Day 118: You Get Lost, You Probably Weren’t Planning on It

Memories from August 16

The Swiss couple who I’d shared a campsite with were out early while I didn’t get up until 7:00am or so which is normally pretty late but since I’m only trying to hike 20ish miles a day, it’s fine.

I ran into Pathfinder who I’d been leap frogging on Oregon and walked most of the way into Cascade Locks with. We talked continuously as we had before when hiking together and we kept each other to a good pace, 1:30pm found me at my destination and we parted.

I cleaned up in the little Trout Lake Creek and sat on the shaded side of the little bridge with my solar charger and drying clothes on the other. This is more or less what I wanted to do more of in Washington, they sitting around in a beautiful place with nothing to do. I made a list of the big things I want to do after getting home: career things to discuss with my boss which I’ve collected over the course of the trail, some big picture personal direction for the next season of life, and a spiritual discipline I’d like to work on. As the trail begins to come to an end, it feels like a good time to try to collect all the stray threads my mind has spun out here.

After that, I remembered I had The Old Man and the Sea on audiobook and listened to that as it wouldn’t drain my cellphone’s battery as much as reading it would have. With so much tree cover, I haven’t been able to charge the battery in my solar panel very often and so battery power is a resource I’ve had to be more conscious of.

On a much less ethereal note, I got lost while trying to find the campsite after digging a cat hole this evening. Usually, no one did their car hole the proper 200ft from the trail and water due to terrain and urgency. Since I had time, I figured I’d try to do it properly but instead of turning 180° I probably turned something like 120°. I hadn’t noted any major reference points since I didn’t feel like I was going that far and when camp didn’t appear where I thought it should be, worked my way towards the creek knowing that, given the direction of flow when I crossed it and the side of the trail  I was on, following the creek downstream should lead me to the trail. When, guided my the sound of water, I encountered a stream, it was flowing in the opposite direction that I expected. This was very disconcerting because the light was low enough that there were no shadows with to roughly align a compass rose knowing that the sun sets in the west. Was I really so turned around that my sense of direction was so completely turned around? Was there another stream so close and I hadn’t noticed? Suddenly nothing was sure. Am I wrong or is the stream wrong? I decided to try to find the cat hole and then redo my attempt to walk back to camp. After probably 30 seconds, it became clear that I had no idea where my cat hole was as I hadn’t expected to ever have to find it again. Still certain down trees looked familiar as did an a patch of young pine trees. At some point, I spotted a stream where I didn’t expect the previous stream to be. This stream was even flowing in the expected direction. I walked out onto a downed log to get a clear view up and down stream to look for a bridge. I didn’t see one in either direction. Could I really be that far? The stones in the creek and it’s width were more similar to the creek near the camp. After a quick check up stream found no bridge, I turned around and headed in the direction I’d had have expected camp to be if this were the stream I thought it was. Ironically, it was a pile of unburied toilet paper which first clued me in that camp must be nearby. People don’t like to go far from camp to defecate and the close proximity of this pile to water (no PCT Hiker would be so thoughtless since water quality is always on our minds and this, if I was correct, was even upstream of where most people would draw water) and the campsite’s close proximity to a road made me think that this was the work of an over-nighter who was especially interested in keeping their trip to the latrine short. Sure enough, as I clambered over the chest chest high fallen tree, I spotted my sleeping bag. 

Lemei Lake by early morning.

More peek-a-boo mountain views. It’s like in a monster movie when you get a glimpse of part of the monster tough a window or between building.

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