Friday, August 26, 2016

Day 14, August 25, part 1

Part 1 of Day 14, Thursday, August 25. From a campsite in Manning Provincial Park at PCT mile 2653.91, elev. 5033 ft., to highway 3, near Manning Park Lodge, PCT mi 2658.91, elev. 3910 ft. Walked 4.99 mi. Total up/down +300/-1422. 
Dear Trail Friends,

The completion of a dream is also the death of that particular dream. I wonder if this is not what Freud meant by "death drive," this drive to completion, wholeness, finishing things. (And engaging in things that are finish-able). Filling in that missing fifth point on the star my father drew. 

 "Life drive" on the other hand tolerates uncertainty, incompletion, ambiguity, is less focused on destination, open to emergence and the unknown, to love. And yet the two exist hand in hand. Really and truly they are complementary and mutually necessary. 

The walk to the lodge this morning was short and easy. A bit more downhill than I imagined ( I had misread 1422 ft as 142!). A beautiful clear cool, but not cold, morning. 

Photo 1 shows morning sun reflected in a small lake ( the bridge over that lake, from which I took the photo, was also my "last bridge crossing."


The photo I could not make for you was of the night sky last night. I got the idea of unzipping the whole front of my tent. The difference getting rid of the bug net made in being able to see the stars was huge. It was almost as good as cowboy camping, plus I had been able to sit and write my blog in the sheltering protective presence of the tent. Even the fragrance of pine trees seemed stronger when I opened up the big front "door" of my tent. Suddenly I was "in" the night air, under the tall pines encircling me, breathing their smell. It triggered a sensory flashback to the night out dog Misty died. When she wanted to sleep outside and I (thanks to the suggestion of my dear friend and mental health emergency teammate Steve) got a mat and sleeping bag and joined her. I spent the night with my arm around her, singing her lullabies (just as I had her first few nights with us, when she cried pitifully all night, missing her sister). In the morning I awoke to find that I was lying beside Misty's lifeless body. She, her spirit, had departed - dissolved into the night sky, the stars, the fragrance of fir. Last night I gazed into that dark deep seemingly endless sky sparkling with stars, and thought about how this is a universe full of possibilities and mysteries beyond our understanding or even imagining. When Misty died, the PCT dream was conceived (though I wouldn't recognize it for another year). Who knows what dream was beginning to be conceived in me last night?  

The second most important photo I was not able to take this section - and perhaps the image that lingers most vividly in my mind - is of the little girl at Stehekin Valley Ranch when she and her mother and I were all in the women's washroom brushing our teeth. We were talking about dancing and she would illustrate dances (like Samba) - she was 5 - and then she told me "You can't curtsey without a skirt" and proceeded to show me how you need a skirt to curtsey by lifting the edges of an imaginary, invisible skirt. Then she and her mother curtsied together, side by side, each lifting her invisible skirt. Because a subject of reverie this hike is learning to lead with hope and faith - and I have come to visualize them as playful little girls - she seems the exact embodiment of my theme.  And so to have her say that "you can't" and then proceed to do exactly what you "can't" do, by calling on the imaginary realm to make it possible - seems the perfect photo image for this section of my hike. 

I arrived here, the Manning Park Lodge, just before 8:30am. Though the wifi was way too weak to upload blogs I was able to contact Chris and confirm she is coming. We are both aware, though, that we may not be able to catch the 9pm ferry, and  I regret again that I couldn't get a message to her to try to get a trservation for, or stand by for, an earlier ferry. 

The woman at the reception desk at Manning Lodge smiled and said it was a good thing I told her I was a PCT hiker. She gave me a coupon for a free shower, a free drink, and a key to the "bike" room to store my backpack. I have now showered and begun my laundry and am treating myself to a hot breakfast. It's a somewhat lonely victory - no other PCTers at the campground last night and as far as I can tell none here today. This is the downside of the joy of being a solo hiker. 

