PCT trail log, days 53-57

August 19, day 53

Takelma, Cow Creek Umpqua, Molalla, and Klamath Territory

8.2 miles

.

I have to wait at Mazama until noon today for a package, but I also have early phone calls to make, so I get up early and tear down camp. I get a coffee thick as sludge from the store and it fulfills a deep craving. I sit in the laundry room and make my call. It’s to a new therapist. I’ve noted that I keep having one singular issue really get me while I’m out here, and I need some support.

.

I love her. For the most part. She’s direct, non stigmatizing, has a great way of working with trauma. I feel more comfortable with her than I have with most of my therapists in the past few years. But… she’s not queer. And honestly right now I really feel like I have GOT to talk to someone who is queer. For the sake of my soul. I wish she was. I like everything else so much. I wish finding a queer therapist to work with at a distance wasn’t so hard. This also makes me think about getting certified myself as a DCC so I can do this.

.

At noon I go in to get my packages and it is a major hassle. No one at the desk seems to know what is going on and they won’t let me go look at things myself. The person in charge appears to be queer and bonus, is really cute. I flirt hardcore and they finally let me up to check everything. I get most of my things, but I have to wait until 5 for the headphones I’m waiting for. And I NEED headphones out here for morale. I sigh and wait.

.

While waiting I shake down my pack again and get rid of unnecessary weight. I chit chat with Waist Deep, Ice Man, MLM, and Goose. Then my phone is about to die so I go in the laundry room and charge it. I buy two more pieces of lasagna and another ice cream sandwich and a soda and eat it all. I’m so full. A woman comes in and starts chit chatting with me. I’m thrilled because she’s here with her wife. Hooray, a fellow gay! We chit chat for a long time. When I finally get my headphones and prepare to leave, she offers to buy me anything I’d like. I’m so stuffed at that moment that I turn her down but I thank her for the kind conversation. I wish I would have told her how meaningful the interaction truly was.

.

In the middle of all this I also have yet another interaction about my gender with a middle aged man. I am in a better capacity place and he is confused but kind, so I explain a few things. How I feel like I identify differently gender wise than the societal norm. He’s also noticed my new pride sticker and asks if I’m gay, and I explain I’m queer. He’s open to hearing and listens kindly. It’s a nice interaction. At least it’s not a weird interaction or a dangerous one. At least I’m in a good mood to try and explain better.

.

I finally hike out from the trailhead around 6. A couple miles in, I run into a hiker who has no food or water so I give him a half liter of water and 3 bars. He seems disoriented. I use my therapist crisis experience to check in and this is how I find out he has no food or water, and insist he take some of mine. I forget to check his time orientation – I’m focused on making sure he gets into town safely where he will have other resources. I kind of feel proud though that I know generally what to do and how to handle the situation.

.

I hike only 8.2 miles in and this feels good. I get to my campsite just after sunset. Coming up to it and in the actual site it is a recent burn area. The sunset is stunning and I’m listening to Gregory Alan Isakov and just being with it all. It feels calming and glorious. And it’s so nice to be at camp and not be wiped out.

August 20, day 54

Takelma, Cow Creek Umpqua, Molalla, and Klamath Territory

32 miles

.

I don’t wake up to my alarm this morning, but it’s not a bad time either. 5:50am and I’m watching the sunrise over the valley below. It’s stunning through the burn, so I snap a few pics. And then I get on it. I’m determined to have an early start this morning. I want to do either 27 or 32 miles today, and if I end up wanting to do 32, I know I don’t want to rush into camp tonight. So I’m on top of it today and I leave camp by 6:50am, feeling quite pleased with myself.

.

Since I’m up early, I let myself go at my own pace and I don’t rush myself. It’s so nice. I didn’t realize hiking could be this nice? Which is ridiculous, it’s just, sometimes I get stuck in the mileage mindset and push my body too hard. It’s honestly silly, because my body can handle a lot actually and will feel better about it if I’m not pushing so hard.

.

I’m intentional today too. I’m feeling very internal and also wanting to do things that I won’t regret. So all day I take time to snack on the huckleberries along trail, or snap pictures of the tiny froggies near a water source, or sit on a log and meditate a few minutes. My body is extremely happy with this decision. The huckleberries particularly fill me with good feelings. I don’t have a ton of good childhood memories, but picking huckleberries along Hungry Horse Reservoir with my mom is one of them. I must have been 5 or 6, clad in jeans and a t shirt and wild hair. I think my hair was chopped short around that time. I remember picking all day, staining my fingers blue-black with the juice. On good days I would collect a full pail of berries and proudly display my accomplishments to my mother. On the other days, I’d eat half my pail and not have much to show for my picking time. After we picked the huckleberries, we’d take them home and my mom would make pancakes, or homemade ice cream, or put them in the freezer for winter. Needless to say, picking huckleberries while hiking always gives me warm fuzzies.

