Four days of rest under my belt and my knees feel tentatively okay-ish. Leaving my friends in Trout Lake was rough; I was both sad to see them hike forth without me, and disappointed that I couldn’t just keep the fuck up simply because I wanted to. Bodies, man. What can ya do?
As the days go on, though, the obvious nature of my need for rest becomes abundantly clear. I hobble from couch to bed to grocery store to post office. I lower myself gently to the toilet seat, whimpering with pain. I couldn’t continue to hike 20 or more miles a day like this, even with the desire as strong as it is.
And besides: The day after I left the trail a heat descended upon the land and a cloud of mosquitos came with. It was smoky and the alternate was steep and thick with brush. Dad left the trail days earlier than planned. Jukebox procured an epic case of hyponatremia that made him puke and puke and puke. Homework was fine, but then again Homework is more or less always fine, so he’s not a great barometer for misery.
In my days off trail I do almost nothing. I eat sesame brown sugar almond milk frozen yogurt on a gluten free cone. I pet the dogs over and over and over again. I watch Carrot pack her resupplies, because YES- she’s going to join me for the rest of the trail, my knees and her ankle willing- and I nap. I eat, we make out, and I sleep, all while my friends suffer.
By the time Jukebox and Homework are in Packwood, I’m ready to get back on trail. I’m armed with a plan- I have KT tape and YouTube videos about how to apply it, I have turmeric and black pepper capsules to reduce inflammation, I have ibuprofen and aspirin to toggle back and forth between. I’ll start taking a pain killer every five miles (before pain sets in), then every seven miles, then every ten and then maybe not at all. I have the phone number of a trail angel named Coyote, whomst says she’d love to have us stay on her land before we hike out, and I have a burning desire to get TF into nature with my people. Let’s do this.
Coyote’s land is amazing. It is a big expanse of grassy field with a shed of power strips for powering up our steripens and charging bricks, a barbecue, a bucket laundry system, and an apartment with a loft built just for hikers. Coyote is out of town for the weekend and here we are regardless, just as welcome as ever. I am struck and honored by the generosity hikers show one another and also I can’t help but think about this criticalIy. I too, want to be generous to hikers. But the truth is, we are a largely privileged bunch, in so many ways. Carrot and I talk about how we can extend our own efforts and generosity to folks like us, while still giving effort to more marginalized folks. Important things to consider, I believe- and I love having someone so brilliant to tease them out with.
Homework bounces out of Packwood early, hungry for the trail. Jukebox, Carrot and I say goodbye to Dad, who took hours out of their one wild and precious life to drive us to the trailhead, and hike out with our visiting friend Sean, who will join us for the day. Our terrain is mercifully gentle, with abundant water and jokes to boot. We mostly hike together, which I appreciate because I know I am the weak link, slow and careful and steady on account of my knees. I feel strong physically but pretty dang nervous because after taking a few days off I truly realize how much pain I’d been in. I cannot BELIEVE I was willing, let alone able to hike long days in that kind of pain and I don’t ever want to fucking do it again. Nope. No way. Not gonna happen.
Miles fly by with my friends and my knees are solidly good enough which, in the scheme of things, works fine for me. We hike a short day, a little shy of 14 miles and the sun starts to sink just a bit. Sean gets stung by a wasp not once, not twice, but thrice- and we call it. It’s 7pm, which feels like at least 10pm in hiker land and it’s time for dinner.
Each of us brews a pot of some combination of instant refried beans and rice noodles and dried vegetables and bullion cubes and taco seasoning and olive oil and I surreptitiously pass Carrot one tiny square of 2:1 CBD to THC chocolate, which I have brought sort of for my knee pain and sort of just because I saw it lying around and thought why not?
Time slows down when Carrot and I climb into our tent. We’ve both more or less forgotten about our one square each of weed chocolate and Carrot wonders aloud why Sean rapping Papa Roach lyrics is so deeply hilarious before we remember. I ponder how the fuck I am going to construct a blog post because I don’t really do the weed all that often and so I’m not totally sure how people pull their shit together to construct sentences in such a state. Carrot and I collectively decide that a simple entry of
and we kiss and kiss until we grow tired and fall into the deepest of sleeps.