Crater Lake is burning. Oregon is burning. Washington is burning. The sky is thick with smoke, causing my throat to burn with each breath. It hurts.
What hurts more is the distinct possibility that I won’t be able to finish this trail. Northern Washington is quickly being eaten up by fire. The trail is closed, people are evacuating, brave firefighters are dying. The drought is destroying one of the wettest places I know.
Today we had to get in a car to head north. Our options were a 45 mile road walk or a car ride to get around the closed trail, closed because of the terrible flames that are scorching the land around the lake.
We got a ride from two trail angels for two of the highways (heading south then north again) and then, left on the side of the road with 15 miles still left, we luckily were picked up by a thru hiker who was forced off trail by injury. He was in town to shuttle stuck hikers like us around the flames.
We walked up the trail and I felt so tired. I watched Felix disappear up the trail as I plodded. I halfheartedly tried to keep up, but it was no use. She sometimes does this thing — motoring ahead without looking like she is going any faster. When I try to hike as fast as I possibly can, she keeps moving slightly faster until she is just an orange flash slipping in and out of trees ahead.
But it was okay, because she always waits. I turned one corner, giving up on catching her, and there it was: a line of smoke below me. One side was full of trees and on the other side of the smoking line was burning, acres and acres of white fiery mess.
I stared and took a picture. Then I cried. The world is unfair!
I called up Rainbow Dash, the one person in the weird world who I know would understand, but she didn’t pick up. Instead, I walked and felt sad and hoped Felix would stop soon so we could be sad together.
She did, at the next water source, and we had a moment to mourn. But then we were sitting on a makeshift wood bench that would chuck me off if she moved. We laughed and laughed at the silliness.
And I said yes.