At the lake where Mountain Sweep camped there were three woman hikers who have been hiking together for 12 years, since they hiked the Wonderland (around Rainier, that I hiked with brother- and sister-in-law Gerd and Sue in 2014 before hitching to the PCT and hiking south to Timberline lodge). They called themselves the Wonder Women and were full of jokes and laughter - about the time one fell backwards on her pack and couldn't get up, just waving her arms and legs like an upside down turtle. Or the time another pee-ed on her roll of toilet paper and so had to pack out the entire wet roll while borrowing toilet paper from the others. They also talked about pedicures and washing their hair and clothes, and part of me was so relieved I hike alone, and part of me was drawn to that community of laughter. 

Chris and I realized that our chances of catching the 9pm ferry were not very good with her drive from the ferry (arriving 1:10pm, taking at least 20 min. to unload) taking over 3 hours plus unknown delays at the border. So we decided I should hitch to a little town named Hope west of Manning Park. The kind young woman at the desk at Manning Lodge suggested Tim Hortons (a Canadian version of Starbucks) as a place with wifi where we could meet. So here I am, at 2pm, in Hope, BC, looking forward to meeting Chris and having plenty of time to catch the late ferry. 

I had to smile as I stood on route 3 holding a sign that said "Hope" and sticking out my thumb. Hitching toward Hope - what a perfect part of the Grand Finale of my PCT adventure. And sure enough, a car pulled over and gave me a ride. Three young Canadian hikers and lovers of mountains, Josh, Erin, and Kayley, who met as undergrads at Queens and are now getting grad training in law, architecture, and environmental and resource management. What a delight to ride with and visit with them, my young trail Angels giving me a lift on my way to Hope. Photo 2 is a selfie (by Josh) of me with my three trail angels. 


So I'm off and running in my post-PCT afterlife. Wherever I am heading, I am going (I hope) toward Hope metaphorically as well as literally. And what a lesson - that if you are willing to stand at the side of a road you have never travelled down, and stick out your thumb, you may just find a ride to Hope. 

Thanks for walking with me. May we meet again, on the next trail or in the world down here off the mountains. May your life be rich in big dreams, and may you have the luck and courage to live them, and bring them to completion. Thank you for helping me to do so with mine. 

By the way, Chris and I managed to get to the ferry landing early and stand by successfully for the 7:20 ferry. We pulled into our Orcas driveway just before 9pm, when our ferry was scheduled to leave. Moral of this story: Hope is a great place to meet. 

And just for the fun of it, let's end with the New York Times cartoon Chris clipped for me on the morning after our return to Orcas (photo 3). 


That's all, folks! Hope you enjoyed the show. 

Day 13, August 24, part 2

Continued from Day 13, August 23, part 1

There's a story I forgot to tell you yesterday. Remember Kevin and Laurie, my campground neighbors at Harts Pass who agrees to transmit an email to Chrissy?  They told the story of Laurie breaking her leg when they were hiking Mt Baker, and having to be helicoptered off. Part of that story was that all of their west coast friends and family encouraged them to get back on the trail as soon as possible, and not let the trauma of the injury make them afraid of the trail. All of their east coast friends and family, on the other hand, expressed the hope that they had learned their lesson, and would now stay safely off the trail. 

I think I've gotten a couple different passes mixed up, but -  oh well. I remember a Tagore poem in which he says that his words are to be believed forever and then forgotten for good. Also that they are not "miserly accurate in facts." He was one of my trail angels on the trail of poetry. One I so loved as a girl. 

Okay. I just need to show you a bunch more photos (7 to 9). It was so beautiful. 




And photo 10 shows my first glimpse of a mountain lake that I hiked down to for a rest break (hoping to swim, but the sun was too in and out, though I did soak my feet which made them very happy hikers). This is the lake where Mountain Sweep will camp for two nights. She has time to kill since her son and husband are going to meet her in Canada August 28. 


As I got closer to the border I began to feel sad. My maiden voyage on the PCT was coming to an end. So much happiness, adventure, so many meetings. So much fun challenging myself to walk faster or longer than I thought I could. So much fun writing these blogs. I started listening to Mozart's Requiem. Photo 11 shows some tree roots (or branches?) that seemed to express "lacrimosa"


After carefully calculating distance and arrival time and frequently checking, I was nevertheless taken by complete surprise when I saw the PCT monument ahead of me. Even more surprising was having another hiker arrive exactly when I did (after hours of solitude) so we could take each other's photos. So here she is, photo 12, River leaning on the monument, River who cannot quite believe she has hiked the entire trail. 