.

I rest every 10 miles or so, something I’ve also found my body enjoys. I eat a larger snack than a bar, usually beef jerky and chips, drink some water and rest my feet. On the second break of the day, I’m almost out of water. There’s a lake down a side trail half a mile, or a spring in 5 miles, my 27 mile mark. I don’t feel like walking extra miles, so I decide to suck it up and walk 5 miles with a sip of water in my bottle. It is a dry dusty five miles and nearly every step I am thinking about water. Even the songs playing in my headphones remind me of water. I’ve learned my lesson. When I get to the spring I immediately down about half a liter. I’m not gonna make that mistake again.

.

My body is honestly feeling pretty great at this point, so I decide to not camp here at my mile 27 and instead go to 32, a lake down trail. The lake is even on a downhill stretch, so I know it will be fairly smooth. I put on Gregory Alan Isakov’s Evening Machines album, a very chill acoustic album that I love and have almost memorized. I’m just going to meander to camp. It’s a lovely 4 miles, a great time to let my body wind down from the day. Near the end I can feel the muscle pains in my hip flexors and shins, as if to remind me that 32 miles is still a lot. Regardless, I didn’t know 32 could feel this good. After my 33 last section that made my body feel like shit, I had my doubts. But doing it this way, with honor and respect to my body, felt amazing.

.

I eat dinner, beans and rice noodles, while overlooking the lake in twilight. The surface of the water is shimmery silver, thrown in stark contrast to the tree trunks that are black in the gloaming. I feel something like contentment and it is so welcome. I’m glad to be out here, with myself, walking. It’s shifted now to more of a spiritual practice, especially now that I’m hiking alone. I don’t know what is to come, but I’m grateful to simply be present.

August 21, day 55

Shasta and Cow Creek Umpqua Territory

23 miles hiked, 21 on trail

.

I get an early start again this morning and am out by 6:50 again. These early starts RULE! I do so much better when I start at sunlight and have plenty of time to make my mileage.

.

I’m hiking into Fish Lake today to pick up my replacement tent from Six Moon Designs. My original one had ripped right around a reinforcer, so SMD replaced it for free AND sent me the $5 UPS pick up fee for the resort! Love that customer service. I fly down the 10 miles into the tiny resort.

.

When I get there I weirdly love the place. It’s an old resort that seems like it’s still stuck in the late 80s or early 90s. It kind of looks like something out of Stranger Things. The wallpaper is kitschy and faded. There is a combined store and restaurant, family run, and they make “American” food and have a faded diner counter. 80s music plays the whole time I’m there, Learning to Fly and Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow and other classics.

.

I run into Sidetrip, who I met hiking with Trooper and Rook. He’s laid up nursing shin splints and seems bored out of his mind. We mindlessly chit chat about tent repair and Buddhism. He tells me what he’s been up to. We ask about mutual trail friends. We discuss the topic on all our minds at this point – The Sierra. When we will go through. When we’ll finish. Our hopes to get through before big snow. Gear changes we may make.

.

I order a hamburger, salad, and a chocolate malt. The chocolate malt is excellent. The burger and its grease turn my stomach. I always think I want burgers on trail, then I try to eat them and the grease upsets my stomach. I eat half and give the other half to Sidetrip, but I finish the salad and malt and a Coke.

.

I go through the hiker box for any gems and to my delight I find an entire head of garlic! Praise be! After Old Man Rivers gave me the fresh garlic last section, I’ve been hungry for more and here it is! Besides that, I grab a couple packs of oatmeal, an extra hand sanitizer. Thank the queer divine for the hiker box.

.

Hiking out, I feel so so full and my stomach feels sick. The grease from that burger is still making me feel ill. I throw up a little bit, which is good, because then I feel better. After that, the mechanics of hiking are easier. I find though that I’m super tired after being in a town-like spot. My body thought we were going to get to rest. I have to drag it up the hill. And of course it’s a lava rock covered climb out of Fish Lake. The climb itself isn’t bad, but I despise and abhor the lava rocks. When I turn my phone off airplane mode and note that I have reception, I stop and dawdle for at least 20 minutes. Then I force myself to keep hiking, with intermittent phone breaks. I’m not making much progress today. It helps me to know I hadn’t really planned on it anyway, because Fish Lake.

.

Somewhere along the climb just after I get reception, it starts to rain. I hate everything about this and hope it will stop. Not only am I climbing over lava rocks, now I am soaking wet. I stop to put all my things in the trash compactor I keep for rainy days. I still dawdle along. Finally I muster the motivation to hike to a shelter (!!!) not too far up trail. I play music, attempting to cajole myself further.

.

