As sure as the stars in the sky up above

DAY 13 - Peach lake campsite to Skykomish

Like sleeping with the lights on

Town day. You know when you have something really exciting or important on tomorrow and for some reason your body is so happy to keep you awake or restless? It's almost as if you are attempting to shut eye with every light in the room left on. That's what hiking 'town day' feels like!! It's the best and worst mental state to begin your day at! Haha! Town day is the final day of the last stretch, which means you will be in a town by the end of the day to pick up your resupply. (AND SHOWER!! SOAP!! SHAMPOO!!) It's so incredibly exciting and such an attainable goal; however, you still have 27.5kms to walk to the highway - then hitch! It can be soul crushing, but so thrilling. What a treat! But the most challenging part of that is teaching yourself not to think about the end result. It's the journey, right? How naff! But in all honesty, all those quotes about 'it's not about the destination, it's about the journey'? They were screaming loud and clear at me today, and I was trying so incredibly hard to play along! And guess what, I succeeded! 

Once I controlled my 'hurry up and get me to a shower, I mean town' thoughts, the day was pretty awesome. The first one hour incline was not "fun" per se, but worth it for this gorgeous view. 

Walking through Washington's grassy flower fields to cross Grizzly Peak was refreshing and a beautiful reminder that I may never be here again. I revelled in the fresh 7:30am morning smell and the cleanliness of the air at 5660 ft. The town was still in my mind, but I sure was fighting off the hurry.

A gentle descend took me through alternating terrain and one of the most glimmering snow patches left to bid me farewell from this Section K of Washington (yes, I know my ABC's, but as SOBO's, our alphabet is backwards)!! It was a definite photo worthy moment to capture the radiance of the sun shining down on the blanket of snow. 

I felt slightly meloncholy in regards to the snow. My feelings about it have grown and changed throughout this trek. From fear, to anger, to appreciation, to sadness... as it begins to melt away, I recognise that the snow has certainly evolved me. I've appreciated it's beauty and also what it has given me. It's possibly saved a couple of my toenails, muscle inflammation and will continue to do so. My thoughts on its presence and meaningfulness have certainly altered. It's created challenges and navigational games, but what is the point if life doesn't give you something to overcome? Wouldn't we then be naturally great at everything? What a boring existence.

Back into the woods and continuing down some switch backs, I was going through some uncharted territory. You always know if the terrain hasn't been touched that morning, as the glistening tracks of spider webs cross the trail giving you a nice shimmering icky feeling as you collect each spiders morning travel from tree to tree! 

As I was singing, I ran in to this little guy. He wouldn't move. Even with me singing, I thought it may have startled him. He just sat there. Eating. I sang a little louder. He didn't flinch. I didn't want to disrupt his breakfast, but I don't think he understood the impact Town Day has on a hiker... One must move. I tried to tip toe by, but gave up and stormed by. Skykomish Cascadia Inn shower had my name all over it! Sorry squirrel. You were good for a photo. How cute though?!

I've been relishing in taking photos of any PCT signs along the trail. There will be something nostalgic about this when I make it to Mexico. 

I looked up again today. It's so hard when you wear a cap all day long. Sometimes I just want it off so I can see the world above (and look out for bears)! But I stopped and looked up when I was back in the woods. 

I felt like an ant. Do you remember how as a child, everyone and everything seemed so much bigger than you? I remember looking up when I was in Grade 7 thinking 'I will never be that tall!' Then all of a sudden, you're an adult and that feeling completely disappears. Even if you aren't outrageously tall, for some reason, adulthood makes you feel bigger. More superior. You don't constantly talk up to people, or see everything like you are Alice in Wonderland after downing a bottle of shrinking medicine. Well today, I felt like a child again. I was Alice. The world around me was towering over me. Suddenly adulthood went out the door. The woods don't care if you are an adult or not. You are just another speck on the ground and the trees are now the mighty and superior. As adult as we are, we aren't as adult as we think! 

As I exited the woods, just before my lunch break, I crossed over top of Lake Valhalla. The glory! What beauty! The sun was glistening off the surface and it was definitely helping the mindset of the day. I just wanted to swim in it, but... Town Day!!!

I sat down for lunch at a nearby log and was definitely reminded of my fall the other day. The back of my knee hasn't fully recovered. Even though the knee was fine once I got moving after the incident, I'm only beginning to feel the twinge every now and then when walking. I've definitely pulled something. It's only beginning to twinge if I quickly lock the knee backwards. So as long as I'm bending on impact, it's doing ok. 

Then came the fun part of the day. The last 7km! All downhill. Careful she goes, especially with the knee. It was an awesome walk to the highway. A HIGHWAY! Cars. People. Civilisation. And oh my. Phone reception! Turning off that airplane mode, my phone found 4 bars of AT&T! Hallelujah! I called Mum immediately. Literally whilst still hiking towards the road. Out here, I believe it's important to let loved ones know you are safe. In a day of technology, we are incredibly lucky to have such devices to let people know we are alive and well. I gather that I'm putting enough worry on my family and friends already, that letting them know I'm good is a top priority in this adventure. Technology is here to help. Of course, it sure can hinder, but when used appropriately, it's there to connect us. How lucky we are. 

Then came the hitch hiking...

I was very grateful to have my first hitch hiking experience with one of my fellow hikers. If you have ever felt at a low point in your life, take that feeling and dig another 6 feet lower... that was me! That's how low hitching makes you feel! It's soul destroying and people look at you weirdly, as if to say 'What the hell are you doing?' Ummmm it's pretty obvious what I need right now. I need a ride to the next town!! I've already walked 353km, I ain't walking bonus kms!

We made bets of how long it would take to get a ride. Dutch bet 23 minutes. I bet 47. We got a ride at 24! Ha! A lovely mother and daughter from Seattle region who were on their way back from looking at Wedding venues in Leavenworth. Both had hiked sections of the PCT, so we're incredibly familiar with everything we had been up to. What amazing people there are in the world! Grateful doesn't even come close to how I felt in regards to them opening up their car to us. They drove us right to the door of the Inn. Eternal gratitude. 

Once checked in, a few hikers were already at the Inn. An amazing Inn called Cascadia Inn run by the incredible Henry. He is doing the most wonderous of things out here in Skykomish. Everything is set up for hikers and it's all hiker friendly. A complete appreciation for what happens along the trail. Again, grateful. 

A shower! You have no idea! To wash the hair, shave the legs, scrub the dirt off, use some soap! Oh. Now I know what heaven feels like. Don't take your shower or water supply for granted. Ever. 

After some food, a fresh salad, fries and gallons of water, I retreated to my room for another go at the shower. This time, a bath. Hot water and a soak.

The night ended with me catching up on my Canadian Tv series (Thank you for the download, Mum!!) and a huge catch up on my social media. It's strange without reception, but part of me actually likes not having it. The world is less stressful without it. Go figure. 

On that note, goodnight and don't forget to be grateful for your water tanks and the bathroom supply aisle at Woolies. 

- Gx


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