My feet hurt. My legs. My butt. My neck. All of it. And it’s the most satisfying feeling. Everything falls into rhythm, including physical aches, including emotional and mental noise. I notice sometimes that my emotional life here on the trail is quite large. I suppose that as long as there aren’t any real distractions, it makes sense that my inner life would rush into the vacuum. But the magnitude of it, the sheer volume, is almost hilarious. I had remind myself multiple times today that what I was feeling was happening only in my head, and in that sense was real but subjective. No matter: just keep walking. Let the head be what will.
My head and my body run monologues as I’m hiking like a bird chorus of gossipy hens. Body: my feet hurt. Head: Are those storm clouds? Body: gee, the soles of my feet are really tender. Head: I hope I have enough water. Body: Oh, new pain on the side of my right foot! Head: What am I doing out here? Body: aaarrgh, foot cramp! Head: what a beautiful tree! And so on. I often find I’m counting as I walk, and the counting rhythm inevitably becomes a chanting sing-song. Plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is is in 4/4 time, a simple yet effective walking time signature. Today I was counting in twelves which naturally became the Twelve Days of Christmas: On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me and so forth. That’s how it is, the cacophonous mind and body making low levels of constant background noise.
Today I went through Yaak MT, walking in after a creative bit of route finding on off-trail roads. I had lunch at the tavern, a lunch that included perfectly crisped tater tots of all delicious things, picked up the box of food I mailed myself for the next section, and was off. Rather than backtrack to where I walked off the PNT, I walked up a long forest service road into the mountains west of the Yaak river valley and camped where I finally rejoined the route. Just in time too, since thunderheads were building empires in the sky and trouble was brewing. It started sprinkling as I pitched my tent, and the sprinkles turned quickly to stark flashes followed almost immediately by teeth-rattling thunder claps. Two concerns come to mind: fire, in the case of dry lightning strikes, and lightning strikes, in the case of tomorrow’s hiking, which climbs high through Northwest Peak Scenic Area and follows exposed ridges for sustained periods of time. I think it rained decisively enough to quell the first concern. Tomorrow morning will have to settle the second, whether I can take the highest and most exposed route over Northwest Peak, the second highest and exposed route over towards Rock Candy Mountain, or a low and minimally exposed alternate of forest service roads that would skip the entire Northwest Peak Scenic Area.
Yesterday’s trail, by the way, was generally good. After a fine departure from Webb Mountain, the trail bopped along some forested mountains, crossing passes and following overgrown logging roads before arriving on the lovely ridge approaching Mt Henry. Though off route by a smidge, I couldn’t resist the climb. I lost the trail a bit on the way up in a mess of little-used, growing-in, unmarked trails, but heading up helped and eventually I made it up to the top where a lookout was perched precariously on old log stilts. The wind pitched it from side to side and the place was a mess. It looked like somebody’s project gone wrong. I didn’t stay long, leaving the crap shack to its lovely views and descended all the way down to the Yaak Valley, where I made the mistake of camping in one of those high-impact, hand-built forest service camp sites where rodents swarmed all night and chewed up the grip on one of my trekking poles. Se la vie.
Mt Henry through the trees
Stephan and Mt Henry Lookout
Trail down from Mt Henry