Location- Side of trail
Distance Traveled Today- 26.9 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2331.7 miles
Weather/Temp- partly cloudy 60s 70s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- anxious for weather
Days without shower- 2
Our normal starting time seems to be between 8 and 8:30 am every morning. With the day’s growing shorter all the time, I may have to start implementing an earlier alarm; the cooler temps just make it so hard to get out of bed, especially when there’s an adorable little dog curled up on you, determined to sleep as late as possible.
It was a little rockier today, offset by gorgeous, closeup views of Rainier. Katana didn’t miss a beat. I used to dread the rocky days thinking that it meant she’d need a rest day soon for sure, but so far she’s been completely un-phased. Now when we hit rocky patches, I let her do her thing; she hasn’t asked to be picked up once since I got her back.
The greatest aspect of today was the Elk bugling. For almost the entire day I could hear their calls from far below, way down in the valleys. It was a fantastic background noise to the day.
There were quite a few tourist day hikers on the trail. Since the trail itself weaved in and out of the Rainier National Park boundary for several miles, this was to be expected. Foot traffic became very heavy once we got within about 3 miles of a large parking lot and highway that lay before a main vehicle entrance to the park. We had some interesting interactions through this short stretch…
The first one occurred as we passed by a middle aged couple. I’m used to people asking what kind of dog Katana is, but this man didn’t just ask, he demanded, almost angrily. As we passed by, the man stopped me, and with an air of angry authority demanded what kind of dog she was. Now 90% of what you say is 100% how you say it. You can convey a dozen different things by saying the exact same sentence a dozen different ways. I was a little startled by the way the man asked, but I simply chalked it up to social awkwardness, instead of blatant rudeness; but who knows, the guy could genuinely just be an asshole, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Instead of giving him the runaround, I answered truthfully and continued to breeze past.
The second interaction was with a lovely group of around a dozen adolescents being lead by a man in his mid to late thirties. As we passed by, katana leading me by about 8ft, the man loudly exclaimed, “Would you look at that! The little fella is missin’ an eye!” To which every teenage kid let out an “aww,” “what?!” “Ooh?!” “What happened?” “How sad!” pretty much simultaneously. “Thanks, she’s self conscious,” I said as we passed them, which was met with more dismayed comments, condolences, and “what happened(s)?” “Mountain Lions are fierce predators,” I remarked as I kept walking. I left it at that. Damn it felt good to jerk people around on behalf of katana again. I forgot how much I’d missed it.
We didn’t arrive at our final destination until shortly after dark, but banked a good 27 miles. I’ve got the rain fly set up in case of the forecasted showers, and now I’m listening to what sounds like an Elk, grunting non stop somewhere nearby. I’m anticipating a rainy trek tomorrow, which is a shame because it’s Katana’s 6th birthday; thankfully she’ll be none the wiser, although I plan to spoil her in the next town.