Mount Rainer, WA/ Wonderland Trail: Improvised Norse Fire Reroute for the PCT


Bugle calls from a bull elk at 10:30 pm permeate the otherwise silent ridge, dotted with lights from miles away: Seattle. I’m on mile 23.4 of the Wonderland Trail, on a detour I take to bypass the Norse fire closure on the PCT. After 16.5 hours, 34.5 miles and 8500 feet or more in elevation gain, I drop my tent on wet ground. My legs tingle with sore pain permeating all the way to my bones.
I pitch my tent in the dark, atop of elk droppings and blueberries, eating a few of the berries in front of my tent as I take off my filthy shoes. I can see Seattle and my heart sinks. The last time I saw my ex was during this time last year. I feel sad and cold, my bugle call a grotesquely silent mourning from within.
Sunshine casually reminded me today that in Rainer, I will make new memories. I am making them, but I can’t seem to shed the old ones. I beg the moon to erase the revolving narrative. I take a step and look back up. The moon has disappeared behind a tree.
Like the moon, our stories can change within a single step. The bugle calls again, but this time, the shrill desperate noise is quieter – less intense – a sweet piccolo in the night.
Like the elk, I crave companionship. But instead of a warm body, I put on all my layers, and wrap myself into my sleeping bag – my cocoon. The elk calls and so does sleep.

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