PCT Mile Marker 1793.50 – 1813.08
Miles Hiked 19.58
My brother came out of the ocean, wearing surfer clothes and pushing his hair out of his eyes.
You’re not a surfer. I told him.
Well you’re not a quitter. He said.
He said: You told me ninety percent of this is mental. And you’re breaking down. And it’s just mental. Pull it together.
I woke up with a start.
I folded my arms behind my head and stared at the stars for a long time, thinking about my brother’s dream advice.
He was right.
In the morning, I hiked to the tippy tippy top of the pass wearing my bug head net. The sun glared on it, and there was some great crashing and smashing up above me. I pulled up my head net and watched, amazed, as two enormous animals crashed straight down the tinkling rocks and disappeared into the woods below. I don’t even know what they were. They seemed as big as elk, but looked more like mountain sheep. Long, skinny, slightly curved, fuzzy antlers on top of their heads. Brown bodies with tan butts and stumpy tails.
Pretty Sheep Elk.
Turtle and I crawled along, and halfway up another climb, there sat The Robber.
My heart sunk to my belly.
I skipped ahead. He said. I’m telling you because I don’t want you guys to think you’re really slow or anything.
Turtle smiled. I said nothing.
A Southbounder stopped to tell me there was a fire at Crater Lake.
Trail’s Closed. She said. But there’s an alternate. Check it out when you get to Mazama Village. Oh, and the showers are free in the F-Loop. Don’t forget.
Just then I got a message from Aidan letting me know more detailed info about the fire.
I could still get into Mazama, so I figured I’d just go there and see what’s what.
It was so hot, and I was walking through a burned area and climbing over charred logs. I’d never been so dirty in my life. My legs black, my clothes streaked with black. I wiped the sweat off my face with my shirt. It came away black.
I stopped and took my over-shirt off. I wasn’t feeling good. The heat was broiling me in my own skin.
I felt sick to my stomach. I put up my umbrella but had to take it down every time I climbed over a fallen tree. Up, down, up, down. These things take time, and it was getting hotter every minute.
I finally made it to some shade and found Turtle sitting on a log.
I threw myself on the ground and dug a salt pill out of my pack. I swallowed it and hung my head. I thought I was drinking enough water, but I also needed to conserve it. I was in the middle of a twenty-two mile stretch of no water. I had packed out 7 1/2 liters from the last water source, but because of how the miles worked into my schedule, I’d have to have enough to spend the night. I’d do the remaining miles to town in the morning.
When my stomach settled down, the two of us carried on into the hot afternoon. We took several long breaks in the shade.
Two trees were wrapped around each other in an eternal hug.
I hiked past some small patches of snow, and Turtle and I stuck a foot and a pole in each patch. In July. For good measure. I guess.
Good thing I had my ice ax. Just in case.
Little frogs bounced and crawled their way out of the path. They were everywhere. As big as the end of my thumb.
I found a flat place big enough for several tents.
And I was done.