At 1:45 AM, the lid falls off of my pot and I wake with a start, irritated. At 3:00 AM, I hear rustling and again, I wake up. Instantly, I know there is a mouse in my tent.
I shine my flashlight around and the mouse hides in my shoe. It is very small but the amount of terror it causes is gigantic. A fucking mouse! In my tent! I make a mental note to google hantavirus once back to reception. Will I die from sharing such close quarters with a mouse? Probably yes.
I now cannot find the mouse. It’s not in my shoes, it’s not in the corners of my shelter. I put on my headlamp and turn all of my tiny items inside and out. No mouse. Maybe it ran away? I’m so tired, maybe I can just get a little more sleep.
I tuck all of my food in my pack and wrap my pack in a trash bag. I switch off my headlamp and lay back down, but I have the creepy crawleys. Also, I hear nibbling. I turn my headlamp back on and can see the mouse scrambling every which way, trying to escape my shelter.
“What the fuuuuuck” I say. I dart out of my tent. The mouse struggles around and around in circles before finding the exit. I throw my pack in it’s trashbag outside and ten minutes later I can hear the mouse chewing at that. By this time, it is 4:00AM and I am 100% completely awake. Well. How about that.
I am exhausted, but the sinus issues that have been plaguing me are gone today, and that feels good. I tell myself I can set out now and hike as slow as I want today, that it’s okay if I don’t go my requisite 20 miles. I eat instant beans and rice with dried kale and olive oil and I pack everything up, double checking for wayward rodents. I shit and empty my diva cup. By the time I’m ready to go it is 5:30 AM.
My whole body is throbbing and I feel out of it entirely. Right away, there is a 3 mile, 3000 foot climb and I laugh ruefully. Washington! I chose to hike Washington! L O L.
I listen to Esther Perel’s podcast about couples and intimacy and I think about Carrot. I remember how sometimes she is doing the dishes and I come up behind her and kiss the very small curls that hide near the back of her neck. I love Carrot. I think she loves me too.
The podcast kills me. The humanity in the relationships, how hard it is for people to love and be loved. I am open mouthed crying while walking up the trail at a snail’s pace. This is my life.
At the top of the mountain, I have lunch. It’s windy and freezinghot up here and I lay out my grey foam pad, wrap myself in my quilt. I’m so exhausted I could sleep right here, without my shelter or my dinner or anything close to a day’s worth of walking. Instead, I look at the mountains. Maybe I won’t hike the whole PCT I think. I feel kind of relieved at the thought, like suddenly I don’t have to worry about when I’ll be able to hike 25 mile days to make the weather window. I put it in the algorithm, this feeling. I can hike as much as I want and then do something else. What a concept.
I’m nauseous for some reason, so I eat candied ginger before I pack up. With every step downhill I feel like I’m going to puke, and then for some reason I do, just a little bit and immediately feel a lot better. What’s the kind of sickness where you’re so tired you could fall asleep walking and you puke like two teaspoons and then you are cured ? I have that one.
The day passes suspended in honey. Thick liquid hiking up hill, thick liquid hiking down. My desired camping destination has notes of mice in Guthook and I can’t fuckin’ do it, can’t sleep amongst the rodents again. I decide to stop short, 16.7 miles in and am pitching my tent by four PM. I have a perfect spot with a perfect pitch, and as soon as I’m all inside my shelter with my stuff spread around me, the sky opens up and it starts to pour. I am completely dry and I am grateful.
📍 This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Yakama and Columbia-Wenatchi land.