Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 500.4

Saturday, August 31, 2019; day 42

I did not want to rise. I felt bloated, uncomfortable, sick. I had broken the zipper to my tent in the middle of the night. I fear State Route 21.

I review the guidebook. It states: “Enjoy this road walk through San Poil Canyon which has very light traffic” I feel mislead. It was not light.

There is a trash at the campground. I took the opportunity to ditch more weight. I discarded a carabiner, extra bandages, an empty peanut-butter container (why in the world had I been carrying two?). I cut out the lining of my shorts with the tiny scissors of my tiny Swiss Army tool. They were surprisingly heavy and entirely without purpose (like many things in today’s world).

I noticed a hole in my shorts. I considered how long it may have been there, as I sewed it up.

My gaiters have two large tears on either side. This seemed to make them more dangerous than anything, liable to snag. I have grown to like them very much, however. I will sew them up as well, but later.

I pack up my tent, saddened by the broken zipper. At least there are two pieces of velcro to hold it shut. Will that hold up in a storm? Maybe I should just sew the darn thing shut. There is another exit on the other side.

I go to fetch water. The good quality, its cold clarity, lift my spirits.

I hear a car.

I return to my pack to watch an older man, cigarette  in mouth,  move bags of trash and foam padding from his truck bed to the campsite trash bin. I am annoyed by this as I watch. Finally he sees me. He lifts his hand. “Hi” I say, flatly.

I listen to the traffic whiz by in the distance.

I can do it I can do it I can do it.

I say to myself “I am not afraid of the cars. People will see me.”

The lower I sink, the more intense the determination that springs.

“Ok. Take two.”

The walk was indeed beautiful.

At least cars are not sneaky. You can hear them coming.

There are far fewer cars than last night. They seem more amiable and slow. Some even slow down deliberately to see if I react as if I want a ride.

I came to the place where I had spotted the mother grizzly and her cubs. I replay the situation in my mind. They were closer than I had realized. There was certainly no way I could have safely proceeded.

Suddenly, happiness finds me again. It is inevitable, I am certainly not hiding.

I take note of the litter. Beer cans, half full Sobe bottles, more beer cans. I din’t get it. They are in a car. Can’t it wait? Surely they will see a trash soon enough. Then it dawned on me. Drinking and driving. Evidence. Evidence and integrity, straight out the window.

I imagine this is what a roadside deer feels like.

I reached the Ten Mile Campgroud and trailhead. After completing the Ten Mile Trail (which was just over two miles) I would divert from the primary PNT , yet again. I would follow ten miles of open, dirt, forest service roads to bypass another bushwhack. I would rejoin the primary PNT at the W. Fork Scatter Creek Forest Service Road.

I passed through the trail quickly, and joined the road.

The wind blows. It rains pine needles and leaves. It is magic.

I think about motivation. This–these walks, these travels– is what I do to keep love and hope alive within myself.

I sit for a m moment roadside. A hunter I had seen earlier on the road parks and offers me cold water. I accept.

I look up at the tree tops. They sway, top heavy. The sun on my skin is hot, but pleasing.

I continue.

A red truck revs its engine unnecessarily while zooming by in reckless spurts along the curving forest road. It continues as it passes me. I glare. They are a large group. They laugh as they pass. I turn to watch as they park, music blaring, all four doors and the tailgate thrown open. They gather something. Downed trees for firewood, I am assuming.

One sees me watching and calls out: “Welcome to America!”

I say nothing. I keep walking.

The sun, setting behind the clouds, has them traced in gold.

I reach  Ogle creek. The roadside culvert is fenced. I remove my pack and gather my empty bottles. I then slide my feet, then legs, then rest of self under the lowest wooden plank. Little hopping insects with tiny bodies and long legs move about the waters surface, then pause– floating like lily pads– then start again. I am thankful for the clear stream running from the culvert.

I throw my full bottles ahead of me, then push and undulate my way back up, beneath the lowest wooden plank.

It is dark. I scan for a place to camp. There is not much. Many times I leave the road, scouring the woods that show potential, but return after deeming the space unsuitable.

Finally, I reach a place that will do. I had not intended to set up my tent. The howling of wolves is very near.  It sounds painful. Their nearby calls, and the uncertainty of the roads left me desiring shelter.

I set up my tent. I fell to sleep.

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