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Aug 16 2023, Timberline Trail (Day 1):
I woke up when it was still dark outside and began hitchhiking. It wasn’t the most ideal time since every car still had their headlights on and passed by pretty fast, but I didn’t mind waiting in the slightest.
I got a ride to Government Camp, then straight up to the Timberline Lodge by one of the employees. He happened to also be from the southwest suburbs of Chicago! He shared with me that the Timberline Lodge was a huge tourist trap and that there was only one short clip that was shot and put in the movie The Shining. They had the famous axe located at the front desk that they would let tourists take a picture with if they asked.
“But at least the axe is real, right?” I asked.
He shook his head ‘no’ and said, “It’s just a replica of the original.”
I stood outside of the building where I had stood a few years ago. Once again, I had a clear remembrance of the way I felt back then, which was an energy sensation of feeling ‘out of place.’ At that time, I was on the PCT and was experiencing a lot of sadness and frustration, which was the majority of what I felt during that thru-hike.
Being there now, I was extremely excited and grateful. I saw quite a few hikers, so I went to converse with them, however it didn’t seem they wanted to talk much, other than one guy.
I felt I was being perceived as the annoying day hiker that would excitedly ask, “Are you hiking the PCT?! Tell me everything!”
I was genuinely excited and wanted to talk trail, but quickly let it go when I felt the energy that they were communicating was that they were tired/not up for it. Instead, I had a cup of coffee, worked on some writing and then got ready to start the Timberline Trail.
I put my pack on my hips and felt inspired to hike the trail counterclockwise. I felt so at home the moment I stepped foot on the terrain. I felt I belonged there in that environment and on the west side of the country.
The Timberline Trail overlapped with the PCT for a little ways, so I got to walk past a few places I had already been. There was a camp about a mile before the lodge and I remember standing there in 2019 and thinking to myself how I was going to come back in the near future to hike the Timberline Trail. I felt fond of the area and was sure in my heart that I would soon return.
The PCT had a very specific scent; if I was being guided by my nose, I would know exactly where I was on trail. There was one flower in particular that had the same scent as my yoni when I was in the stage of ovulation. I often found them blooming in parts of northern Cali and Oregon and every time I smelled them, it would activate a primal sexual instinct in me.
I loved feeling and watching the way my body became grubby from the clouds of dirt dust being formed from the brushing of my footsteps. The dryness of the wildlife was similar to that of the desert. It was only the beginning, and already the trail was so much more remote than the AT. I didn’t hear any cars or nearby highways, I barely even saw any people in comparison.
The views were open and vast. I walked through meadows with colorful flowers that bloomed, the mountain ridges ahead blended into the landscape with deep blue smokey hues. Along the sides of the trail were fuzzy little oval flower plants that reminded me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Tall pine trees covered in lichen and moss that were scattered about, swaying in the wind. There were large, twisted pieces of wood fallen beside the trail, mixed with colored swirls of burnt umber, mocha and bleached beige.
I met a girl who was carrying her dog in her backpack. His paws were slightly injured and feeling sensitive, so she was only being a good mother. Then, I discovered a blue jay feather and added it to my collection.
I came across a glacial waterfall stream cascading from the majestic snow peaked mountain of Mount Hood. Up ahead were bright green meadows and valleys of Oregon pines; birds danced and chirped their songs of gratitude as I trekked my way between the crevices of Mother Earth.
Now this is what I call a trail, I thought to myself.
I felt as if I suffered mentally on the east coast after devoting so much time on the west and growing accustomed to receiving such stunning views every step I took.
Glaciers surrounded me and high rise stream crossings became the norm of the day, so I didn’t even bother keeping my feet dry. One crossing in particular actually scared the bejeezus out of me. It was flowing deep and strong, but thankfully, another hiker informed me that he placed a small dead log directly across the path.
I was brought back to one of my most fearful crossings on the PCT when I had looked at a log I had to step on with water flowing at a very fast speed just below me. I placed the weight of one foot on the log to find it was unstable, slightly dipping into the rushing stream. My legs began shaking and then my entire body followed with panic. I had psyched myself out and told myself I couldn’t do it, the fear getting the best of me in the end.
But, overtime, I quickly got over that once I realized water crossings were going to be a normal every day experience in the Sierras. Just the same here, I embodied the energy of confidence. Water seemed to bring up an intense adrenaline rush for me and I just wasn’t really fond of it, however I took a breath and just walked over the log without thinking about it too much. I did a happy dance when I made it safely to the other side.
At the top of the climb, there were still patches of snow to walk across, so my feet were sliding from lack of grip. On the descent, I received views of Mount Jefferson, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams and Mount Rainier. I took a break at one of the campsites and sat down at one of the picnic tables. Someone had stacked a bunch of sticks like ladders between a couple of trees. Then, I looked down at my feet and thanked them for walking me along the trail. My shoes were on the end of their life and I was on the beginning of mine.
While there, I chatted up some of the other hikers. One man in particular, it was his fifth time hiking the trail. He had discovered it five years ago and made it a yearly ritual to come out and hike it. As a man that was constantly changing, he said it was a completely different experience every time.
Then, I got some water from the spigot and continued on the trail. I began the ascent, growing a little bit more out of breath from all of the hours spent hiking. There were so many down trees that definitely provided an extra workout. I came across an exposed burn area, by far some of my favorite scenery, however not the best for climbing when it was still the heat of the day. There were lots of flies, but couldn’t complain because they were way better than mosquitoes. Then, I saw a pika perched up on a rock, appearing to be in a meditation as it watched the sun begin to set.
I experienced a second wind and ended up stopping a mile past the original campsite I had intended on staying at. Instead, I came across Wy’East Basin Meadow and called dibs on the last campsite that was tucked away between some bushes.
Before going to bed, I went to get some water at a nearby stream and chatted with another hiker who was already there. We talked about how awesome the Timberline Trail was. It was his first time getting into thru-hiking and he had absolutely fallen in love with it and knew the moment he stepped foot on trail that he was hooked.
I had been meeting so many people in their sixties and seventies whom just started the hiking lifestyle and experienced a sense of regret for not having discovered it at an earlier age. I reminded them that they started at the perfect age/time and that it wouldn’t be possible any other way. I found the same thoughts would hook me, too, such as wishing I discovered thru-hiking in high school or even younger. However, I was a totally different person back then. The thought of something like that wouldn’t even be remotely interesting to me, nor would it have even been something I felt I would have been ready to experience physically and mentally.
Everything always came at the perfect time. Receiving the sense that something could be out of place or not divinely timed was a distraction to get you hooked onto past thinking. The ego was never satisfied and couldn’t accept the simple fact that everything was perfect and as it needed to be. The gift was in receiving the feeling sensation in order to see through it.
I got back to camp and made myself two packets of ramen noodles. I looked out the mesh of my tent as the sun began to set, then looked down at my legs to see nothing but an image of art. My sweat had mixed with the dirt and formed a marble like effect that reminded me of the dark ripples of the sand on the Oregon coast. The hair on my legs were thick and prominent and all I could feel in my heart was how beautiful I felt. Right there, I realized what a miracle it was to speak lovingly about myself in my own mind. I felt grateful to be apparently doing what I loved and physically appearing the way in which I felt most beautiful—wild and raw, the way nature intended me to be.