39 Days of walking

Around five o’clock last night, the clouds to the west started to thicken and get dark as I descended from the PCT and headed for camp. At some point in the night, it rained, and then again later, but never too hard or for very long. I woke up this morning and my tent was actually dry inside and out, quite a rare occurrence on this trip. I was feeling great about it as I poodled around with my stuff and packed up camp in a leisurely fashion. And then it started to rain, with all my things spread around and the tent still up to catch it, and by the time I finally managed to get it down it was wet. So much for the dry tent.

It rained all morning, the kind of western Washington mountain rain that, once it starts, can go for days at a steady cold drizzle. I had a fair bit of climbing to do on overgrown trails, and I spent the morning struggling with rain clothes, on or off: on and I sweat out the inside on the climbs, off and I get soaked from the brush cloaking the trail. I was tripping on roots, slipping off the steep edge of the absurdly narrow tread, rolling my ankles on rocks, and getting wetter and colder and generally more frustrated until I finally decided I needed a mantra to sing as I hiked or the misery would eat me up inside out. I started to sing: I am at peace with the world, over and over, each time the tune morphing into something a little different. Interestingly, it helped! I calmed down, hiked steady and sure even with all the rain, and by the afternoon the weather cleared and I was losing five thousand feet of elevation, leaving Pasayten Wilderness and heading for Ross Lake in North Cascades National Park.

As I was hiking along the lake shore, the most awesome bit of trail magic on this entire trail happened (trail magic is the general catch-all for those serendipitous or fortunate events that happen to hikers, and while trail magic is common on the PCT, say in the form of a cooler of beer in the middle of the woods, its pretty much nonexistent on this trail). I was looking at the lake, enjoying the beautiful lakeside hike where the trail is practically run along a dike on a rock cliff right next to the water, when I looked at the trail and there was a piece of paper with my name on it! Underneath was another piece of paper with a note, all of it held down on a food bar with a rock. It was left by friends of mine from Seattle who are spending the weekend camping on Ross Lake, and somehow they figured out where and roughly when to leave such a thing in the middle of the trail. It kind of made my day, actually. I’ve been in the wilderness for almost a week, and one of the moving and equally chilling things about a vast, mountainous wilderness is that it doesn’t know you, doesn’t see you, doesn’t care about you. It’s a very different environment than one built for people, with people’s needs in mind. To come from the wilderness, where as a distinct identity I could almost disappear into the rocks and clouds, and find my name in the middle of the trail was as perfect a moment as I could imagine.

I’m camped about 13 miles from Ross Lake Resort, where I will meet Dan tomorrow (oh my god I am so excited) and pick up my resupply for the next section through North Cascades National Park.

20130829-192259.jpgThe view from the top of Devil’s Dome in the western edge of the Pasayten

20130829-192558.jpgJack Mountain draped in glaciers

20130829-192802.jpgI love the layers of trees, clouds, mountains, and ice in this picture

20130829-192938.jpgMy name on the trail

20130829-193313.jpgStartling green horsetails in contrast to all the gray

3 thoughts on “39 Days of walking

  1. What a great thing for your friends to do!!! Katherine Katherine Katherine I see where Ross Lake is–you have come so far!! You will be in Dan’s arms tomorrow!! Hooray Hooray for both of you. I am so glad to get your recent entry blog and know you are well (except for ankle, knee, shin, IT band) and that the cougar didn’t eat you and you didn’t get lost etc etc. Today i harvested, blanched and froze collards and kale; harvested basil and made batches of pesto, trimmed the parsley and made fresh tapinade, picked the last of the early red haven peaches (the reg. red havens still too firm) and harvested, cooked and marinated beets. How many swimming days are left? Autumn is sneaking up. Your nights getting colder. Remember: don’t long term injure your ankle or other parts. If need be come home with Dan though of course i am envisioning you making it all the way. And I hold you in my heart all that way, love, Daya

  2. I regret reading more of these earlier….trail magic! Inspiring hike. Makes me yearn for an adventure like it for myself . We miss you here. But look forward to playing with all the new kinesthetic language you are amassing out there…consciously and unconsciously.

  3. I am soooooooo glad our paths crossed… even though my path was in a canoe and yours a trail. It was so much fun to embrace and laugh even if it was for just moments.

    I loved your post about the note. I totally know that feeling of being unknown amidst the woods, and I have known the joy of a sweet little surprise. It’s those little joys on the trail that keep us going back to the trails. Simple happiness is my favorite and it just isn’t recognized as often in our big city lives. It’s nice to have the wilds of the woods bring it on full force… keeps me coming back for more. šŸ™‚

    I hope your body is better to you and that you are able to be warm and dry often.

    much love,
    Melissa

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