The Attempt Episode 4: “Things I’m grateful for”
Benjamin has a friend join him for a week of hiking and gets to see some other familiar faces along the way. Plus, we get to hear the story behind Benjamin’s new trail name: “Brass.”
The Attempt is sponsored by Gossamer Gear, manufacturers of functional ultralight backpacking gear, designed by hikers.
Previously on The Attempt…
“Hart’s Pass, baby!”… “And then every eight days or so you resupply. So you either buy new food or someone meets up with you on the trail and provides you a box you sent to them.”… “So it’s raining pretty hard and I’m cozy in my tent, which is mostly full of damp things that I own… Just popped a couple blisters.”… “Getting to the top of a ridgeline, dropping your bag? Taking a sec? That moment? It’s like… holy shit…. It’s just perfect.”
Julia: You’re listening to…
Benjamin: A podcast my sister makes…
Julia: It’s called The Attempt…
Benjamin: I see what you’re trying to do!
Julia: (Laughing) Alright…
Benjamin: Hey, I wanted to make a recording because I remember that in my interview with Julia I mentioned that the point I was looking forward to the most was coming over a ridge and seeing the beautiful view at the end of a long climb and that is exactly what just happened. Um, the ridge I just came over is called Piper Pass – it was a doozy of a climb. And I got to the top and now I’m heading down the other side of the pass. But from the top of the pass I could look back and see Glacier Peak off in the distance, where I came from. Which was pretty cool to be able to see your progress that tangibly. Let’s see… What have I eaten today? OK, I have eaten… started out with a breakfast sandwich near the motel… bag of peanuts… packet of tuna, tortilla, cheese, bag of chips, king size Snickers, packet of chicken and tortilla… (Fade out)
So that clip you just heard is from day 16 of The Attempt. Or on our calendar: July 30. Today’s episode is gonna cover a couple of weeks from the end of July through early August. From Skykomish Pass, down past Mount Rainier, to White Pass. In these recordings, it seems like he’s starting to find his groove, but still, most days he finishes hiking with no gas left in the tank.
Benjamin: OK, um, it’s around 7 p.m. I think it’s day 18. Um… holy fucking shit I’m tired. I’ve been averaging 20 miles over the last few days – three days – and wow, holy goddamn, that really is not fucking easy. I saw a mouse, so I’m pretty sure my food’s gonna get nibbled into. But fuck it. I’m literally too tired to go forward. Have a big old dinner. Hopefully go to sleep by like 8. Though that would require me getting up and cooking, which is a whole thing. Uhhh, goodness gracious. OK. Gotta go. Gotta make something happen. Otherwise I’m just gonna lie here forever.
I can totally picture this scene. I imagine Benjamin recording this while sitting on a log at his campsite, just staring blankly at his backpack. At this point, he’d been going for almost a week straight without a break, spending a lot of time alone. But that was about to change. In fact, on this very night, 50 miles away, his friend Anand was packing up his own backpack, getting ready to join Benjamin for the next stretch. And maybe that’s why, the next morning, Benjamin seemed to wake up with a bit more pep in his step.
Benjamin: Alright. Things I’m grateful for. Number one. I had a rock in my shoe, it was a tiny little pebble, and I thought it was just a blister forming, but I took my shoe off and a little rock came out and I feel so good walking now. That was awesome. Another thing I’m grateful for is the sun. I was super cold this morning. Sun came up. T-shirt and shorts now and I feel super good. Third thing I’m grateful for is Mount Rainier because it is the most beautiful gosh darn mountain on the planet. Number four I’m grateful for: my poops have gotten a lot more solid, which is good. Things I’m not so proud of: yesterday it was starting to rain as I was packing up. Everything got soaked cause everything was out of my bag. It was a total shit show. Really frustrating. And amid all that, a mosquito landed on my face. I went to swat it away and gave myself a bloody nose. That and accidentally peeing all over myself another time I saw a mosquito were two lows. In around eight miles I will get to Snoqualmie Pass where my mom and dad are waiting for me, allegedly with some Ezell’s fried chicken. So that’s something else to look forward to. Yeah! It’s a good day.
Paula: So here we are on I-90 driving from Seattle to Snoqualmie pass
This is my mom. I asked her to make a recording on her phone since I wasn’t able to tag along.
Paula: In the car we have Jonathan, Rebecca, Romio, me, and Benjamin’s friend Anand. Say hi, Anand.
Anand: Hey, Anand.
Rebecca: Good one.
Paula: We’re meeting Benjamin at the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass and we brought lunch. He wanted us to bring Romio.
Romio is my parents’ 85-pound dog.
He wanted us to bring Ezell’s and a salad. We also packed all this fresh fruit and berries so I think he’s gonna be happy.
Their timing couldn’t have been much better. Everyone converged on the parking lot at Snoqualmie at exactly the same time.
Anand: What’s up my duuuuude!?
Benjamin: So good to see you! (Hug) Let me drop my bag.
Of course, it never takes long for the conversation to turn to everyone’s favorite topic: food.
Benjamin: There’s a picnic table over there.
Jonathan: What do you think of Ezell’s?
Benjamin: I would love Ezell’s.
Paula: Oh, we forgot! We totally forgot to go.
Paula: Look at your beard!
Anand: Wow, you have such a big beard!
After lunch and a thorough repacking, Benjamin and Anand set off for the next section. Mom, dad, Rebecca, and Romio got back into the car and left them to it.
