PCT trip log days 45 – 48

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

August 11, day 45

16 miles

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

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

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

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

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

August 12 day 46

27 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 13, day 47

27 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 14, day 48

19 miles

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

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

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

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

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


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

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PCT trail blog – Days 39 – 43

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

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

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

August 5, day 39

9+2.5 miles

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

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

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

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

August 6, day 40

30 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 7, Day 41

25.1 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 8, day 42

20 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 9, Day 43

22 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

PCT days 36-39

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

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📍Chinook, Wasco, Wishram, and Molalla Land

August 2, day 36

16 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 3

Zero on Trail

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

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

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

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

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

August 4

Day 38

24.4 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 5, day 39

9 miles so far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.

PCT trail log – days 21 – 26

📍on Yakama land

There are 2 large mountains in this area. One of them was referred to as Shubahlup by Salish speaking tribes in the area. (Native American net roots) There is other information on the Google about it being called Takohoma by other indigenous folks in the area. It is known in English as Mt. Rainier.

The other mountain is Pahto, which is a sacred space in Yakama folklore. We know of it as Mt. Adams. You can read the story of it here: Pahto

Day 21

July 18

8.8 miles

My first official Nero. Me, Muffy and Carrot hike to a lake 8ish miles outside of town. I have my trail legs and I fly, finding my rhythm. Today has been restful. I get to camp, and I’m still wired. So for fun, I decide to smoke some weed and watch my Netflix I’ve downloaded. So that’s what I do, and it kind of feels like a vacation, which is really nice.

22

July 19

20.7 miles

What a nice hiking day! It feels like a completely different trail?! It’s sunny, and cold-hot, and my feet feel good, and I’m loving Muffy and Carrot’s company, and I have a new sleeping pad, and I’m flying. What even is this?

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We left around 6:30 this morning and I flew ahead pretty quickly. I think I’ve got my hiker legs. It’s a beautiful day, sunny finally, and my morale starts to lift. The trail is soft and pine-needle-cushioned for much of it.

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I watched 2 episodes of Tales of the City last night before falling asleep because I hadn’t hiked myself tired. I thought about the episodes all day and had lots of gender related feels. Gender is so weird. I’ve really been embracing my fluidity lately.

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I got new shoes (Altra Lone Peaks) and I like them well enough. I love the zero drop concept as a somatic centric person. I also have a new sleeping pad that is out of this world comfortable. My gear is getting dialed in! And it feels awesome. Everything just feels awesome today.

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I get to camp before Carrot and Muffy and set up and hang out and wait. I lay on my sleeping pad and get so warm I don’t want to move. But then Carrott and Muffy show up and we go get water and it’s such pretty water. And then we make dinner sitting all in a circle and laugh and make fun of the mansplaining dads on trail. My stomach hurts a little from laughing so much. I eat beans and rice with dehydrated veggies I found in the hiker box, and in between I snack on my watermelon sour patch. This is a normal night’s meal but tonight it’s maybe the highlight. Today was so good it was a little quiet and I can’t help but think, “finally.”

Day 23

July 20

21.7 miles

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I’m so tired this morning. I don’t wake up until 5:30, and when I do, I turn over and sleep for another 30 minutes. Why am I so tired? I finally drag myself up and make a double packet of coffee.

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We have a climb first thing which I love. I prefer to climb in the morning. It’s about 1,800 feet of gain. I hate and despise the first couple of miles. My pack is way too heavy this section and it makes me crabby. But a couple miles in, I get a good rhythm going. And then I am stoked. I’ve got music in my earbuds and I get into my hiking rhythm and go.

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All of a sudden at the top of a ridge I look to my right. “Holy shit,” I say out loud as I see Shubahlup (Mt. Rainier) in the distance. It’s a perfectly sunny day and the view is unbelievable. I can’t stop looking at it as I go up the next ridge. I stop in a sunny meadow and have a snack looking out over the snowy crest of the old volcano. I’m endorphin drunk and so, so happy.

