Day 104: sometimes you break your face

August 6
Mileage 29.5
Mile 2350 to mile 2379.5

We’re hiking on Tiny and Brainstorm’s schedule right now, and it’s awesome. The two of them have been hiking together since northern California and this is what they do- half hour break in the morning, hour lunch break, half hour break it the afternoon. Thirty miles. Everyday.

It’s peaceful and relaxing and I love it. The group of us plans out our hike the rest of the way to Canada- twenty or so mile days in and out of town, thirties in between. A zero in Stehekin. And we want to stick together, all the way.

Everything is so much easier now that we’re just day hikers.

I’m walking with Twinkle in the morning, feeling good. The trail is cruiser, the forest is dappled, the mosquitoes are still gone. We’re almost to the Urich shelter, where Raho and I stopped last year to make a fire in the woodstove and dry out our bags after the hypothermia night. I’m walking and my foot catches on something and I trip- I trip all the time, in all sorts of fantastical ways, and always catch myself- I Iook at my phone while I walk, run down rocky, twisted trail, zone out, trip and always catch myself-

But not this time. This time my hands are useless, my arms don’t move fast enough, and I catch the full impact of the fall-

On my face.

“Oh fuck! Oh fuck oh fuck!” I say. I’m sitting up, and there is blood everwhere. Blood all over my legs and arms, blood on my clothes, blood running into the dirt. And it is all coming from my face.

“Oh my god,” says Twinkle. “Do you need my shirt?” He pulls off his shirt and holds it out to me. I’m crying and I fish the snot rag from my hipbelt pocket and press it to my face. There’s so much blood I can’t even tell what’s going on. My nose is a mess of blood and snot, and my lip feels busted. Twinkle yanks the pee rag from my hipbelt, pours water onto it, and starts to wipe the blood and dirt from my face. I touch my nose- it’s intact, doesn’t seem broken. It aches a lot though. I calm down and stop crying, start to laugh a little bit.

“That was the dumbest fall ever,” I say. “I wasn’t even looking at my phone. And the trail is flat!”

I get most of the blood off my face, arms and legs and we walk to the Urich shelter, where Coughee says

“What’s up prize fighter? You feel like you’ve been punched in the face?”

“Yeah I guess,” I say. My nose is swollen, but I’m pretty sure it’s not broken. Thank goodness!

Everyone’s sitting on the deck having second breakfast and I eat most of a giant bag of potato chips, reach up now and then to feel the blood still dripping from my nose. So that’s what it feels like to be punched in the face. By the earth.

For the next few hours I hike with Guthrie through soft doug-fir forest and we talk about the nature of existence, the illusion of space time, what happens to the self after we die. Armchair philosophy is my favorite thing, and Guthrie is very, very good at it. We round a bend around noon and suddenly there is the most incredible trail magic- a cooler stuffed with food and one with cold soda, camp chairs, gallons of water, all left by Shelene and Roger Conen, of Maple Valley, Washington- they’ve been reading my and Twinkle’s blog, along with the blogs of lots of other hikers, and have taken it upon themselves this year to become all-out trail angels. The cache is incredible- I sit in the dirt and happily eat many, many random things- twizzlers, reeses peanut butter cups, tiny slim jims, jelly bellies, fruit snacks, baby carrots, a rice krispies treat, three cups of mandarin oranges. It’s all the better because several of us are running low on food, and I pack extra snacks for the next day as well. I hike out of the cache feeling happy, if slightly sick to my stomach, and work my way slowly down through a peaceful, old-growth forest all shot through with soft yellow light. I love this forest- low elevation temperate rainforest is my special place, it feels almost spiritual to me. I stop at a spring and sit on a log, thinking the same Jack Kerouac quote I thought last year, hiking through this same stretch of forest-

Everything is fine, forever and ever and ever

I find the others on an abandoned dirt road all overgrown with wildflowers, sitting in a circle around another imaginary campfire, eating chocolate and playing our favorite word game. Friends of Handy Andy brought trail magic to the pass a few miles back, and although I missed it they packed some out for me- enchiladas, beans and rice, an avocado. We are so spoiled today! I eat the food in the dusk while the others smoke cigarettes, pass around a joint. The clues for the word game get more and more obscure and then Woody folds his legs up into his jacket, walks around like a muppet and we laugh so, so hard. The sky clouds over as we spread our bedrolls on the old road, climb into our bags against the cold. Everything is good and right in the world.

Photos on instagram.

3 thoughts on “Day 104: sometimes you break your face

  1. I followed your first PCT hike and thought, “a second time”? Will these posts be boring? What a laugh! Sooooo not boring and even better the second time around as your writing has only improved and your observations, insights, …. amazing! Thank you so much for taking us all along on this journey that is both physical and spiritual. I would love to see you do a trek that is just for you, at your pace. You see the world through very soulful eyes.

  2. So glad you are feeling better and things have shifted in general … sorry to hear about Mama Earth giving your face a spankin’ ! So glad you were not hurt worse. I love reading your posts. Thank you for sharing your adventure(s) with us (we readers) – loving it! : )

  3. I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one who takes a fall on the trail! Sounds like you are OK- that’s good.
    I fell three times coming down from Baden-Powell.
    Be safe…
    Blaze

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