At 4:30 AM it starts to rain. The sky was perfectly clear and sunny all day, but no matter, now the rain falls. Carrot gently shakes me awake and we put our packs in garbage bags, make sure nothing touches the edges of the shelter, inviting water in. I am annoyed, and then I am back to sleep.
We wake at 6:30, pretty late for us. We go through the morning motions and I learn that Carrot hasn’t slept well, for the third night in a row. She has a good attitude about her insomnia, though. “I’ll sleep tonight” she says. She said the same thing last night, too.
First thing, we climb. We climb for many miles and gain a few thousand feet and it is gentle, all things considered. I listen to a book about teenagers in New York in 1993, and I like it. In one of the chapters, the main character takes ecstasy and I wonder if I should take ecstasy too, sometime. You know, just for fun.
At lunch, we set up the shelter. It’s damp and soggy, needs a good dry out, and beyond that— the bugs are brave and carnivorous, definitely 100% here to suck our blood. In the shelter we take off our shirts and look at our food. Neither of us has enough, but we can ration well enough through tomorrow when we get to town. I eat dried chickpeas in ramen, spooning noodles into my mouth while I lay down. I play with Carrot’s baby duck colored hair, trying to pull the dead bugs out of her part. We are both absolutely covered in mosquito carcass. Parts of hair, folds of skin, in between our cracks: bugs, bugs, bugs.
After lunch, a sweet descent. We walk a pine needle covered forest path and we talk about things we have done before and things we hope to do in the future. We talk about trails, the ins and outs of this and that. Carrot has a beautiful brain and I like that she lets me into it.
We do a lot of remembering of when I hiked this section last year. In this exact section I got lost (on the PCT!!!! It honestly takes talent to get lost on the PCT.) my mistake forced me to hike an accidental 24 mile day, something I was absolutely NOT ready for. I burned a hole in my sleeping bag. My knees hurt so bad I hiked mostly 1 mile per hour, crying. And look at me now! I’m kinda damp and I roll my ankle a lot, but mostly I am fine.
We wanted to go 20.8 miles today, but we’re both starting to fade. We toy with the idea of going 18 or 19 instead and as soon as the plan crosses our minds, we’re in it. Our descent unceremoniously ends and we climb up 700 feet, switchback after switchback pulling us up and up and up. We’re zombies, suddenly exhausted with a mile left to climb. There are blow downs to crawl under and there is drizzle. I turn my brain off and just try to go, and eventually— somehow— we make it.
📍 This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Puget Sound Salishand Columbia-Wenatchi land.