For four days Benjamin and Anand hiked through the woods. In this section they passed Mount Rainier. They also caught up with Antoine, the Belgian guy whot Benjamin had started out with at Hart’s Pass.
And then, 100 miles and four days later, it was time for Anand to head back to Seattle. I had agreed to pick him up and take him home. And at the same time, I was going to bring Benjamin a box of supplies for the next leg of his hike. First stop, my parents’ house.
Julia: Wow! 20?
Paula: All told, 24 pounds of food stuff. Alright, want me to help you get it in the car?
I packed the trunk with everything we thought he might need or want. Including things he wouldn’t be able to buy in the small trail towns near the PCT. And then I started driving.
Julia: I’m driving to pick up Benjamin right now and it is like the most gorgeous day ever to be driving around Mount Rainier. I think I see him… (car blinker) Hello!!
Benjamin: What’s up, Julia?!
Julia: Hey! Good to see you!
It was surreal to see him there – just sitting in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Since I’d last seen him, he’d walked about 170 miles.
Julia: So crazy to see you! Look at your scruff.
Benjamin: I know. It’s pretty unpleasant…
They had actually gotten to the motel the night before, so they had a little time to clean up, eat some microwaved burritos, watch Top Gun, and do their laundry. So when I saw them, they were much less smelly and feral looking than I had been imagining. Everyone threw their bags in the trunk and we hit the road toward Packwood – the nearest town where we could get burgers and fries.
Julia: Wait, Benjamin, you were telling me about your trail name but I didn’t record it.
Benjamin: Oh, yeah. Brass.
Julia: Why is it Brass?
Benjamin: It’s Brass because – very cute story – I had a dinner where all I had to eat was salmon jerky and dried fruit and the next day I was farting on everyone behind me and they starting calling me the butt trumpet, then the brass section, and then brass kinda stuck. It’s a pretty cool name. And Antoine has a name too.
Antoine: It’s Guy Fawkes.
Antoine: Just because I kind of need to be back in Belgium by the 5th or 6th of November
Julia: What about: the trail provides. What is that?
Antoine: That is very true.
Benjamin: I’ve been really wanting a pouch for my backpack strap for a water bottle and I was about to order one on Amazon today and then a guy staying with us last night was like: does anyone want this? And I was like, “Yes, I do!”
Antoine: Every time we stop something like that happens. It’s amazing.
Benjamin: Yeah and some people take advantage of that. Like we heard about somebody who didn’t have a tent and every night when it was too cold she would ask someone to borrow their tent – to sleep in their tent with them.
Antoine: Was she hot?
Anand: Probably not.
Antoine: Cause I have a two-person tent so she can travel with me if she wants.
Julia: Are people, like, having sex on the trail? Is this a thing?
Antoine: This I don’t know. I will tell you in a few months.
Benjamin: I can’t imagine it would be pleasant.
Anand: Wet wipes! If you wet wiped enough it would be OK.
Julia: Oh my god.
Antoine: A ton of wet wipes.
Julia: I mean you all smell bad but you don’t smell horrible.
All: We showered!!
Julia: Well your stuff still smells.
Anand: You still can smell it?
Julia: Yeah, of course! It’s not gonna go away with a single shower.
Benjamin: I felt really clean.
We got our burgers and our sodas and our beers and I hadn’t hiked at all, but just being around all that hiker energy I think made the burgers especially delicious. After lunch, we spent some time repacking Benjamin’s bag and Antoine got his beard trimmed at the beauty parlor and Anand napped in the car. Then I drove them back to White Pass.
Benjamin: Thank you so much for joining me. It was so fun.
Anand: Good luck with the trip. I want to see how this story unfolds. I guess I’ll have the podcast…
Benjamin: One of us will kill the other one. (Laughing)
Julia: So good to see you again.
Anand and I got back in the car and we waved goodbye to Guy Fawkes and Brass as we started our drive back to Seattle. But as I looked to the south, there was a bit of an ominous site: these big dark clouds were gathering up over the ski hill.
You’ve been listening to The Attempt, produced by me, Julia Drachman, with help from Doug Beyers.
We are – a production of Bad Cat media, created in partnership with The Trek – a media company dedicated to thru-hiking and long-distance backpacking enthusiasts. Find all the episodes of The Attempt at thetrek.co/the-attempt. You can find more information about Bad Cat Media on our website, at badcat.media. You can also find photos and behind the scenes content from The Attempt on our Instagram and Twitter – we’re @badcat_media. The music you heard in this episode is from Blue Dot Sessions. Thank you so much for listening – episode 5 will be out in a week.
And, now for your bonus clip. This is from Anand’s and Benjamin’s first lunch together on the trail.
Benjamin: Tell the good people where we are.
Anand: A road.
Anand: Forest road, of course, because we are in the forest. There’s dirt nearby. Now we’re enjoying a lunch. Benjamin just opened the hot buffalo-style Tuna Creations chicken flavor.
Benjamin: How much curry did you bring for these four days? What’s your curry per day ratio? Your CPD?
Anand: Being Indian I have a natural affinity for curry. I brought five packets of buttery lentils. It’s probably the most inefficient choice. They’re already pre-watered, so it’s like carrying five mini rocks in my backpack. But yeah, I’m hopeful it’ll all be worth it when we dig into tonight in our curry couscous feast. (Fade down)
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