Mile 2217.5 to mile 2237.5
I sleep hard but still feel tired in the morning. While I walk through the loamy forest I do the math- 220 miles in 8 days. My whole body is sore and I feel damn worn out. Just twenty miles until Trout Lake. I’ll take a half day there, rest a bit. I scroll through halfmile’s app to the end- just 420 miles to Canada. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Right now is the time on the trail when my strength as a hiker overlaps most strongly with my weariness of hiking itself. I feel like I can do anything; I feel so, so tired.
We’re all spread out in a wierd way through the morning. I’m in the middle, I can’t tell if I’m fast or slow. I’m ready for a life where I’m not chasing something, racing towards something. I’m ready to talk about something other than miles and my pathetic little meals. I’m ready for the Great Canadian Anticlimax. And then what happens? I wonder what it is that I’m looking for, I fear that I’ll never find it. And then one day I’ll just die, I guess.
Two days ago I met a northbouder named Forrester. He was hiking slow, waiting for someone behind. I sat with him next to a stream and we talked about expectations, dissapointment, how something can be so infused with meaning or how it can be so empty.
“I used to surf,” he said. “That was my favorite thing. And then I spent four months in Baja, just surfing. Surfing lost all meaning. Surfing had meaning because it wasn’t working or going to school, but without the contrast the meaning was just gone, empty.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“You need contrast to see anything at all,” he said.
I’m tired today, I can’t kick it. I keep eating snacks but it doesn’t help. I wish I had music but my mp3 player is dead. I need something to think about, anything. It’s just me and my brain, tho. Me and my brain forever.
Where did this loneliness come from?
Up and down through the dry forest, conifers and beargrass, and at last I’m at the highway. Rice Crispies is there, Chance and Mack and Woody and Coughee already got a ride into town. Guthrie, Twinkle and Pockets show up and we stick out our thumbs to hitch- Crispies gets a ride in an eighteen wheeler and I’m next, in a pickup with a white-haired man and an old Shiba Inu.
Trout Lake is hot and humid, just like I remember it. Everyone’s at the picnic table behind the grocery store, shoes off, surrounded by snacks and empty beer cans and bits of trash. Chance and Mac are wet from running through the sprinklers. I eat a can of chili and a head of romaine, buy oats and trail mix for my resupply. The others find their way into town- where to camp? Everything is town in full because of a festival, there’s no room at the inn (campground).
An older man with long silver hair invites us to camp at his “compound” outside of town.
“It’s one of the biggest UFO hotspots in the country,” he says. “We’ve got seventy acres. Showers and stuff. You can camp.”
We pile into his little sedan and he drives us out of town; we bump down the wet dirt drive through fields of yellow grass past a tipi, a yurt, a tiny house sided in cedar. Mt. Adams looms over everything. He shows us the field of yaks, the garden, the cob showers. He talks about UFOs and various conspiracy theories that make me think of my mother’s delusions but seem strange coming from someone so obviously sane. People start to show up, dressed nice in fancy cars. Apparently you can pay big money to come here, sit in camp chairs in the field after dark, watch the displays on a computer that come from the dude’s night vision goggles.
“Mt. Adams opens up,” he says. “The ships come out of there.”
One of the yaks doesn’t like Mac, and butts his horns against the fence.
“He can sense your energy,” says the dude.
We camp in the grass next to a dry creek bed, spread out our things and eat food from our packs. I write a million postcards, think again about how little there is left of the trail. It’s gone by so fast this year it’s dizzying.
The others are staying up after dark to watch the show. Not me, I’ll get my UFO’s in my dreams.
Photos on instagram.