PCT Day 5, Methow River to Hideaway Camp, 21 miles

Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass. – Maya Angelou 

Nights aren’t easy. I wasn’t invaded with nightmares or sitting up in blind panic in the dark, but my muscles ache and I toss and turn. Eventually, by the river, the cold seeps in and I need to adjust.

Sadness only sneaks in when I open my eyes before 5. But I pack up and make coffee on my bench – lucky! It’s humid and this little group all decide to go for it and snag a sight beyond the massive climb and over twenty miles ahead.

Is it a good idea to push this hard? At home, I couldn’t bear to listen to the radio, except for our local jazz station, so I played all kinds of CD’s I’d forgotten about. I have this Snoopy happy dance tune in my mind just now for jazz harp. ‘Honeytime’ is lifting me this morning.

Oh, and maybe caffeine too.

Randy tells me I’ve grown out of my former life. Perhaps. Kicked out of the nest is more like it, but it forces me to spread my wings.

Raido is the rune I cast before I left – journey. This journey is steep, up and up, the river’s crash receding. My feet move on soft pine needles. A veery slide-whistles two tones. This is what I came for. No view yet but I can feel my power.

I can’t account for why I feel so good today. Nine hours sleep, a good meal, and friends account. I walk right up into spires I saw yesterday in the distance. The trail is easy. Yes, it’s a huge climb, but on switchbacks in railroad grade. I look around and see how the Te Araroa would have sent us straight up through bushes and uneven ground. I arrive at a pass and say goodbye to my snowy spires and hello to a whole new set of barren mountains.

A sense of belonging has always been my stumbling block. Broken family, too many moves, never quite getting a grip when I was young caused me to always be searching for my proper place. Ask my mom and she’ll tell you all about the string of boyfriends I said were ‘the one’ and turned so wrong for me. Even my careers had elements of missing the mark. I would push hard for something only to find when I got there, it wasn’t quite what I’d bargained for.

A fast hiker finds me, hands outstretched offering half an avocado. Bliss!

The sky is murky here, so I press on. It’s a huge balcony walk, sidling a mountain with jagged, cliche Cascades in my view like fins swimming in the murk. I’m hit by a few raindrops before the sun comes out.

I’ve been depressed, but it’s situational. That doesn’t mean it lacks the debilitating effects that someone clinically depressed experiences. It’s just that I can say that it was this event that caused me to unravel. Knowing that gives me hope I’ll pull through and find joy again.

You do lose track of joy – and wonder – when knocked down. Perhaps that’s what scares me most that I won’t feel my life again. Today is the first day I begin to actually enjoy fully. I came on this walk to find rhythm and pace. I think I might find myself too.

At Cut Throat Pass I sprawl on exposed granite with an impossibly spectacular view. The wind is icy, but the mosquitos still manage to bite straight through my merino.

Long switchbacks head down through a magical valley. Holiday hikers come up from Rainy Pass with beautiful dogs. Everyone loves my hat. I step off trail to pee and one hiker stops at just that moment to look back as I pull up my pants. Oopsie!

Rainy Pass is loud. Who signed off on allowing mufflerless motorcycles, I wonder. Some folks give me a treat while a hiker tells me we all have to camp before the national park. Pretty inconvenient to not set up a self issuing permitting system for the park I’m about to enter. I pass a mini terminus monument congratulating nobo’s who only have 50 miles to go. Rain is coming, so they say.

I walk on through brush, singing, whistling and banging for bears. It starts raining and I debate stopping to put on rain gear or just get a bit damp. I go for damp, catch up to Jonathan and we head for a site which ends up being overrun by a group of fifteen kids and their handlers. All nice people, but it’s a tight squeeze. Jonathan pushes on and I find a wee patch next to the bear box and Al, a hiker carrying far too much stuff with labels like ‘day two food,’ ‘raw water’ and ‘my journal. He hogs the bench but shares fake popcorn butter to jazz up my second dinner of bouillon.

Five-thirty and I’m just about ready to call it a day, A really, really good day when I felt like Anita and Blissful getting their groove back.

Reader Comments

  1. Nice post, Alison. I almost met you once, but it was a FREEZING, February day, and my mind could not connect colors. My loss. I also experienced situational depression, back in 2008. It was horrible, but it did not last more than a few months. Your discussion of it and so many other aspects are healthy. You are well on your journey to land on your feet, and you already have to some degree. You are a pure gem in this world, and I know several. The advantages you have over almost all of us include your hiking, that R-fellow, your family, and so many friends and followers. Kindness = love. Music, if it’s decent at all, should make us weep or something as magical. Avocados are a gift.

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