I make the shelter and it’s packed. Waist Deep, Ice Man, Goose, and 2 hikers I don’t know are there. They’re all staying the night. It’s warm and cozy and tempting, but I don’t want to be around people. I like camping and hiking alone. Although I am very buoyed when I come in and Goose trash talks me about something and clearly uses my pronouns. I can’t even remember what the trash talking was. I was so distracted by the goodness of hearing “they” in a sentence. I think he’s kind of being a show off, but I don’t care. I needed it. I sit and eat snacks and chat with everyone. One of the hikers I don’t know tells us how she snuck into a room and showered at Timberline Lodge. It’s probably one of the funniest trail stories I’ve heard so far.

.

Other hikers start to arrive, and I get antsy. Waist Deep can’t believe I’m leaving, but I do. I garb up in rain pants and jacket and head out. It’s still raining. A mile from the shelter I vaguely regret my choice to leave, thinking of the covered cocooned warmth. But then I think of being alone and don’t regret it much at all. And besides, despite the rain I have a good second wind. I hike another 3.5 miles and find a dry spot to set up my tent just after a quiet paved road. I do wish my first set up of this new tent wasn’t on a rainy night, but what can one do. It’s the PCT, where it’s always something.

August 22, day 56

Shasta and Cow Creek Umpqua Territory

29.5 miles

.

I wake up this morning and am instantly thinking about gender out here. It’s so weird that hikers are so aggressive about gender because hiker gender expression is extremely fluid. People who code traditionally as cis men are wearing clothes that border on traditionally feminine, and vice versa. At the same time, wearing a skirt, I felt so aggressively gendered by others as female.

.

Have you ever seen a doe bound through a rain soaked forest glimmering in the morning sun? I see that this morning after the rain of last night, hiking up through the firs dripping with moss. The doe surprises me, its lithe body hopping across the trail, then retracing its steps. I am mesmerized.

.

I come to the top of the climb and I can see Ako-Yet/Et ti ja na/Yeh te che na, aka Shasta (source), in the distance. I am filled with awe. The view is beautiful and stretches for miles. California. The last state.

.

I am so tempted to write, as I do my notes for the day – “tired. The end.” I was exhausted from lunch on, dragging myself through the day and cursing myself for choosing to do 30 miles. Why had I planned this? I could barely feel the land around me. I wanted to stop and sleep. Doggedly I pushed on. I texted friends. I called and reserved my hostel in Ashland (a ZERO on Saturday, praise be!). I played music. I listened to podcasts. I took more breaks than usual and tried to nap on one of them. Nothing helped. My body was done. And so the 30 miles took longer than it would have normally.

.

Ironically as I did the last 5 miles to camp, I was listening to Tricia Hersey’s (The Nap Ministry) episode on Healing Justice and feeling rather ashamed of myself. She was talking about rest as reparation and revolution. And here I was pushing my obviously exhausted body to the extreme. I can feel in it the effects. I can see what capitalism does to us. I’m going to write more on that in my next Notes on the Road edition on Monday, but suffice it to say it was quite the lesson, and has been one over and over for me.

.

When I finally hobbled into camp, I set down my things. Stretched. Made myself get water before setting up my tent. Then I put on my camp shoes and went back down to the spring and soaked my feet. After this day I was going to do everything possible to be nice to my body, since I really hadn’t been so nice most of the day. Along with dinner, I boiled water for my Calming tea, since Tricia Hersey had talked about tea in her podcast. I am convinced that I’m still going to be in a lot of pain tonight, but at least I’m taking some steps to mitigate.

August 23, day 57

Shasta and Cow Creek Umpqua Territory

12 miles

.

I’m right about the pain. And on top of it, someone gets into camp at 10pm and proceeds to make food without trying to be very quiet. So I’m tossing and turning because I ache from the waist down, and this person is also being pretty loud doing their nighttime chores.

.

I’ve been carrying around a ziploc this week with the letters I got in Crater Lake. Rachel sent me a little packet of poems, and I’ve read at least one a day. I read the last one this morning. I’m still thinking on my favorite. I’ve also got letters from And and Alyssa in there, both of which have served as great comfort this week in moments of anxiety.

.

I’m low on food but it’s only 12 miles to Ashland and a blessed, blessed zero before I keep going and cross the California border. So I get up early and I’m out by 6:50 as usual. I fly down the trail. But even with my doubled breakfast, I’m starving 6 miles in and have no other food left but dehydrated retried beans. I take a quick break and mix a slurry of them in water and eat enough to give me energy to get to town. It works. And I get down in no time.

.

When I get in, I realize my hostel is just off Hersey street, and I find this tremendously ironic considering the Nap Ministry and Tricia Hersey stuff I’ve just listened to. I take the message. Rest. So after I get to my hostel, before doing anything else, I take a nap.


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.

Advertisements

One Reply to “PCT trail log, days 53-57”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s