I wake up to socked in moist, a woolen sweater of fog. I know I want to be up and out quick, that I want to go 21 miles, that today is my first full day hiking alone.
I feel warmth between my legs and discover I’ve gotten my period, right on time. I clean my diva cup with a wet wipe, get into child’s pose to insert it and twist and twist and twist, trying to get a seal to form to my cervix. By the the time it does, I have blood up to my knuckles and dribbled all over my neoair. I clean that with wet wipes, too.
I am sullen. I eat my breakfast while condensation rains down on me and I try to pump myself up. I am hiking the most beautiful section of the most beautiful trail on Earth! I have legions of people who love and support me! I am warm, for now, and mostly dry too!
My first eight miles is a blissful descent. My brain keeps wandering to the fact that I camped at 5800 feet, that I’m going down to 2000 feet, and that I’ll come back up to 5700 to camp again tonight. I try not to think about it. This is just the way of Washington. complaining doesn’t help.
I roll my ankle and want to scream.
At the bottom of my descent it’s warm and balmy, though still grey. I use this as my chance to dry out my things, knowing that it’s not likely to get any nicer today, just based on the fact that I’m going right back up to the top of frigid mountains, and that the sky is thick with threatening rain clouds.
I eat, grumpy. My tent doesn’t dry, but does become dryer than it was. Same for my quilt. Four people pass me and I worry about camping spots, keenly aware of the amount of people in my bubble vs. the amount of campsites available. I pack my things up, having eaten just a little. I mentally prepare for a 13 mile climb.
The climb eats every last bit of my morale. Dripping wet shoulder high ferns car wash my soggy body, until I am soaked to the bone. The switchbacks are relentless, leading me up and up and up- most of the gain happening in the last mile. I want water, but I’m too cold to drink it. I want food, but my fingers are numb and I can no longer work the zippers on my hip belt pockets to grab a bar.
I reach camp, see my friend Oceana, whomst I also camped near last night, and I nearly cry. Setting my shelter up with my numb hands takes nearly 30 minutes, but then I am inside, in my damp quilt and every single one of my layers. I commit to not leaving the tent for the rest of the night. If i have to pee I’ll do it in a god damn ziplock, I shit you not. Once settled, I am cold, but not too cold- and sad, but not too sad.
Tomorrow, I’m hoping for sun.
📍 This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Yakama and Columbia-Wenatchi land.