The deer and the mice join hands, forming a circle around our tent. As night commences, they dance, a great raucous circle surrounding us. Do they aim to keep us safe, or keep us awake?
In the morning, I am tired. I woke many times in the night to quietly observe the meeting of the deer and the mice and I am groggy in the glow of the sunrise. I drink my coffee. I eat my oats. I want to go back to bed.
But I don’t! Instead I gather two liters of water, and prepare for an 1800 foot climb. I am too cold to de-layer, and then within five minutes I am too hot to think of anything else. Guthook says there might be a toilet two miles in and I plan to use it and change there too.
The climb is slow and my calf is bothering me. I haven’t rolled my ankle this section, but it’s still tight and I can feel it affecting my whole left side. I’m slow to the toilet and when I arrive there’s actually no toilet at all, just a dusty road with no place to shit. It turns out holding it made the urge disappear anyway, so I change my clothes and put on my headphones. I can go later.
Carrot and I discuss foods we have eaten and foods we will eat again. We discuss salads and pasta with homemade marinara and crispy tempeh and homemade sauerkraut. We talk about how we’re going to go to Alaska in a few weeks, maybe to hike in the arctic, but in between we can eat some of these delicacies. I’m hungry on a cellular level.
The climb and my calf are making me mad, so I let Carrot surge ahead and I fade to a slow crawl. I find her taking a break nearly at the top and I kiss her and keep going. I’m tired of being so slow, I want to get a move on.
Eventually the downhill comes and I decide to try to be fast. It’s been weeks since I pushed myself and I can really get down to a snail’s pace if I allow myself to. On this downhill, I use my poles as much as possible and I try to run. I make it downhill in record time and I am winded and happy to feel like I GOT somewhere. Finally.
Our first water source of the day is 12 miles in and so that is where we take lunch. I arrive first and happily eat vegan cheez-its in the sun while lazily swatting away the aggressive flies. I have fond memories of this water source last year, even have a picture of Carrot gathering water as the sun glows all around her. The PCT is a very special place and I love being here. It reminds me of falling in love.
Carrot shows up and Bogwitch does too. We all have terrible gas on account of the instant refried beans we’re all eating and our laughter is peppered with brrrraps straight from our buttholes. We eat a lot of caffeinated shot blocks and drink electrolytes. We’re going to go ten more miles, which makes a longer hiking day than our usual. The sun is shining. the terrain is so much gentler than it has been. We’re excited.
We all hike together for the next five miles. We talk about testosterone and call out culture and Beyoncé. I supply the insight that Beyoncé is nature’s caffeine. We’re going fast and our time flies. I almost never actually hike with people, but today it feels easy and wonderful to laugh with friends. We make it to the Ulrich cabin in just a couple of hours.
The Ulrich cabin is a nice cabin in the woods. It’s maintained by the local snow mobile club, it has two shitters, and reportedly a lot of mice. We break at the cabin and I finally poop, Carrot and Bogwitch taste test an MRE given to them by a local. It’s BBQ beef and black beans, and they say it’s actually pretty good. I’m kind of freaked out by weird shelf stable food, but I appreciate their ability to just go for it.
We have five miles to camp from here and I book it, again wanting to push my body just a little bit. I rediscover Kesha and I hike listening to songs about partying and hot dudes. I like Kesha. That gal really knows what she wants.
We camp in a burn next to a babbeling brook. We meet a nice Swiss man who’s very close to finishing and we make jokes about hiking things: food and speed and gear and hikers who see this whole thing as a competition. The bugs eat us alive and our farting intensifies. With that, it’s time to go to sleep.
📍 This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Yakama land.