We zeroed yesterday and basically zeroed the day before that, so this morning, it was time to move our butts.
(I know, we’ve said that before. It’s a broken record by now, but hey: we’re having fun!)
During yesterday’s ‘mileage renegotiations’, as we’ve come to call it, we all agreed that an early start and sticking to our guns was in our best interest. We’ve already toyed with snow and sleet; we’re really going to have to commit if we want to get to the Washington/Oregon border. Our camp spot with Speedy was almost bang on a marathon distance from Packwood (which is our next town stop), so the deal was enjoying cards and hot chocolate yesterday with Speedy, and then a whole marathon today.
And I did it.
I got up early, packed my tent, hugged my best French friend goodbye, and left quickly before my heart managed to convince me to stay longer.
The trail provides, as it always does.
Today it provided me with solitude.
With a dense forest that pressed in on all sides, enveloping me in a big hug.
With grey skies that matched my melancholy mood.
With glimpses of a horizon there is more.
It provided me reception, to be able to call Pickleback and Jiminy Cricket, who I miss so deeply.
It provided a chance encounter with a stranger who recognised my green hat, Wilson the stick, and a slip of blue singlet poking out from under my jacket. He tentatively called, “Wizard?” as he walked up. I didn’t recognise him, but just a few words in realised that this was Sriracha: a guy from Perth who I’d heard about here and there but never crossed paths with until now.
Turns out, he knows Jess, one of the girls I walked with along the Camino back in 2016!
It’s a small, bizarre world.
Anyway, I finished the marathon.
I got to the Kracker Barrel Store at the highway junction, where Nemo and 2Beers are supposed to meet me. They haven’t arrived yet, but my tent is pitched, the snow has started up again, and the sun will be setting soon.
I’m sharing this rocky carpark with a couple other NOBO hikers – some I’ve met months back, some I just met tonight. They shared their beer and I got to cuddle Snow White’s trail kitten, Trout (he found the kitten while in town, took it to the vet and decided to adopt it right there! He’s now hiking with it! Super cute little black thing who sits on his shoulders; this trail really is full of surprises).
It’s too cold to do anything other than curl up in my quilt, eat some mac and cheese for dinner, and watch another episode of Hart of Dixie before I nod off.
Hopefully Nemo and 2Beers are sheltered okay wherever they are, and I’ll see them in the morning.