Out into the forest

A coffee, a beer, a tinkling banjo all ease the twilight in. The couple in the camp 34 across from me, both hair having greyed, look as if they’ve been posted up at their fire since I left to walk 18 miles this morning – save, perhaps, to grab another skein of yarn or a paperback.

And this is why I’ve come here.

To my three o'clock nests a trailer that looks like an eggshell. There’s something Hopper-esque about the whole business of watching this lone man, bowed head bathed in an orange glow, suck and gnaw on an animal bone. I see him now unfurling his map.

I’m tired and wonder if sleep will come gracefully. I can’t recall my last good dreams. Most mornings my heart wakes me racing as if to remind me – hey woman, I’m still here.

Last night I tossed and turned, but was happy to realize with the dark melting into early morning that I had more time to sleep though day break was drawing closer. More rest, but hiking soon. I was simultaneously excited about these two prospects.

As I went rambling on deep into the Hoh Rainforest, I was just about to cut bend when, looking up from my feet, I discovered myself face-to-face with antlers so large my brain went “moose?!” A quite sizable buck elk was just snacking his way down the trail – about five feet in front of me. With my squished my face all up in surprise in such a way that I can only assume to be very un-cute, I slowly kicked into reverse. With each step I took, he countered with another closer. His long neck craned and he ducked his head, peering quizzically at me. I promise you, sir, I am not hoarding your salmonberries, and I promise I’ll get off your grass. Stepping up onto fallen trunk slicked in slippery green moss, I realized that I’ve spent my 26 years trying to be big and this moment was not the one to decide that I will settle with being a mean 5'4". I also realized I had no idea what to do if he wanted to skewer me into a kebab. But, in deeming me decidedly boring, hoarding no treats, and being generally unappetizing in my genetic makeup, if an elk could shrug he did just that. He very, very slowly ambled on the well-trodden path until I could see him no longer. Dare I say he appeared to sashay away.

“Your banjo is just wonderful,” I tell the woman as I pass her coming from washing my face. The pads of my feet feel like they’ve been whacked with a meat mallet. Behind her circular frames she’s bashful and tells me she’s trying to keep it low. I hear her talk to her neighbor about coming up from San Francisco most recently as she and her partner continue to play. It feels good to be here, I firmly believe, and with that conviction rest comes soon.

[September 24, 2015]