PCT Day 8, ‘four falls’ to Vista Creek, 21 miles

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. – Nora Ephron

Sunrise on ‘four falls’ – yes, I notice another falls to the right while sipping my coffee – is sheer bliss. Also, it’s exactly why I came – for these types of moments. The sound of water moving, the smell of wet earth, balsam, oxygen-rich, the feel of the pine needles soft and rigid under my fingers, the taste of my coffee and homemade bars, the view all mine right at this moment.

I awake thinking of a colleague, someone good at her job who – at least from my perspective – endured some unnecessary mistreatment. She’s worked hard to regain status and is likely in a position to succeed. I hope she does. I don’t want her or any of those I worked with to hurt as I do.

To wish them all well, does that mean I’m healing? I don’t want revenge. I just want to be whole. During this ordeal, I cast rune stones. Carl Jung used them to help tap the subconscious. My spread was powerful, and also hard. ‘Look for opportunity disguised as loss,’ it read. Though I was warned it would be a journey into the dark recesses of my soul to find it.

I laugh writing this watching the sun peak over the mountains. I’m packed and it’s time to shove off. The views are magnificent the higher I go. One bowl into the next, then shooting up to Suiattle Pass where I am immediately shrouded in cold, wet mist. It’s especially eerie because no one is out and, for a moment, I think I’ve taken the wrong track.

All comes together and I dive down into the deep valley, able to see out only to the lower bits of the mountains. I come to a spring and finally meet someone, then see a few campers packing up.

I came out here mainly because I was no good to anyone at home. Too sad, depressed, distracted. Richard sent me off with hardly any plan but to start and walk until I felt better. In this fog as the trees get more numerous and I enter dark forest, I wonder why bother walking and walking and walking. The magnificent views were so fleeting and now it just feels monotonous getting from point A to point B. Like life, I can’t think too far out – will I walk it all? Will I walk after the next town?

I feel that I’m moving forward having less personal attachment to all that happened. I’m a bit more objective.

At least right now.

Just as a I round a corner to cross a stream, I hear my name called out. It’s Laura! She bounces into view all smiles and we join up for the big switchbacks down to the river. My pace speeds up next to hers and she tells me how she is conflicted whether she should push hard to get to Skykomish on Friday to get her resupply before the post office closes or simply take her time, and thus have a longer stay in town. I, too, feel conflicted but we agree to give it a shot by attempting more miles today.

But just getting to a lunch spot by the river feels it takes forever. Both of us complain of sore feet and tired bodies. We eat up, mostly high-calorie snacks and loads of water, then head back on trail.

It’s a balancing act of enjoying the sauntering in stunning scenery and pushing hard to make progress. Lunch actually creates flagging energy as we walk along the river on an up and down trail, deep in a maple forest now.

It all feels too much, mile after mile with so much looking the same. I sing a little, then think about my next move, another radio job or something altogether new? Soon, we hit the bridge and our halfway mark, both plopping down on trail, our legs splayed in front of us.

I am exhausted, but with a young friend by my side, I get up and walk on. This time into an ancient forest, huge trunks with bark I can lose a hand in. The birds happily sing and the dusty aquamarine Vista Creek pounds nearby.

I surprise myself on the final miles of the day, flying uphill – which is one of the super powers I was born with – on and on until finally reaching an odd campsite far below the trail. The one we aimed for is full and this one requires a climb down, and an even further one to collect water. But it’s private and secluded and I’m happy having bouillon as a first course to quench my thirst and need for salt. Then it’s potato bark, veggies and cheese I dehydrated before coming. I guess I planned a little bit anyway.

I’m cuddled in at 7:30 hoping my body restores itself for the monster climbs tomorrow – and that weather cooperates. I close my eyes happy to be given this chance to allow my feet to take me deep into the wilderness and get myself right with the wilderness of my heart.

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