I was fortunate enough to join Rach (Hot Mess) and Ben (Smooth) for the leg between Trout Lake and Cascade Locks! I absolutely loved it and fell into the rhythm easily. I need to be clear, I was very tired at the end of each day and happy to end each day with a nice camping spot and great food, but, I cherished the day to day walking. We had talked of me joining them for a leg and had considered some of the earlier sections but from the sounds of their snow travel I didn't want to slow their pace or worse yet, become a liability! They worked together so well during those challenging snow covered miles - it was amazing to read Rachel's journal and see Ben's photos/video - even then, the story is hard to really grasp. They KNOW what they went through, the rest of us can just try to imagine. The section I walked was comparatively very tame - perfect for me!
Mike and I drove to Trout Lake the night before and stayed at a lovely B and B - Kelly's Trout Creek Inn. Trout Lake closes up fairly early but we arrived in town to enjoy taco night at the Cafe which is attached to the service station. The tacos were so good, and though we hadn't hiked we had traveled a long section on a gravel road before FS 23 becomes paved so ice cold Coronas also hit the spot! We were up early to drive back to the trail head as Rach and Ben estimated they would be coming out about 8 am. Even on the trail they are on time! They emerged a little before 8 and we drove back in to Trout Lake for a mega breakfast at the cafe! After breakfast they went to the grocery store to add to the resupply box we had driven down and then once more we drove back to the tail head.
It was the highlight of my summer to back pack with them for five days and four nights! I really enjoy hiking and had done back packing in my college days but it has been over 30 years since I've spent more than one night on the trail! So, four nights! Not, only was the terrain very friendly to me, but the weather was perfect! Most of that section of the PCT is within the forest on fairly cushioned trail, the rest of it brings you out on ridges to view the world unobstructed! I felt as if I was traveling through an enchanted forest! It was very interesting and motivating to start walking with Mt. Adams so very close and then, four days later see how far away that same mountain had become! I am finishing up a Naturalist class with the Mountaineers so was happy to pass on knowledge of some of the plants I've learned, but, it seemed for every flower I knew there was one that I didn't know! I came home with some homework and have since passed on answers to the queries in resupply boxes.
Rach and I talk about how the trail "feeds our soul" and that was certainly reinforced with my small time on the trail. I was very happy to turn my phone completely off and hesitant to turn it back on when we got to Cascade Locks. I always brought up the rear and perhaps with a finite number of days ahead for me "on the trail" I was more easily able to "be present" without a lot of looking back or thinking forward. Rach introduced me to yoga over four years ago and it has been instrumental in assisting with the grief over the death of my son, BJ. The practice emphasizes "being present" and "finding comfort in the discomfort" among so many other teachings, and I really try to do both. So, those days really allowed me the best opportunity to "be present" and keep my mind from writing scripts that do not serve me well.
I was so impressed with Rach and Ben! They had to be in so much pain with their feet. I've not ever had blisters like they had, and yet, they just kept walking. They started out hobbling, treading so very carefully, but, within half an hour had found their pace and seemed to be walking almost effortlessly through the pain. I admire their deep friendship and care of each other. I respect their sense of adventure and the priorities they have set at this point of their life. When I was Rachel's age I was pregnant with Rach! That, was most definitely a beautiful thing. And, within two years I also was a mother to BJ - being a Mom is without a doubt the most rewarding facet of my life....but, it is just one way to do it. To work so had to be able to take a break from your working life, plan and execute a 2600+ mile trek seems very hard to really allow one's self to do but is rewarding in every way!
Thank you Rachel and Ben for letting me share a small section of your journey! Thank you for taking so much of the gear from me that I felt as if I was just carrying a day pack! Thank you for the mochas every morning, the delightful "second" breakfast, the amazing dinners (quesadillas and humus wraps - I mean really!), the endless high spirits, the alphabet game ("Q" is always a tough one!), the music at the end of the day when our biorythyms were low, and so much more! If there was ever a time in my "adult" life when I felt like letting the mortgage payment go and leaving the the youth of America in the hands of a younger teacher - this was it. I think that speaks to how rich your travel has been and will continue to be. Happy trails, namaste, and much love - Mom (Great Blue Heron)
Loved her mosquito head cover!
The Enchanted Forest....can you find Rachel?!
Following Rach through a golden field
Breakfast at Cascade Locks!