Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 682.7

Wednesday September 11, 2019; Day 52

I sat on my socks to warm them, reviewed the maps and guidebook pages for the day, and played a song on my quena. I was 28 miles from joining the PCT, my first true love. I was excited.

What was not exceptionally thrilling was the burn devastation, and loss of trail that lay ahead.

I can travel cross country, I can bushwhack. I will get there.

I was so thankful for the sun. I walked a short distance east to collect water before venturing forward. I had not seen cows for some time. I did not filter.

I presoaked a meal. I would have to wait to add olive oil, it has been solidifying in the cold weather. As I moved forward, I realized I had made the right decision to set up camp. The trail proved difficult to locate even in daylight. I used horse tracks and scat to help guide me.

I laughed at the beauty, at the simple peace of being. As I rounded the southern slope of Quartz Mountain I could feel sunshine on my skin. I removed my raincoat. What luxury!

The trail disappears in the mountain meadows, but there are cairns to guide me.

I could see the burn devastation ahead. I stop at a cool, flowing stream. I drink deeply, and listen to its soft music.

As I move forward, the trail disappears entirely in the mud and soot. I spot a cairn, then another. Downed trees that have been freshly cut were another indicator of the trail. With intense observation and study of the subtle changes in terrain, I was able to successfully find my way.

A deer and buck graze in the distance. A light rain falls from the sky. A magical rainbow appears.

The appearance of the rainbow lifted my spirits, but I was cold. A fording of the Pasayten River lay ahead. I wanted desperately to make it across before nightfall.

I think back to the cabin, the heat, the company; to those that have opened their homes to me. I consider how strong a bond is formed when you pass a night in the company of a stranger.

I came to a sign.

Trail crews had re-routed the fording. The new crossing was 1.4 miles earlier, ensuring the presence of the sun!

I entered the water, opting to ford in my boots. I safely reached the other side, nestled within a brief breadth of living green. I removed my boots and rung what water I could from my socks. I laughed. Fording is always such a thrill.

I continued along the Boundary trail. The trail is clear, as is the sky –save for wisps of clouds. I took a break trailside, ate cold mashed potatoes and prepared for the night. It would be cold.

As I walked, I appreciated how the day slowly fades in to night. No abrupt flick of a light switch.

In the darkness, I miss a turn-off near the airfield. Entranced by the sillouhette of the mountains in the darkness, and the swiftness of my movement through the field, I did not realize my error until I had travelled nearly a mile.

I returned to the trail. Soon I am climbing and the stars make me giggle. The ascent is green, full of life– oh, the scent! I breathe in deeply, beneath the waxing moonlight. This is magic.

I come to the fording of Chuchuwanteen Creek, after midnight. I pause in middle of the fording, water lightly pushing and splashing the back of my knees. I gaze at the moon suspended to the southwest. Her reflection of light casts a rounded silvery glow upon the creek. The rushing cold water serves as a conduit for her energy, her magic. I stand still, in a moment of perfection

I forded and crossed more streams and creeks and rivers today, than I have over the entire stretch of the trail. Water is prevalent again! The burn regions and navigational challenges and disappearing trails are behind me (for now)!

I set up camp only miles from the Pacific Crest Trail. I fall to sleep satisfied, and excited for what tomorrow may bring.

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