Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 404.9

Thursday, August 22, 2019; day 33

I woke early and so happily in Sarah’s home. We sipped coffee over conversation. We talked about travel and exploration and the nature of small towns. She expressed interest in pursuing her own backpacking adventure! I encouraged her to do so.

She offered breakfast and blueberries as she prepared her morning smoothie. I was delighted with the hot coffee, and a handful of sweet berries.

Soon, I was over to Jaelle’s to say goodbye. Sarah and I hugged farewell. It was such a pleasure to get to know her. I will always remember her kindness.

At Jaelle’s they were eating a breakfast of rice and beans and tomatoes. Jaelle likes to feed people. I joined in. We chatted and ate.

They looked at my leg. “Oh, so much better!” they remarked.

I thanked them for their kindness, and headed out.

I crossed the bridge over the Columbia River.

I hit a downhill slope of travel. I let it propel me forward. My leg feels better. I feel motivated. I can do this.

The most challenging part of the road walk was the exposure. The barren stoney, tarry, dusty road reflecting a mid-day sun, in the oven of a valley.

Oh yes…and the strange metal creature with a human brain, and all their unpredictabilities as they merge as one at 30 to 60 mph.

I stop for lunch at Sheep Creek Campground. I eat at a picnic bench. I then lay myself flat on the ground with my feet elevated on the bench. I hold the position, imagining pools of blood and swelling rushing from my toes and pads of feet and calves and knees, flowing towards my heart; towards the mothership.

A bird came very near. The wind blows. There is cloud coverage. It is cooling.

The river was beautifully vocal.

I continued on.


I watched them. They watched me

They walked away. I walked away. We both turned back to watch each other walk away.

I searched and searched but I could not find the listed spring, in the darkness. It being late August, it was very likely dry anyway. Besides, the nearby campsite did not look all too appealing. Roadways flanked each side.

I carried on. I came to a stream in about 1/2 a mile. Oh, what joy!

I looked around for a flat space nearby. I did not anticipate rain, I planned to star-camp.

I set myself up amongst twigs and leaves and duff and fallen trees.

I could hear the small things buroughing, and wading their little feelers through the forest floor; or it could be all my micro movements sending ripples through my down and water-resistant fabrics.

I left my sleeping bag partially open and my puffy unzipped. It was a warm night.

Oh what a weightless fluffy delight my sleeping bag had transformed to after a proper wash and dry!

I took two 25mg Benadryl. I settled in. I fear spiders more than I had before.

I read Almost Haiku #10 for the first time. It was a poem from the dear woman I met in Metaline Falls. The poem caused me to well with emotion.

It gives me the hope and serenity I need as October nears.

Zero #5

Wednesday, August 21, 2019; day 32

I rose, and stepped inside to use the restroom.

Jami was up and moving about. “Ah. You are up early!”

“Yeah, I’m up!…but that doesn’t mean I get going straight away!” I replied, smiling.

I returned to the backyard to finish packing up my things. Soon Jami followed with a fresh mug of coffee! Oh how kind!

Jami and I chatted briefly as she tended to her garden, and I fiddled with my resupply. We did not get to speak for long, however, as she had a painting engagement that morning. We soon hugged good-bye.

I took a much needed shower and chatted with Josh for a bit. He said that hosting hikers has certainly been a “two way street”. This made my heart smile. I thanked him for all of their hospitality, and was on my way.

First stop: the post office. It was about time I sent home my ice-axe. It was becoming apparent that I was carrying fear.

As the lady at the post office and I worked together to come up with some sort of creative packaging for my ice-axe, I began to notice a swelling and tightness in my leg. It was hot to the touch.

I did not pay it much mind at first, continuing to wrap the make-shift packaging with layer after layer of tape.

Then, I noticed my left leg was not only turning red and blotchy, but it was also now appearing at least 1/3 bigger than the other.

I began to present my legs to the other patrons that walked in, gauging their responses to help determine my own level of concern.

One kind woman was worried about potential infection. She had a friend, Jaelle, who was a nurse. She called her up. Jaelle told her to bring me over. I finished my business at the post office, followed the woman to her vehicle, and was delivered to Jaelle.

Jaelle (who is also a Trail Angel) promptly sat me down and looked my leg over. She mentioned a definite redness and swelling, and what appeared to be tiny little blisters forming along a large surface area around my calf. My leg felt incredibly tight. What made diagnosis even more of a challenge, was that it was the same leg I had blistered from over-icing. She suggested that it may be a spider-bite or some sort of plant poison. I recalled stepping in to the brush along the recent roadwalk to avoid an oncoming vehicle. I remembered having a prickling, stinging sensation afterward. But it soon dissipated, and was forgotten. She asked if I had showered. I told her that I had that morning, but not immediately after the incident. She suggested that I take a zero day, and that I wash everything I owned…including my sleeping bag.

Jaelle was hosting an overnight guest that evening. Before I could even reply, she turned to her friend Sarah and asked if she might take me for the night.

I was overwhelmed with their kindness. I was also concerned about my leg. I agreed that a zero day may be a good idea.

I was given some cream to apply topically, and some Benadryl. I showered and put on some clothing Jaelle loaned me, and put all of my things to wash.

Soon, under Benadryl induced drowsiness, I fell asleep on their couch.

After a couple of hours, movement and bustling filled the house. Dinner preparations were underway.

Soon I was invited to the table for a meal and beautiful togetherness.

