Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 104.5

Saturday, July 27, 2019; ~6700 ft; Day 7

The grit is building within me. Never before on a trail has this happened so fast.

Though my journey has certainly been rough, and slower than expected, I have many blessings. The sun continues to shine, the birds sing, the wildflowers dance and blow perfumed kisses. I have food, I have water, I can ambulate and walk and climb, I have both shoes. I will make it to Eureka.

I will merge from this tent and smile and laugh. I was scared last night. I am thankful I had the tools, the calm, and the sense to lead myself to safety.

It may have been nothing but a walk in a park for the more serious and skilled navigator. For me, it was the first real slice of wilderness reality this trail had to offer. The first true navigational challenge I had ever faced alone. I had not anticipated this until the infamous seven mile bushwhack in Idaho.

Thank you world, thank you body, thank you mind, thank you you spirit. Thank you loved ones. I adore you.

My energy and spirits rise with the strength of the sun. It is nearly 1000. I am still not fully packed. I don’t mind. I am patient this morning. I have nourished myself and tended my spirits. Time well spent. I am ready for the love and the struggle and the touches and the scrapes and the smells and the challenges and the lessons of today. Alone, on a journey through wilderness, each day is bursting with life and learning. I can feel myself expanding and contracting, growing and contorting and thinking in ways I have never exercised before. This experience is magic.

My body is growing stronger.

A deer runs down the trail in the distance. So graceful, they leap unimaginably high and lope off into the woods.

As I walk, I repeat to myself. “I did it. I can do it again. It will only get easier.”

In reviewing the elevation chart, today does not look nearly as challenging as yesterday…these first few miles are a breeze.

I can feel the spring water heal my body with each sip as I walk.

I also feel heartburn.

I am thankful for the easy terrain.

The sky looks dark above me. Heavy clouds. A strong breeze.

My awareness of the dark-dangerous-beauty of the wild had been rekindled.

A prairie dog scurries across trail quickly, nearly under my feet. It provided a shock. I let out a hearty laugh. It was pleasant. I needed that. The wilderness, still, is light of heart as well.

A snake slithered by. Small and black like the last.

I came across an empty trail register. I was carrying an extra Moleskin notebook. I pulled it out, signed my name and date and trail, and placed it in the empty box.

I am near a road. Two cars watch as they drive slowly by.

People always seem to populate on the weekend.

This time I did not mind the road walk so much, with its relative safety and eastside creek.

I heard an unknown sing-song call in the distance to the west. I listened as the creek wandered off and returned.

Unsettling billows of dust were turned up by passing vehicles that did not care to slow.

The sheriff did not slow, dust rose

I quickly got sick of the road.

I watched as a woman pedaled by on a bicycle.

A van stopped. I was offered a soda by the man, woman, and two young girls inside. The man was very inquisitive, almost uncomfortably so. He asked how men reacted to me on trail. “What men?” I responded. He asked something else I did not quite make out, nor did I care to. The young girls wished me luck, and they drove off.

I came to a road junction and stopped for a break in a dirt lot, roadside.

A man on a bike came in to view. He slowed, then stopped entirely. We watched eachother. His behavior was curious. I realized that he must have thought I was a bear. “I’m human!” I called out. He did not hear me. He continued his approach with caution.

After realizing that I was not a bear, he stopped for a chat. Soon a friend of his biked up behind him. They were a group bike-packing down from Canada.

The conversation, the shared stories of hardships and reward, were comforting and rewarding to both parties.

It is always encouraging to meet fellow travelers along the way.

Not long after they left, I heard hollering from the woods across the road. “Hold on a minute!” I watched, very curious. A man came out of the brush with a bucket to a honking car. He must have been collecting huckleberries. An elderly lady smiled from the driver’s seat as they passed.

I continued on. I considered when I needed to change the declination on my compass.

Though some cars did slow, many did not, creating billows of dust. Were these drivers rude, or just lacking in awareness. At what point is not being aware rude?

Just half a mile from Foundation Creek, around 1712, a large grizzly appeared on trail. I stopped. The bear continued towards me, slow but steady. I began backing up, I started singing “hey bear, I’m backing up now bear” and with unsteady hands unharnessed my spray. I continued walking backwards. I had to move relatively quickly to keep space between the bear and myself. I glanced behind me on occasion to ensure I would not trip. As I rounded a bend, the bear left the trail for the woods.

My heart pounded. I waited a few minutes, and continued back up trail, singing loudly, bear spray in hand.

I did not see the bear again.

I move forward from foundation creek at full capacity: 5 ltrs

As the trail climbs further and further from the creek, I think of what it would take to access a water source so steep. Though there is no snow on trail, there are many ways by which an ice axe is advantageous.

The edge of the climb was dulled by a variety of bear grass. How I adore this plant!

It rains lightly. A faint rainbow colors the sky near Mt Wam.

I found a place to camp. I set up my tent, ate, tied up my food bag and returned to my tent. Moments later I hear a heavy animal amble through the brush, then a scratching. I turn my headlamp off and then back on. It hurried off. I hope it does not return.

In moments like this, changes in the sound of the wind scare me. It ripples along my tent. It sounds like an animal.

Nothing out there wants to hurt me. I fall asleep.

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