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I have been listening to music on trail a lot more than I thought I would. I get to a point where I’m bored and I need fun thoughts. Partially as a result of the music I play, one of the most common things I think about on trail are songs I would do drag to. I wonder, does anyone else think about queer stuff on trail as much as I do? I think about drag every day. And gender related stuff. And today I thought about how I want/want to be Crowley from Good Omens, but in a gay way.

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I go through phases with songs on trail. Today, my song phases were Angel By The Wings (Sia), Rock You Like A Hurricane (Scorpion), and Jet Black from Anderson Paak. I listened to Radio Gaga (Queen) almost daily for about 3 weeks… still listen to that one a whole lot.

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We camp for the night in a burn area. The burn starts a mile before camp and is silencing. I can feel the precipice of the division between life and death, the very edges of the hollow opening. I turn off my music and walk quietly and notice. I think of Wendell Berry’s poem about sacred and desecrated places, and of Adrienne Rich’s Diving Into the Wreck. I feel unafraid to camp here… excited, even. These are the places I love, the ones on the edge.

24

July 21

23.7 miles

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I tossed and turned all night sleeping in the burn. I hadn’t been anxious about it at all, but right before bed Carrot said, “it will be fine, there’s no wind.” Within 20 minutes the wind was rustling through the trees and it continued all night. I tossed and turned and worried about trees falling on my tent.

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This morning’s first mileage was okay. My feet were hurting, and I felt nauseous after my morning protein shake. I couldn’t shake the nausea. I tried eating more, drinking more, slowing down… nothing helped. So I hiked on through the nausea, waiting for it to decrease. Somewhere in here I thought that carrot and Muffy had gotten ahead of me, so I hiked hard to our lunch spot, only to find them not there. When I feel sick I am cranky and needy (aka Baby™️), and I was instantly frustrated no one was there. Had they hiked on without me? This thought was illogical but in my sick brain it made sense. I ran across another group of hikers and asked if they’d seen Muffy or Carrot. When they said no, I realized they were both still somehow behind me. Duh. Tired and ill, I lay down on a sunny knoll and tried to rest and snack while waiting for them.

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When they appeared, Muffy said she was having tendinitis issues and going fairly slow. She was going to try some new taping and hopefully that would work. We all snacked and ate and enjoyed the sun.

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We’d heard there was trail magic 7 miles away at chinook pass, and I was desperate for a Coke, so I hiked fast to try and get there before the trail magic disappeared. My nausea returned and my feet hurt, but I ignored this in my pursuit of desire. I tried to prepare myself for the Coke not being there. “Maybe I’ll just sit there and drink my cold brewed mint tea,” I thought to myself.

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But when I got down a couple hours later, there it was. Trail magic! I was so hungry I couldn’t accurately speak. I drank two cokes, had half a sleeve of Oreos, a turkey cheese sandwich with mustard, some peanut m&ms, and two pieces of string cheese. I sat on the ground and didn’t care that the mosquitoes were eating me alive. This was total bliss.

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When Muffy and Carrot get down, they say they are hitching to Packwood because Muffy’s tendon had gotten worse. I’m bummed to see them go. I’ve loved our camp meal times, something about our combined energy feels homey and hilarious at once. They make me laugh. But I decide to hike the next 26 miles and just meet them in White Pass.

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I hike another 5 miles that night, high off of caffeine euphoria. Near the end, the instep of my left foot starts hurting more, so I slow down. I think about how my friend Jacklyn says that my ankles are like my pressure release valves and they tell me messages, and I wonder if it’s actually just my feet in general. I can tell they’re saying “step off.” I wonder about the 23 miles I’m going to hike tomorrow, but I push that thought away.

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I get to camp and it is full of mosquitoes, but I’m prepared this time. I’ve already eaten the trail magic, so I do all my after dinner camp chores outside the tent in my rain garb. Once that’s finished, I dive in my tent and close the door. One lone mosquito makes it in with me and I promptly kill it. I try to read and write some notes, but after hiking so hard I’m so, so tired. So I just fall into a restless sleep.

