I sleep like I died. I wake up at five AM to birds chirping and hikers yelling as they pack up. Who yells at five AM?! When surrounded by other shelters ?
I don’t know what to do first. Everything is a little damp. My hiking clothes remain soaked, and I know I should preserve my dry socks, my puffy, my gloves and my leggings for sleeping. I am freezing, though, and can’t will myself to take off my cozy clothes and get into items that will surely make me miserable. I pray it doesn’t rain every single second today, that at some point I’ll warm up and feel okay changing. I pray there’s a window of sun to dry out my quilt and my tent. I am stressed and I haven’t had coffee yet. It’s too early in the hike for hypothermia edge play.
I make split pea soup and instant brown rice for breakfast. I drink my instant coffee. I think about shitting but do not shit. I just don’t have to yet, but if I know one thing for sure, it’s that once a thru hiker starts pooping, they never really stop.
By 6:30 I’m ready to hike. It’s drizzling lightly, but not too bad. Laurie and I check in and agree to meet at the monument 15 miles away, if we don’t see one another beforehand. Their puffy was stuffed in their mesh yesterday and it is deeply soaked. Everyone around us is a little on edge, too. We’re just all so…wet.
I set uphill through gentle pine forest dotted with Dr. Suess flowers. I’m listening to a book today, and I’m trying to zone out to it, because my body feels like shit. I am exhausted from head to toe, and my left ankle, knee and hip have a dull ache. I’m slow and I don’t want to be hiking. What can I do though? There’s nowhere else to go.
It rains, mists and drizzles, and every once in awhile the sun peaks through. I try to set my stuff out to dry when I catch the first rays, but soon it’s raining again, moistening my stuff once more. I worry about not being able to get my things dry, having a wet shelter and quilt and all wet clothes. I can’t stop obsessively worrying and it turns my brain sour.
I climb down patches of snow, some small and some so large I contemplate putting on my microspikes. Laurie helps me navigate some of the trickier passes and we note that the snow is the perfect hardness. Any slushier and we’d be slipping and sliding.
Eight miles in, the sun peaks through and after watching the wind and the cloud patterns, we determine that it looks like it’s gonna stay. We yardsale hard, even setting our shelters up so they dry as fast as possible. I am surrounded by each and every one of my items as they warm up in the sun and I feel almost happy. I’m wet now, but soon all of the things will be dry.
I force myself into my damp shorts and take my puffy off as a solid to future me, the one who will be cozy and dry in bed. I eat Chex and protein powder milk and I am crunching and smiling, able to relax enough to make jokes. The 21 year old be we got a ride in with heads past, already having tagged the monument and now moving South. It’s noon, and by our math he has already done a 19 mile day. What a little freak! I make him stop and dry out his stuff, concerned about his tiny little runner body in wet layers and gear. We chat about what the terrain is like the rest of the way to the border, and I get excited as sun fades in and out. It’s time to go!!!
We pack up our dry things and I feel renewed. It’s all downhill to Canada and I do something I haven’t been able to muster yet: I go fast, this time with a good attitude.
We pass our last camping option, a site 3.7 miles from the border. Once we go in, there’s really no place else to camp, so I mentally make note of our mileage. If we touch the border and come back to this site, we’ll have an 18.5 mile day. I feel like I can do this, like my mind is up to it even if my body isn’t quite yet.
We descend into thick lush rainforest, and it starts to pour. There are downed trees in the thicket, blow downs of all shape and size to crawl under, over and around. Overgrown flora gentle carresses my calves, my thighs and my waist. It’s all soaking wet, and very quickly I am dripping water from the waist down.
The monument appears and it makes me want to cry. Here I am, finally, and I don’t know what to make of any of it at all. I feel lonely, then, wishing for Carrot or my sister or a set of parents. It’s not my parents I want, but some different ones that would clap and share my monument pictures with their friends. Instead, my dad is a dead drug addict and my mom is both my abuser and a person who hates me simply for being born. I deserve better parents and I know it, but here we are.
I take my picture. I write “Muffy is here, figuring some shit out.” in the trail registry. I shoot a glamour shot for Laurie and I cheer myself up because I’m tired of being grumpy and sad, I want a new feeling.
Finally, finally I am headed southbound on the PCT. Let’s fucking go.
📍This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Nlaka’pamux, Syilx/Okanagan, and Columbia-Wenatchi land.