Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 818.7

Tuesday, september 24, 2019; day 65

The morning is less foggy than yesterday. It rained through the night. Though part of me is tempted to continue back to the visitors center for maps and an alternate route, I must see for myself if Swift Creek is still impassable. If I can make it across it should be flat terrain, and smooth sailing to Concrete

….Otherwise, I may be facing a lot of road walking.

I made my way back to the creek. I attempted to ford upstream, again I was forced to turn back. I scrambled up and down the banks. I stood on large boulders and surveyed the creek, looking for any place free of the white froth that appeared when the water crashed against the stones at high speed.

On my second attempt of the day, I made it across. As I neared the opposing bank my heart filled with glee, I knew I would make it. As I hit Earth, I brimmed with emotion. But it was not over yet. I still had to bushwhack 1/2 a mile back to the trail.I pushed my way through brush and climbed my way up the tremendously steep dirt embankments, my body hugging the earth, clinging desperately as I struggled upward.

As I descended, I slipped. My body was quick to react. I hooked my leg around the limb of a tree to stop my fall. I dug my heels into the earth and grabbed at every sturdy root and limb I could manage, as I slowly lowered myself to the creek.

I followed creekside as much as I could. When there where no stones and boulders to scramble along, I tried lowering myself in to the water. This time, the water level reached my chest. I moved inland, until there was no choice but to travel directly alongside the stream. Luckily, there was a steady path of stones.

Soon, I hit trail. I had made it.

I cried, I laughed, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being truly alive; with the rush of engaging so rawly with nature; with the power of my own vulnerability and strength.

I could not relax fully, just yet. There was one more crossing of the creek. This time, there should be a fallen tree and rope to assist me. There are never any certainties, however.

To my relief there was a fallen tree. I crossed. I turned to gaze at the creek.

“Bye-bye Swift Creek!” I called out.

I carried on, dripping wet and light as a feather.

I joined the forest service road. The sun broke through the clouds. I removed my rain gear so that my wool garments may dry.

I sat in the middle of the decommissioned road, sun in my eyes, filled with joy and accomplishment and perseverance and laughter. I called out in thanks. I enjoyed a meal of cold soaked beans and rice.

This was living.

The walks that have followed the most challenging of bushwhacks, have been the best of my physical existence.

I joined Baker Lake Road.

I gazed at my feet. My shoes were literally falling apart. They did not need to last much longer.The beauty of a leaf stops me in my tracks.

I joined Baker Lake Trail, and crossed the Baker River Bridge.

I came to Noisy Creek Camp, and settled in for the night.

I had made it.

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