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I had to shave my leg and armpit hair for my brother’s wedding and it was funny to find myself feeling embarrassed on trail when people saw me with shaven legs. I have been wearing knee high socks ever since. I definitely associated a lot of pride, comfort, confidence being hairy and when I took it away I felt naked, ugly and insecure. It seemed as if I didn’t feel like myself, but I knew deep down that wasn’t true. It had nothing to do with how I appeared.

Took the Seneca Lake Trail 10 miles to Elkhart Park Trailhead. I started hiking at 4am to get a view of the stars reflecting upon the lakes. I got lost several times due to my headlamp running out of battery. The highlight on the way down was seeing a squirrel run across the trail with a pinecone half the size of its body in its mouth.

Made it to Elkhart Trailhead with everything soaking wet from last night’s rain and the early morning’s dew. Hitched a warm ride into Pinedale and hung out with some southbounders at Jackalope Motor Lodge. We ate snacks at the picnic table as we dried our clothing/gear on the line. Turned out, everyone there also thru-hiked the PCT during a high snow year, whether in ‘17 or ‘19. I met a guy who started two days after me and finished two days before me but we never crossed paths!

There was a cutie named Spicy Bite at the lodge whom I hit it off with. He had bright blue/grey eyes, dark facial hair and a great sense of humor. I invited him to go to town with me to get a burger and he was very open to it! We settled on Wind River Brewing Company and though it was an hour wait, we didn’t mind because it meant we had more time to get to know one another.

He also thru’d the PCT in ‘19 and was about a week ahead of me. Never ran into him, either. I looked at him intensely and said, “Fuck Mather Pass,” and just like all the 2019ers, he empathized, “FUUUUCK Mather Pass!!!” Everyone that went through the Sierra almost died summiting that pass. He also agreed that it made a huge impact on his life, that strength followed and that he felt he could handle most anything now. We agreed we would do it again intentionally.

As we laughed and bonded by similar near-death experiences, I saw how much I enjoyed storytelling. I loved it more than watching a movie. It felt so raw, so real. The facial expressions, the hand gestures, the blushing, the inability to keep composure as the story was being told.

We came back to the hostel and he helped attach my mesh water bottle holders onto my bag. I sat really close to him and could feel the playful, flirtatious energy building up in our field.

Later, I helped him fix the strings that snapped inside his tent poles. He told me to hold it taut and I started laughing hysterically because I was convinced that taut wasn’t a real word. Everytime he said, “Hold it taut,” I just heard a British accent and I completely lost it.

At the end of the night, he sat beside my bunk as we talked about life. I loved how naturally close thru-hikers became in a matter of moments. My head was resting in my hand and he took photos of me with his Sony camera. I invited him into my bunk to cuddle, which, quickly turned into play.

It was really attractive to me how there was no pushy kind of energy as he was talking to me for a couple of hours. Not once did he invite himself in or make any kind of sexual insinuation. I found it incredibly attractive being the one to lead into play and often found it to be a turn off when I sensed a guy had zero control over his drive.

In an afterglow, we took the bikes from the hostel and rode to Wrangler Cafe because I got an intense craving for french toast. Pure freedom. Pure fucking freedom living like this. Just a bike, delicious food and some great company. It reminded me of my days in Bishop, CA.