Then a very odd thing happened. I got to the campsite I meant to stay in, just past the border. But it was barely 5:15pm, and I wasn't ready to camp yet. I still wanted to hike. Besides, it had all been downhill for a long while (as I assumed it would be for the 9 miles to the Manning Park Lodge where I will either meet Chris or wait for the bus). To my shock, it was a mostly uphill and quite a challenging and beautiful hike. It was as if I had stepped into the afterlife and found hey I'm still here. There's still life after the death of a dream. Photo 13 shows one of the views as I hiked through Manning Park. 


So there is life after the border and the end of the official Mexico to Canada PCT.  And tomorrow, we hike five miles (with very little up and down) to the paved road on which, should I manage to overcome my directional dyslexia and turn the right way, I will find the Manning Park Lodge and, if I am really lucky a hot second (third really) breakfast, a chance to shower, do laundry and maybe even wifi or a pay phone while I wait for Chris or the bus. 

See you tomorrow. (I know it's actually over. But I am hoping you will walk with me a little way into the afterlife. )

Day 13, August 24, part 1

Part 1 of Day 13, Wednesday, August 24. From PCT mile 2635.37, elev. 6200 ft., to the Canadian border at PCT mile 2650.10, elev. 4258, then on to a campsite in Manning Provincial Park at PCT mile 2653.91, elev. 5033 ft.  

To the border, walked 14.73 miles - total up/down: +2175/-4117ft.  

To the campsite walked 3.81 miles, total up/down: +1348/-575. 

Which adds up to a total day's walk of 18.55 miles, TOTAL up/down  +3413/-4581ft.  

But the official Mexico to Canada PCT hike ended at the border. 

Dear Trail Friends,

So we did it. We hiked the entire trail from Campo at the Mexico border to the Canada border. It's hard for me to believe. 

I have very mixed feelings. Certainly there is a powerful sense of accomplishment and completion and empowerment. When I look back over my life I see very very few moments when I have stuck with a dream and accomplished something I didn't know I was capable of. Maybe loving and protecting my dogs until the moment when each of them died in my arms. Being able to hold them and cradle them through that transition and to know I was faithful to them their whole lives. Maybe publishing my two poetry books. But even my retirement as a therapist feels a lot more like dropping out than completing. In fact I reflected a whole lot on that today as I walked. Realizing there is more to wrestle with in my career as a therapist than I realized. And writing the Freud book is important but it's not enough. I began to imagine a book of essays on all the ways therapy has touched my life: my mother going into analysis when I was six, seeing a therapist when my parents divorced, seeing a therapist in high school (while my mother trained as a psychiatrist and her older sister my aunt trained as a Jungian analyst in Switzerland), my father founding the counselor education Dept at San Diego State Univ and later creating an innovative student-directed multi-cultural immersion masters degree program, seeing a therapist in college, two in graduate school, meeting Chris in a therapist-client relationship, being a volunteer non-professional counselor at Cambridge women's center, doing co-counseling with my lover David, becoming a therapist myself, living through the "recovered memories controversy" while trying to come to terms with my own "recovered" childhood memory of a rape (that I never could figure out if it literally happened, or not, though its impact on the whole course of my life was huge) and my sister's "recovered" memories of satanic abuse, the experience of abandonment by therapists, the experience of abandoning a client, other circumstances where I thought I did harm to clients, clients I had the honor to be with as they died, clients I loved deeply, my own analysis with Freud, the unfinished book (but the many interviews) about couples who meet as therapist-client and become life partners. I definitely see a book of essays exploring my lifelong ambivalent relationship with therapy. It has been a major motif in my life. 

What has that got to do with the PCT? Good question. I believe it is linked in two ways. One is that my dream of the PCT really catalyzed my retirement. (Although another factor in the timing of my retirement was the perception that I was in a therapist-client relationship thar was causing the client harm and from which I saw no other way to extricate myself.). The other link is the "what next?" question. Looking forward into the unknown future (when hiking the PCT is no longer the organizing theme and purpose of my life) this essay project offers itself as another part of my life integration play/work.  

