August 15, 2022
Campsite at mile 2055.6 to campsite at mile 2079.1
Jumbo is so motionless when I wake up that I start to worry he’s dead. What do I do? Is he breathing? Normally he’s the first one to start rustling, but today it’s Tribute. Even when I sit up and start changing out of my sleeping shirt, Jumbo is still quiet. I’m starting to move from theoretical concern to actual worry just as he finally rolls over and heaves a deep breath. Phew. We’ve all made it to another morning. Hello, cool piney Oregon morning! You smell delicious.
We take our time waking up. Then we take our time getting ready to move. It’s 7:30 by the time we start walking.m, but it doesn’t matter because we’re only doing a cool 23 today, and Oregon miles are deliciously easy.
I’m ahead with Tribute for a while. Then he gets ahead and I walk with Jumbo just behind me, each of us lost in our own audio world. I’m really close to finishing The School for Good Mothers, which I can’t exactly say I’m enjoying because it’s a stressful dystopian world and there’s a lot of gaslighting, but I’m dying to figure out how the story ends. Jumbo and I pass Tribute, then we walk more or less together through the deeply forested first ten miles of the day. There’s not a lot of views, but the forest itself is so beautiful, so deeply clean smelling, the pines and firs. I’m simultaneously in the story and present here among the trees.
Jumbo trundles off for a cathole, and I stop for a quick break on a log a little while later to eat some jerky. Tribute almost walks right past me, and I have to shout his name twice before he notices me there and sits down. A little while later, the same thing happens with Jumbo, but he decides to keep going to the water before breaking.
At the creek, I realize it’s after 11, and it seems like a nice spot, so it makes sense just to stop for lunch. We all get comfortable, changing out of our shoes and into Tevas, leaning against or sitting on a log. It’s a luxurious two and a half hours before we get moving again.
I’m feeling slow this afternoon, so I walk behind the others for the last climb of the day and then the long descent to Timothy Lake. I listen to more of my book, then switch to the new Sylvan Esso album to help me up the hill. I like some of the songs right away, but a few seem like they might need a few listens before I decide how I feel. Once I start going down again, I switch back to the book, but I still have an hour left when I get to a water source and wind up taking a break.
I finish the last 3.5 miles of the day with Jumbo. We talk about more of our travels and the occasional frustrations of traveling with friends who don’t have the same energy levels while we walk down a wide, soft path. We hike around the shore of the lake for a while, passing tons of day hikers, until we finally spot Tribute’s hat perched on his poles, leading us to a nice little flat spot by the water that he’s found.
We chill out for a minute since we still have plenty of daylight left, then we get cooking. I make my Peak Refuel chicken coconut curry, which I splurged on in Bend and which is just as amazing as the first time. After dinner we sit on a log overlooking the lake and share Tribute’s bottle of Fireball, discussing our plans for Timberline tomorrow, Portland this weekend, and the end of the trail.
These conversations used to stress me out, but now I think I’m accepting the temporary nature of this life. If it went on forever, it wouldn’t have nearly the amount of meaning that it does. Still, I don’t like that we’re so close to the end. I still want it to be the start, Julian, Idyllwild, Big Bear. I want there to be so many months of trail ahead of me, so much time, so many people I didn’t know well yet but would. Want to start it all over again. Want to feel such love and wonder and possibility ahead. No matter how much trail there is, it will never be enough.