One Hundred Forty – Forty One: ZEROES

Have we really been here for two whole days already?

It doesn’t feel like long enough.

We’ve watched five, maybe six movies. I don’t even know.

I do know that I’ve had three baths – long ones! – since getting here. Piping hot water, magnesium bath salts, lavender oil… Oh yes.

Trout Lake is where it’s at.

I’ve tried to keep up my stretching, but whenever I sit still for too long, I just fall asleep again.

There’s an old camp maybe a mile down the road that lets hikers set up their mats and sleep in the gymnasium. They have laundry, and communal breakfast, wifi, and all the good stuff that lure us hikers in, but we opted for the General Store instead.

Maya and Dario had strongly suggested we stay here when we reach Trout Lake, and I’m glad they did. Sure, it’s a little more expensive, but hardly! It’s right in town, we’ve still got laundry and wifi, there is a BATHTUB, and the room comes with three single beds AND a television with a DVD player (DVDs can be borrowed from the General Store downstairs for free).

The three single beds are a selling point for us, because most places we stay offer one single bed and one double bed (or two double beds), and so for the past few months we swap out who gets to share the bed. Here, we each get our own.

And at $30US for the night, the choice was unanimous.

Our first day was spent primarily unconscious.

Finally stumbling our way to the road after our huge forty mile effort yesterday morning, it took nearly two hours to hitch a ride into town.

They were long, painful hours.

We agreed that two of us could sleep while the third stayed awake for a 15 minute shift, ready to jump up and throw a thumb up to any car that might pass us. Nemo took the first shift and let us sleep for nearly 45 minutes. I took the second shift, and let the others sleep for about that long as well. 2Beers had the third shift, and a car pulled up maybe 10 minutes in.

Our bodies barely wanted to move, and our minds weren’t much faster at that point.

I felt drunk, and drugged, and wired, and elated, and shattered in a big jumble of emotions and aches. I was proud that we actually did it, and incredulous that we were able to, and apologetic to my body for it at the same time. Mostly stoked with ourselves. And mostly exhausted.

When we were dropped off, and had gorged ourselves with pancakes and hashbrowns and bacon and coffee and orange juice, we limped across the road to the General Store to ask about that room we had been dreaming about.

The lovely lady at the counter locked it in for us, but with a grimace, said we wouldn’t be able to get in there until about 2PM, as the cleaning crew had to come through.

It was 9AM.

We nearly cried.

I probably would have, but I don’t think my body had enough gusto left to produce any tears.

At least we were able to grab our resupply boxes we had sent ahead here. I’d also ordered an Ultralight Down Puffer Jacket from UniQlo that I eagerly unwrapped – this thing is GLORIOUS! No WONDER people actually have warm jackets out here! What the heck, it feels like I’m wearing a heated electric blanket all around me! I will never look back and go without!

We took those boxes outside to go through our treasure trove of calories and carbs, and were greeted by a few hikers also sitting at the table – Minji the Mountain Ninja being one of them!

Even being utterly bone-weary fatigued, we were all stoked to be reunited. Minji was yet another one of the hikers that was in our bubble right from the Mojave Desert days, so it was lovely to see her smiling face here.

Actually, that’s one of my only regrets from my time here at Trout Lake: the cleaning lady came past right on 11AM, said that she had cleaned the room out first specially for us, and that we were welcome to go collapse up there if we wanted. Our scramble toward the reward of a hot bath, fresh sheets, and warm bed was so frenzied that we didn’t even come back down to say a proper goodbye. We just passed out – all three of us, and woke up again in the evening, long after Minji had continued on north.

We put on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, bought a bottle of wine, and dozed on and off for the next fifteen or so hours.

And because it didn’t really count as a zero day due to all that night hiking, we figured we deserved to spend another night here.

We basically didn’t leave the room today either, except for me to head down to the cafe again and grab some famous huckleberry pie that alllllllll the locals keep telling me I need to try, in between naps and movies.

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There were maybe another four, five movies that we got through (how have I never seen Coco?!). The novelty of DVDs was just too great, and we pretty much had the telly going non-stop.

I had two baths, which I tried to justify as rejuvenating for my muscles with all those magnesium salts (but were largely just because I could). We sorted out what food we would actually take with us for the next stint, and what food we’d leave behind in the hiker boxes. We rested.

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And we readied ourselves.

While Nemo is going to keep on going and hopefully finish the whole trail, this next stint will be my last. Same for 2Beers.

From here, it’s a straight shoot to Cascade Locks, the border marking the end of Washington and beginning of Oregon.

The place where I’ll have to say goodbye – for now – to my beloved trail.

I will cross the Bridge of the Gods, and complete almost exactly two thirds of what I thought I would accomplish this year. Ironically, that two thirds has already been overflowing with more friends and memories and moments and blessings than I could have imagined I would cram in, even if I’d completed the whole thing.

I’m not sure how I’m feeling about the impending ‘end’ to this journey.

I’m glad that I was able to mark the occasion with a forty miler, huckleberry pie, and three bath soaks.

Life has a way of continually surprising me, and almost always ending up better than I would have planned.

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