Throughout the night, my foot touches things. It touches my sleeping pad, it touches my sack of clothes, it touches my water bottle, it touches my other foot. Each time my foot touches something, it is a hot knife of pain.
For weeks it was very wet, and now, just like that, Washington is very dry. My shriveled prune feet have turned to dry hard little leathers, leathers with deep cracks that spurt blood. The cracks wake me up again and again, and when I wake, I hear the deer and the mice playing out their deer and mice dramas outside. This land is their land, and I am but a guest. The deer and mice quiet for no one.
I slept like shit. Carrot slept like shit. Bogwitch slept like shit. Our Swiss friend says he slept amazing and we all quietly resent him. Stupid kind Swiss man being so nice and well slept. What a monster.
We’re ready to go by 6:45AM and it’s already warming up. We plan to go 21 miles today and I am slow as frozen molasses, limping up the trail, suspended in time. My body is usually stiff in the morning, but today my ankles and tendons all around them feel hot and inflamed. I think they’ll warm up and smooth out, and on the left side they do but the right sustains a persistent dull of pain. I hike slower, it hurts. I try to hike faster, I can’t, it hurts more. I get angry at the pain and the pain doesn’t give a fuck.
By mid morning my world is all exposed climb through deep burn and lupine field. This time last year this area looked like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and this year it is an explosion of purple wildflowers. For some reason, I cry thinking about my grandparents, two people whom have been dead for years. I think about how I don’t really have a home, my dad is dead and my mom is mean and no one lives where I grew up anymore besides. My grandparents were kind of my home because they actually liked me, they thought I was funny and smart instead of just in the way. The burnt forest and the lupine field feels like their love.
I leap frog with Carrot and try not to get my grump on her. She doesn’t feel great either. It’s hot, our stomachs hurt, the water is sparse, our packs our too heavy. I find reception and I google my specific outer ankle pain and it says I have Peroneal Tendonitis. I find a way to KT tape it. I feel bad for my legs and my feet and I am angry at them in equal measure. I haven’t had tendonitis before and I don’t understand why it’d appear now.
At lunch I tell Carrot and Bogwitch about my new tendonitis and they wonder if it’s because I ran down all of the hills yesterday. Probably the answer is yes, and I’m feeling like a petulant child. Other people can push, why can’t I push?! I am sullen, I tape the ankle, I eat refried bean soup and we pack up. Seven miles to Chinook Pass and we hear there’s trail magic. Four more miles to camp after that.
One mile after we leave our lunch ridge I start thinking about hitching to Packwood from Chinook Pass instead of hiking 30 more miles into town. The tape has done nothing for my tendon at all, the pain is intensifying with each step. I text Carrot and Bogwitch. Carrot says she’ll come with, Bogwitch says they’ll consider their options. I hike furious and in pain. Mt. Ranier is gorgeous in the distance. I try to focus.
Eventually, the pass comes. The trail angel is still there and he has Cokes and chips and salsa and as I shovel food into my mouth, my rage subsides. I’m going to hitch to town now. It’s going to be okay.
📍 This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Yakama land.