In all her glory, snowy mountains touching the sky and lakes blue enough to think this a dream, my time in Washington has come to an end in Cascade Locks. Starting at Stevens Pass almost a month ago I have walked just over 300 miles. This first segment of my Pacific Crest Trail adventure has set the bar high for the segments of Oregon and California to come.
Shortly after inadvertently spending almost the entire day in Trout Lake, ‘resupplying’ (they had WiFi…) I ventured five miles to an obscure and far off trail campsite for a very quiet shabbot, day of rest, or as it is known more commonly on the trail, a zero day. As usual this provided the perfect time to ponder all the happenings of the week and give my body a break. I was particularly engaged with glueing together all the pieces of pre-Cartesian philosophy I had read about in the past week. One of my nightly routines is to unravel a chapter of, “The Path of Philosophy: Truth, Wonder, and Distress.” An interconnected map of philosophy by the brilliant scholar and ever helpful guide through this often onerous subject, John Marmysz. The day also gave me a chance to prepare for the challenges to come.
“It is mosquito hell,” “That was a bit of the trail I would not do again,” “It was like World War III.” During the past week the above statements and many more with similar sentiments were relaid to me by north bound hikers who had suffered the 20 miles I was about to embark on, in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. It was also common for many of these hikers to pull up a sleeve or pant leg only to show a grotesque patches of skin entirely covered in mosquito bites. Considering these warnings I was ready to practically run through this bit of trail and have the worst time of my life, even worse than that time I threw up continuously during an accent of the 11,520 foot Mt. Nebo, in Utah.
Much to my delight the clouds of mosquitoes where easily avoided with the combination of a headnet and nonstop walking. Getting through the mosquito belt over the next two days was simple and reward by a plethora of berry patches south of the Indian Heaven Wilderness. I was also fortunate enough to enjoy the company of six other SoBos during my last day, among them one who plays ukulele and one who brought his violin! My trail family grows ever more robust.
Transitioning from the open ridges with views of epic mountains demanding your attention to wooded trail that gently whisper their beauty is drastic. Roving through a patch of ancient trees I was moved to write:
Grandfather stands haggard, bent through the eons of western winds.
His old beard nearly reaching the ground bellow. Hair of luminescent green lichens.
Young heart guarded by rings of age, one more each year. This elderly sage is the silent witness to it all passersby
My last two days in Washington flew by as I floated through the dense forest scenery, a harbinger for what to expect in Oregon. I had the chance to record myself playing, ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, you can watch it here:
Having picked up 1.4 pounds of litter along the trail this week, Washington and the Indian Heaven Wilderness is officially 4.2 pounds of trash lighter, Oregon you’re next. As I refuel here at Cascade Locks I look forward to the ever growing presence of Mt. Hood and the fun to come.
Happy Trails, Slug