Monday, August 20, 2012

Stories from the PCT

My mind is swimming with stories to share with y'all and a shortage of time of which to write.  Such is the reality of the trail.  You want to share, but it takes time and energy.  The reality is you want to put your feet up and relax!  I'm a happy, but tired girl.  I am taking and enjoying my first day off in the fantastic Trout Lake Grocery Store.

Here in Trout Lake, the people are kind and they cater to hikers.  I have a room for 3 for $25.  Laundry is free as is the computer.  They also receive hiker mail - a box which I mailed to myself is here and waiting and full of treasures like dehydrated Hummous. :)  There is a cafe on the corner, that was open at 6:00AM and full of farmers, hikers and fire fighters.  It's a 4-way stop in the middle of nowhere. And people are generous and kind.  I will have a lift back to the trail courtesy of a volunteer.

So many stories to share!  The people I have met, the places I have been. 

I have enjoyed an amazing last few days.  The scenery in the Goat Rocks Wilderness and the Mount Adams Wilderness has been out of this world.  At Goat Rocks - I enjoyed an amazing high alpine ridge walk and Mount Adams,  well - it has presence to say the least.

I also enjoyed my first random Trail Magic.  In the middle of nowhere, in a beautiful alpine place called Cispus Basin was a PCT Class of 2011 member, trail name The Staggering Norwegian.  He had a backpack full of food, just for me and all other thru-hikers.  I got fresh Clementines, cookies and Rice Crispies squares.  And a hug.  And I took some "to Go!"  Thanks Staggering Norwegian and friends, you made my day!

I haven't talked yet about the 12:00 Happy Dance.  This could take a whole blog entry it has become such fun and I have so many stories of the Happy Dance! What is the Happy Dance?  A few days in to my trip, the alarm on my watch started going off at 12:00 in the afternoon.  The alarm is not on, but I decided to leave it.  So.  My alarm chimes every day at 12:00 and I do the 12:00 Happy Dance.  It started with Angela and myself and now it continues. It also catches me by surprise every single day.  You think I would be paying attention with so little to do every day.  But alas, no. I drop whatever it is that I am doing and I do a Happy Dance.  Actually, it's a pretty energetic silly dance.  Mostly, it's been a solo dance.  But recently, I have a few participants.  Today, for instance the alarm went off while I was sitting here in the grocery store.  "It's the 12:00 Happy Dance!" I proclaimed out loud to the rough-around-the-edges middle aged lady here at the store.  She loved it, and even joined in.  Back in Cispus Basin, shortly before meeting the Staggering Norwegian I had been chatting with some local day hikers when the 12:00 Alarm went off.  "It's the Happy Dance!"  I proclaimed dropping my pack and spinning a few circles like a crazed woman.  The crowds went wild. Way back in Skykomish, the alarm went off as I was leaving town just as I was crossing the very public town bridge.  Happy Dance ensued.  Joy.  And of course, the Happy Dance has taken place in many, many beautiful places.  On top of a ridge with a view of Rainier, yesterday in a flower filled meadow beneith the shadow of Mount Adams and yes, while having a  scrub in a snow patch the other day.  Oh, Happy Dance.  You give me such Joy.

The people - oh, the people!  I'm enjoying meeting the Northbound thru-hikers of which I am seeing more and more of daily.  I have met some amazing folks of all ages.  I met an old fart from Calgary - trail name:  Not Dead Yet.  He was in his '70's.  Yesterday, I met a family hiking with their 6 year old who were flying by.  They didn't have time to chat, but she screamed over her shoulder "the kid is going to be the youngest ever to finish!".  That kid was zooming.  Go kid.  Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of meeting Trail Bait and her mom.  I heard someone singing, and round the corner to find see this filthy girl with huge boobs, a backpack smoking a cherry flavor cigarello.  She looked to be in her early twenties.  I greeted her with "What are you singing, honey?"  When she opened her mouth, I knew she was much younger.  I met her mom moments later, who introduced herself as Blair Witch and her 15 year old daughter Trail Bait.  Mom had her trail snacks neatly stored between her immense boobs.  There are all sorts of different people on the trail and most of them are regular people doing an amazing thing!!  Hiking 2,650 miles is not an easy thing to do.  But it is an can be as enjoyable as you want to make it.  The older folks have started to appear - they where a uniform of long sleeve nylon shirt and pants, with big brimmed hats of all styles:  safari style.  Keeps the sun off and the bugs off.  But OMG, I would be hot in that uniform.  Most are happy, some are focused, the rare few are ready to be done with their hike.