25

July 22

23.7 miles

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I wake up at 5:30 after not sleeping well and roll over, snoozing a little more. I’ve been so tired this week. I finally get up and do all my inside tent chores, prepping to deal with the mosquitoes. Finally it’s done and I quickly get out, brush my teeth and drink my coffee while walking around my campsite to avoid getting bitten.

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I’m gonna hike 23.7 miles today and I feel tired already thinking of it. I just wanna make it into White Pass to Muffy and Carrot, and also challenge myself. I know I can do it, I just feel sleepy. I start slow and let my body warm up, and hike 11 miles by 11am. I break for lunch and talk with a group of NOBOs at lunch for about an hour. The mosquitoes are still thick but I’m surviving. I filter water and head off again.

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The mosquitoes become more and more unbearable. I feel like I’m locked in a torture chamber and any time I stop for any length of time, mosquitoes descend upon my flesh. I hate it so much. I attribute my hate of mosquitoes to memories of being a kid and mosquitoes singing around my ears in the middle of the night waking me up. It still sets my spine on edge. So I hike fast and I don’t stop. I’m so tired and so irritated and I want out more than anything.

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Then my foot starts to hurt. Not just the random throbbing it’s been having, but constant pain on my left instep. I try to rest but I can’t stop without getting bitten. It’s dramatic to say, but I feel so trapped. Finally the pain is so bad that I’m 4 miles out from White Pass but I’m limping at every step. I want to cry. Muffy texts me and asks if I want to hitch to Packwood and get a room, and I tell her YES please get me a room. I’ve spent so much money resting on this trip and I’m so worried I won’t be able to finish the trail, but I also just can’t even walk right now and the mosquitoes are driving me crazy.

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It takes me another hour and a half to get down the last 4 miles. I register that it’s still a decent speed for someone limping, but I feel so drained and upset. I’m angry at myself for not catching this sooner. I’m frustrated that I’m hurt. When I reach the White Pass trailhead I cry. I don’t even know why I’m crying beyond an internal exhaustion and some weird, deep sadness.

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I start limping slowly towards the Kracker Barrel store and a guy pulls over and asks if I want a ride, and oh he’s going to Packwood, do I want a ride there too? I’m so relieved and agree. I pick up my packages in White Pass and cringe: the creepy middle age hiker is there and tried to talk to me. I’m short and curt and so frustrated he still is trying so hard to talk to me. Why don’t men get the fucking hint? But then I go back out to the car and sit with my box, and I got my they/them pins in the mail and the person also sent me a quartz crystal as encouragement, which just makes me cry again.

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When I get down to Packwood, I take a long long shower and wash every crevice of my body slowly and thoroughly and I start to feel a little better. I catch up with friends and then knock out and sleep deeper than I have the past 3 days.

26

July 23

Zero day, Packwood, WA

This trip seems like it has been more about pausing and stopping than about going. I’ve rested more than I planned. It’s uncomfortable and scary because it plays on my money anxieties. Yet each time I stop I’m reminded of things I need to be reacquainted with. How deeply am I in contact with the land? What am I bearing witness to and paying attention to? Why am I here?

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When I am going, I can easily forget these questions in trying to get to the next place. I focus on miles and getting my feet to move and whether I feel good, bad, or indifferent. None of these things are bad, thru hiking requires a lot of focus on the body and surroundings. But then I lose sight of – what land am I on? Why am I here? What is this space saying to me?

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It seems like just when I get to the precipice of totally losing hold of these questions in my pursuit of the end goal, aka, the Mexican border, I am forced to stop. By my body, by the weather, etc. I’ve learned over time that rest is paramount, so when I stop, I try to treat myself well. Sleep on a real bed, eat good food. Because of this I’ve spent more than I thought I would. I am fully aware in myself that I may not be able to afford reaching the border.

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Is that the point? For me to reach the border? One part of me says YES, it’s paramount! Have to complete THE GOAL! Another part of me doesn’t care so much. A still greater part of me is asking the continual question – “why are you walking, Laurie?”

