One Hundred Eleven: 1,888.9km

Even covered by smoke, Washington …

I’m lost for words. I don’t even know how to describe the beauty of it – and I’m only two days in.

Everything is ‘deeper’, somehow.

Colours are more vivid.

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Greens are greener.

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Light is softer.

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Lakes are certainly colder, which is a surprise, coming from some of the glacial lakes of the Sierras only weeks ago. I had to stick to HBG rules, though, and jumped in despite the frigid temperature.

I’m glad I did.

I feel more alive than I have in recent days. Weeks, even.

It could be having had some time off, but it also could be the magic of Washington: my spirit soars here.

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Another fire closure means a detour around Stehekin. We walked as far as the trail would let us, loaded onto the local shuttle bus, and headed for town. There, I had to pick up my two care packages from Australia that were waiting for me, and then a ferry trip down to Holden village. Yep. That’s right: a ferry. This is one fire closure I really don’t mind.

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Our bus dropped us off, and I walked across the road to the post office. It was really no more than a dingy little room; walls lined with stacks of USPS boxes filled with food and supplies and love from hiker support people across America and the world.

I handed the man behind the desk my ID, and as soon as he saw AUSTRALIA he cracked a smile, and said he had been waiting for me.

Huh?

A quick glance around, and we all realised why:

If the outside of a box was anything to go by, my two were filled with the most love of any in that room.

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And like we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we shouldn’t judge those other boxes… But I still stand by thinking that mine were better. So did everyone else who saw them. There was a little wait for the ferry, but no worries: I was more than happy to sit at the bench and admire the detail put into this parcel.

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Karen, my cousin, and her boys, had evidently spent a lot of time and effort scrapbooking all sides of this cardboard box for me. There are pictures of my family, pictures of my home, stickers reading ‘This is a paper hug!’, and quotes such as ‘Travel is an investment in yourself’. If my travels are an investment in myself, this gift of love from them – and the one from my Mumma and Daddyo – were investments in my heart.

We got on the ferry.

I have missed open water. The smell of salt air (this was fresh, but I could imagine!). The spray of mist that dusted my skin. The familiar rocking of a boat. The sound of lapping waves.

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The others marvelled at the mountains around us; I closed my eyes, and let my other senses soak this all in.

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And I read the love letters my parents had each written me.

The depth of their pride and love shone out of every word. I know micro grams quickly add up, and that if I were to have another shakedown, most of the ultralighters amongst us wouldn’t approve of carrying letters. You can just take a photo, after all, and keep the memory without the weight of paper and cardboard! But I shall be keeping these with me regardless.

We’ll camp here, at Holden, tonight, and I’ll sort through whatever else awaits me in these boxes (I haven’t fully gone through them just yet!). Tomorrow morning I’ll mail most of this ahead and have it waiting for me at another location so I’m not carrying alllllllllll this chocolate the whole way. I know there’s plenty to share, but we can’t possibly consume this many calories quickly enough. Maybe we could have, if we hadn’t just spent the past ten days road tripping across Oregon and enjoying Seattle. For now, it just means I’ll have extra Tim Tams and Shapes waiting for me down the trail. One packet of the Coles chocolate peanuts are already opened… and gone. Thankfully, my family know that they’re my favourite, and I have another six packets to ration out!

Also, just a quick explanation to go along with the title: from the very start, I’ve been giving the distances I walk each day as I go along. Now, though, as I’m technically going ‘backwards’ according to my Halfmile app (which is fantastic!), I figured I’d change it up a little.

That number – today, being 1,888.9km – is the total kilometres I’ve walked.

I’ve already missed the northernmost miles, and with this detour, and going southbound on top of it all, simply changing to a total distance makes more sense. And now you’re in the know!

I love that you’re joining me for the adventure.

Even the time you spend with this blog and my stories, I take as an investment in me. I see each view, each comment, each like. It’s an honour to have you here with me.

I might not say it enough, but I hope you know:

thank you.

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