The PCT, as a walk from the Southern California landscape I loved passionately as a child to the northern Washington landscape I have come to love in later life, was also a life integration project. 

So, in a way, it is like when one mountain guardian spirit hands me on to another along the trail. A book of essays that express in very personal ways how therapy has run through my life like a musical theme -- seems like a worthy challenge and adventure. And a fun one. 

But back to the trail we walked today. Photo 1 shows the trail early in the day, making switchbacks down the side of a mountain - and up ahead a pass where I guessed the trail was going. I was thinking of thru hikers I'd met who hiked the Sierra when the snow was too deep to see the trail. All you could see were footprints heading off in eight different directions and you had to choose which to follow. I know part of that choosing is developing a sense from the contours of the map of where the trail is going. I was pleased with myself for making the guess (especially when it turned out to be right) and thinking maybe I could do a one-year thru-hike. 

Photo 2 shows the view looking back from the top of the pass. The trail went a long way down, then a long way back up to the pass.  The pass was the highest point of this section (over 7100 ft) and the last high point of the trail. It would be pretty much descent from then on. 


Photo 3 shows the virw ahead from that same high pass, and photo 4 a little further along the trail. 



Photo 5 shows a woman named Helen, 86, who hiked California in the 1990s (her 60s) and then something got in the way (Guess I missed that part of her story. Or maybe she skipped it. ) She hiked Oregon when she was 80 and is now finishing Washington.  She is hiking with a woman named Moon (who preferred not to be in a photo) who she met on a trail. Finishing is important to Helen, and supporting Helen seems to be important to Moon. They walk very slowly, Helen's balance is very tenuous ( though in the past she has hiked the Himalayas and Kilimanjaro, she said). Thet walk only 5 miles a day. Their packs are big and heavily loaded with food for so many days. I commented on the heavy packs. "So what?" Moon says shrugging. "We can carry a heavy pack. "


It moves me how important finishing is to Helen. Watching her negotiate a stream crossing (one thar for me was not at all challenging) so very slowly, so very precariously, I was deeply curious why she was out here. I am so glad I asked. Wish you could have been there literally in that vast high spacious place, seen her face, heard her voice, when she said "I want to finish."

I recall when I was a child watching my father drawing a five-pointed star with a point missing. He said the brain wants to complete the picture, fill in the missing point. Something about our human brains wants to complete patterns. Make them whole. Life isn't like that. But we have, I think, a strong drive - dream, desire - to make it so. 

Photo 6 shows Mountain Sweep, a 73 year old woman solo hiker who will finish the PCT this week after 10 years. She told me another woman hiker had named her blog Mountain Sweep, after her, because the younger woman hiker was so inspired by Mountain Sweep hiking solo. The younger woman was a tough triathlon athlete (as was, by the way, Mountain Sweep) but it had never occurred to her that a woman could hike alone. Mountain Sweep said "we women are learning to walk alone. To not be afraid. We can be curious. We don't have to be afraid."


To be continued in Day 13, part 2. 

Day 12, August 23, part 2

Continued from Day 12, August 23, part 1

It was a very cloudy day but at moments the sun came out. I was delighted by this double rainbow the sun made in the Talenti jar I use to "cook" (i.e. soak) my dehydrated food.  Photo 7 shows the rainbow. 


That's rolled oats, dehydrated bananas and blueberries, powdered coconut milk, and powdered peanut butter. Weird but good. 

Photos 9 and 10 are more mountains. Mountains after mountains after mountains. Inexhaustibly beautiful. 



Photo 11 is a couple of bees frolicking in a flower, and photo 12 is the mountain background I wanted to be able to put in the bee photo. 



