Mile 2402 to mile 2419
I wake at 5:30 even though I was up late; ah, the joys of sleeping in a bed. So soft, but so hard to sleep in them when you’re used to the ground. I write emails, catch up on my blog, wish I was still asleep. At 7 the others are up and I stumble from the RV; Shelene and Roger have prepared the most incredible breakfast. Sausage, scrambled eggs, muffins, hash browns, fruit. Enough for ten people! I am again overwhelmed by their generosity. And there’s even gluten-free cinnamon raisin toast for me!
We eat until we’re full, have seconds, enter a sort of coma. Shelene and Roger drive us to the store and I buy new earbuds- my other ones crapped out on me a hundred miles ago. The others buy pop tarts, new shoes, pints of ben and jerry’s ice cream. Back at the house we do a hundred million last minute things, include take a very awkward group photo, and then it’s time to hit the trail.
We’re back at the trailhead at 1. In 19 miles there’s a footbridge and water- we plan to go there. 6700 feet of climbing- we can make it before dark, right? We say goodbye to Shelene and Roger and gather our things. Pigpen and Handy Andy are still with us- we’ve managed to derail them from their ambitious mileage for a day, like we do. We’ve tried to convince them to stay with us until the end (which is, alarmingly, only ten days away) but they’ve got big dreams. Big dreams!
We climb up out of Snoqualmie and I’m feeling good. It’s sunny but not too warm, the trail is gently graded, there are lots of day hikers to catch up to and pass. I’ve got reception so I’m streaming music and it’s making everything more fun. I turn a corner and there’s a man hiking towards me, wearing a big desert hat and carrying a homemade pack.
I accost him, just like I did when I met him on the trail last year. He doesn’t remember me, but he’s a good sport about it. He says he started from the border four days ago, is going after Anish’s record. I grill him about the logistics of a yo-yo- it’s a dream of mine to try and yo-yo the pct someday.
“Turn around by August 5th,” he says. “Get to Kennedy Meadows by October 22nd.”
I make him take a selfie with me and then finally release him.
The miles roll under me easily after that and at the top, suddenly, are granite mountains, the ragged spines of peaks, forested slopes, glittering lakes down below. Everyone is there, taking a break. Snacks, water, camraderie, laughter. All the things one needs to thrive. Then we’re pounding down the trail again, going after that 19 miles.
The vistas become more stunning as I climb in the afternoon. The light, the flowers, the granite! I mentally thank Guthrie, again, for showing me how to use the HDR setting on my phone. It’s because of him that I finally know how to take a decent landscape photo.
At one point I round a bend and there, ten feet in front of me on the trail, is a massive mountain goat. Scott Williamson, and now a mountain goat? Luck is on my side today. The thing looks freaky up close, like a weird white bear-monster. It’s munching on some beargrass and it eyes me warily, lifts its head, does a series of postures. I wonder for a moment if it’s going to gore me. And then it bounds heavily away, behind a rock, allowing me to pass.
A short while later I suddenly remember the creek where we planned to camp tonight- our group stopped for lunch there last year, and it was actually kind of a shitty spot. But we’ve only got ten days left on the trail, and I pledged to camp in only beautiful places! I’ve been lagging all afternoon, taking pictures, and now I start running down the trail, determined to catch Guthrie and Twinkle and tell them before it’s too late. I pass Krispies, eating a snack in a granite ledge, and tell her. I haven’t seen Tiny, Brainstorm or Woody since earlier in the day, so it’s too late for them.
Two miles before the river I see them- Guthrie and Twinkle, spreading their bedrolls in the soft sand on a slope that overlooks the sunset, the granite mountains, everything. Hallelujah! I join them and find a spot for my foam pad, sit in my sleeping bag eating tuna and watching the light show. Krispies shows up, the air chills, tufts of clouds over the granite peaks are shot with gold. We sleep.
Photos on instagram.