I’ve slept in my leggings, my bra, my short sleeved shirt, my long sleeved shirt, my puffy, my raincoat (it dried), my warm hat, both my hoods up, my gloves and two pairs of socks. I wake up bubbly and warm, like I am the filling of a pie. Inexplicably, I am very happy.
Let me tell you about the people in my bubble. I wouldn’t call them a trail family exactly, we’re not quite that, but we are definitely together.
There’s Dave, a middle aged guy whomst always lets everyone go ahead of him on the climbs and who talks a lot about his kids. He is from Vancouver, Washington and really, really nice. I like Dave because he is not my dad, but a dad nonetheless and he seems to be doing a pretty good job at that. Who has a dad?! Almost no one I know.
There’s three kids, boys, age 22. They’re from the Midwest and they LOVE weed, like really love it, maybe more than I can ever hope to love anything. One of the three decided to hop on the trip last minute and for some reason doesn’t have the Guthook app at all, is just wandering the trail hoping for the best. The other two hike significantly faster than this one kid and occasionally he will stop and ask me where we are or how far we’ve gone. I worry near constantly about this kid but I’m not his mommy and he isn’t really asking me to be. I try to let it go.
Oceana is one of the few women of color I’ve seen on the PCT at all. She is a quick hiker, sometimes tries to get me to go as far or as fast as her, but I physically cannot. She flies past me on the hills and says things like “just gotta power up this bad boy as fast as I can!!!’” (it turns out as fast as I can power up a mountain is actually extremely slow.)
Lastly, there’s Naomi and Hannah. Naomi and Hannah share a tent, though I do not think they’re gay. They’re 18 and SO pumped, SO alive, SO happy to be on the PCT. When conditions are miserable N & H are just happy to be out here. They’re vegan and one of them stick and poked the woman symbol on her index finger. They’re south bounding because they needed to graduate high school before they started, thus making a North bound trip impossible with the weather window.
I love them.
Today all of us wake up wet and set out separately. I am the first to go and I moisten myself entirely on reaching ferns that cascade water into my socks, my shorts, my pack, my hat. I go on like this for 7 miles, watching the sky.
Sun sun sun sun sun sun I whisper to myself. My shit needs to dry out and to do that I need the sun.
The sun comes. Oceana and I whoop wildly at the sight of the sun and we yardsale our things and gently squeeze them in ecstasy as they dry. Is there anything so nice dry sun warmed things? I challenge you to give me an example.
Once my things are dry I slog my way through a giant climb. I keep telling myself that the first two days of this section are the hardest, but the truth is, the whole thing is bananas and requires mental fortitude. I climb while listening to a murder mysery. I climb while eating a dust that was once a vegan gluten free nutrigrain bar. I climb despite the fact that I don’t fucking feel like climbing.
Sometimes, snow covers the trail and I lose it momentarily. Sometimes, there are blow downs to crawl under or over. Sometimes it’s just loamy forest trail, the kind that feels extremely pleasant under your feet.
I am in good spirits but I am tired. I’d planned to go 21 miles again today, but I see there is a single tent site at mile 17. I decide I will leave it up to the fates. If the one site is open, I’ll camp. If it’s not, I’ll forge on.
By the time I arrive to the one site, it is six PM and it is not open. I shrug a little, neither happy nor sad and I move forward. Sun dappled forest envelops me, with its wet and wiley ways and by 7:30 I am exhausted, eating beans happily, cozy in my tent.
Today was a good day.
📍 This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Yakama and Columbia-Wenatchi land.