Okay. Needless to say there are more beautiful mountain pictures. But you get the point ( and I am reluctant to start a part 3, I'm tired and I'd rather be sleeping. )

Today the reverie theme went beyond expressing love to everyone I've ever loved and to the PCT version of myself.  Now it was about expressing love to my therapist self. (I knew the blankety blank trail was going to start working on my retirement "issues" sooner or later. ) Couldn't go there. "Couldn't go there - or wouldn't?" asked the trail. I said "love is not something one arrives at through reason or enacts by force of will. It has to happen." The trail suggested I could open my heart to allowing it to happen. Invite in the two little girls I've been imagining as icons of faith and hope (Esperita and Fidelita, I call them), let them dance and curtsy like the little girl at Stehekin Valley Ranch who reminded me so much of them. To cut to the chase, I began to really be aware of the deep deep belief that love doesn't allow harm or hurt. I was an imperfect therapist, hence unlovable. Also, I saw this a more general attitude toward my self. People who love you don't hurt you. People you love, you don't hurt. Ergo, I don't love myself (and, of course, ergo I'm not either loving and lovable). Because who has hurt me more than I have hurt myself?  Probably all sounds very baroque to you, but out here on the trail i was doing some serious wrestling with these love-blocking beliefs in "thou shalt do no harm. " I even protested that my self doesn't actually exist, it's a total fiction, as Buddhists are quick to point out. So how the heck could I love it or be loved by it? That got disqualified quickly though, because I really do believe that the imaginary realm is real -- and while I doubt if the gods of any religious traditions exist in and of themselves without help from human imagination, I don't doubt for a moment that people experience love for their god(s) and love from their god(s) as something intense and real. And then there's the Keats quite I've remembered since my twenties "what the imagination conceives of as beautiful is true, whether it existed before or not."

So I let it all in a little. I walked through the beautiful mountains with tears rolling down my cheeks imagining what it would be like to love this self I have hurt and been hurt by. Not just the PCT self, she's easy to love. But the one down in civilization. The one I have to live with when I'm not in the mountains. It was she, the PCT self pointed out, who dreamed the dream and did all the work to learn about the trail and gear and dehydrating food. She/I was the biggest trail angel of all for my PCT self. 

So with my head properly spinning (and yours too I would guess if you made any attempt to follow this) I commend us all to our dreams. 

I will see you tomorrow on the trail. We will reach the Canada border tomorrow, camp just on the Canada side, then hike the remaining 9 miles to Manning Park Lodge on Thursday. 

Day 12, August 23, part 1

Part 1 of Day 12, Tuesday, August 23. From Harts Pass Campground, 2618.54, elev. 6188 ft. to campsite at PCT mile 2635.37, elev. 6200 ft. Walked 15.80 miles - total up/down: +3301/-3286 ft. 

Hello Trail Friends,

I am sitting in my tent on my air mattress with my feet tucked into my sleeping liner and bag, looking out at the view in photo 1. 


It is now 6:30pm. I've had a funny day. Started out low energy and with muscles (and mind) feeling weak. So I made an extra rest stop and drank a second protein drink "clumpy" (my version of a "smoothie" for the trail - I add coconut milk powder, banana powder, peanut powder and freeze dried coffee to power up the protein drink powder with more calories and caffeine.  It works very well if I am willing to put up with the fact that nothing dissolves perfectly. So I call it a "clumpy" -- like that is how it's supposed to be. ). I had a couple extras so it seemed like a good idea. It was. I whizzed up and down the trail and developed delusions of grandeur. Began to plan on doing 19 miles today and again tomorrow and arrive at Manning Park tomorrow (Wednesday) instead of Thursday. This seems a little silly, after all my efforts yesterday to get emails to Chris suggesting she pick me up Thursday. On the other hand, I would probably get to see Chuckles again (we could even ride the same 1:50am bus), and would get home earlier Thursday without Chris having to spend an exhausting day ferrying and driving to get me and come home again, and we could go out to dinner on Orcas to celebrate my grand finale. It all seemed quite reasonable under the zoom-zoom spell of the extra dose of caffeine. However, come 4pm when I stopped for my last rest - with one mile to go by the original plan (to arrive Thursday) and five miles to go by the new plan, it was pretty clear that my energy had crashed - and the 15 mile day was going to be plenty for me. 

