Day 128: Monday, September 9

Tenting on a foggy ridge (PCT mi 2376.4), walked 26.2 miles today

Again, it was too cold and dark to wake up right away, and I was out at the relatively late hour of 7:30. I don't know when the morning happened ... I was lost in my own thoughts so long that it was 15 miles before I took a real break. I was in the perfect stage of fatigue, one where you're not tired enough to be held back or feel uncomfortable, but tired enough that you zone out and hours pass by in the blink of an eye. The same thing has happened to me on long road trips or at particularly repetitive jobs that started early in the morning (not going to name names). I've read some debates on that center on the level of focus or in-tuneness or attention to nature one is supposed to have when hiking--I say bull to all that, because I am free to think about or not think about whatever I please when I'm out here. It's a concept that might be harder to grasp if one is coming from a set of circumstances where a trip to the woods is a real treat, a real release from the pressures of regular life--it seems almost insulting in that case to say that at times I was quite content to be ignoring the nature around me. But stay in one kind of environment long enough and sometimes you just can't or don't care to pay attention to your surroundings. It'd be the same with anyone else. I'd be interested to meet a person who claims that he was always listening to the birds or observing the plant life for every minute of a 5-month-long hike ... I don't think that person exists.

Only two things temporarily brought me out of my happy oblivion--a stop-in at the palatial Urich Cabin, and the fleeting sight of an elk's rump end as he sprinted away from me 50 yards down the trail. After 15 miles or so I ran into my first human, a section-hiker from Seattle calling himself Sadhu. He was a nice guy, though I always get a kick out of super white people from the Northwest giving themselves mystical/spiritual Eastern names (Tribhu was an exception because two different gurus years apart had independently told him that would be his name). I had a friend in college who used to go to a retreat somewhere in Washington called Indralaya, and she swore to me that there was a special energy about the place, but I swore that if it were called Spruce Acres or something instead of Indralaya, she probably wouldn't have felt the same vibes. Anyway. Pushed on ahead of Sadhu after awhile and at length began descending to a dirt road that would've been unremarkable except that a half-mile before it there was a sign indicating that trail magic was down below. At first I thought this was just an old sign that the trail magic provider had forgotten to take down upon departure, because no one does trail magic on Mondays on remote dirt roads, but boy was I wrong. A man named Not Phil's Dad (father of Not Phil '09, not a guy who people erroneously assume to be some Phil's father), was on his 7th day of camping and providing food and soda and other odds and ends to thru-hikers. He had run out of some of his good foods, like fruit and hot dogs and hamburgers, but still had enough left to make some kind of roast beef tacos for me (I was alone and the first hiker through for hours). I drank a Coke and a Mountain Dew while I was there, which I knew was going to make my heart almost explode but I didn't care. The best part about the stop was his hiker box, which had a metal splint and duct tape, and I used these to make a fully functional fix on my tent pole.

Lost over an hour there at the trail magic, and by the time I left it was after 6 and I knew only 3 or so more miles were practical, although my original intent had been to get farther today. Those 3 miles were almost all a big climb, and up at the top of the ridge that the trail gained, I walked along a bit through a recently-materialized fog (today was cloudless until then) until I found a tidy little spot. Pitched my tent because of the damp and wind, and the pole to my great relief held up just fine. Tomorrow is about 25 miles to Snoqualmie Pass ... There is a large concentration of hikers a few hours ahead of me, judging by the register at the trail magic, and if they all stay the afternoon and night at the pass tomorrow, I should have good company heading out the next day.