Finally, finally, finally, it is my last day on this trail. I know I will not sleep tonight, and this is exciting. I think of all my friends who have run 100 miles or even more in 24 hours. I just have to do 67. Surely I can do this!
My bites are gently infected and I lightly ooze yellow pus. This doesn’t stop me from idly picking them.
The difficulty of what I have left to do is weighing on me this morning. I see Pyro and almost collapse into a hug with him but do not stop, same with Maud and Cal who are shortly behind him. I don’t see 60 and wonder what they’ve done with him.
I’m out of water yet again and don’t want to do any of the off trail meanders to a lake. I collect at a truly scummy pond and scowl. Nothing is wrong, but I am tired, and it is OK to be weak now. I am towards the end and I don’t think I have the option to be strong. I tell myself it’s not long until I can sit on a 35 hour train. The train is coming.
Last night my tears were for my failure, today they are simply tears for my current situation. I feel sorry for myself and do not want to do this anymore. The forest is so kind to me, I have no reason to complain.
I pull up to a ridge and see mount hood. It’s my first tangible sighting of Oregon and my spirits lift. I get the funniest voice note ever from James about the pain cave and I laugh through my tears. I decide it’s my pain cave and I can cry if I want to.
Then I see some trail magic I think it’s only beer left but I spot a fizzy water! I down it and move straight on saying thank you. I also grabbed a small package of crackers that psss straight through me but taste very good. I am thrilled to also see 60, who is quite far behind the others so I thought was lost to oblivion. He really is just a gorgeous person and his smile makes me smile too.
I’m quite good at keeping crying cathartic, and I have a long downhill and tell myself I can howl as much as I want until I get to panther creek. I make full use of this license and scream and sob to myself. I am overtaken by a sobo which I find quite shocking and makes me cry even more. I catch him at a road however, and shoot some daggers into his back. I take a dirt nap and it doesn’t stop the tears but does help enormously.
I see quite a lot of people I know who are struggling uphill in the heat, including Becky a Brit I met while I was training in Tehachapi! It’s so good to see her. I also bump into Tinder who tells me she is crying too. It’s nice to have company through the tears even as we go in different directions.
At panther creek I stop. The soho who overtook me catches up and is, of course, extremely nice. I tell him (or I think I did) that I was annoyed at him for overtaking me. He’s so funny and helps turn my mood around. A lovely nobo is there too and they both give me painkillers. Nessie tells me later that he gave me the full packet of painkillers expecting me to take just s few but I pocketed the whole thing. I am so grateful to them both and hope I have learned my lesson about giving the stink eye to anyone on trail. I see a sign for trail magic at the campsite but bay time for magic is done. Now it is just movement.
The reset seems to have worked. I’m really on my final push now, perhaps another 12 hours on trail or so, and it feels manageable. I am happy to be here and wouldn’t wish it away for the world. I am so low on food that I want to eat but don’t ration it. I now have only 3 climbs left and even though it’s so muggy, the night will cool things off. I put my hair in a high bun and think I look like a very chic ballerina (I don’t). I pass people camping at water and begrudge them nothing. I see Vibes and give him a quick hug before continuing on. The climb is not bad but I’m thirsty. I get most of the way up and stop briefly at a road to get my electronics out. I need one final juice explosion to make it through the night. Lots of people are setting up camp but I just smile at them.
I am still shitting an absurd amount but it doesn’t matter anymore. Josh texts me: ‘shit away sweet butterfly’ – I laugh and take this advice to heart.
The night cools immensely but it doesn’t ever get so cold that I have to put my fleece on. It’s beautiful and clear. I got a voice message from Ryan that truly is one of the kindest things I’ve ever heard. The gist was: I will be there, I am watching you, just move and I will handle the rest. I had felt so relentlessly alone, it was the greatest kindness in the world for him to take on some of the burden. My plan became, just get to Ryan.
I run out of water on the climb. I lie down in the middle of the trail and think I can sleep for 10 minutes. Sleep doesn’t come but I feel like I am getting my wish of lying in the dirt staring at the trees. Time to move, im up after about 2.
I bastardise yet another Hamilton lyric pretending Oregon and Washington are fighting:
Ella raffs a smart man she’ll be fine, And before she was your friend she was mine
I used to live in Oregon before moving to Washington so this makes me laugh.
The night is so peaceful. The miles around the lake were very confusing as I could see so many damn lights, and it wasn’t obvious to me if it was headlamps, or many parked cars that had all left their headlamps on. I believe ultimately it was the cascade locks lights but I couldn’t put it together at the time.
I ran out of water which is really quite unbelievable for my final miles. It actually turned them into a bit of a sufferfest. I was completely content and happy but truly desperate for water which is not the problem I expected to face at 3am in Washington. It felt like a full circle from my disastrous experience in the desert though, and kept me moving pretty quickly. Water ‘only’ a few miles away was never close enough and I suffered.
I pulled onto the road and almost instantly saw a headlamp. I thought it was some runner out for their morning jog. Obviously not, it was Ryan! He ran me the few yards over to get to the bridge. We reached the welcome to Oregon sign and it took everything in me not to just collapse. I don’t think I cried. As we stumbled off the bridge Alex showed up as well! We went to Ryan’s car
and sat I. The drizzle. He is one of the best people and has, over our years of friendship, compiled a list of things I like, and had brought them – a red pepper, Diet Coke, and mint ice cream. This kindness toppled me and I don’t think I really joined in with conversation with the two of them as I was so overwhelmed. Then Katie and Steven showed up! We all sat and chatted for a bit until Ryan took me back to his. I was instructed firmly to shower but then went straight to bed. I couldn’t sleep at all and being horizontal felt like a great agony. All of the pain that my body had repressed came flooding to me. I didn’t care. It is over. 10 days 3 hours and 45 minutes or so, a maths calculation I would save for tomorrow.
Low: being mentally mean about such a nice sobo!
High: a calm beautiful night for my final miles