Total distance: 1796.8
I’ve been so lazy waking up the past few days knowing that I don’t want to be pushing high miles until my shin is healed, but it kind of makes the rest of the day stressful in getting the miles done I had hoped to get. This morning I didn’t leave the resort until almost eleven, but figured I still had enough time to do 26 miles seeing that the trail was smooth with low elevation gain. However, something else would be slowing me down.
I walked across highway 140 and immediately was stopped by a man in a florescent shirt while a machine sawed into a tree and sent it collapsing to the ground. Finally I was let through and walked along a stream for half a mile when I began to enter the land of fallen trees. For the next fifteen miles I was walking around trees, over trees, under trees, across trees and even through trees. It wasn’t a few here and there, it was like every damn step I took was to avoid fallen trees and reroute my path. Half of the day was spent off trail trying to find my way around the catastrophe. Supposedly this area has really intense wind storms and volunteers attempt to keep the trail maintained, but it seems whatever work they do immediately comes undone.
I slowed my pace the best I could and tried to keep a positive attitude, but after fifteen miles of getting tree limbs slapped in your face while you try and squeeze through any opening you can find, you get a little crazy. It helps me to verbally abuse the fallen trees for their inconvenience in my life so as I walked I began naming trees, cussing them out and threatening their composure. I snapped a lot of limbs off trees today and at one point took a log and crushed a tree in half that had fallen across the trail. It was a rough time. I’m not proud of what I became.
After six hours in the skeletal maze of the fallen firs, I reached a ridge line that lifted me above the bones and carried me into the land of slate rock and mountain views. In all directions I could see mountains and lakes resting in the peace of the droopy sun. I became overwhelmed on the incline and marveled in the expanse of wilderness I found myself in. The colors of the sky became purple and orange with a haze setting between the peaks off in the west. I became thankful for the struggle of the day in that we appreciate peace and beauty more after experiencing a storm of chaos.
I slowly made my way down the final climb of the day and happened upon a group of hikers camping on an exposed lip of the ridge next to a seasonal stream. Sounds good to me. I dropped my pack and was blanketed in a black cloak of mosquitos. I hurried to set up my net and threw everything inside immediately. I ate my dinner and watched the colors in the sky turn from purple to pink to blood orange in a matter of minutes while I ate my mashed potatoes and chili cheese Fritos. It has been a day of stress and wonder and struggle and peace and I am so thankful to be laying on my pad anticipating the arrival of sleep and the start of a new day.