Day 19 – 24 (Snoqualmie to White Pass)
Miles hiked this section: 99
PCT hiked so far: mile 2660 to 2303
Total miles hiked so far including blue blazing etc: 382
Day 19 continued
The homie Juice from Seattle arrives at Snoqualmie Pass at noon with our resupply and *surprise* 5 other New Mystics buds. It is awesome to see friends I enjoy questionable Teriyaki Vegetables at the pancake house and Groucho orders 2 side salad and fries. Food is becoming important.
Wiz and Joe have brought beer and ciders and we tailgate by the trailhead while we pack up our resupply. Then the crew hikes in with us 2 miles to Lodge Lake. We drink beers, dudes swim, I feel light and free. It’s SO good to have friends. Thank you friends.
Around 6pm they head back to the car and we head South. The ciders and love has made me light hearted. But it’s hot as hell and I begin to experience a new problem. Yoga Butt Chafe. I will go into more detail in my upcoming “trail hygiene” blog. But suffice to say my butt has started chaffing when I walk. I get cranky and obnoxiously free about discussing this problem with Groucho. Who is a good sport. and I hope still likes me even though the gloves have come off, so to speak.
We camp at Ollalie meadow and I wake in the morning super anxious. An after effect of the alcohol. Funny, in the city I used to think it was work, or people, or projects that caused me anxiety. Here, it is clear it is often caused by the simple act of enjoying a few beers.
This day passes in a blur. The terrain is easy but a little boring. I am lost in thought, thinking about Seattle, purpose, work and friends. We are almost 3 weeks in and some of our more physical challenges have passed (getting in shape, traversing snow, longer climbs, and resupply logistics). Now we move on to the mental game… A phase that almost did me in on the AT and I am dreading this section: the ego runs wild, thoughts racing, days of existential crises. I feel myself standing on the threshold of this phase and the door creeping open. It’s too soon.
The sun blazes all morning and afternoon cutting through frequent clear cuts. Civilization feels omnipresent. After our afternoon break we listen to music and several hours and miles pass so quickly listening to Public enemy and Regina Spektor. My phone quickly loses batteries and I drain it to 30% with 3 more days left in this section. No more books, texts, journaling or music for me. This is going to be a lonely section for my wandering mind.
We begin arguing about hypotheticals toward the end of the day. Wanting different things for the end of this day and maybe just some autonomy to do as we please, but we are a team and sometimes you can’t escape that tether in the wilderness. we go to bed grumpy. The full moon wakes me up like a spotlight on my face at 11pm.
We wake early with the sun just rising and the moon still huge and bright framing Rainier.
Groucho chooses this as his first day of silence. I learn this late in the morning. Assuming instead he is still grumpy and ignoring me. But then he hands me blueberries he has picked and smiles and I finally get it.
We have a 12 mile stretch without water, mostly uphill. I listen to Queen and feel elated. I am hit and tired but feel good… It is nice to hike alone with my thoughts. I fantasize about our break at the next water source, setting up the tent, eating a carb load, stretching, sleeping.
I finally reach the spring. It is 1pm. Hot. Sticky. We’ve already hiked 16 miles. Groucho is nowhere to be found. I talk to some annoying section hikers who are washing their socks in this precious water source and they confirm he blazed by 10 minutes ago without stopping and the next water isn’t for 5 miles.
I grab H2O and trot up the hill thru another clear cut feeling so disappointed. And mad. Furious. I wanted that break so badly. I decide to just let myself feel and release it, and suddenly hot tears are pouring out of my eyes down my grubby sticky face. I can’t afford to lose the water so I let it steam into my mouth creases and absorb the salty mess back in my body.
About half mile up the hill Groucho sits on a log shaded by an Eagle Scout sign that describes the next 2 miles is a 1980’s burn area… No tees. No shade. Great. I am weepy and Groucho silently hugs me. I mime that I want hot food and he sadly shakes his head. There is no shade and he is almost out of water. I show him my map and full cold bottle and write down “I am depleted”. He hands me my trail mix which I half jokingly throw on the ground. I am immeasurably bummed that my dreams are not coming true.
He packs up and starts to go. I reluctantly follow thru the scorched burn area tears still streaming in this wasteland.
Eventually we return to trees and shade and blessed breeze and finally the Ulrich shelter in a cool grassy meadow with a stream nearby. We sit in the shade of the porch and Groucho hands me a cool Rainier! Trail magic left in the cabin!! We eat snax. We relax. Hummingbirds and Grosbeaks beg for snax and attention. I feel a little better. We’ve already gone 20 miles today.
At 5pm we press on, reaching the next water around 7pm. We set up the tarp and I briefly engage in conversation with Bob – a 2 season, flip flopping thorough hiker -Just breezing thru camp.
I do a few yogas and am asleep by 7:30pm
Groucho wakes by 5:30 and starts packing. My body hurts and I haven’t eaten in 14 hours. I cry before I even open my eyes. Happy Independence Day everyone.
I feel miserable and experience a rare moment where I wish I was hiking alone. Typically Groucho acts as a super power. Helping me when it’s emotionally dire and shouldering his share of more of the burden of our gear and chores. It’s hard to imagine doing this without him. But on this day I would sleep in if I were alone and I really want to lay here wallowing. It is frustrating to be denied this basic human right.
I pack up. And cry. Talk to Groucho. Walk. Cry. Around 6:15 I summon my spirit animal who agrees to walk with me today. I feel better immediately. Prayer is cool this way. I don’t care why it works. But it works.
An hour later I find Groucho resting in a rock field. My humor is back. I sing him a 4th of July medley including “grand ol flag”, “Yankee Doodle”, “my country tis of thee”, “oh beautiful”, “the star spangled banner” and “over there”.
We chat openly the next few miles, resting again at another spring. I pull The Magician from the tarot deck. A rad, spiritual card.
We have easy terrain and meet great folks all day, some out for a day or a section. Around 3pm we roll up to Sheep Lake and experience the best break. Swimming in our clothes, rinsing our hair, cooking, eating chocolate, elevating the feet and watching kids and dogs play in the water.
At 5 we roll out feeling like its a new day. We enter Mt Rainier National Park laughing hysterically and singing my medley again. We camp by Dewey Lake.
We wake early and decide to hike a marathon today so we can buy a beer at White Pass tonight before bed.
We walk on easy terrain and talk of deep issues. We break with views of Rainer performing head stands and eating thru our remaining snax. We sing our favorite mantra for an hour in Sanskrit – translated as “may all beings in all worlds be happy and free” – passing incredulous day hikers. We must be close to town.
Halfway thru the day we soak our feet in freezing waters of Bumping Creek and eat a massive ramen couscous extravaganza. 2 miles later we pass our very first Northbounder, “magic”. He says it’s 10 miles to Kraker Barrel in White Pass and it closes at 6pm. We check the watch. Crap that is only 4 hours from now. We push into high gear and hike 3 miles per hour for the next 3 hrs and 20 minutes arriving at the store at 5:20! It actually closes at 8pm so we have hours to drink beers, eat amazing sandwiches and charge our phones.
We camp down by Leech Lake. I wake to twigs snapping at night. I listen intently but nothing else suspicious happens. In the morning Groucho asks if I heard the lumbering sounds of Bear last night wandering thru camp. Thank God I slept thru that.
We return to Kracker Barrel for coffee and Internet time. We meet another SOBO couple. We call the ranger station to ask about the best reroute for the fire closure coming up in the next section. We chill.
Next we hike 148 miles to cascade locks. Oregon is less than a week away!
Harpo’s PCT Journal: July 1-6