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The answer is that I don’t know. I don’t know why I chose to do the PCT. I’ve given lots of answers to that question but the real answer is, I have no idea. I could have chosen a lot of things to do after turning 30 and completing my Masters, but I chose a thru hike. Why? No idea. Sure, I love hiking, and I’ve thought about through hiking for years, but underneath it all, it’s not like it totally stole my heart.

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I don’t LOVE thru hiking. It’s not a magical blissful experience. Sometimes it’s intolerable. Sometimes it’s gorgeous. Sometimes my endorphins are high on a good climb and I’m thrilled. But at the end of the day I still don’t know why I’m out here and I’m not necessarily enamored by it.

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It’s something about walking. Something about the land. Something about witnessing myself and my ancestors and the indigenous history and the land itself. It’s something I can’t name. It’s so interesting to watch myself get lost over and over again in the drive to attain a goal.

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For what reason?

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Over and over again I’m being given the message to slow down. Not just externally but internally. This is very hard for someone who, for their whole life, has been going. My mom said that I was so determined to get somewhere that before I started crawling, I would scoot around on my back so much that I wore the hair off the back of my head.

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Why are you going, Laurie? Why are you here? What is in the land that you witness? Why are you doing this?


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 Day 17 – 20

📍on unceded sdukʷalbixʷ land

Day 17, 7/14/2019

14.6 miles

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Trooper, Rook and I get a great hitch from Skykomish to the trail at Stevens Pass with a guy who is just getting done with a backpack. He gives us coffee and packages of shot blocks! I’m thrilled and feel like I’ve won the hitch lottery. What a great way to start a section!

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Today felt like a totally different day hiking. For the first time in a week, I felt safe on trail, held by the queer folx around me. Trooper introduced herself to someone on trail and used her pronouns and her support in that moment allowed me to state mine, too. I didn’t realize I needed that support. I didn’t realize I needed someone else to do that. I feel I now have the strength to introduce my trail name and my pronouns together and that feels fucking awesome.

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As I hiked I felt more in my body and more on the trail than I have all trail. The question still returns of, “why am I doing this and not something more restful?” I’ve had that question come up a few times. I wonder if I’ll get off trail at some point due to this question or if it’s just due to the constant physical difficulty. At the same time, I was fully on the trail today. I was so aware of my hike, so aware of my surroundings, able to drop in like I haven’t so far. I felt safe and more than that, at home for the first time on trail. Like I am in the place and with the people I specifically need to do this trail with right now. After begging the universe/divine queer all last week I feel like I was heard and given the queer support I need at this moment. The nagging straight-ness of this trail is really overwhelming.

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We camp by a lake and I camp next to Rook and Trooper and Bounce and Soups. It feels comfortable. We are companionable with one another and I show Rook and Trooper my pouch of things from my friends that’s my “cheat” weight item. The best cheat weight item(s) ever, to be honest. The pouch has gotten me thru a lot.

Day 18, 7/15

22 miles

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I enjoy the first part of the day talking with Trooper about coming out stories etc. Lots of climbing and lots of sharing. The thing that stands out most is when I share about last week and Trooper says, “That sounds like it was traumatizing, honestly.” For someone who knows trauma so well, I feel like I would have noticed this earlier. Because yes, it was traumatizing. As she says it I recognize the feeling of absolutely being trapped, no recourse, trying to survive… i feel grateful to my body and soul for what it did to help me through.

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I so appreciate Trooper for the accomplice she’s been on trail and I can feel that is why I’m scared to lose this group and to lose her company. So the second part of the day that’s been in my face. I’m afraid because I see the group dynamics. Two couples who have been together from the beginning and a couple of us queer stragglers. This makes the desire to fight to prove myself arise. I remind myself I have nothing to prove, I can just be myself and either I’ll stay with this group or I won’t. Sometimes that happens, you know? At the same time, I’m so scared and I can feel myself withdrawing out of fear. It’s a very young feeling, I recognize that quickly. And it’s so so painful. It began early and then was reconfirmed over and over through my life. Scared of others liking other people more than me, or not finding me important, or being left behind, or being left at all. This is very deep. I hate it and yet I find myself grateful for its appearance so I can start holding this sacred part of myself.

