PCT trail log, days 53-57

August 19, day 53

Takelma, Cow Creek Umpqua, Molalla, and Klamath Territory

8.2 miles

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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PCT trail log, days 49-52

August 15, day 49

Molalla Territory

10 miles

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I do a Nero (half day of hiking) in Shelter Cove. I wake up early and get all my chores done: laundry and a shower. I split laundry with another hiker I’ll call MFM. It seems generally pleasant. I like Shelter Cove. I love Odell Lake. It’s gorgeous.

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I decide I want to hike alone, for real. A couple of people ask for me to accompany them and I decline. I want the pleasure of my own company.

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I see someone from earlier on trail whose name I won’t mention here. I can’t decide how I feel about him. It feels both nice and weird to run into him. Something about him rubs me wrong even though he says the right things. I’m glad to get away and hike up into the hills. Which I do. I hike out 10 miles and find a spot that overlooks the valley I’ve just been in. It’s glorious.

August 16, day 50

Molalla territory

25 miles

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I am up by 6, but slow as usual to get out. I have reception and send a friend a text, and she needs some support so I sit for another hour or so with them since I luckily have some reception where I’m camped. I leave around 8:30 and start walking. I realize within about 20 minutes that since I have reception, I also need to call Six Moon Designs about my tent. I stop in the middle of the trail and do that – they are going to send me a brand new lunar solo to Fish Lake! That was easy enough. Im grateful to have that issue sorted.

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Then a voicemail comes through from a fellowship I received last year, informing me of some information they need today. I call the person there back and inform them I’ve been on trail without much reception. They are kind and understanding, but I’m also non compliant on some things. I fix what I can and finally start hiking again. This time I’m beset by shame and anxiety. I knew I had some things to do for this fellowship but I dropped the ball. I told myself that I couldn’t deal with all that out here. And here we were. I spiraled down, feeling anxious and frustrated with myself. I wanted to present for their conference next year and I hadn’t set myself up well. I consistently struggle to set myself up well professionally, to respond in time, to stay on the ball. Further and further in I went. I turned off my reception and played Elastic Heart by Sia over and over and told myself “walk, Laurie. Just walk.” I had to say this to myself several times.

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When you’re walking sometimes thoughts loop, at least mine do because I struggle with obsessive thinking, and today was not a helpful day on that front. The anxiety about the fellowship turned into anxiety about my gender, in part precipitated by misgendering myself in my own head. I am sure it doesn’t help that I’m constantly misgendered out here. But I spiral on that too. I feel like no one else has these fears. I feel like I’m doing it wrong. I feel amorphous, who am I even? This is terrifying, the most terrifying thing of all, that I can’t sense myself enough to know something solid.

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I spin and spin and spin.

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When I get reception again I get on Instagram and reach out to my close friends feed for support. I can’t do this day alone right now, my mind is too much. Friends message and their words make me cry in relief. I start to breathe easier and I can see the scenery again. I’m ridge walking, actually, and I realize it is so stunning, so absolutely gorgeous. I’m back. I’m present again. I try to stay with my friends words and with what I see around me.

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Despite my late start, I make my 25 miles by 7:45pm. Someone on trail, Old Man Rivers, gave me a fresh clove of garlic today, and I’m stoked! I cook part of it into my beans and rice, trying to save some for the whole section. It is legitimately a next level trail meal. Oh my god. I cannot eat enough.

August 17, day 51

Cow Creek Umpqua and Molalla territories

33 miles

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I don’t get out of camp until 8 despite waking up at 6. I was lazy and didn’t pull myself off my air mattress until about 6:30. And then when I was all ready I had to go collect water at a spring steeply downhill from where I slept. My Katahdin BeFree filter has slowed down to the point where it takes forever to filter water, so that whole debacle plus the climb takes me 30 minutes. I’m frustrated with this but here we are.

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I can tell my mind is still in the shattery anxiety place and that it wants to spin out again today. I hate when my mind gets obsessive like this. But I am very gentle and attempt to corral myself and redirect myself to other things. In the midst of this I realize I am probably going to pass Raine today! This lifts my spirits. And I do, I do pass her. Right as my mind is getting untenable again, she appears on trail. I’m stoked. It’s so fun to meet an Instagram friend! She’s lovely and we chat for about 20 minutes, sharing enthusiasm about each other’s experiences on trail. Finally I snap a pic and we’re both off again. It’s such a bummer when someone you’d probably hike well with is going the other direction.

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Despite my best efforts, after Raine passes my mind spins out again. I’m outside my body, it’s that kind of obsessing. I haven’t been here in a long while. Usually I can stay grounded. I think back to the last time my body was this shape, wondering if that is contributing to my mental state. I spun a lot like this back then. I wonder if my body thinks it’s in survival mode.

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I reach the high point of Oregon and Washington around noon and take a quick lunch. I text Jacklyn, and she sends me a lot of pictures of cute animals. I think about how maybe my absolutely definitely low oxytocin levels are maybe contributing to this anxiety trouble. All I want right now is to lay on a bed in a cuddle puddle of people and pets and watch chill Netflix (GBBO anyone?!) for a week. I think about all the other things I want. Someone to play with my hair. My cats. To be sandwiched between two people and held.

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After lunch after leaving my reception on for a bit, I turn it back off and hike. I attempt to really be here. I hope this will help with this anxiety thing. And it does. I still feel floaty, but I’m not mentally spinning anymore.

