

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It stays hot and then i start going downhill. My feet hurt even more. I cross a creek on a log and lay past the crossing for 20 minutes, resting my feet and dozing. I’m so tired. This sun zaps me. I finally get up and decide to take the Ramona Falls alternate. A NOBO told me this morning f I should check it out. It’s an easy trail, but I can barely move up it. I’m so warm. I’m so tired. When I finally get there, I’m not impressed enough to have felt like I actually wanted to see it. I snapped a picture and walked away.

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As I leave, a man stops me and asks about his friends, who I’d met coming up. He then asks, in what he seems to think is a charming way, “so where are you hiking in from?” He cocks his head just so and looks me up and down. I feel like a piece of meat. I instantly hate this interaction. “Oh I’m hiking the PCT,” I say, and turn away. “Have a good one.” Why do men think this is cute, to look someone up and down like that? I want to vomit.

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Camp is only about a mile from here, so I head that direction. Just before camp is a hairy river crossing. It’s the worst I’ve seen yet and I can’t decide where to cross. I walk up the river and try the log bridge, three times. Every time it feels too rickety to cross. Finally, I pick a spot that seems less intense and start my way across. I’m terrified. I make myself think logically and slowly. I get to the second sandbar and take a deep breath. The water is rushing, pounding down the mountain between me and the shore. I look for the best way to go, but this is really it. I have no choice but forward. I plant my poles in the rushing muddy water and wade in. The water is up to my thighs and the current pushes at me, threatening to sweep my feet from under me. I scramble up the other side and cry out in fear and relief, a sort of gasping shocked cry. I’m still shaking. I wonder if Muffy is at camp. I want her to be at camp. I want a hug after that. I am so scared and I shake my body out.

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Muffy is not at camp. I put my things down and walk back to the river, knowing this crossing will scare her too. I watch and encourage her as she crosses, breathing a sigh of relief when she gets over. She’s scared too and hated it. We both make our way to camp in relief and sit and make our food and chat. It feels grounding. I like this chit chat and being here talking with Muffy feels like home too, and that feels so good. Especially after today.

August 5, day 39

9 miles so far

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I drag myself up at just after 5am. I’m trying to get to Timberline for their breakfast buffet before it closes at 10:30am. At least, that’s what I tell myself. I can’t decide if I actually want it that much. It seems overrated. And it’s 9 miles and 3,000ft of elevation away. Aka, I have to go up a big hill.

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I start the hill around 6:15 and feel cranky. I don’t want to do this hill. I throw on my headphones and jam out to some music for awhile until my headphones die. By that time I’m in a great rhythm and crushing the hill. Cool. I guess my legs are this strong now? It’s weird. But I’m into it.

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I try to decide whether to take the Paradise Loop alternate trail and go see the views Guthook (my PCT trail app) mentions. I finally figure “what the hell” and head up the loop. It’s worth it. It winds through wildflowers under the crest of Wy’East (Mt. Hood, named Wy’East by the Multnomah tribe), and I get there just as the sun is peeking over the top. My endorphins are high so I’m in a great mood, and I decide I want to post some pics to Instagram. I know I’ll have reception, so I flip my phone off of airplane mode.

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The first thing I see is a text in WhatsApp. It’s from… BBCNews. How they found me on WhatsApp is a mystery. The person says they interviewed me a couple years ago and can I give an interview about “current events in the US” today? My entire stomach clenches and drops and I freeze in the middle of the trail. I instantly know it’s really, really bad. I haven’t seen the news because I’m hiking but my body immediately feels it and I immediately know I’ve actually been registering it for the past couple of days already. I text Jacklyn. “Can you please tell me the details, gently?” I ask. “I don’t want to look at the news.” I’m shaking. I’m standing in the middle of a gorgeous field of wildflowers and I’m shaking and then crying and my body feels everything. “It’s okay, baby,” I whisper to myself. This happens to me sometimes. I’ve learned to just let it through. It’s better that way. I let myself shake. I feel the land holding me, watching me gently, offering its beauty despite the madness I know I’m about to hear. I take this picture while I wait for her to respond.

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Jacklyn tells me there were 2 white supremacist mass shootings over the weekend and tells me where. She doesn’t tell me the casualty count. I don’t ask. I can feel that it’s high. I’m quiet, so so quiet. I feel fragile and protective.

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I think of how the small reflects the collective, over and over. Friday night, as I walked into camp towards my friends’ campsite, I walked past a group of men. They were standing in front of a huge old Chevy pickup. It looked to be an old man and his sons. The old man was holding a shotgun. In public. Without any thought. For some reason, though I don’t always react to this kind of sight (Colorado has open carry and I’m used to it), I react so strongly. I feel shaken and scared. I try to forget it and walk quickly to my friends campsite. I try not to think about them standing there while I talk with Meredith, when Muffy and Alley arrive. Until one of them mentions how weird they acted. I tell everyone how they were brandishing a shotgun. Everyone looks dismayed. I breathe a sigh of relief when the truck drives away – we all do. I think about that this morning. That reaction. I think of how the depth of my reaction was a ripple of what was happening in the collective, how my heart squeezed in total fear as an echo of the greater whole. Some of you may think this sounds crazy, but this morning as I stood under Wy’East just trying to breathe and my body shook with the news, I knew this to be true. My body knew about the news of the weekend before I did.

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I breathe and feel the earth and hike hard and get to the hotel in time for breakfast. I stress eat. It’s a rich white people hotel and the atmosphere feels jarring in juxtaposition to the awfulness of the news. I barely taste my food; it’s fine, I just don’t really care. And I can’t help but think that it’s this kind of thing that promotes white supremacy. I scroll Facebook a bit to try and find casualty information and I find out there have also been two shootings of people of color by police in Colorado Springs this weekend. And I find out that a friends husband has been killed in an accident. I get the casualty numbers of the other shootings and it confirms my earlier feelings. It’s all too much and I stop scrolling. My body is overwhelmed and I keep crying.

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I’m just sitting here now dazed. I don’t know where to go next and I’m just trying to let my body process. The grief and terror feels immense. I’ve been thinking all day about the constant erasure whiteness enacts. I see it on trail constantly. Native placenames, but we’ve erased the history behind them. The Huckleberry Handshake or the fishing rights for the Chinook, where we tell the indigenous “you can do this one thing on this land, see, we’re good to you!” when literally, it is their land and they had the right to begin with. The lack of indigenous place history I find on Google and the hours I spend trying to track it down. Even how I unconsciously erase, not realizing until I was leaving Cascade Locks that indigenous sellers were selling fruit and fish along the sidewalk and I didn’t take the time to ask them about their history or to even buy what they sold. I am ashamed of this and know it’s my own whiteness at work. I am constantly blinded by it and trying to take my blinders off. That’s a huge part of why this journey is important to me and why I try to document the indigenous history as I go. And I still fail. That is the way of it.


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.