Day 131: Over the hills and through the woods

Day 131
Miles: 21.5
From Junction Lake to town of Trout Lake

The bottom of our tarp is damp with partially frozen condensation. Brrr. I shiver through pack-up, and leave my windshirt and rainpants on for a little while. Headphones are back in today.

We’re still in the land of little lakes and trees. In the motionless morning air it is a land of mirrors, trees and above and trees below. Trees, trees, trees. Hills. The trail here in Washington must’ve been designed by different people than the trail in Southern California. In SoCal the trail went around hills. Here it goes over, stiff uphills to steep downhills, no messing around. We’d like to get into the town of Trout Lake tonight, and it’s a seven mile hitch, so we need to finish the 21 miles well before dark. Even after all this time town stops are a carrot that can keep me on a hustle.
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Days 124 and 125: Going nowhere fast

Days 124 and 125
Miles: 0

My burning desire to finally get back on trail and to start the final push to Canada has been thwarted by my burning desire to hang out in Portland, eating delicious food, taking naps, and seeing old friends. Snap. On top of that, doing our food resupply for this last stretch seems to be a three-day process for me and J. One day to buy, one day to pack the boxes, and one day to mail them…

The weather is beautiful, heartbreakingly perfect, the sort of weather you don’t even realize is weather until you think back on days full of lunches on patios, long bike rides around town, evenings outside: Portland in the summertime.

Our chores are almost done. We’ve been to REI (new undies and socks). We stopped by the Snow Peak store, full of titanium and other things we can’t afford. I bought a new titanium spork. This one is purple. I also bought a beautiful wool blend, long-sleeve shirt, on an incredible sale for a still outrageous price, to replace the purple one I’ve worn down to rags. J convinces me that’s it’s too beautiful to ruin hiking, so I just put in the box of things to mail home instead.

Most importantly, we bought hundreds of dollars of groceries. We sat down on the sidewalk in front of Safeway in downtown Portland and ripped everything out of the excess packaging (so much packaging!) and bicycled it back to J’s brother’s apartment. J’s brother&girlfriend are healthy types, the sort of people who have a house full of delicious, nutritious, organic food and a drawer of high-end chocolate, and it is downright embarrassing to be doing our hiking resupply in their house. J and I wait until they leave to do the necessary work of divvying up bags of candy bars (pounds and pounds), 2 lb bags of gummy bears, 2 lb bags of sour patch kids, 2 lb bags of skittles, potato chips, wasabi peas, instant potatoes, pop-tarts, tortillas, tuna packets, brownie mix to stir in straight with our instant coffee, and on, and on. Once it’s all sorted and packed into USPS priority boxes, J tries calling some of the resupply stops in Oregon to see if we can re-route some of the boxes there (that we never picked up) to resupply stops in Washington. Shelter Cove resort won’t even talk to PCT hikers about their boxes unless you’re there in person to pick it up, and we are no exception. Other boxes we simply can’t find. (J threw away the tracking numbers back in Reno, and I’ve been upset with him about it ever since. I should probably get over it, but it continues to be a problem, over and over. Don’t throw away your tracking numbers! Don’t do it!) But! finally the Big Lake Youth Camp kindly agrees to forward a box for us.

Aside from chores and the temptations of the good life here in Portland, the biggest reason for our delay is PCT days. I’d never heard of PCT days before yesterday, but apparently it’s a thing – a thing sort of like kick-off (aka ADZPCTKO). It’s in Cascade Locks, right where I will be getting back on the PCT, taking place at the same time I will be getting back on the PCT, and I have a ride. (It’s 3D to the rescue again.) I wasn’t initially interested in going to PCT Days – I don’t need any gear, and I don’t know that I’m particularly excited about getting caught in the hiker bubble that will inevitably result. And, one more thing that I don’t particularly like to acknowledge to myself, is that I’m still not sure how I feel about my bicycle detour, and I’m definitely not sure how I want to talk about it to all the other hikers who put the miles in the hard way. (The real way?) There are the things that happen in your life, and then there’s the narrative you spin out of the raw material. I’m not sure that the narrative isn’t more real than the facts. The facts disappear with the passing of time, gone through your fingers the moment they’re over, but the narrative – the story – persists. Every day I spin that narrative a little bit more, here on this blog, choosing what is positive, what is negative, what I will preserve, and what I leave to moulder on the dust-bin of a leak memory.

I don’t have a story to tell yet about the bicycling. It hasn’t needed to be a story, it still was. Now it’s over, and I get to create it from scratch.

Meanwhile, last night in town. A mad push to finish some blogging, a last night with friends. Forward and onward.


Day 82: chores

Day 82
Miles: zero
Reno, NV

Jule follows behind as J and I crash through the grocery store, throwing item after item into the cart. “2 boxes of macaroons or 3?”
“How many bags of jerky, 6?”
“We’re definitely going to need more gummi bears, throw like 5 more of those in.”

“At what point are you guys going to buy, you know, REAL food?” Jule interrupts. We look down at our cart, filled with the beginning of 700 miles of resupply boxes.
“Maybe when we finish the PCT?” I reply. We haven’t changed what we eat that much from the start of our hike, aside from the addition of about 1000 extra calories a day in candy. Foods that have been removed from our food supply rotation include: quinoa (takes too long to cook), lentils (ditto), and oatmeal (disgusting). Every hiker box for the first thousand miles is full of quinoa, lentils, and oatmeal. There are no gummi bears in hiker boxes. Ever. Otherwise, we are still eating pasta/rice sides, mac’n’cheese, jerky, tortillas, tuna packets, chocolate bars, larabars, dried fruit and nuts, clif bars (less and less of those these days), crackers, chips, and cookies. We’re a little light on anything fresh.

We Price-is-Right each other at the cash register – J is closer, guessing $650, with the end total coming to $630. Ouch!

Back on trail tomorrow. My feet are still hurting like crazy, which is disappointing. I’m hoping a new pair of shoes will help. I’ll keep walking regardless, I guess.


Day 32: rest and regrets

Day 32
Miles: 0
A zero day at hiker heaven

It’s morning and I feel terrible. Everything hurts. I act terrible too. I’m petulant and unhelpful as J tries to get us ready to go. Maybe more obstructionist than unhelpful… We bicker it out to the root cause, which turns out to be a brutal exhaustion that I just can’t shake. I’m really good at putting everything I have upfront, but maybe I should work on keeping a little back for later. (Nah.)

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