So said the wise Winston Churchill. I had them going through my mind. And then I gave up, then I didn’t, then I gave up, then I didn’t and then …
I left lovely Stehekin in the late afternoon on high spirits. It had been a lovely quiet little town in a beautiful setting. I had feasted on fresh pastries,organic cheese and sweet cherries.
The next day was my birthday. It was only half-way through the day that I realized this fact, dates are not that import while you’re hiking. I spent most of the remainder of the day singing birthday songs to myself, not thinking I would see another soul that day.
At the end of the day however I ran into two other hikers, which was a surprise for me. They were Southbounders just as me who had returned upon seeing the pass above Mica Lake. They told me it was just too dangerous to go any further. I sat down and took the blow. I’d have to turn back and skip the Washington part of the hike till the snow had melted further. I kept talking to them for a while longer and all of the sudden wasn’t ready to surrender just yet. I wanted to see this pass with my own to eyes before turning back. I asked Forest (one of the two guys) if I could buy his snow gear (ice axe and microspikes). That way I got myself a birthday gift and gave myself better chances to make it over the pass. I did.
The next two days were hard working my way up to Mica Lake which was beautiful. The way up the pass was hard but doable and I seemed to have conquered the trail.
The way down turned out to be much harder. I’m out there hiking without GPS or smartphone and had lost my compass the day before. I had to find my way through snow-covered trails using my topographic maps and the sun for orientation. I just kept getting lost and took some unwanted short-cuts. I felt lost and no longer sure where to go. I had been in a situation like this before in Kyrgyzstan and ended up taking a wrong and much hard pass. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again, I needed to know where to go before I would go further. I was ready to give up and already making my way back, when I suddenly saw a part of the trail. I could go further. I did not have to surrender.
The struggle continued for the following days. I spent long days on the trail, getting lost at least multiple times but always being lucky to find my way back. Thru-hiking feels like battling a heavy weight, time and time again you get punched down and you just have to keep getting up and going further.
These past six days have been the most intense and exhausting I have experienced on a physical an emotional level. I did not surrender.
And of course it was worth it. I’ve seen some amazing sights and feel like I’m slowly transforming into a hiking machine.
I’m staying at the Dinsmore’s Hikers Haven in Baren, Washington for the moment. They are trail angels who take hikers into their house giving us real beds, showers, food and lots of love. They’re amazing.
Statistics this part:
Distance hiked: 104 miles / 167 kilometres
Days hiked: 56 days
Altitude climbed: 28560 ft / 8705 metres
Books read: Wild – Into the wild
Days of hiking with wet feet: 6 days
Days of good weather : 6 days
People seen in 6 days: 2