Day 98: jewel-colored lakes, humid climbs, and other wonders of Washington in July

July 31
Mileage 27
Mile 2190.5 to mile 2217.5

I wake at 6:45 to Coughee, peering into my tent.

“You made it!” He says. Then Rice Crispies appears, and Chance and Mac, and Twinkle. They all stayed in the campground with a trail angel. She fed them roast chicken and boiled eggs and soda.

“Dang,” I say. I rub my eyes, still half asleep. I pack up fast but still it’s 7:15 when I’m on the trail. The day starts with a 9 mile climb and I’m sweating up the hill, trying to catch my friends. I don’t really want to hike alone today, I want someone to talk to. I reach the top, but they’re not there. Around every bend I expect to see a human- bright trail runners, the unnatural color of a backpack- but it’s only green trees and brown path, rocks, shadows and light. I want to take a break but I keep pushing on. Gotta catch em! Soon I’ve eaten all the bars in my hipbelt pockets and I’m crashing, out of water and I’m thirsty. I start fantasizing about lunch. There’s a piped spring coming up- I’ll stop there, I decide. No matter what.

Guthrie and Twinkle are at the spring- real humans! I sit in the dirt and eat potato chips, sour gummi worms, a packet of tuna. I feel euphoria sitting down- I just want to sit here forever. I guess I’m tired, didn’t sleep enough last night. Night-hiking hangover. But hey, what can you do.

I lose steam after lunch and fall behind, hiking up the second big climb of the day. This isn’t Oregon anymore- we’re back in the land of long, steep climbs. The views are pretty though, the cool white of Hood, Adams and St. Helens against the blue of the sky, and there are nice flowers. I get reception and sit in the dirt, writing emails. It feels so good to sit.

I hear the clack of trekking poles and Pockets appears! He leapfrogged with us in the first part of Oregon, did all the roadwalks around the fires, and now he’s caught up. We book it the last two miles to Blue lake, where  southbounder tells us our friends are headed. We see the glittering, jewel colored water from a distance and then there are our friends, lounging in the sun surrounded by snacks, totally relaxed.

It’s a beautiful sight.

I jump in the water- it’s deep and clear and not too cold, the perfect water for swimming. I sit dripping on the bank in a chunk of sun and eat oatmeal with chia seeds, other random things in my food bag. It’s so pretty here, no-one feels like moving.

“I wish it was later in the day,” says Chance.

“We could camp here,” I say. “We can do whatever we want. It’s Washington.”

Only 440 miles until Canada. I suddenly feel like moving at the speed of molasses.

In the end we hike four more miles to another lake, Deer lake, the last lake before a ten mile dry stretch. We pitch our shelters against the mosquitoes and crawl inside, watching the light grow long.

The good life.

Photos on instagram.