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In this fear, I quickly find myself totally awash in grief missing Rachel and feeling extremely resentful that the thing and person I cared about most was taken from me. And every time I feel a relationship threatened this is where I go. It’s excruciating especially on top of a 22 mile day. Internally I feel I can’t handle it. I can’t take it.

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There’s an older part of me that knows it’s okay, and I’ll hike what I hike and do what I can. I can’t make people like me. I can only do my best. And I’m too old to try. Maybe I won’t keep up with the queer folks. Maybe I will. It’s too early to say. I’m scared about if I can’t, but I can’t control everything. I think and decide that maybe if it’s too much I’ll get off trail and go see my dear friend Danielle.

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It feels like the more I hike, the more layers of grief are uncovered and I don’t know how to handle that. Each hard day unravels a new layer in me. Each hard day breaks my body down to its grief and it’s excruciating and hard..

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Do I even want to finish this hike? Today the answer is yes. I just hurt, and hurt, and hurt, and I’m afraid my hurt will destroy my relationships because I cling out of such extreme fear of loss.

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I wrote this in my tent exhausted after 22 miles and flying into camp on a wave of caffeine. The terrain wasn’t the hardest I’ve done, just long. And I feel that in my body, bringing all this grief to the surface.

Day 19, 7/16

20.7 miles

I’ve lost track of the date – I had to look that up!

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Today started hard again. I’m still in my feels about maybe not belonging with this group or being left behind or not mattering. Something along those lines. I could tell it was the young part of me getting all in their pain, so I just did the next thing – hike. I got up at 5, rounded up all my things, and was on trail with water filtered by 6:30. Mostly everyone passed me on the big climb, and that felt painful, a nail in my feeling coffin. I let the part of me feeling terrible grief just have at it and gasp cried up the hill. Sometimes you gasp cry up hills while through hiking. Even when the ascent is actually one of your favorite ascents yet – lovely and switchbacked and a perfectly sloped uphill. Sometimes even then you cry up the hill and acknowledge the beauty even as your throat closes around a “fist of loss” (Andrea Gibson).

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I didn’t expect thru hiking to bring up so many fucking feelings. It’s like moving your body does that or something – ha. It’s beautiful out here and I feel myself settling into the rhythm. With that rhythm though it’s like my body vomits my issues up for me to sift through. It’s beautiful and terrifying.

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After letting myself gasp cry up the hill, calm came over me. It was the rational adult sort of calm, a bit closeminded but doing what I could to keep going. Rationally, I am clear on all sorts of things about the multiple situations triggering me. I can see that perhaps in this group of people, connections are already set. That doesn’t mean anything about my worthiness – sometimes I do this with my own connections. It’s natural to enjoy some people’s company over others (I’ve gotten this more since turning 30 at the beginning of the year and tbh this understanding is so useful). It also doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt me or affect me, or that my feelings are invalid. I can see both these things and let them both be true. I can think clearly and try to act more like an adult, while still trying to acknowledge the pain. I can see multiple sides to the situation and I’m not as reactive.

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I stop for water with everyone in the fragile area. I think of the irony of the naming of this space as fragile, feeling the reflection in my body. It’s first lunch for the group. Mosquitoes have found me to be their favorite feast and they munch on my legs. I have to get up and leave; my legs are burning and burn for at least 30 minutes. Maybe I hate mosquitoes more than rain.

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Today was also gorgeous. Lots of high elevation walking and stunning views. We climbed 2 passes and both climbs felt like a breeze, rhythmic. Maybe I’m getting my hiker legs? Neither climb was easy but I felt good and in my body. The second climb, I was far ahead of everyone, lost in my feelings yet again and trying to walk them out. Anger this time, though. It gave me such strength and speed uphill and I just let it carry me. Finally I popped out of the internal firestorm. I took a break and sat down to gaze at the mountain next to where I was switchbacking up a pass. I sat there a good 5 minutes admiring this beautiful mountain. “I’m really out here,” I thought. “I’m really walking the PCT and taking in this gorgeous view.” It’s been slow to sink in with the emotional turmoil this past bit, but I’m slowly getting into trail rhythm and realizing – I’m out here and doing the thing. Damn.

