Camping: PCT mile 2174.20
I woke up in Oregon for the last time until October and a large ship was docking nearby. I looked around me at people waking up with the sun, deflating air pads, stuffing away sleeping bags, collapsing tent poles. A tent nearby was offering a thru-hiker breakfast of coffee and pancakes so hikers were beginning to circle the area. It seemed like it would require a lot of patience to enjoy the breakfast being offered and I was short on that. I wanted to hike. I propositioned a few others to join me in breaking away to the restaurant down the street so we could get moving, and several people followed. We all got coffee and plates of food but there was an aura of melancholy in the air. It is time to finish the PCT, to hike the last state, to do what we came to do…and as exciting as that is, it is also hard to accept that the experience is coming to an end as well. This weekend was a big reminder of this hard fact; and we all sort of sat in slow motion, dragging our proverbial feet, not wanting to walk across the bridge and start the end. But we all want it more than anything.
Finally, we began to motivate. Biscuit, Danger Spoon, Rush and I walked across the Bridge of the Gods together around noon and just like that, we are in Washington. Pictures were taken, and we all steamed ahead, ready to conquer our last leg of the journey. The climbing started almost immediately, and there was a distinct lack of gentle grade. I was using my tiptoes to grip the steep ground and it was still quite hot. I sweated large beads of sweat, and I felt my legs trying to wake up after days of rest. We all trudged forward activating our muscle memory, forging on into new territory. We climbed and climbed, sweat coating our skin for 11 miles. The terrain flattened out a bit then and we put in another 10 miles as it grew dark. We were able to avoid using flashlights until the last half mile, but darkness won and we knew it was foolish to keep on when we could no longer see. It gets dark fast in the trees, faster still with the lateness of the year, and we aren’t able to put in our usual hours. Everything is changing for Washington, we have to reevaluate the game plan.
Tonight a bunch of us are cowboy camping in a tight spot. Every inch of ground is covered by tyvek (we use it as a ground cloth), tyvek covered with hikers. We are a bit crowded, but will spread out over the next few days. I’m ready for the challenge of this next chapter. I am really proud of us for getting 20 miles done with a steep climb, ending in the dark, after 3 days off in town. We are really ready for Washington.