My shirt feels thick. It’s thick with sweat and grime and condensation, and still I put it on. This is the story of a thru hike.
I did not sleep well. Deer and mice danced around our tent all night and I had nightmares that woke me in a cold sweat. I’ve been damp for so many days, I’ll never stop being damp now. It’s four AM and I’m dreading putting on my wet shoes.
But I do. I put them on and I hike nine rocky miles in the pouring rain up a hill. Sometimes the rain lessens and I am happy, sometimes the rain intensifies and I am furious. It is July, on the Washington section of the PCT. It’s really not supposed to be doing this, but here we are.
The rocks are medium sized, not the kind you can crunch over without noticing, not large ones, which you can hop to stone to stone. These are ankle twisters, and I try to be very careful. I’ve had intrusive thoughts lately, I’m honestly worried the next time I twist my ankle, it’ll snap in half. I keep having visions of it, they won’t go away.
We set up our shelter halfway through. Both of us are almost out of food, but we cobble together a nice buffet of brick a brack and crumbs. Once we’re done eating we’re too cold to rest more and so we go. Just ten more miles to town we say. Gotta get to town.
The climb ends, and the descent can we summed up in one word: muddy. I slide down, mud caking my poles, my shoes, my ankles, my calves. I’m still as careful as possible with my ankles, trying to stay upright but more than anything, I am participating in a controlled fall down this mountain. Ferns frame the muddy path, they brush water uponst me. I turn on an audiobook. I do the only thing that makes any sense so close to town: I try to just go.
This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Puget Sound Salish and Columbia-Wenatchi land.