I wake up at two AM to pee and the stars knock the wind out of me. There’s never been anything so beautiful, except of course there has, but I can’t think of what just now. The mountain glows majestic and we are the disciples at the base. We love you mountain. We would do anything in your honor.
In the morning the mountain glows orange and for some reason, I am underwhelmed. I remember the sparkling stars and I feel a loss. I don’t know what’s wrong with me now that it’s the light of day and I wonder if it’s the astrology.
We wind up sandy blast zone rocks, up and down inexplicable paths. I lose the trail a lot but always stay going the right direction, which is really all that matters, I suppose.
I haven’t packed enough food. I almost always pack way too much for my first section of a hike and I’d decided to experiment with less, just to see. If I’m being honest, though, I haven’t eaten enough in months. The thing is, that every time I go through one kind of specific grief, I’m so stricken with the enormity of it that I stop eating. The thing is, I’ve gone through this specific type of grief a lot in the past few years. The thing is, I never have a chance to put the weight back on before the cycle begins anew.
I am fucking starving on day two of this hike but maybe what I’m really starving from is day 912 of this life. The blame of this is squarely on me, I know I just need to open my mouth and eat. But still, it deeply sucks.
With this, I am hiking through an onion of my emotions. Layer one is grump. It is a stomping through the dust and the volcanic rock sour film that coats me. Layer two is anger, the shock and the disbelief that people can be so obviously cruel and callous, seemingly without recourse. Layer three is grief, an olive green sludge that sloshes back and forth with each step. The grief is physically painful and is my constant companion.
I wonder if we get backed into our bravery through suffering, if facing the grief is growing me a thicker armor.
I am wilting in the vast exposure and Liza and Sug are too. We gather beside a large rock, curling in close to one another for the scrap of shade. I take an ibuprofen. I tell Liza and Sug that I’m trying to take the phrase “down to clown” and turn it into a thing that means one would like to do sex. We laugh. We eat. I drink electrolytes. I nap for ten minutes and wake up in a puddle of drool, covered in ants. Again, it’s time to hike.
My mood has lifted considerably and I walk fast, out of the blast zone and into soft inviting forest. Firs and hemlocks and pines cover the terrain and dandelion, lupin and arnica pop up in great concentrated piles. By the time we hit the water, I am happy again, and I am also fried.
We consider our options. We could hike further, toward an almost immediate 1200 foot climb. Alternately, we could stop here, at the Toutle River, swim, and do the mushrooms that Sug packed out, just for fun.
We decide drugs.
We eat two caps and a stem each and I laugh until I nearly pee my pants three times.
I feel my body, the entire lot of me and I am thrilled. Me! Out here with my friends! I am so grateful OH MY FUCKING GOD!
We play my sex mix and I narrate what would happen to which song.
Everyone says the phrase down to clown, over and over again, until we can’t even get all three words out at once without a string of laugh cries.
We squeeze fir blisters and watch sap burst forth and lick the sticky juice from our palms (it is more satisfying than any pimple ever ever ever)
We watch a group of sparrows dance elaborate synchronized swoops in the sky, dipping in and out of their rock nest and bursting forth with great enthusiasm.
I don’t mind my life.
I don’t want to die, and wanting to die has plagued me for months.
And then we sleep.
📍The Loowit Trail is on Yakama land. I am a grateful guest.