Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 279.5

Tuesday, August 13, 2019; day 24

I wake to clear skies, the sun rising an orange hue to the east.

This morning will mark the start of the bushwhack.

I am full of so many nerves, excitement and fear: I feel alive.

Though it has put me even further behind, I am glad I waited for the storm to pass. The day was beautiful.

I scrambled up to the crest between Pyramid Peak and Lion’s Head and followed it south.

The views were incredible, exhilerating.

I located the small cairn that marks the western descent.

The path was fairly clear at first, as everyone started there. It quickly disappeared.

I set a west bearing on my compass, veering towards the south, should I have to veer.

I checked my compass constantly. The descent was steep, but not uncomfortable.

I came to a stream, it continued west as well. At times I was practically walking in it.

I would stop suddenly to find myself entangled in brush and pine taller than I was. I fought my way uphill towards shorter brush with more give.

On three occasions, I found bits of old trail to follow. Each time, thrilling. Each time, short-lived.

I began to check myself against my GPS, against the theoretical track-lines that did not exist. I moved southwest, then northwest, then due west, and every combination thereof.

I took a step to nearly fall forward due to a sudden drop in forest floor.

I wove back and forth across the creek, eventually not bothering to try to keep dry, sometimes fording up to my knees.

Sometimes I hardly felt I was moving at all.

At times it seemed my body took control, knowing what to do before my mind could cast doubt or hesitation.

I impressed myself as I threw my weight forward, fully shifting to balance on fallen trees.

I followed animal trails, deer and bear prints in the mud.

I sank deep in mud barely able to lift one foot, then the other.

I fell on slick stone, while the creek cascaded down gracefully.

So beautiful.

So challenging.

I was so close, yet it felt so far.

Finally, the forest became wooded pines, with a floor of soft duff.

Finally, I noticed a little pink tie on a tree. Then, another.

Then the old trail opened up to Lion Creek Trail 42.

At 1930 I was setting up camp.

What an amazing experience!

Never before have I felt so challenged, accomplished, rewarded.

Oh, Idaho, thank you!!!

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