PCT Day 12, Lake Janus to Steven’s Pass, 10 miles

Power’s not given to you. You have to take it. – Beyonce

I finally had the best night’s sleep yet.

It helps that the ground was flat and there was no rain – and also that Bog Witch loaned me her roller ball and I pushed on my muscles before sleeping. She calls it a little hiker BDSM – it hurts so good.

It’s a short day to the highway, a hitch to a tiny village with a post office and my resupply box, then a zero day to reconnoiter my damaged feet, my upcoming miles and meals, and my head space.

I actually feel pretty good. I may need to lower the daily mileage, but everyone tells me this last section was the hardest of the entire trail – at least in terms of elevation gain and loss.

And friends, I kicked it!

I do want to point out that I am very much in the wilderness. I communicate with Richard through satellite, and very minimally to save power. I hope you can forgive my sending two weeks of posts all at once. These were amazing days and I am so pleased to share them with you raw and unedited.

It’s a big climb out of the lake. I yell over to the other campers if they need fuel. They say no, then it goes silent and it’s a scene with the Von Trapp Family Singers – they’re gone! I think everyone needs a town day.

I look for the transcendent today in the rocks, the flowers, the views, my breathing. I look for myself and think of a song by the New Zealand band The Beths – will the future me love or hate the present me? It’s her I want to make proud.

The trail is hard, up a steep climb, then up some more. But I feel alive when I walk. That’s why I am doing this walk, to know I’m here still. My job was eliminated. I am not eliminated.

I always find it interesting that when a person has been pushed aside, they bounce back a stronger version of themselves.

I think it’s because they learn to rely on themselves more. They reject the rejecter and choose themselves to love.

That oftentimes takes a lot of courage, especially if someone is like me and prone to codependency.

I pass a beautiful lake and see some of my friends breaking down camp, assuring me they had fewer mosquitos then we had. It’s straight back up before a very long, pine-needle soft descent. I can see the road – and finally hear it, jarring after days in the wilderness, but at least I ought to get a ride with so much traffic.

The trail comes ever so close to the road, then turns up, paralleling it for an agonizing mile or so. When I spit out onto the road and try hitching, no one stops. Is it my pink hat? Zach is also waiting and we join forces, only finally catching a ride when a man across four lanes of highway yells to us to run across.

The tiny village of Skykomish is twelve miles over the pass. A railroad town, the story goes that an earthquake ruptured the land, all the buildings were removed while things got straightened out and then they were replaced. It has a distinctive Western feel – maybe even wild west.

We pop over to the post office where the party is just getting started of hikers picking up food packages and sending off unwanted gear. The boxes were usually packed so long ago, it’s a bit like Christmas morning discovering what’s inside.

To return my unused ice axe, crampons and a few articles of clothing, I need to improvise and make a box. After I addressed it, the gal at the counter said I’d need to hide the priority mail – or pay the much higher priority fee. I flagged down a local for a few brown paper bags and wrapped it up, no sign of priority anywhere.

Several hikers head to a trail angel’s set up, but I decide to stay at the old hotel, take a hot bath. The trains do blow a loud whistle just outside my window, but it’s kind of comforting.

Laundry on the trail is a tandem affair because one person has so few articles of clothing. It’s me and Ricky Bobby at the Sit-n-Spin and beautiful smelling clothes to last the first few hours of hiking.

Gear is drying out, my body is bathed and healing and I post a new visual-audio essay for patrons. I need a bed for the night, but miss my veery and the hearing test birds, which make me think of one of my favorite quotes of Jean de la Fontaine – “Sadness flies away on the wings of time.”

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. Read all 12 posts, and so glad I did. The photos are stunning, even the austere ones. What amazing, difficult, on-its-own-terms country. And you are kicking it!

  2. I am how caught up with you! Thanks for the amazing and beautiful photos and thanks for the way you have to explain what you are doing. I think you are doing the right thing and that you are getting stronger by the day! Keep your spirits up, you are doing great!

    1. thanks for coming with me! the rain was so constant this morning, I called out to all my friends to help get me down out of the mountains!! I needed you!! ♥️

  3. FYI when you get into Oregon, look for a sign that says “Big Lake Camp” or something like that. The sign will lead you, I think about five miles off the trail, but the camp has a place for PCT hikers. Keep an eye out.

  4. You said, ” Western feel – maybe even wild west.” Well, Washington State is the westernmost state in the contiguous 48 states.

    A story – my dad was flying from the East Coast back home to near Seattle. His seatmate was from New Jersey and flying to Chicago for the first time. To him Chicago was WEST. To go beyond that was still cowboy and Indian country with buckskin and feathers. He couldn’t believe my dad was in suit and tie rather than chaps and cowboy hat. To make things more interesting, my high school is perched in the middle of an Indian Reservation. Sometimes we had to contend with the locals when they did donuts in our football field.

    When the seatmate asked my dad if he ever had trouble with the Indians, my dad could honestly say, “once in a while,” knowing the Jersey guy was imagining stockades and tomahawks.

    1. heavenly days!!! the wildest thing just now is the rain. HARD to manage, so taking a half day at a ski resort. ♥️

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