Then it was out in to the yard for an enjoyable game of Bocci Ball on the grass. The entire evening was so wholesome and full of love.

My leg did not seem to like any sort of vertical positioning, but it was certainly improving.

As the evening wound down, Sarah suggested that we head over to her place (which was just next door).

We made up the guest bed together. We pulled the freshly dried sheets over each edge of the matress, adjusting and readjusting, laughing quietly until we got it right. We then wished eachother goodnight.

I took two more Benadryl, and fell fast to sleep.

Northport (PNT mile 392.2)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019; day 31

I woke, still drenched in drowsiness. I turned cozily, pleased with the retained fluffiness of my sleeping bag.

I sanitized, applied salve, and bandaged the blisters behind my knee. I then wrapped my knee in Ace Bandage Wrap for extra support. I would be journeying along 17 miles of road, today. I decided to use my poles whenever possible, regardless of tread.

I began the long walk north, and then southwest along Boundary Road.

I passed many private properties. A large grey Irish Wolfhound crouched down to wriggle beneath the chain-link fence that enclosed one properties yard. It ran towards me, barking angrily, jumping up and down and circling me. I could sense that it would not hurt me, but it did not calm either. I spoke to it gently. I outstretched my palm in an offering of peace. The dog continued to writhe and bark frantically. A man and a woman came out of the house. They called after the dog. The dog was unresponsive. I continued walking. It followed, running ahead and circling. It was quite uncomfortable. Finally, the owners managed to retrieve it.

As I walked away I could hear the women say “Bella has never done that before.” I found this unlikely.

I felt hungry and tired. The road was unforgiving. I thought about my desire to complete a continuous footpath. I think of others I have met who have skipped roads, who are now far ahead. I smile at a message I received from one of those hikers, who had commended my resolve. I shake off the feeling of foolishness, the suggestions of town-folk to take rides. I ignore the tones of response when people discover that I choose to walk a long or dangerous roadway, simply because I said I would.

I ask myself why I want it so badly. I know I adore the simplicity; the romantic notion, that one individual can cross great spans on foot. But it is something more. A continuous footpath provides a framework by which I can more easily gather lessons. It acts as an unwavering constant among shifting priorities and intentions and influences, by which I can compare and contrast existence. It provides a clear path for synchronicity.

It is something I can count on.

..Mid thought I am distracted. Apples! I knew they were close, I could sense it!

The tree sat just past a property line. There was no car in the drive-way. I scurried over and plucked as many apples as I could hold, then scampered away quickly, shoving the apples in my pockets and hip belts, eating as I walked. I thought of Peter Rabbit. I smiled.

After continuing for some time, I spotted moving figures in the distance. It was a man walking in my direction. He had four large dogs. They were all off leash. The man walked in the middle, with two dogs on either side. It was a rather regal sight. A clear display of a bond between species. The dogs were beautiful, at ease, and well trained. We greeted each other as we passed.

I thought of the contrasting behavior between the caged animal, and those that were free.

The heat of the sun and road drains me, like a grapes transition to a raisin.

“Closer with every step”, I tell myself aloud.

I had only a half liter of water remaining. Northport was still five miles away.

I notice a sign for an RV Park. I peered around a bend to see green grass and sprinklers and a fountain…water everywhere! I thought to ask if I might collect some. I caught sight of a waving hand. The gesture welcomed me, and I ventured in to the park.

A kind lady and man greeted me. I asked about water. They offered me multiple cold bottles. They had a little snack stand that I visually perused from behind the counter. I am highly selective about my food (as a thru-hiker, sometimes even I want to roll my eyes at myself). Everything was quite processed, with added sugar. There was not anything I was interested in.

I sat for a moment and socialized. I felt a bit dizzy. I took a moment. Then, becoming inpatient, decided to just get up and leave.

I did not make it far.

Before passing the driveway, my image of the world began to pixelate and turn black. I had to sit down in the grass, before I passed-out.

Oh, no.

The woman came over, very concerned. I told her that I was fine. That I had just become dizzy and needed to rest for a moment. She helped me move my things, and myself to the shade. She returned with cold wash cloths to lay on my arms and chest. After some time, I moved over to join them at the seating area. I knew I needed sugars, even if it were not fruit-sourced as I preferred. I purchased graham crackers. I sat and ate 2/3 of the box, polishing them off as I walked the first mile.

As I neared the town, I heard a noise of overwhelming power. I began to run forward, thinking it was an out of control vehicle. Then I heard it again. This time I caught sight of the source. They were fighter jets, speeding towards Canada. I watched as one shot forward to suddenly back-flip into reverse flight just shy of the border, doing barrel rolls along the way.

Finally! I had made it in to Northport.

I walked through the tiny town to the home of Jami and Josh. They are trail angels who have their information listed in the PNT guidebook. I had sent a resupply package to their address. They were expecting me.

I knocked on their door and was greeted by Josh. Jami was in the yard gathering their chickens. Their home and backyard were incredibly beautiful; so rich with warmth, color, and beautiful texture. Jami is an artist, this was reflected in their home. They were tremendously welcoming. They brought me my package and showed me a bench in their yard where I was welcome to splay everything out and reorganize. I found a lovely space on some cedar-chips to star-camp. I was allowed free access to their home for use of the bathroom, water, etc.

I fell asleep, extremely grateful to have such a safe and beautiful place to rest my head.