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I realize I feel safe out here and with the people I’m with, unlike last week where nothing felt safe and I felt like I was in emotional hell. This week I’ve felt like I could take things in better because I’ve felt more held. Even with the fears around maybe not belonging, I feel more deeply able to be here because of these queer folx, and I’m so very deeply grateful.

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I looked at the mountain name and in English it was The Three Queens, and that felt significant somehow.

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I was in a good rhythm the rest of the climb and my feelings stopped overtaking so much. I stayed in the awe of being on trail, being here, doing this.

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When we got to camp, the mosquitoes were horrible. My morale took a dive after the earlier mosquito debacle. I tried to sit and cook dinner and wait for the others. But I had to give up. “Waist Deep, I’m just gonna go sit in my tent, I can’t do this,” I told her. I was miserable and itchy and paranoid. I took my mountain house meal, a hikerbox find, back to my tent. I systematically killed all the mosquitoes that had gotten into my tent, somewhere like 10-12 in all. After that I could finally relax and eat. Trooper came to check on me after the meal, and the check in settled something in me. “Maybe I belong. Maybe,” I thought.

Day 20, 7/17

14.6 miles

Nero in Snoqualmie

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I get up at 4:30 am and quickly pack my things to hike into Snoqualmie. My friend And is driving up from Seattle to meet me there today (squee!!!! Off trail friend meeting me on trail, I’m so excited!!!!!!) and I need to get down there early to meet them. I’ve got 14.6 miles to go into town yet. I sit and pack everything in my tent, because I’m still rattled from another hiker waking me up at 2:30am yelling at some wild animal. My tent was turned the opposite way so I couldn’t see what, but at 2:30am I was awakened by a gruff deep voice yelling “go away!” and banging on things. It scared the living shit out of me while I tried to figure out what it was. After about 20 minutes this settled down. But this morning early I’m still unsettled so I pack in my tent.

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I don’t realize that my first bit is a climb. When I find out, I curse and feel angry. It’s too early for this shit after all the climbing yesterday. Plus, it’s cold and foggy and I can’t see anything. After some time of intense frustration and crabbiness, I down a couple of bars, mix a Via into my cold water, and throw on my headphones. “Ok let’s do this!” I say to myself and put on my PCT playlist. The first song is Jump by Van Halen which always puts me in a good mood and soon I’m jamming and dancing down trail, spurred by caffeine into using my hiking poles as microphones. I pretend I’m doing drag. One day when I get off trail, y’all will see that. 😉

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The entire way into Snoqualmie is cold, foggy and rainy. I don’t have any views. But I’m happy with my music going and my caffeine. I get onto the catwalk, not able to see a thing up there, and howl into the foggy void. My ghost howl echoes back across an indeterminate distance, and I grin and howl a couple more times for good measure. I’m here the PCT, alive and well and hiking!

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I get down to the hotel where Carrot and Muffy are, finally. Soon enough And is there, and Trooper and Rook arrive too. Trooper and Rook say they’re just gonna hike through and I try to process this news. They leave pretty quickly so I sit down with Muffy and And to discuss what I should do next and I immediately start crying. The queer group is hiking on without me and I’m so scared and I need queer people so much right now and this is all so much. Muffy and And are gracious with my sudden emotions. I realize I can hike out with Muffy and Carrot tomorrow and I slowly calm down.

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After this me and And do chores. It’s so lovely to have a friend visit me on trail! So lovely to have And in particular. They are wonderful and gracious and after 3 weeks of not touching people (too long! I haven’t really touched anyone on trail even like a hug, and I feel this) I am soaking up all the hugs and affection. We go to REI and I change out my shoes in hopes that it will help my ankle and also just be a better fit. We get food and Starbucks and more food. It’s a lovely end to the day and the section and I fall asleep feeling more fulfilled and held.

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I am raising money while I hike to support Indigenous Women Hike. Please donate to help indigenous women have the means to access their own land! GoFundMe is here.