I don’t sleep much- I don’t know why, I just don’t. It’s too hot in the room and the bed is too soft and there’s noise, people, everything. I wake at five, tight with anxiety, feeling like shit. I walk to the grocery store that’s just opened and try and think what to eat for breakfast. I feel sad. I don’t know.
Errands- doing my laundry in a real machine for the first time since Ashland. Sitting in a towel with Chance watching the laundry spin, reading Glamour magazine. Did you know that if you avoid cottage cheese and alcohol, you can lose enough water weight by the weekend to be bikini-ready? And for fall there are things that look like blankets, worn with a belt. Am I pretty or ugly? I don’t know. I do like fashion though. When my laundry’s dry I put it in a paper sack and walk with Twinkle through the touristy main street. There’s a cafe with gluten-free baked goods and I get two big peanut butter cookies, eat one while I walk. The wind is blowing and it’s sunny. Back at the room we argue about the fire closures- everyone wants to hitch around them but me. I looked at the maps, though, the alternates aren’t that bad. I just want to hike Oregon. I just want to hike. But today we’re all zeroing, trying to figure it all out. I can feel the two-week challenge slipping away. At this rate…
I feel sad. I try to nap, but can’t. Guthrie is here- he made it into town! He spent 17 hours in his tent, waiting out the rain. Coughee is here too- he was off the trail for a while with giardia and feels better now so he hitched up to catch us. It’s good to see both of them. There are about a million people in the room- I suddenly feel overwhelmed, just want to get away. Rice Krispies shows up, so that’s cool. She’s gonna crash with us tonight. Yesterday, when we were all hypothermic and I could barely crank out 21 miles- Rice Krispies did thirty nine. By nine p.m. And then she camped. Alone. In the rain.
Someone puts on loud music, someone else is smoking cigarettes in the open back door but the smoke is coming inside, filling up the room. I’m laying on the bed, it’s sort of nice but mostly I feel like I’m at a party and I can’t leave. And I know everyone will be up till late, drinking beers, talking shit and quoting the movie stepbrothers. I love everyone but I want quiet, peace, I just need to sleep.
The local trail angel, Blanche, says yes! She’ll take me to the trail. She’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever met- genuinely loves hikers, loves asking us questions. She’s doing the Oregon section soon, with a friend of hers. She used to stock a water cache, even, at the trailhead, until the forest service had her remove it. There are two little dogs in the car and I pet them on the drive, look at their nice faces, feel my anxiety going down, down. I’m not sure what the others are doing in the morning- maybe walking some of the trail, maybe hitching a hundred miles around the closures, to Timberline lodge. I plan on walking the alternates, at least as much as I can.
I set up my shelter at the trailhead in the dusk. It’s so eerily quiet and I realize how unusual it is to be away from the noise and clamor of the group. I’ve camped alone maybe twice this entire trail. I feel spooked but then I get in my bag in my nice safe shelter, watch the sky dim, and the eerie feeling slowly transforms itself to peace.
Photos on instagram.