It has taken me a couple of days to recover, sort through all my photos, and try to come up with a few encouraging/positive words about this trip. Let me start by saying that this was my first 3 day 2 night backpacking trip, and in my opinion, two nights too many. Hunger is at an all time high, exhaustion has doubled, and dirt has accumulated in thickness. I started this trip with excitement and anticipation, and ended feeling mentally and physically exhausted. Last Friday night we drove 3 hours SE to a small town near Mount St. Helens. A relatively stress free drive, passing a few deer on the way. We stayed at Tall Timber Motel, arriving just in time for Friday night karaoke. There was a lot of moving and shaking, mostly by locals, and a few questionable souls. Later, in the room, exhausted and slightly terrified, I lay on my bed imagining all things creepy and crawly. I zipped myself up tight in my sleeping bag, separated from the world, and anything that could bite my toes.
The next morning we checked-out and grabbed breakfast at the Tall Timber Restaurant. I tried to consume as many calories as possible, which was remarkably easy due to the fact the my omelet was 80% cheese, 15% egg, 5% vegetables, and deep fried in 100% oil. Feeling a bit nauseous from the mornings events, we started our windy drive up the mountain. The weather was glorious, and stayed so for the whole trip. Bright blue skies, not a cloud to be seen. Perfect weather, until the sun started to set, and then my body turned into a shivering mess. Barely able to keep warm, each night I would dive into my sleeping bag creating a cocoon. Waiting for the sun to return the next day.
Day one started off relatively easy. A few scrambles, through some gullies, up and the down. We finished the day 30 minutes before sunset. I was tired, but content. My shoulders a bit stiff, but nothing too out of the ordinary. I was reassured. I can handle this, I thought. The next morning we took our time. A late start to the day followed by a long lunch. We had traversed through giant lava boulders, up and down giant gullies. A good enough hike to call it a day. As we continued to hike, we were extremely confident that we had trekked half of our anticipated 11 miles. After passing a sign post, we realized that in fact we had only hiked 2 miles and that we had 9 more to go. It was now 2 pm, and I had a very unsettling feeling in my stomach. (This is the point at which I almost cried). We ended the day at 9:00 pm in the dark. The last two miles were spent carefully hiking down a mountain (trying not to fall off the cliff edge), guided by a tiny light. Paranoia had slowly begun to kick in, and my intense fear of being eaten by a cougar was getting the best of me.
I could barely put on my shoes the next day, swollen and blistered. My legs no longer functional. But, indeed I wanted to make it out of this hike alive. Again, another day of gullies, traverses, and sand. Seven hours later, and we finally made it to the car. I have never been so excited to take off my shoes. We quickly drove to the closest Mexican restaurant to consume as many calories as possible. After drinking a Vitamin water, my body started to go into shock. I started shivering uncontrollably. I could barely eat my food. Leaving the restaurant, the waiter asked if we had been riding horses. Funny enough, the only thing that could have made this trip a little easier. I'm glad to say that I made it home, in one piece, with a bit of my sanity left. Although, I haven't managed to leave the couch, my spirit a little fragile. I will be happy if I never see a pack of tuna, a bag of tortillas, oatmeal, almond butter, and soy jerky again. Am I glad that I did this trip - yes. Will I do it again - no. Was it difficult - yes. How long will it take for me to put my backpack on - probably a year. The best part of the trip - the end.