PCT Day 130: Trout Lake

August 26, 2022

Campsite at mile 2214.5 to campsite at mile 2235.6, with trip into Trout Lake

21.1 miles

The morning is blessedly cool. It’s going to get hot soon, you can just tell from the humidity, but right now, it’s pleasant. The three of us walk together for the first five miles just like yesterday. We stop for a break at a creek and Feather Blue joins us. It’s so cool to have her with us again. It feels like parts of the desert, like a throwback, like a bookend. I make a coffee and savor it. Even though it’s still really hot, I’ve been hitting the hot drinks hard recently.

I walk with Jumbo for a few miles after that, but we don’t talk because he’s listening to The Goldfinch, one of my all-time favorites that I recommended to him. I listen to music for a while until Tribute and Feather catch us. Then I’m sprinting off into the woods when nature calls and alone after that for a while, listening to Fox and I.

The three are stopped again at a creek at the bottom of our last big climb before town. I’m surprised; I thought they would be gunning for town food. But I’m pleased because I’m feeling pretty tired now. Jumbo has just gone full tilt into nap mode and is lying down with his eyes closed. I eat a quick snack and then follow suit, only waking up from my half-sleep when Tribute and Feather announce that they’re going to get started.

Jumbo puts on some music and takes the hill hard. I can’t catch up. I’m really struggling all of a sudden. I don’t really feel like I have the energy to Pull A Jimmy and use music to propel me up, so I stick with my audiobook. I have to sit on several logs before I make it up to the crest of the hill. Everyone is way ahead of me now, but for some reason I’m just struggling.

Eventually the thought of town food in Trout Lake propels me downwards. There’s a shuttle at 2, but apparently this road is a pretty easy hitch, so if I don’t make it on time I’ll try to catch a ride. It feels like it takes forever to make it the mile and a half to the road, but I finally do. I see a couple of trucks and hikers hanging out, then Jumbo closer to the trail waiting for me.

I’m just thinking how I knew he’d wait for me and how lucky I am to be hiking with someone I can depend on so much when he says in an irritated mutter, “Always cutting it close.”

It pisses me off. Nevermind that I just suffered up that stupid hill and was prepared to hitch if I had to. I’m just always the one making us late and he wants me to know it. I put my pack in the back of the truck and ride into town with Feather and another hiker, while Tribute and Jumbo get into the other truck. Our driver, Doug, is a retired choir teacher originally from Oregon, and he tells me about a class reunion he’s going to and a trip to Europe he went on with one of his particularly talented classes in the 70s. He also tells us about Trout Lake and its many amenities for hikers.

Once in town—which is really just a couple of buildings clustered together on a road but which has a surprising number of amenities—we settle into spots on the grass in the yard next to the general store. This area is specifically for PCT hikers, and it has just about everything we need: outlets for charging, wifi, a hiker box, space to unpack and repack our food bags. The store is also extremely well tailored to hikers, right down to individual condiment packets and individual batteries. It’s very impressive. I still have a lot of food leftover and Tribute gave me some of his extra stuff from his box, so I really only need a couple of things. After I do that, I repack everything and then set about my various other tasks: washing some stuff that really needs it, throwing away trash, texting people.

We walk a few doors down to the the taco truck that everyone is talking about, and we all order what’s called a “wet burrito,” a very accurate moniker for this massive roll of meat and beans smothered in sauce and sour cream. It’s delicious.

Back at the general store, I have a few moments to call my mom and then buy a beer to pack out before we load into the back of the truck and are taken back up to the PCT.

We’ve got five miles left and it’s all uphill. I’m done being annoyed at Jumbo now. I mean, he wasn’t wrong. I am always late for things. We walk together for the rest of the way to camp and have a series of interesting conversations. The book I’m reading, Fox and I, has brought up some really interesting ideas about the way we see the natural world and whether it’s actually that bad to anthropomorphize animals. We talk about this, and then about the way humans can’t agree about the best framework for conservation, and then about farming. It makes the miles fly.

We stop for water at the last source before the campsite we’re aiming for. Jumbo fills up my CNOC while I scope out the handful of campsites in the area that don’t look great. Then I pick a handful of huckleberries. They’re everywhere now, so ripe and tasty. I don’t bother to put my full CNOC on my pack because I don’t think it will be that far until we camp for the night, but it ends up being longer than I expect and it’s fatiguing to carry the water in one hand and my poles in the other. Tribute motors ahead because he’s worried about the ominous looking cloud overhead, and I trudge through the burn zone in the dying daylight with Feather and Jumbo.

We make it to the meadow just as it starts to drizzle a little harder. I set my tent up as fast as I can and then leap inside it. It’s not raining very hard, but the gentle patter on the dyneema fabric is still so cozy. I get set up and then eat a sandwich with chicken from a packet on an English muffin followed by a lemon pie that Jumbo gave me. I wash it all down with the beer from the store.

Meanwhile, I watch another episode of The Sandman on my phone. It’s so incredibly comforting. Well, I’m not sure I’d call the show itself comforting, but this sensation of watching it in my tent is. It makes me miss Patches and watching Doctor Who with her on the AT. “Your house or mine?” she’d ask at camp each night, and one of us would bring our sleeping pad into the other’s tent so we could watch an episode together.

I’ve been thinking about the AT a lot recently, especially the northernmost parts. It feels like Maine tonight: cold, light rain, in a meadow. This is the part that I’m running with my heart now. It’s going to be over so soon. I’m savoring it like the Whites, like Maine, like autumn, like milkshakes at Caratunk House and puppies at Human Nature, like the sweet wild conclusion of a story that must inevitably end.

2 thoughts on “PCT Day 130: Trout Lake

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