Mile 2419 to mile 2456
Awake in the middle of the night from a dream; I lay looking at the stars, the wash of light from the moon, thinking This is all ending in just a few days, how did this happen and what will happen next? I look at my phone- 2:30 a.m. Way too early to hike. It’s cold, must be close to freezing, and I pull the sleeping bag up around my ears. I think I won’t fall back asleep but then, of course, I do.
I wake again at 5:45, the others still motionless, eat my tupperware of oatmeal, shiver into my shoes and socks, drink the last of the water from my gatorade bottle and hike out.
We’ve got something like 7 thousand feet of elevation gain today, in two long climbs. And we’ve got to catch our friends, who camped past us. I feel great this morning, stomping down through a burn, bright fireweed everywhere, crossing a wild river on a log, and then the first climb, which is smooth and gently graded. I’m cruising, listening to my music, eating dark chocolate. At the top I sit with Krispies next to a snowmelt pond full of frogs and Guthrie and Twinkle catch up to us. This is the section, last year, where I had tonsilitis. I thought that Washington would be so hard this year; it turns out that, without the rain, it’s not.
It’s the full moon. At least tomorrow it is. Close enough. I hike all day with Krispies, Guthrie and Twinkle; we take a series of leisurely breaks. I feel very relaxed and very, very hungry. All this climbing makes me burn through my snacks- I can’t seem to eat enough. The furnace us red hot, calories just turn to dust. I eat too much before the second climb and take it slow, finally get my wind near the top. On a footbridge there’s a note from Woody saying they’re all camped at mile 2456- can we do it? Fuck yes, we can. A 37 mile day seems wild in Washington but on the full moon anything is possible. I’m in the back, jogging down the trail, trying to beat the gloaming, when I realize I’ve gotten my period. I don’t want to stop long enough to deal with it so I just keep moving. I cross my fingers that it doesn’t run down my legs- menstrual blood will gives you the worst inner-thigh chafe.
It’s almost dark when I see some figures in the woods, sitting on sleeping pads- it’s T-Rex and Rocky and Smiles and Dr. Slosh, who I hiked with last year! They missed this section last year due to the snow, so they’re doing it again, in August, when everything is magical paradise. I chat with them for a while and wish I could stay longer, but it’s 3 miles to camp and dark is coming fast.
“Come camp with us!” I say. “Let’s pick up your tents and carry them down the trail!”
They’re cozy, though. I understand.
I jog the last three miles, crouched low so as not to fall off the trail in the dark, and get to camp in 40 minutes. A bunch of tents in the woods and cowboy campers everywhere- there must be sixteen people here. The snowball is growing. I throw down next to Guthrie and Twinkle and sit in my bag, eating pistachios and stretching in a half-ass way. The moon comes up, shining silver through the trees. Everyone is asleep but I’m awake, my heart pounding. 37 miles in Washington! I pull my bag up to my chin and cinch it and finally I relax.
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