Day two and full of prep work.
We head up to Washington tomorrow to lodge overnight with my buddy’s friends who are generously taking us to our drop off point and then picking us up on day four where we plan to go back and stay the night with them one more time before heading out to Hurricane Ridge on day five with lighter day packs. I gather the last day has similar inclines as day two so we will definitely be working our asses off both those days.
Today, however, started with some quiet time as I continued to adjust to the time change between here and Ohio. I slept like a rock and racked up just under 8 hours which is really good by my normal 5 to 6 hour good standards. We had brunch at this Scandinavian restaurant called Broder. It was phenomenal. Friendly staff. Interesting décor. And food accented by Dijon everything. Loved it. The talk turned to my buddy and his husband working through some pre-trip anxiety on both parts. It was pretty adorable to watch them communicate how special they were to one another. It made me think of Eddie back home a great deal and how lucky I am to have someone who supports me no matter where my crazy train brain chooses to point my head toward. I miss him a lot already on this trip. Watching Doug and Byrd only made it more poignant.
Doug and I spent the afternoon going through the pack editing process. Fully loaded, we were dangerously heavy. Like 40 lbs. territory. By the time we were done we were back into the 33 lbs. range. Only 5 lbs. more than I am accustomed to so that made me feel good even though I sacrificed a few of my favorites during the editing process. Things like my camp sandals, secondary cook system in case Doug’s encounters an issue, a few other items near and dear to my heart. But, I’ve got the onus of carrying the big ass bear canister in my pack. That sucker is huge. Fully loaded and super important to our survival. I may also end up carrying a secondary, smaller, bear canister in the event that the ranger tells us that more than food has to go into canisters. That could push me into the range of 35 lbs., I just keep telling myself that we will be eating ourselves lighter as the trail goes on. That, and while I still consider myself a beginner, I know my body can handle the weight if it’s packed right and the straps are set correctly.
It was fun to stop back in at Zupan’s though. A grocery store that reminds me of my absolute favorite grocery store of all time. Central Market Lovers Lane in Dallas Texas. I spent so many nights there shopping for experience meals that Eddie and I would share during our lonely disconnected Texas years. Dinner was this amazing Tapas place called Mediterranean Exploration Company. Again, the four of us had these great unabashed excited conversations. All winding and weaving patterns of connection, sharing, openness, and love. I feel really lucky to have made such a random friendship connection with Doug on an old outdated internet system back in the early ages of the Internet called Gaydar. Yup, that’s where we met along some primitive search algorithm with keywords probably including “Columbus, Ohio.” We’ve known one another for, well, probably closing in on 20 years now.
If helping my friend Nick through his stroke recovery and our very long-term friendship has taught me anything, it’s the value of those precious moments of being bonded to someone through a mutual attraction, admiration, respect with the freedom to be as messy, scared, anxiety filled and confused as he and I have shared together over our years of friendship stemming from a random prehistoric Gaydar search. I have learned that life is short. But, right now anyway, I believe there is meaning to be found in hiking with a friend through the Olympic Mountain wilderness.
We leave tomorrow to stay overnight with his friends. Do a final pack edit with one of his other friends who is more experienced than either of us. Go to dinner at another great place which sounds fantastic. Sleep. Then head out to five days in the wild.
I guess now is a good moment to feel grateful for everything that has brought me here. Yes, I sorely miss Eddie. Yet I feel his love always in the support and guidance he has provided me all through our years together. It’s the same with my friendships with Doug, Nick, and a very rare few others. I would not be who I am today; or have the ability to hold things together the way I do, without these people as my family beside me.
Tonight we move from “onward” to motion.