While I was setting up my tent I saw a lot of holes around the campsite. I put rocks on the holes but still felt concerned about hordes of subterranean rodents emerging at night to nibble thousands of holes in my tent in their relentless search for food.  This is actually something  a lot of hikers describe. Well - maybe not hordes and thousands of holes - but you get the picture. (I don't think I ever got around to telling you that my very first night on the trail I almost didn't sleep for hours and hours because a rabbit kept coming up to my tent and looking intensely interested. I was worried about it gnawing holes in my tent. I whipped myself up into the most terrified night I have ever spent on the trail. Over a rabbit. It was only when I told myself I was suffering from a "gnawing anxiety" and noticed the pun - get it, the anxiety gnawing major holes in my mental state as I am worrying about a rabbit gnawing holes in my tent - that I was able to laugh out loud at myself, and fall merrily asleep. )

I thought I might sleep better tonight if I hung my food bag out of rodent reach and in general I would feel better if I mastered the art of hanging food bags (I am already planning to ask our good friend Cindy, a long time camper and gifted physical education teacher, for lessons). So I attached a stone to my line and threw it and missed the limb three or four times. Then lo and behold it went over a limb. Okay, it wasn't the limb I was aiming at. It wasn't high enough to qualify as hanging a food bag for a bear, or rather from a bear (I forget all the rules -- but I think the branch has to be 12 ft high and the bag at least 6 ft from the trunk and I forget how high off the ground -- I will have to learn the rules as well as how to throw a stone with rope attached in the general direction in which I am aiming. ?  But hey I hung up a bear bag for the very first time in my life. Photo 2 shows it hanging there (from tree on the left.) Good job, River. (I say that a lot on the trail. I am a very encouraging trail mommy to myself. (


This morning I woke up in the usual pre-dawn dark and started my hike at the first light of dawn. Photo 3 and 4 and 5 show mountains in different stages of morning light. 




Photo 6 shows frost along the trail at the first high elevation area.  Frost was a great thing to add to the grand finale themes -- memories of walking through frost, ice, snow. 


To be continued in Day 12, part 2

Day 11, August 22, part 2

Continued from Day 11, August 22, part 1

I am so glad I kept hiking. The hike was stunning in the evening light. I was in a wonderful state physically and mentally. So happy to be walking through beauty. And happy - by the way - to have you with me. 

So photos 8-10 do their best to testify to the beauty. 




This section - between Rainy Pass and Harts Pass - is so lovely that I find myself fantasizing coming back sometime to hike it with Meander (who hikes it in early July every year to let southbound thru-hikers know when the trail is clear enough of snow to begin their hikes. Having seen the steep, steep inclines at the edge of so much if this trail I sure wouldn't want to be floundering around in slippery snow and ice here.)

Photo 11 shows a small burn area quite near Harts Pass that brought vividly back the many many burn areas I have hiked through on the PCT. 


And last but definitely not least photo 12 shows two delightful camping neighbors, Kevin and Laurie from Lummi Island, who agreed to send an email message to Chris when they return to civilization Wednesday. They shared a hair-raising but also endearing  story about Laurie slipping and falling on the trail on Mt Baker and breaking a leg, and calling 911 to summon a helicopter, and then having this strange man appear weighted down with machine gun and ammo (not what one typically expects to see on the trail) who turned out to be a border guard (watching for smugglers) but who was also an EMT and got out his EMT emergency gear to stabilize Laurie's leg until the helicopter came. Here they are at their campfire in photo 12. 

And here we are, trail friends, at Harts Pass only 30 miles from the Canada border (where I will still hike another 9 miles to Manning Park lodge, either to meet Chris or to catch the 1:50 am bus to Bellingham via Coquitlam.) Either way it looks very much like I may really and truly finish this hike. Mexico to Canada. 2650 miles. Wow. 

Day 11, August 22, part 1

Part 1 of Day 11, Monday, August 22. From campsite at PCT mi 2598.39,  elev. 6242, to Harts Pass Campground, 2618.54, elev. 6188 ft. Walked 21.15 miles - total up/down +4133/-4188.  

Dear Trail Friends,

So I managed to dream up a reason to push myself - I do think part of the fun of the PCT is challenging myself and discovering what I am capable of and living right at the edge of what I'm capable of - but the reason I made up was that Harts Pass campground would be full of car campers who would be returning to civilization and could send Chris an email for me. 

After telling her I just could not predict my arrival in Canada and we would need to abandon the plan of her driving up to meet me, I decided the first two days went so well that I really can predict a Thursday arrival. Not only that, but by hiking to Harts Pass I have made it so I don't have to push myself to arrive Thursday. 

