PCT Diary :: Day 10 – July 13, 2019

PCT mile 159/2650

My super power on trail thus far is my ability to sleep.

Last night, camped cosily in the forest, I felt I was pulled deep into a safe dark restfully underworld. I haven’t known rest like this. As I emerged my body, especially my feet, feel renewed.

And as I sat eating my porridge and coffee breakfast it came to me that my approach the trail wasn’t as I wanted it to be.

No more judgement, no more feeling pressure to get miles in.

I want to be kinder.

I remember my mountain guide friend Simon’s advice:

Take small gentle steps, alpine plodding, on the uphill. Anytime I notice I’m getting breathless, or when my leg muscles burn, I remind myself to save energy by small steps.
And I plan to drink when thirsty rather than waiting till I’m parched.
I’ll make time to sit down and take proper breaks to eat.

~

And it’s been the best day ever.

I’ve walked with ease through a glacier pass, gentle meadows and have arrived at this gorgeous lake to camp. Lake Sally Ann, below Skykomish Peak. I couldn’t resist washing in the cool water. I feel new.

“Let the soft animal of your body do what it loves” (Mary Oliver).

Day 9

PCT Diary :: Day 9 – July 12, 2019

PCT mile 142/2650

Day 9 was a killer

I crawled into camp at 6:30pm.

I ask Shaker: “What’s wrong with me? Why am I going so slowly? I think I need to reduce mileage?”

Shaker is a tall, strongly built German guy in his early 20s. “I’m knackered too. It was a hard day today,” he replies.

Later Jacob and Nicole, a young Chek couple come into camp.

“Those last 5 miles were a killer!” groans Nicola as she drops her back pack to the ground.

And my spirit leaps.

In the nicest possible way – I’m so happy they suffered too.

I find it so easy to internalise and personalise difficulty. I blame my body, my strength, my strategy. Actually it was just a really hard 21 mile day with crazy assents, gnarly river crossings and tree hopping.

No need for psychological drama!

Day 8 – July 11, 2019

PCT Diary :: Day 8 – July 11, 2019

PCT mile 121/2650

Today’s been hard.

Much of it was spent in forest, wading through wet bushes on either side of the trail. My socks and shoes are still wet from yesterday – as is my tent.

I crave the light and warmth of sun. To be out of this forest. Eventually after a 20 mile hike, finishing with a massive climb I make it to the Vista I chose to camp at.

Arriving exhausted, I crave gentle quietness. Yet more and more people arrive. It’s a small spot so things get cosy and it takes time for quiet to fall. I feel like I’m slowing down and my feet feel flat – like the arches are falling. Am I pushing my myself too hard by doing 20 mile days this early in the trail? Will my feet be okay? Will the trail get quieter?

Questions with no answers and nothing that a good nights sleep and time won’t sort out and make clearer.

(This post may sound negative. Please don’t worry, all is well. I just want to keep these posts real.) 

Freshly baked choc chip cookies and real coffee are consumed.

PCT Diary :: Day 7 – July 10, 2019

PCT mile 100 /2650

‘Life ain’t all warm cookies on the trail’ (MacPherson, 2019) 

I catch the slightly surreal vintage red bus, 8am, Stehekin to the Trail head. It stops at a local bakery – a place of legend amongst through hikers. 

Freshly baked choc chip cookies and real coffee are consumed. 

I start off the 20 mile day with a sugar-caffeine high and in a brilliant mood.

(Exhibit A: selfie of me in a brilliant mood).
(Exhibit A: selfie of me in a brilliant mood).

The forest seems alive to me. The shrubs along the trail are dripping with Brae-berries and I eat a few with relish. I learn to spot squirrels by watching for berry bushes heaving with their weight. 

The weather changes and it starts to rain. The foliage on either side of the trail soaks my legs as I climb for hours up the forest tracks. 

I find a place to camp after 6pm – it’s flooded and really buggy but I’m too tired to venture further. 

The mosquitoes are so bad that I eat my dinner in my tent, curled up in my sleeping bag. 

The rain’s lashing down on my tent now. I’m feeling combination of mild irritation and contentment that I’ve got here and am safe, warm and well feed.

Freshly baked choc chip cookies and real coffee are consumed.
the river I waited at to get the bus

PCT Diary :: Day 6 – July 9, 2019

PCT Mile 80 /2650 

Me using my sleeping bag liner for dignity while I wash all my smelly clothes
Me using my sleeping bag liner for dignity while I wash all my smelly clothes

I’m grateful that alarm setting and bus catching are something I’ve left behind on trail, for the most part. Today was an exception as I wanted to catch the 1230pm to the tiny town of Stehekin. 

I packed up my tent and was on trail by 5am. It was a sweltering 17 mile hike to the bus stop. 

I’d sent my first resupply food box here and was glad to find it waiting for me at the Post Office. I was also able to do a clothes wash and have much needed shower. Bliss.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and a friend gifted me money to treat myself to a hotel room for the night. It’s pricey but feels worth every dollar. 

I’m so excited to sleep in a bed! 

Not to wake up cold, nor sliding down my tent on my sleeping mat, not itching from some random bites. 

These photos are of me looking like ‘hiker trash’ using my sleeping bag liner for dignity while I wash all my smelly clothes; the river I waited at to get the bus, my new friend ‘Legs’ having a beer outside the hotel. 

Back to the Trail tomorrow – hoping to hit mile 100 by night fall – and I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. “What is life if not a beautiful adventure?”

my new friend ‘Legs’ having a beer outside the hotel
My new friend ‘Legs’ having a beer outside the hotel
Day 5

PCT Diary :: Day 5 – July 8, 2019

I left the beautiful forest that sheltered me last night, again feeling strong. 

It feels too good to be true but my body doesn’t hurt. I feel as well as I’ve ever felt. As alive as I’ve ever felt. 

Some if the passes I climbed today were nearly 7000 feet high. They make Scottish mountains seem tiny. Yet so far I’m finding the walking okay. The switch backs mean I’m never gasping for breath in the way I am on brutal Scottish mountain assents. 

And navigation is pretty straight forward as I’m following a path. 

As I was walking along the crest of Methow Pass looking out on the mountain ranges encircling me I felt a surge of emotion move through me. I wanted to cry. It all felt too beautiful to be true. Could I really be here? What have I done to deserve this? 

Later I sat at Cut Throat Pass making my lunch. I looked up to see a white rugged mountain goat looking at me. For a moment I felt like I was dreaming. 

As I lay in my tent at the end of this 5th day, I still feel like I’m dreaming. But I don’t want to wake up!