A boat is always safe in the harbor, but that’s not what boats were built for. – Katie Couric
The wind was absolutely wild during the night, careening in like a roller coaster building speed and crashing over the trees surrounding me in my mini perch. The alicoop shook a bit, but was well protected. I clean and clip my nails as the wind thrashes; I put on cuticle repair.
I wake cold, the mist down, but everything is dry so I pack up, sip my coffee/chocolate mix and have a bar, then head out. Everything is in mist, including a quartet of older men with heavy packs coming uphill out of this Hansel and Gretel forest. Things eventually open to a valley with a pristine lake and thousands of soldiers-at-attention trees. I am in this forest for a long time, up and down and around with few views.
I think about karma, not sure I believe in it. Mostly I think if someone acts in bad faith, they get to live with their bad self the rest of their life, and if there is some sort of divine boomerang-type punishment, it definitely doesn’t happen by my command – or wish. I guess I believe life just has a way of catching up with people. You can’t be a jerk to some people and not others and expect that’s ok. As my feet move me along this soft piney forest floor, I realize it would be easy to say I won’t trust again, but I know I will. It’s who I am. I tend to learn who to avoid and put my energy on those who deserve it.
I run into the two guys I met as I filled my water bottles below Goat Rocks. They’re in a cloud of smoke and offer me a hit from their giant pipe. I decline saying I might stop in the trail and contemplate one tree the entire day. They assure me that’s precisely why they smoke while hiking. We catch a view far in the distance of the Rocks, Rainier floating on top of a cloud, like Shangrila. They ask me my music suggestions, and I tell them I love jazz. “Charlie Parker?” which causes me to start singing ‘Giant Steps’ as they pass me to walk much faster.
The air is still cool, but the mist has completely cleared and the mosquitos are awake. I meet a woman with her bug burka at the ready over her hat making her look like a cafeteria worker. She warns me the bugs are the worst at ‘The Ponds,’ a place you might see marked on a map in Lord of the Rings. My burka is at the ready for when I stop to gobble two cheese sticks and two bars. My gigantic food bag is getting smaller, but so is my fuel and I fear I’ll have to cold soak my food and coffee at the end of this section.
The forest is easy to walk in because mostly dirt and pine needles. Cheerio tells me the moss hanging in the trees is called ‘witch’s hair.’ The air has a dry, piney smell. So many hikers pass me all wearing headphones. To be fair, most of them unplug to say hello, but at a certain point, I just start laughing out loud. It doesn’t make any sense to me. This is a quieter forest than the others, the birds mostly chatter when they fly from branch to branch, but being totally in the space seems to be the point of being here, not to distract oneself to go further.
I cross a road and see no sign of trail magic – no donuts, no masseuse. The terrain changes abruptly to dusty sand and I send up a cloud like Pig Pen with each step. Mount Adams begins peaking through the trees, huge and snow covered. I catch a glimpse of Rainier now in the clear, but today Adams is the star.
My whole life I’ve needed to be needed. It’s my worst trait because I put myself in a position of depending on others to determine my value. Then when I am in contact with people who are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions and never apologize, I feel lost, let down, used.
Right now, I’m learning to need just me, to rely on and take responsibility for myself. The days certainly require it when it comes to how far I’ll go, when I’ll break, how to care for my body and ensuring I’m getting plenty to eat and drink. It makes me think of that wonderful Jim Croce song, ‘I got a name’ with the line, “They can change their minds but they can’t change me.” A good attitude to adopt.
I reach a pile of lava rocks three stories high. Adams peaks out as though apologizing, but explaining it was a long time ago. A spring rushes straight out of the rocks. I fill up on it; delicious with my almond M&M’s.
I continue up and up with Adams peaking in and out of trees. The flowers continue to be stunning everywhere I walk. I pass a meadow and a group of hikers ask me about the Te Araroa. I tell them know what you’re getting into and that it’s real tramping, not ramps like the PCT. They take my picture and I continue up, crossing a creek rushing down a bouldery landslip on rickety logs.
My site is right under Adams, it’s jumbled glacier pours down the middle and straight at me. As I set the alicoop, an avalanche thunders. I fetch water at a river rushing out of the glacier and cook with mosquitos swarming. Now, safely inside, I watch the mountain turn pink as I slowly drift off.
But I just have to pop out and watch the sun set with Rainier in the view, the mountain ranges waves of blues.
‘Til tomorrow’s surprises.