The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity. – Amelia Earhart
It was such a grand day yesterday, but this morning, just as it’s getting light, it begins to rain. I almost stay in the tent and refuse to move, but I have gear and it can’t rain all day – or can it?
I called Tarptent to find out why I was getting leaks in the alicoop. He gave me some set up tips and I think I have a straighter and flatter ridge-line with no dip. Though one drip hits the mosquito netting and then me as I pack my gear. It’s just humidity, but I feel soggy already.
The rain stops long enough for me to pack a sopping wet alicoop, make coffee and bars. The mosquitos are epic so on goes the bug burka.
G-punk can’t be bothered to say good morning. I was really nice to her the night before and curious about what she’s up to. I can’t imagine why she’s so cranky. She packs up and at least says goodbye before disappearing. It leaves me a little forlorn, but she’s an odd bird.
I shrug it off and head out myself, first through forest down and down into mega overgrown plants and wildflowers, mist hanging in the valley. My mood matches the weather – dark, a bit foul. I can’t seem to extricate my mind from running over the last several months, blow by blow. The trail leads right into a huge wall of rock dead end, which seems appropriate, then turns and works its way through more overgrown bush along the wall.
I come upon a huge landslip with multiple streams of water crashing down. Someone has placed cairns to show the way, but it’s still stepping very carefully from stone to stone to negotiate multiple crossings. One rock tips just as I step on it, but I have my poles firmly in place and don’t lose my footing – had I, it would have been into some rough water.
From here, it’s up and up. The rain is fairly constant now, so I’m closed in tightly, hood cinched and wearing my rain mitts. It’s beautiful seeing the rock wall as I rise next to it, finally arriving at a wide summit. Catherine is busily putting away her tent but I can’t get her attention. The summit is made up of meadows and ponds, raindrops making widening rings in the brown water.
Catherine overtakes me and suggests a trail name of ‘warbler’ because I am always singing. She says she likes hearing me. I do sing, even when I’m sad or preoccupied. On the Te Araroa, one woman I hiked with did not want to hear me sing as it bothered her. I guess we just can’t please everyone.
Coming over the top are new views of snow covered mountains and a lake far below. I meet four hikers in camo who are lost then ask if I’d check weather. I assure them we will have rain. This does not seem to satisfy them, so they pass and move quickly on.
I simply don’t move fast going down. My body can’t take the pounding that well. It’s pretty coming into this valley and for a few moments the sun peaks out and I can see my shadow.
I begin to feel cold from the damp, though, and try to keep up the pace. It’s here that the trail becomes endless, working its way deeper and deeper into the valley. Massive bushes give way to forest with many downed trees to maneuver around.
I continue ruminating and arrive at something I call FOSP – fear, outrage, sorrow, and panic. Richard sent me here because I was such a useless wreck at home where all the big emotions live. Why they followed me here on this day, I’m not sure. The rain doesn’t help making everything harder for me. Maybe I just feel so inept and useless moving so slowly through this hard patch of trail, it resonates with how rejected and confused I am.
I try to reason it all out, to come to a better perspective or understanding so I don’t just stop here on the trail and curl into a ball.
As I round a bend, I see a family of four having lunch on a mossy rock. They are walking the PCT ‘bobo’ a bit northbound and a bit south. The father tells me this when I realize he is hiking this trail with a prosthetic leg. The man seems cheery enough considering, and I instantly stop feeling so sorry for myself.
I ask where they’re headed and they say mile 230, the little camp at the top of the next ‘hill.’ Well, I decide, if he can do it so can I.
I set my sights on it, but it’s still a long way down in the forest before over 2,500 feet of climbing.
I cross the Waptus River in a beautiful area of rock and moss. Spanish moss hanging in the trees is a big clue as to how much rain is normal here. I fill up my water bottles at a beautiful falls before heading up long switchbacks. Slowly, incredible views open up of glaciated rock, silver in the gray light. The summits are sharp and jagged, arrows pointing to the heavens.
My spirit lifts as my body carries me higher. The rain stops and the sky clears somewhat, Beethoven’s Pastorale accompanying my views – inside my head. I eventually find a wee spot in the trees to pitch the alicoop, making dinner with a view of my spectacular mountains, mosquitos threatening to lift me up and carry me off.
It’s 8:30 and I’ve crawled inside, rain pattering the tent, my fingers freezing. I feel sort of guilty indulging so much of my thought on my recent awfulness. It didn’t really do much good replaying each scene, hoping something falls out that makes sense of it all.
I think being away helps in one sense, because my FOSP is not right in my face. Hiking is hard, tiring and requires at least some focus to ensure I’m safe and have somewhere to sleep each night.
But being away also keeps me in the dark as to what might be happening, if anything. Likely that’s just my need to be in control working overtime, and if there ever was a time I need to let go of the controls, it would be now.
On that note, I say good night and will dream about fine weather for tomorrow’s views, though I will make the very best with what comes my way. I promise.