I don’t know how it’s possible, but today was another 10/10. Which means I’m currently on a six day streak – that’s a record (not including the cold temps, because that’s just part of living in the mountains).
I woke up having had not one, but three creepy Black Mirror-esque dreams, and decided promptly that they wouldn’t dictate how my day would turn out. They didn’t. It was a cracker of a day: like I said, 10 out of 10!
We didn’t get started until midday, because our clothes/tents/packs/shoes needed to dry out. Everyone seemed to have similar feelings, and belongings were strung out in the very welcome sunshine up and down the trail.
There were a few section hikers here with us, drying out their stuff too.
They decided the wind and rain and cold was more than they signed up for, and left before we did: choosing to bail on the first side trail to a road.
In their semi-defeated departure, one of them left behind his pack cover. I carried it, and had planned on returning it to him by the time we caught them – but we didn’t catch them. Luckily for my conscience, they passed a message back to us through some northbounders that it was all mine if I had picked it up.
After all the rain we had yesterday, this felt like the answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had.
The trail provides.
The universe provides.
My God provides.
Washington has a lot of elevation gain and loss. I vaguely remember someone telling me that although it’s at a lower altitude overall than the Sierras are, the climbs and descents are much more steep. They weren’t kidding.
We might’ve only done 21km, but our total elevation gain/loss was +5094/-4959ft.
I’ve been meaning to tell you, I had a thought on this whole imperial system thing.
5094 feet wouldn’t have meant much to me back when I started; I only really appreciate it now because that’s exactly how many feet I had to go UP today! Apparently, there are roughly 10ft to every storey. So, if you’re not used to imperial measurements and the numbers are a little hard to get your non-American head around, don’t worry: you’re not alone. All you have to do is drop the last digit and just think that I did around that many FLIGHTS OF STAIRS.
Today, therefore, I climbed up 510 storeys and down nearly another 500.
And that’s an average day out in Washington land. I did around the same yesterday, I’ll do similar climbs and descents tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.
Does thinking about storeys (or flights of stairs, even) put it into a little more perspective for you? Personally, I try to block out those thoughts at the beginning of each day, and only really let the numbers sink in after I have hiked them of an evening. Otherwise, no doubt I’d psych myself out before even starting.
Another challenge I face each day is having to choose my favourite photos and select the ones with which I’ll share this adventure with you.
Equipped with only my trusty iPhone 7, I do my best to capture the majesty of the wild. It’s impossible to get a bad photo out here; every which way I turn I am faced with absolute raw unadulterated beauty, but I’m afraid doing it true justice is just not possible.
My worry is that even though these are beautiful, you still cannot comprehend what it is like to be here, to have walked here. To know the closest road is at least a three day hike away. To stare up at a mountain and know you’ll be up on top there within hours. To reach that summit, and watch the world fall away beneath you. To feel the butterflies and anticipation of knowing there are weeks and months ahead of living this life. To have this be your home.
Oh, how I wish you could experience this with me.
I hope my words allow you to be drawn in and feel some of what I feel. I hope these photographs spark your imagination and give life to the journey.
That third photo above is one of my recent favourites in giving some perspective.
Scroll back up, and look just to the right of the centre of the picture.
There is a tiny dot that rises up from the smooth pass; standing in stark contrast to the white cloud in the background. That black dot is the Prodigal.
Now imagine, try to grasp, just how big the walk was as we zigzagged our way up a mountainside so much bigger than us, and will zigzag our way down the other side. Imagine that that was the second of such mountains we crossed today, and no doubt these two will eventually be blurred in our memories amongst the countless others of Washington.
It puts a smile on my face, too.
And the berries.
Have I mentioned the berries?
Have I shown you the berries?
Or the sunsets.
I know I’ve raved about these more than once.
It’s for good reason: