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PCT day 26: civilization and huckleberries

It rains all night and into the morning. I pitched my tent a little bit wrong last night, and as a result couldn’t close both door flaps on the side I expected the wind would be coming from, so I left one open, and figured that to protect the foot end of my sleeping bag from any rain that blew in, I’d put my pack liner (a trash compactor bag) around it. My feet are toasty cozy all night, but in the morning, my sleeping bag underneath the liner is covered in condensation. Oops. 

I move slowly in the rain, cooking my oats in the vestibule and then rolling up my wet tent. It’s past eight when I get out of camp, with Backup — I assume — just a little bit behind me. It’s hard to tell whether it’s still raining or the fog is just really thick and heavy and wet. I hike uphill through a forest full of tall trees that fade into the fog above me. 

I meet two nobo section hikers, Zombie and La Contessa, who get a kick out of my cosmic leggings and chat with me for a while. I tell them to say hi to Backup when they meet him — later he’ll text me to say “I spent way too long chatting with them. Gotta hustle to catch up!” I have spots of cell phone signal all morning and get distracted by civilization. Civilization and huckleberries. 

Gradually the rain and clouds fade, as does the forest… in and out. There are a few logged sections where fireweed is growing between the stumps, and snowy mountains are just beginning to be visible underneath the clouds. Sometime in the early afternoon, I catch up to Elroy at the first water source of the day, nine miles in, where he’s chatting with a couple nobos. I grab some water and walk on, through a beautiful burn section (the fire was in 1988, according to the Boy Scouts sign at the beginning of the section) absolutely chock full of the tastiest huckleberries yet. 

The sun is thoroughly out and the miles comes easy-ish. I get to the Mike Urich Cabin, built by a snowmobile club in memory of a member, around four. This morning, Backup and I figured we’d meet here, so I check it out and then lay my sleeping bag and tent out in the sun to dry. I sit next to them, also in the sun, reading Midnight’s Children and moving a little bit at a time towards the meadow as the shadow of the cabin gets longer and longer. 

It’s two hours before Backup shows up, sweaty from exertion and confused about why I’m still here waiting. He thought I’d’ve pushed on to the next campsite and water source, five miles on. But we decide to stay here at the cabin instead, the roof and wood stove proving difficult to resist. Backup uses his big knife to baton some kindling and builds us a roaring fire in the stove. It’s our first fire on the trail, since there’s been an outdoor burn ban in Washington since before we started hiking. We’re joined at the cabin by Waterboy and Sinbad, a nobo and a nobo-turned-sobo (he flipped up to the Canadian border after 1500 miles from Mexico) respectively, and we all make dinner as the sun fades. Backup and I bed down in the loft, made cozy warm from our fire. 

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