PCT Day 106: Slime Mold in a Sauna

August 2, 2022

Campsite at mile 1717.6 to campsite at mile 1741.1

23.5 miles

I wake up slow. I feel blah. I don’t feel enthused about hiking. I wonder who else we’ll be seeing out here, and I think about the friends either ahead or behind or on a totally different trail now. I’d tried to persuade Machine to just leave Ashland and hike out from there, but he messages me saying he’s going up to Timberline to do the loop and mull over his options. I hope we at least see him and our group at trail days on the 19th and 20th.

Jumbo and Tribute leave long before me. I finally get moving just before 8, thinking that it won’t be that hot because of the clouds. I am wrong. It is immediately boiling. I have a downhill to the I-5 underpass, then a weird, sort of slow uphill through patches of grass mixed in with forest. My pack is heavy, my Achilles hurts, and I’m feeling so uncertain. I just feel weird. But the sky is a clear, unmistakable blue. You’d never even know there was a fire. I’m immediately glad that we just got right back on the trail.

The terrain is pretty chill, though, and despite feeling like a slime mold in a sauna, I still do some decent miles. I wind up at the water source just before noon. Close enough. I huddle in with five other hikers under the tiny patch of shade by the spring. There are so many new people there that I don’t recognize, and everyone is comparing their fire experiences: where we were, how we got out.

The afternoon goes by in a sunny, sweaty daze. There are a few moments where I see a lovely view that’s made strangely more beautiful because of the smoke in the distance. There are God rays and everything.

I plop down by the side of a road at one point, unable to move more for a few moments. I feel so unbelievably slow and sweaty, and the bottoms of my feet are screaming. I take another ibuprofen and start moving. Soon I stop at a small pond, the only water source until camp. It’s a little scummy, but I’m thirsty enough that it tastes pretty darn good.

The rest of the day includes some really nice views out towards a valley. It’s kind of hazy out there, but there’s a kind of beauty in the light. I still can’t really smell smoke; it’s mostly just the haze. I’m sure it could get worse, but right now, it’s not bad at all.

I could probably try to keep going if I wanted to, but it’s just before 7:00, I fancy camping alone tonight, and I find a nice little flat spot not far from a reservoir outlet just below the start of the hill that leads to Hyatt Lake Resort.

Some more AT-inspired trail art…

I start setting up my tent, and another hiker comes up and sets up next to me. We get talking. Her name is Spicy, and she’s from a town just outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Having spent a month in Leiden right before I hiked the AT, I’m always stoked to talk to Dutch folks. We chat about our fire experiences, of course, and then we set up our tents and, because the mosquitoes have now moved in, sit in our little individual areas and cook our respective dinners while talking occasionally.

I splurge on a Poshport tonight: my Peak Refuel chicken coconut curry. It absolutely knocks out everything else I’ve eaten on trail. I would deadass buy that and eat it for dinner on a week night in “real life.” It’s so good. Like, SO good. I can’t get over it.

I mean to write after that, but once I brush my teeth and lie down, I almost immediately pass out. I’m full from the most satisfying dinner and reveling in the beautiful sensation of being horizontal. I love these little breaks for myself every once in a while. It gives me some space to think, be alone, and meet other folks. Bless my tramily. I’d do anything for them. But I’m an introvert at heart, after all.

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