Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 595.8

Friday, September 6, 2019; day 48

I checked out of the hotel, spent time at the library, and followed paved roads through town to join the Similkameen Trail.

The trail hugged the beautiful Similkameen River. It provided a nice dirt, then gravel pathway before joining Loomis-Oroville road.

Shortly after I joined the road, Border Patrol drove past. They turned around and parked beside me.

“Can I talk to you for a second?”, they said as they exited their vehicle.

“Sure.” I removed my sunglasses and walked towards him.

“Thank you” he said, and asked my name.

He introduced himself, and we shook hands.

He asked where I was from. I offered what I was doing.

He told me that smugglers of drugs, and human trafficking frequent this road. Now that he had my info–should he get a call concerning a pedestrian with a pack–he will know who I am.

He asked where I was headed that night. We discussed Miners Flats Campground, though I had the intention of going further.

As he drove off, I waved goodbye. He flashed his rear light in response. A quick red and blue farewell. This made me giggle.

The road was not busy. It was beautiful.

I howled. I laughed. I was happy to be on the move.

I untie the bandanna from my neck and tie it above my left knee.

I passed the Miners Flats Campground.

A second campground came in to view with the falling night.

I could not stop. There were hardly any cars, no grizzlies, a wide shoulder, clear skies, and I had walking to do.

Star-flames illuminate.

I notice a pair of headlights in the distance that were not moving.

There was a man outside the car, walking along the dry hillside. He was calling something out as he moved forward.

Did he lose his dog?

He continued in my direction.

As our paths nearly cross, I decide to vocalize my presence.

“Hello!?”

There is no response. Then I realize that the truck/pedestrian duo must be herding cattle.

I walked up to the parked truck and spoke with the elderly man in the cab. He told me that the cattle were on the wrong side of the cattle guard. They were trying to get them back where they belonged.

I mentioned to the man that I was hiking a long trail, and was just headed along the road until I found a suitable place to camp.

We both continued on our way.

A short while later a car pulled up and parked beside me. I walked up to the passenger door. Nothing happened. Peculiar.

I was confused as how to proceed.

Then the glass partition disappeared into the door.

“Sorry. I did not realize that I had not rolled down the window.” The man inside continued, “Dad said you were looking for a place to camp?”

I realized that I was speaking to the man from the hillside.

“Yeah. This road seems pretty safe to me, and the night is clear. I was planning on camping at the next campground.”

“That’s like 5 miles from here.”

“That’s okay.”

The man told me that he had some gated property up the road, just after passing the entrance way to Canada. I could stay there if I wanted. I would have it all to myself save for a couple cattle.

“If any one gives you trouble, just say ‘Dan said it was okay’. If they don’t know who Dan is, they have no business being there. Just make sure to shut the gate.”

I thanked him for the offer and continued.

There were not many cars on the road. The cars that did pass slowed nearly to a stop when they saw me.

As I entered the small community of Nighthawk (population: 5), I could hear loud, smooth, folk-y music play from a stereo.

I was curious. I noticed people socializing on a porch. I moved slowly, and tried waving. They were unresponsive. I suppose that was understandable. It was just around 2200, and I was not much more than an unidentified disturbing light in the distance.

I continue.

The dry grasses hiss like a snake at my ankles. It surprises me in to laughter.

Finally, I arrived to Palmer Lake Campground.

I found a little site near the entrance to star-camp for the night.

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