I wake up bleary and underslept at five in the morning when my alarm goes off. The past few days have been incredibly busy and stressful. I spent my birthday sorting plastic baggies full of snacks, labeled by calorie count, into USPS flat rate boxes. I spent the next day cleaning my apartment, dropping off bags of stuff I don’t remember wanting at Goodwill, and trying to find nooks and crannies in my closet in which to shove enough of my stuff that my subletters have some space to move into. Then, in the afternoon, I photographed a wedding. I got five hours of sleep, woke up yesterday morning, cleaned, edited photos, ran errands, added two things to my to-do list for every one thing I checked off. Went to sleep at 1am and now I’m waking up at five.
I am completely burned out on logistics. I couldn’t get it together to invite folks out for beers to celebrate my birthday or my impending trip. I’m just disappearing for a month or so, before I’m back in Portland to resupply.
I put on my thru-hiker costume, carry my last load of stuff to my borrowed car, and pick up J. With last minute chores, it’s past eight by the time we finally roll out — me, my mom, her dog Rush, and J, who is joining me till Cascade Locks or until we can’t stand it anymore, whichever comes first. The first several hours of the eventual eight hour drive are uneventful, but increasingly beautiful as we leave I-5 and head east towards the North Cascades. In the little town of Mazama, we turn onto a dirt road that winds up and up, along some scary edges and over some scary rock. Mom’s feeling pretty anxious about the drive down by herself, so we’re all counting down the miles to Hart’s Pass… which we accidentally drive right past. There’s a confusingly labeled little turn-off, so we end up one more mile down the road at a beautiful campground, where we pile out to orient ourselves and let Mom head back down the long dirt road.
We’re not quite on the trail. Hart’s Pass is a mile north — back the way we came — on the road. J repacks his pack and then we set off with seven days of food crammed more or less into our packs. At Hart’s Pass we both intend to cache a bear canister in the woods. Instead, we give our cans to the very nice older couple who live at the guard station. (What a gig!)
There’s also a trail register. I sign in with the trail name I’ve chosen for myself. “Fledgling — flyin’ south (but first, north).” Then we are finally on the PCT, with our sights set on a campsite three and a half miles north.
It’s just too damn pretty and I stop and take too many photos.
We set up our tents, cook dinner, clean up. Deer visit. When we startle them, they make this whoomp-whoomp noise as they bound away. I tie my Ursack to a tree and then we spend much too long agreeing but thinking we’re disagreeing about how to hang J’s food bag. It’s late. He got even less sleep than me somehow. A deer watches us while we haul the bag up a tree and eventually manage a marginal PCT-style (when in Rome…) hang. Now it’s time to sleep. And oh, we will sleep.