Sometimes, when the conditions are right, even when you’re in the middle of the woods and a hundred miles from nowhere, you can hear the squealing of a bus’s breaks as it makes a stop next to the trail. The bus driver pulls the lever next to the steering wheel and the door swings open. Whether or not to get on the struggle bus is often not a choice. The bus came here because it has been called. You bought the ticket and it’s time to get what you paid for.
While I have no regrets about yesterday’s late start, not hitting the trail until 11am cost us 4 hours of hiking. Getting roughly 8 miles less than we should have dashed our hopes of finishing this section in 3 days instead of 3.5. The dream of arriving in early to Snoqualmie and enjoying the town life a little bit more have all washed away.
Disillusioned dreams suck the energy out of your drive to press on. Instead of steadily marching towards something, it begins to feel like you’re chasing a rabbit down a track. We’re tired.
On the positive side of things, we have been passing some of our old Shelter Cove friends! We saw Bubble Wrap by Milk Creek a few days ago and Echo with her dog, Echo, just before the river we forded this morning. They don’t immediately recognize us, because they are going north and have met many more people than we have, but we make sure to stop and remind them :-).
What’s In a Name?
Before being on the PCT, I thought trail names were dumb. They were like hacker handles without the utility of anonymity. If the purpose of a trail name was to hide your identity, we would all name ourselves instead of waiting to be named. No, the utility of a trail name is quite the opposite, it’s very identity-based and usually comes with a story. If I tell someone that we chatted with Poptart or Smiles, it’s much easier than saying I chatted with Karen or Tom, to which there may be a dozen.
Two or more people with the same trail name on the same trail in the same year does happen. Brianna and I have met 3 Gandalf and 2 Puke and Rallys. Seems like all you need to do is carry a wooden stick instead of a hiking pole and you’re a Gandalf. Not a single Bilbo. Curious, isn’t it? As southbounders, we haven’t met that many people, so the dataset is small. When I think about it, it’s not curious at all.
In case you’re wondering, Brianna is still without a trail name. Maybe we will hike around people in California and she will get one then? Or maybe she will stay Brianna forever!
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when only one remembers to turn on the light.” -Dumbledore
Disembarking from the struggle bus is never as easy as getting on. This bus has a lot of people to pick up in the PCT area. There is one thing though – you’re not allowed to eat fresh huckleberries on the bus. The bus driver will kick you off for being too happy! Whenever we see that one of us is on or getting ready to board the struggle bus, we pick a berry for each of us. 10/10 smiles all around.
Camping at Glacier Lake last night was great. About 20 feet of large rocks separated the many tent spots from the lake. Many hikers set their tents up on top of the rocks for a premo view of the beautiful blue water. Our tent sat in a bowl, big enough to fit our set and flat enough for us to sleep comfortably. We’d have been screwed if it rained hard overnight. While sleeping in a bowl is not generally recommended, it is so comfortable to feel the ground hugging you to sleep.
Inclines continue to be steep in this Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie section. We are getting better at the 400/500 ft/mile climbs, taking less breaks and powering on for longer periods of time. Any time we can hike a steep 4-mile incline in under 2 hours, that’s something to get pumped about.