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I walk through some beautiful scenery next to hisc’akwaleeʔas aka Mt Thielsen (sources: here and here). Though this is in Cow Creek Umpqua and Molalla traditional lands, this is apparently a Klamath word (hisc’akwaleeʔas) which may be because it borders on Klamath land as well. I’m not even sure the “borders” are correct. Indigenous borders seem much more fluid than the ones in the dominant white narrative.

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I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to do 24 or 33 miles tonight. Part of me really wants to try for 33. I’m ready for a challenge. But that means I’ll get in kind of late.

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It’s a really dry section, so there are water caches along here. I get down to the water cache that was my 24 mile spot, and Old Man Rivers is there. He’s gonna push to my 33 mark (his 36) and so I decide to go too. He’s nice enough even though we don’t really know each other. He at least has been respecting my pronouns the past 24 hours by not really using pronouns at all. He’s probably not someone I’d usually camp with… I’m enjoying camping alone… but it’s just that there’s a section of Crater Lake that’s closed for mountain lion activity right now, and to be honest I don’t want to camp even near that alone.

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I start into the next 9 miles from the cache. I listen to an entire episode of Multiamory, the one with Lola Phoenix, and distract myself from my body pain by learning a lot from what they’re saying. I never podcast at home ever but out here it’s a great distraction, and it’s kind of fun to learn some new stuff. They talk about how jealousy is totally natural in non monogamous relationships, about how it’s used as a label too often for other emotions. They define jealousy as “wanting what someone else has.” I’m intrigued and think about how this applies to my own life.

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After the podcast I put on music. At some point I realize I’m totally dissociating. I can barely feel my body, and I’m floating. I wonder if this is why I keep getting anxiety. Hiking hard like this sometimes requires a degree of dissociation. Maybe not this much dissociation though. “Maybe not pushing SO hard to 33 miles next time,” I think at myself.

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I finally drag myself into camp. It’s not really that late, only 5 after 8. I’ve hiked about a half hour later than I did last night, and I’ve done 8 more miles. I’m proud but I’m not sure I should be. I’m not sure I want to be out of my body like that while I hike. By the time I’ve done all my chores and eaten my entire dinner (!!!!!) it’s almost 10 pm and my feet and legs are absolutely killing me. I’m wishing I elevated them, but I guess I will in the morning. I’m hoping the 2 ibuprofen I popped will help me sleep through the night.

August 18, day 52

Takelma, Cow Creek Umpqua, Molalla, and Klamath Territory

10ish miles

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I ended up popping 6 ibuprofen through the night in order to actually sleep. My feet were killing me and my body felt like it had been run over. 33 miles did a number. I hike out of camp at 8, nice and slow. I’m not going to go fast today. I’m going into Mazama, so I’m just going to take it slow.

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This desire is further confirmed when I realize it’s only 10 miles to Mazama rather than the 18 I thought. This info comes from a fellow hiker I pass just as I get up to the rim of Lao-Yaina. Crater Lake. Traditional Klamath land. The legend of the lake can be found here.

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I walk around Lao-Yaina really, really slow. Maybe the slowest I’ve hiked on the entire PCT. I dawdle. I take a million pictures. I let myself be totally entranced by the lake and Wizard Island and the entire landscape. I hike with Old Man Rivers for some of it, and some of it I hike alone. I eat snacks. I sit and take two long breaks overlooking the lake, one in the sun and one in the shade. There are tourists around but I honestly don’t care. This space feels magical and going this slow feels magical and I am very very about this day.

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When I finish my slow meander around the lake, my soul feels full. I feel better emotionally than I have in awhile. I’ve filled myself up with the landscape. I’ve let myself take it in the way I want to take it in. Instead of rushing by, I savored it. My soul loves this. I pull myself away from the lake after several longing glances and slowly head down trail to Mazama.

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I get to Mazama and the people I’ve been hiking around are there. Old Man Rivers is really the only one I wanted to see. I realize that I trust him more than most people I’ve met out here. He doesn’t say much always but he takes things in. He’s the only male I’ve met that doesn’t actively misgender me. Today when I get there, we are in conversation with an obnoxious guy, Old Man Rivers accidentally misgendered me then immediately corrected himself and went on. No apology or weirdness. In every day life I wouldn’t be so shocked by this, but honestly it just doesn’t really happen out here. So generally I tend to trust him a little bit more. I ask him later if he knows someone who is non-binary and he explains he had a coworker at a summer camp who was non-binary and explained things really well. I feel grateful for this person, whoever they were.

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I interact with talking about my gender sometimes several times a day out here. In trail towns, it’s quite a lot. On trail it’s not as much depending on who I see. Today alone I talk about it at least three times. The instance with Old Man Rivers, an interaction with MFM where I rather stridently tell him he should ask his photo subjects pronouns after I have to offer mine to him, and another in which Goose appears and we are talking to someone who misgenders me, and I correct them gently. Goose says “I was waiting for you to do it.” I am irritated and say, “you can do it, it’s a lot of emotional labor for me to explain all the time.” Honestly it all just gets so exhausting for me. Sometimes I want to like some of these people and I do initially and then they do something that really gets under my skin and reminds me how little they understand of my world. Then it’s harder and sucks more. I want to have compassion, I know it’s a relearning of social norms, but it’s hard and honestly I just want to say EDUCATE YOURSELF.

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I do some hand laundry and take a shower and eat 2 lasagnas, 2 ice cream bars, and a beer. I finally feel sort of full. So I decide to sleep. But it’s been a good day. Finally a good day that feels soul fulfilling more than most have. I’m 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 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.

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.

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.

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.