Washington Update: Smoke!
You’re sky has been filled with smoke since the day before we descended into Snoqualmie. I believe beautiful views exist beyond the haze, yet I haven’t had the chance to witness them as we’ve trudged through a never ending aroma of perpetual campfire.
You know that sensation when you finish a camping trip and unpack your bags, and you’re met with the instantaneous smell of fire? I wonder if we’ve become like that, so encased in smoke each day that the smell has infiltrated every pore in our body, emanating in each direction.
It hasn’t been all bad, or even really that bad at all. Sure, we haven’t been greeted with remarkable and breathtaking views after spending the better part of the day climbing, but the company of our trail family has made up for this in every way imaginable.
At times, individuals within our family have struggled day to day with various things. Hills, problems at home, pains that won’t dissipate. It seems like the moments in which we can all be together at a break, at lunch, or in camp have made up for these difficulties immensely. We’ve taken to hiking in a line, chatting as we saunter. I may spend the better half of the morning alone listening to podcasts but it’s these times when I’m in line, hiking behind my friends, when time flies. I hardly notice the miles, the steep inclines, or the terrain and instead I’m engulfed in the thoughts of my comrades.
Recently we’ve been trying to find the balance necessary to making a large trail family coexist synergistically. There are seven of us now with the addition of our section hiker friend, Sassafras. We can each have different objectives in regards to mileage and sometimes these competing desires have created conflict. There seems to be two different fields of thought. On one side, we have those that want to push hard till the end out of an enjoyment of moving fast. Completing the day with a bunch of miles under the proverbial hip belt leads to a feeling of satisfaction and exhaustion that just can’t be beat. One the other side of things, we have those that feel their physical limitations and timeline requirements make a slower pace a necessity. Getting to Canada early means spending more money while waiting for travel arrangements, or walking more miles than desired each day.
For Bighorn and I, we’ve teetered between the two unsure of which one was right for us but ultimately we realized that the thing we care most about is finishing alongside these people. It’s incredible how fast you can come to love a group of people, and this sentiment was echoed loudly over the past few days as we all discussed ways to make our trail family work. I’m proud of everyone’s willingness to communicate and come to a consensus, and to have five others say that the bond we share is more important than mileage sure felt great.
We’re in Skykomish now, which is likely our last stop with phone service and internet before we cross the border on September 18th. We wanted to leave an update before then, however short, and let everyone know that we may go quiet the next couple of days before finishing the trail. We’ll try to post something when we finish, but truthfully I’m looking forward to not having service for a bit and being able to really enjoy the last stretch of miles before this adventure comes to an end. Until then, and as always, happy trails!
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