The day started cold. My fingers got numb and I discovered a disadvantage of my ultralight stuff in cold weather is that all the little lightweight hooks and ties and buckles are really hard to do with numb fingers. It also brought back vvid memories of hiking the Sierra with numb fingers every morning and the struggle to do otherwise simple tasks. It feels right for this "grand finale" section to echo themes from earlier sections - wind, cold, and later today I even passed through a small burn area. It helps give a sense of integration and completion. 

The morning view was forboding - grey clouds hovering over beautiful mountains (photo 1). I knew from the weather forecast that I picked up Saturday morning in Stehekin that showers were possible until 11am. As it turns out showers alternated with sunlight all day but no really heavy rain came down. 


Annoyed though I was by the campfire smoke from the trail maintenance crew (I woke in the night coughing and fortunately had cough drops in my emergency sack, and found myself coughing a lot on the uphills all morning - until my lungs informed me that an attitude of hope and faith rather than catastrophizing and blame would be more helpful to them. So I lifted my chest into hopeful posture and sent little Esperita and Fidelita into and out of my lungs, dancing and curtseying to the unknown with every breath. And what do you know. I stopped coughing. ). 

Anyway before that endless parenthetical digression I was saying that annoyed as I was by the trail maintenance crew (and their campfire smoke), I was in awe of how clear and well-maintained this section of trail was, and how many freshly cut, freshly cleared trees I saw. One reason I could hike 21 miles in about 10 hours (an extremely good time for me with this much up and down) was that the trail was really in exceptional condition. 

I spent the day feeling very well and totally surrounded by beauty. I found myself reflecting on Chuckles' question: what did I learn from the PCT?  I think I learned a lot about loving. How empowering love can be. 

It's as if this strange mysterious force shows up in your life, snorting and stamping like a very beautiful (and quite wild) stallion, and if you are willing to risk, and ride, you will be transported to a whole new world.  But you have to be willing to serve the love, to go where it wants to go, rather than try to make it carry you back to some lost imaginary paradise. But if you can do that, you find yourself capable - in the service of love- of doing things you never imagined you could do. And I am living proof of that power. Whoever imagined I could hike this entire trail?

I also found myself continuing the dream, about wanting to tell Esther Bell (the black woman who helped raise me), then my trail self, that I love her. I imagined many of the people, living or dead, still connected with or estranged, whom I have loved in my life (however imperfectly) and looking deep into their eyes and saying "I love you." The beauty and spaciousness (and the music I listened to as I walked) really helped make these expressions of love vividly real. I could imagine our eyes meeting (the kind of gaze I found a little too intense to be bearable with that wonderful hiker grandpa John McCollum). 

Hard to pick a few photos to share. I so want you to walk this stretch with me and feel the space the mountains conjure with their vast presence.

Photos 2 through 4 give you a little glimpse I hope. 




Photo 5 shows the blurry quality to the north that made me suspect I was walking into more rain ( I was, but nothing like the downpour this photo suggested. )


At the top of a pass (whose name I probably should but don't know) I saw a man with a wonderfully alert white dog with a curved tail. Then his wife appeared with another dog. We chatted a bit. Photo 6 and 7 show Nikki and Bob (trail name Fun Hog) and their dog Oreo (who seems to want to avoid facing the camera) and Kim Chi. Kim Chi (the white dog) is a brand new adoption, a rescue dog that would have been sacrificed to the Korean delight in dog meat if rescue had not intervened (hence the name - when they adopted him his name was Tommy). The Kim Chi family live in Mazama and agreed to email Chris for me. 



So I was temporarily without a reason to hike 21 miles. There was a perfectly lovely campsite (much nicer really than this one) - with water nearby it - at 15.5 miles. Why not just stop there? 

Why not? Well.  For the fun of the hike. The challenge. Fantasies like that I'd find Chuckles there. Or that Nikki and Bob would be waiting for me and asking me to come home with them to Mazama for supper and a warm bed, then a ride back to the trail early tomorrow morning. Finally I decided that I hadn't toldChris  where we would meet (or that I'd like a concert ticket in case I am home in time for any of the Orcas Iskand Chamber Music events, which I doubt). So it would be great if I could send a second email. So I continued my hike. 

To be continued in Day 11, part 2.