It has taken me a couple of days to recover and sort through all of my photos. This was my first 3 day and 2-night overnight backpacking trip. I was very excited but also extremely nervous about the challenges to come. During the hike, hunger was at an all-time high, exhaustion was constant, and dirt had accumulated in every nook and cranny. We started this trip with excitement and anticipation and ended feeling mentally and physically exhausted.
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 creeping and crawling on the motel room floor. I zipped myself up tight in my sleeping bag, trying to separate myself 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 my omelet was 80% cheese, 15% egg, 5% vegetables, and deep fried in 100% oil. We started our windy drive up the mountain. The weather was glorious and stayed that way for the remainder of the trip. There were bright blue skies, not a cloud to be seen. It was perfect weather just 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.