Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’ – Audrey Hepburn
I wake to the full moon just above the range and perking out of the clouds. Once I close the fly, it begins to rain.
Thank the goddess, it stops long enough once it’s light for me to pack, make coffee and eat a bar, but my view is just pea soup, a white out.
I sit on my mini-thermarest (so many people ask if it’s worth taking a sit pad. The answer is a resounding, “absolutely! Unless you want a wet and dirty rump.”) and it’s one last rest before I take off, a few ups before a very long down to ski village.
My beautiful fir with the lightest green new growth gently releases droplets, nodding slightly as it does as if in conversation with me on this ridge. In fact, all the trees appear to reach out, their branches stunted by the prevailing wind.
I came here to escape my life, to do something radical and hard in order to change my focus. I am not awakening to a spectacular view as I’d hoped. Instead it’s cold, damp, low visibility but I feel oddly ok.
I don’t want this chapter of my life to destroy the living I have left. I want to let go without anger; to leave things behind and face forward. Ah, just now the fog lifts and I can see the trail below. Maybe today can still have beauty even if arduous.
I can’t control the weather, neither can I control other people, I think as I sling on my pack and head out.
Silence swallows all sound, and it’s just a bit of movement that draws my eyes as two hikers pass by and wave.
Over the years, I have developed tachycardia. It just seems to show up out of nowhere. Perhaps my magnesium and potassium are low. I feel it come on like a pain in the chest, the heart beats too fast. The hills are a nightmare to tackle and I move heavy and slow. The rain really comes down now, a sort of heavy, total mist, soaking me to the skin.
I pass lakes that emerge seemingly from a dream, the stones hurt my feet. At one long sidling section where the views are said to be spectacular in clear weather, I hear a noise behind me. I stop to turn around and see nothing, and when I face forward, a rock bounces down only feet from my face.
I am feeling less confident shuffling along and ask for all of the people who love me to send their spirits my way and make me strong.
Eventually, I begin to descend and am shocked at the number of people coming up into this awfulness. I am covered head to toe in rain gear, including mitts, and people seem to blithely walk out in shirtsleeves hoping the weather will clear.
Soon, Bog Witch finds me and I begin to feel more confident. She walks fast, speaking of meeting friends and leaving trail for some new gear. I tell her about camping with G-Punk and her use of gender neutral pronouns, which brings on a kind of backhanded compliment/lecture in my efforts to use ‘they’ and ‘them’ rather than she.
I am a bit put off. I understand the desire to be more fluid in identity, but the use of these words is awkward when speaking.
I guess I also feel judged that somehow because I’m middle aged and heterosexual, I’m not sensitive to these issues. What can I say? I do my very best.
With that – and being soaked and emotionally wrung out – I arrive at I-90 and the tiny ski village that is Snoqualmie. I have food at the Aardvark food truck – a free beer for PCT hikers! – and eventually decide I need a room at the Summit Inn.
They are very used to hikers and it seems I’ve hit the bubble. I end up washing my clothes with ‘Juicy Fruit’ and taking two hot baths. Shopping for resupply plus taking overstock from the hiker’s box sets me up for the next section, hopefully started tomorrow without so much rain.
I catch up on everything in spite of awful wifi, then have dinner at the brewery with lovely Katherine who helps me feel more secure with my progress, and look more closely at my feelings.
My hope is that this hike is not just a brutal exercise, or a non-stop grind that will excise any sensitivity, but rather a chance to grow more into myself. Katherine decides she’s had enough and will go back to friends and family after we finish walking Washington.
I have no idea what I will do, but now the rain is increasing. Perhaps I learn to stay firmly in this moment, one where a sauna is on offer to destress my overworked muscles.
Sounds like a good way to be, doesn’t it?