New Shoes! The Second Hundred Miles
which ephemeral faces
turn trail fam/stay strange?
Certain people are starting to pop up for the second, third time. I hiked all of yesterday with Rachel and a niece-uncle duo that started on the 7th as well. I passed 2 guys around lunchtime that we had camped with the night before. It’s a time on the trail when most faces are new, but somewhere in the crowd are the seeds of a trail family. I thought about the irrelevant differences between fate and chance and how perfectly random the universe is.
I craved salt, PB, & coconut water, and cursed myself for not sending the ice axe & microspikes home. I met the proto-crew at the top of the hill sunbathing and scrubbing themselves clean with snow. For once, there were no bugs.
solitude’s high price:
for clean views and clear water
rescue is remote
Today we witnessed a helicopter rescue.
When we first saw it circling, we worried that it was a fire-related warning, though the skies were clear. A man in orange descended via cable to a spot just up the trail. We sped up to intercept the action.
Instead, an older hiker had broken through a snow bridge near Fire Creek Pass and gashed his head down to the skull on a rock. He was luckily conscious, alert, and upright, though it had been over 3 hours since his hiker friends had hit the SOS button. His pack & person were pulled up & whisked away to the nearest hospital. A foam pad was lost to the lake in the resulting wind.
We crossed the only “sketchy” snowfield left, which didn’t require any equipment. I rinsed in a gray torrent of glacial water, traversed Sasquatch-worthy old growth stands, then camped in the fog.
“sport mindset” returns.
charging, chasing, what for?
do only what’s fun.
I got up after everyone else had already left. I refused to feel bad about it. I took advantage of the solitude to let the cold, misty morning and the comparatively brilliant heather flowers soak in. I met another hiker from Vermont and drafted off of him until around dinner. After making food at 171.4, I continued another mile to a more popular, less mosquito-filled, meadow.
hot riffs, deep base, snap!
step in time, sing along, dance!
music montage miles*
Today’s mad rush to Steven’s Pass was fueled by tunes. I was determined to buy new shoes in town, which meant that every step was one closer to soft, supportive footwear. I powered forward on fantasies of Hoka Speedgoats and Snyder’s Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces. To keep the stoke high, I drained my battery on the up-most of beats. Did I ignore the native sounds of the scenery surrounding me? Yes, and it was glorious.
After inhaling some delicious trail magic salads in the parking lot, and later a milkshake at the 59-er Diner, I stuck out my thumb for Wenatchee. I caught a ride with a local who was blasting the Cookie Monster classic “C is for cookie and cookie is for me!” for his nap-deprived daughter. We could see the burn scars from last Sunday’s fire on the hills by the road.
Performance Footwear set me up with a nice pair of wide Speedgoats just in time to take the shuttle bus back. Rachel & I got a ride back to Steven’s Pass in rattling van of a local woman with rad flower tattoos.
*Try listening to “Blunderbuss” by Twiddle and not feeling like you could kick down a door.
local lady scorns,
“that gap there, you can’t name it?!?”
I know Vermont, ma’am.
The nature of the PCT hike is very one-dimensional. It is a necklace along which views, camps, and towns are strung; a cable along which human electrons flow. Perpendicular axes do not effectively exist: one does not travel left or right, into the hill or into the sky. Only forward and back.
The ski mountains back home, those I know. I know the trails and the between-trails, the ridgelines and the creek beds. That intimate knowledge, still patchy in spots, is a mostly-functional mental map, whereas the PCT passes so quickly only the salient images remain. Sorry-not-sorry that I don’t recall how many blowdowns were at Dispatch Gap, nor do I remember where that is.
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness was sunlit and rocky, rolling and picturesque.
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