A few hours ago on Cutthroat Pass, I had a conversation with a retired couple from Winthrop. They were spending their Saturday afternoon enjoying the sun and the sights, while I was torn between the beauty and the beast of hiking 90 miles at that point. During our brief interaction I had mentioned how much my feet hurt and my plans of hitching to Mazama for a night in civilization. Almost instantly they offered to give me a ride if I was still at the parking lot by the time they got down there.
Now I’m sitting in my room at the Country Inn writing the post that has been in my head for days. And every day I fantasized about writing it the ugly, the bad and the good changed. Almost like hitting a new rock bottom in a 24 hour rhythm. This means the ugliest happened to me not even 24 hours ago. It happened at 8:50 am somewhere in the woods in northern Washington.
Tree trunks on the trail are by far the ugliest part of hiking the PCT so far. Imagine you walk along a 2 feet wide dirt path in the middle of the woods. Just as you turn right and finally see the next few yards of the trail, you notice the obstacle in front of you. It’s a massive tree either blown down or ripped out under the pressure of snow.
Thoughts in your head start spinning. How do I get over it? Is there a path around it? Can I even climb it or would it be better to crawl underneath? Finally you decide on climbing it. While you sit on top of it, one leg on each side, you try to bring the second leg over. The imbalance of your body and pack weight pulls you back and instead of safely dismounting the tree trunk you fall over. In the last second you realize the branches you’re about to fall on and instead of ending up like a skewer you get out of the situation with a few scratches on your chest.
This fucking tree almost killed me, so blow downs are on the top of my hate list. But another close contender is overgrowth on the trail. While I was trying to touch the Canadian border, or Monument 78, or the northern terminus, the last 4 miles where completely overgrown. Twice I slipped off the side of the trail, thankfully it wasn’t a steep mountain side but it hurt still.
On the fourth day from Harts Pass towards Methow River, my first ever 23 mile day, I almost lost it. Running out of water took every ounce of mental strength I could muster not to give up and hit the eject button on this journey.
In an invitation for a “Guys Night Out” my friend Ricky wrote how woefully unprepared I was for this trip. While I still stand by being as prepared as I could be, he was right. I didn’t plan for every scenario, like what to do if my tent is getting wet inside because of condensation, or bringing insect repellant for the mosquito infested woods.
Top of the list in the bad category are for sure the mosquitos. On good days I get bitten 20 times, on bad days this number goes into the three digits. Mosquitos are closely followed by how badly my feet hurt and how often I roll my ankles. I knew my body would have to take a beating but those first five days could have been better with some more planning and less ambition. There is nobody forcing me to hike this fast or this far, I could have taken it slower.
While I like to complain about all the things going wrong, the list of good is much longer than the other two combined. I learn something new every day and I get to sit down and eat lunch to this:
Those pictures are unfiltered and unedited, this is pure nature out here in the Methow Valley. While I hate myself countless times a day for attempting to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail, I also love myself countless times. But what I look forward to mostly is the dinner in town and the bed I’ll be sleeping in tonight.