Sunday, September 6th
Today will be day one of thirteen on the trail. It’s labor day weekend, and the North Cascades are busy.
We steer our construction yellow Astro Van into the Colonial Creek Campground, located along Lake Diablo. Cars are stacked, bumper to bumper, parked along the road.
It’s been over 6 months since the pandemic began, and we are not the only people with COVID induced cabin fever.
Colonial Creek Chaos
“Is there anywhere we can park for 2 weeks? We’re heading into the backcountry.” I ask a campsite attendant outside my window.
“Two weeks? How do you pack enough food for two weeks?” the woman asks in disbelief.
“We just do” says the voice inside my head. She’s not sure where to park. We spot the Ranger about 30 ft ahead of us, directing cars in and out of parking spots. Meanwhile, a line of cars pile up behind us. We pull aside and squeeze ourself into a spot, and wait for the ranger to finish what she’s doing.
“Backcountry? I’ve got a perfect spot for you.” The ranger directs us further toward the campground, and tells us about special spot we can use. She’ll meet us there in a few minutes she says.
We pull down the road, steering our van into the campground loop and find the pullout. We tuck our little van under the shade of cedars, and pack our bags. I debate wether to bring a nutrition book I just started reading – then toss it in the van to save myself the weight.
The ranger walks up apologizing for keeping us waiting. Clearly she has her hands full. She says she’s one of only two rangers in the area, and they’ve been slammed all summer – people escaping the cities during Covid. We share idle chit-chat revolving around the idiocy of man, then her radio cracks the conversation. Her assistance is needed.
A 32 ft RV needs helping finding where to park. He helper pulls up in a golf cart, and she’s whisked off to the next emergency.
“God, that woman is a saint” I mutter to Rachel, as I return to secure the van.
Finally, We Walk
Finally, it’s time to walk. My legs cannot wait. Please, please, little legs, take me far from here. Away from crowds of Covid, and mobile mansions.
To say we’re antsy is an understatement.
More than ever, we need this. It feels like we’ve been planning for weeks.
Last weekend was a flurry of planning, prepping and packing our meals. The food dehydrator was run like an assembly line, pumping different scents into the house for every night… bananas, salmon, pineapple, mango. Now they are stuffed into our bags.
Last night we drove from Whidbey Island to sleep in our van just outside of Marblemount. We woke up this morning, got our permit, parked our other car at Rainy pass, drove back to Colonial Creek, and now here we stand at the Thunder Creek Trailhead.
Thunder Creek Trail
Finally on the trail, my legs begin to awaken. Cooped up indoors for months, they were afraid I’d never again use them.
In less than a mile the crowds dissapear. Thunder creek sings in our ear, a familiar song of the backcountry. I’ve heard this song before.
It was maybe 8 years ago my friend Josh and I hiked this trail on a 4th of July Weekend. We had started out on sourdough mountain in the heat of the day, and turned around fairly quickly, to look for something more subtle.
“That’s the steepest climb in the shortest distance we have in the park” a ranger told us later at the information center. He directed us to Thundercreek.
I reminisce about the memories, the first bear I ever saw running away into the woods, swimming in the river on our way home.
I snap back into the present as we cross paths with a couple on the trail. They’re gray haired, with sturdy legs of oak.
They ask us where we’re going. We explain the 150 mile loop we’ve planned and they remark “Oh, you’re up for an adventure!”
We bid them farewell, and as they walk away, Im inspired.
“That’s us in the future, you know” I say to Rachel. We laugh and skip along the trail, talking of nutriton and people and memories. I tell her about a family friend who took me flying as a child, and Rachel comes up with an idea for my nutrition coaching business. She suggests I start a column on my blog called “Is it Meaningful or Marketing”. In each installment I can focus on a specific nutrition fad, and explain it as either “meaningful” or “marketing”.
We go on like this for miles, breathing fresh air, with our masks below our chins. It’s a moment in the making. Long, in the waiting.
Camping at The Junction
My mouth waters as a breeze waves the scent from our camp to my face. It’s the smell of paprika, quinoa, and vegetables, a lovely combination Rachel has cooked up for our consumption.
It’s 6:10 pm and we are at our campsite for the evening. It’s been an excellent day of hiking, which has felt relaxing from step one. Usually I am filled with anxiety on the first few days of a trip. But not today. Today as soon as we stepped foot on the trail the world behind immediately dissapeared.
As I sit here smelling dinner, I remember Josh and I cooking Top Ramen and garlic at this same spot on my first visit here. It’s fun to wander through the memories, and notice the subtle changes. Where we swam before, now the bridge was gone, picked up and washed away by water.
I remember Josh joking “we’ll meet you at the junction”, after running into the ranger on the trail. I look out through the trees, at the mountains above our tent. That view. I remember it too.
I pause to admire the glaciers, letting the past merge with the present.
After all the hustle, and all the chaos… of covid, of crowds, of cars – I feel calm.
A thought flashes across my to mind as I stair off toward the glaciers.
Enjoy today. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Enjoy today. It’s all you have.
Because if you can enjoy today with whatever it may bring, then you can enjoy tomorrow too, no matter what it brings.
Today’s Steps: 25,151