There’s so much to catch up on when my alarm goes off at 5:50 – I start writing furiously about my Labor Day weekend and yesterday and entering Washington and and and. My sitemates start moving around 6:15, so I guess it’s cool to properly start my day. I cook and eat dinner – so much easier to eat when food is hot, even if it does take forrrrreeeeeeverrrrr to cook – and chat with my spotmates who are either being nice or being so passive aggressive that it passes for nice. Well, it’s not something I can fix now, though I do throw out another apology for rolling in late last night. I try to pull chocks fast, and I’m out by 7:45 – an hour and a half with dinn-fast, not bad – before they start making moves in earnest.
I cross the creek and find myself walking in a strange, dream-like faerie world, full of green and brown and grey.
This is what I thought Oregon would be like, so it’s so nice to finally feel like I’m in a proper rainforest. I stare out at the scenery as I’m walking, leapfrog with a gentleman with striking red hair. A couple of times, after my thoughts fly goodness knows where, I come back to my senses to find myself standing still with no recollection of how long I’ve been doing so. Faerie forest indeed.
On down the trail, I run into a southbounder, chat briefly; another southbounder comes down the trail and looks stupid familiar, though I can’t quite place him. Then, suddenly, it clicks – it’s Muffin Man, whom I last saw at Lake Isabella! He flipped to Canada from Donner Pass, and we while away some time swapping news and stories of people we both know. It’s hard to say goodbye, but we’ve both got to hike – I hope he finishes!1
The sun starts to peek out and I cross some invisible line where the faerie forest becomes just a regular forest; it’s pretty monotonous all the way down to Wind River, where I’m aiming to dry my stuff. Just as I get there, the clouds decide “lol nope” and cover the sun. It’s bright and blue, but the sun will not come out. Well then. I suppose I’ll try at Panther Creek.
Of course the clouds part to reveal the sun when I leave Wind River, and it’s warm on the way to Panther Creek – and, of course when I arrive, the clouds keep being ornery with their “lol nope” as they cover the sun. I’m pretty frustrated, but Panther Creek is pretty nice, and it’s got lots of places to sit, and it’s my last respite before a nine-mile climb, so I decide to sit for a while. Sitting means I formally meet the redhead I was leapfrogging with – his name is Cookie Monster, and he’s pretty chill, which is nice. Today has been a good day for people.
Then it’s up the nine-mile climb, where, once I am decidedly under the trees, the sun decides to come out. Of course it does.
Between the sun warming the trees and the climb I get hot, so I hope the clouds are done with their shenanigans and I take my leggings off for the first time today. As soon as I get moving again, the clouds, once again, say “lol nope”, and not only hide the sun, but call in their friend the wind. So I stop again and put them back on.
The climb is hard, and being in a section with a lot of water means I’m fully hydrated, which in turn means I have to stop and pee every 20 minutes. Still, I’m enjoying myself – enjoying the air in my lungs, the screech of my muscles, the stubbornness that’s helping me get up this hill.
I’ll admit that I enjoy it most when its mostly over, when I get to the top and an open space and feel like I can breathe again, in more ways than one.
That site is full-not-full – the two tents placed there are placed in such a way as to prevent another person from pitching there unless they pitch right on top of one, the other, or both of them. I wonder absently, not really having paid attention, if these are the two I camped on top of last night. I almost feel like being passive aggressive myself, but it was a little rude of me to camp so close to anyone, let alone strangers, and if I go one more stop it’s both down from here and at water. So it’s off I go, down the hill in the dying light.
That site, as it turns out, also has people, but the site is huge and these are friendly. The three gents are starting a fire in the metal fire ring here, and invite me to join them. I cook in the reach of the fire’s warmth and make hot chocolate, eat, chat. I feel like I’m talking a lot, like the words are pouring out of me – and they’re hard to stop, though I manage to slow them down. I think about the strangeness of noticing how much I’m talking, wonder if the others have noticed, or if they care – though there are studies to suggest they might have, at least, noticed. That the talk turns towards “dude talk” of women and their habits and inscrutability also seems to suggest they noticed. While I try to temper the at-times frustrating conversation with a woman’s perspective, the mental exhaustion adds to my physical exhaustion and finally gets the better of me. I crawl into my tent and my bag feeling more empty – lonely? – than I perhaps should.
Date: September 7 • Start: 2163.6 • End: 2190.5 • Day: 26.9
Notable Accomplishments: Escaped the clutches of the faeries • Survived the 9 mile climb • Made some extra miles
 Muffin Man finished in mid-October!