I met an old fart on a ridgetop the other night.  He was skinny and old and had a lopsided gate.  I christened him the lopsisded scarecrow, he looked exhausted and it was getting late quick.  We both had made the mistake of continueing down the trail into the early evening - only to find out there was know place to camp along this rocky, steep trail.  It was rapidly turning into late evening.  "Looks like I'm not the only fool out here!"  he laughed.  "I'm going to have to get out the headlamp and do some night walking!"  We laughed at our predicament.  I went to shake his hand and introduce myself and he said, "Honey, you don't want to shake my hand right now - but I'll give you a knuckle bump!"  So, we bumped knuckles and went our separte ways.  Don't worry Mom - I made it off the mountain in the late evening light and found myself a nice spot in a meadow full of lupines.  Sorry, lupines.  I didn't mean to squash you but I was desparate.

At the Krackerbarrel Gas Station, in White Pass - I could have sat and watched people all day.  I had fried chicken for breakfast, did my laundry and watched as people came and went.  It was an amazing collection of tourists on motorbikes, RV's, local white trash and local old farts.  These good folks also accept mail for hikers and treat us like gold.  I love these kind of places and the people in th

And so it continues!  I have come a very long distance in a very short time.  My brain and my legs are tired and today, I will give them the first rest that they have had in 19 days.  My first day off.  Sweet.  It was not planned, but this place is so magical and affordable that I would be a fool to not enjoy.  I'm going to put my legs up.  Get off my feet.  I'm off to find a creek to soak my legs in, they a Huckleberry Milk Shake and a burger.  Last night, I surprised the fry cook at the Cafe by eating not one, but two burgers.  Oh yeah.  Life is good. 

13 comments:

Gretchen said...

Awesome!! Totally makes me miss the trail. I loved Goat Rocks Wilderness and Cispus!

Glad you are lovin it, Leslie, and appreciating all the quirky trail folk. Great stuff, thanks for taking the time to share it with us!

Ed said...

Wow what a story...love the old dude fist bump. I tell ya if more people in the world did a 12:00 happy dance there would be less negative energy...

Danni said...

I am really quite jealous.

Tom said...

Hi Leslie; I am so enjoying your hike great pic, and just in case you are still searching for the trail name how about 'happy dancer' ?

Olga King said...

Loved every little story! 6 yo! And 79 yo! And the town you described on FB! Trail Magic! And The Happy Dance! May be we need to support you with one as 12pm PT as well:) Go, Leslie!

Backofpack said...

Leslie,
This was wonderful to read! I'm glad it's all going well. You are knockin' it out like nobody's business! I love happy dances, I'll join you in one next time we see you.
Michelle

Jill Homer said...

Great stories, Leslie, thanks for taking the time to share your journey. Danni — someday we should do this. Seriously. Maybe Leslie will want to come for a second go-round.

David Nice said...

Awesome!

Anthony said...

The 12:00 Happy Dance is awesome! Can't wait to hear more about your journey!

Sandra said...

Awww Leslie, loving your blog and photos. Glad you are liking the northwest :o) I so wish you could've made it thru the oregon coast area but hey! maybe next time. Yes the people are truly, truly so friendly out here. Like they've known you for years. Keep on posting girl ... loving it!
Sandra ... (deanna's Ma) ...

Kathy Reesor said...

Hi Leslie. You met my friend, Marcia, just before you left on the trail. I did the PCT section last year from Mexico to Walker Pass. Leaving Fri to start from where I left off and hike north for almost a month. Probably get to Tuolomine Meadows. Given the time frame, I don't think we'll run into each other, but who knows. Have a fantastic hike.
Kathy/Hardass

Jessica said...

I'm bummed we missed the Happy Dance! At least we got to see you juggle clementines :) I'm so envious you're out spending every minute in that beautiful world. Keep on keepin' on!
~Crumbs (part of Stumbling Norwegian crew ;)

phillip roullard said...

Hi Leslie,

We are back from our adventure in Mongolia. Thinking of you as you hike your buns off on the PCT.

We are ready to assist you at any time as you get closer to the San Diego area and the desert out East.

Let us know if and when you need help or need a ride.

Phil and Callie 691-698-9512