There’s this thing we do when planning a Camino: we say we’ll get off the trail to get to an accommodation, then backtrack to exactly where we got off the trail and continue. I’m here today to confess: that pretty much never happens. Instead, we just forge ahead in a forwardly direction until we can connect with the trail again. Today, this meant we walked another 6.5 miles on Highway 101 to Klahowya Campground turnoff and the Olympic Discovery Trail trailhead.
My once pleasant sunburn was more stiff than warm, and the logging trucks rattled in my ears. When I am tired, when my feet ache, when I’m ready for day’s end but we still have miles to go, or when I’m just feeling unhappy, I listen to music and dance my way home. It’s not for all the time though. When I walk with music, I walk in time. I groove. I sing badly at the top of my voice until I’m breathless and laughing, with tears in my eyes. I feel like I could go forever, but when my headphones come out all the wind goes out of me, and I feel completely and utterly spent. So music is saved for needful stretches of road, when my soul needs buoying. Today, I needed it, and the playlist at the end of this post carried me down the long stretch of highway into the Olympic National Forest and to our first bit of the Olympic Discovery Trail. There, I put my headphones away and sank into the cool shade and the sounds of nature.
The ODT is paved here, and it is gorgeous. Trees loom overhead, and ferns, salmon berries, salal, and cow parsnip crowd the undercanopy, while giant clover and moss carpet the ground. Countless crystal streams of rain and snow melt tumble down the hillside to join the rushing Sol Duc river below us. The trail is by turns shady green cool and dappled, sap-warm sun and it is a pleasure to walk.
When we finally stopped for the day, we tucked our tent into a mossy nook by the trail, ladled stove-warmed water over our heads for a shower, and ate red beans and rice as the over-sized mosquitos flocked around us. Last, we trekked back down the trail to hide our bear canisters well away from our sleeping place; we don’t want any late night visitors. Then it’s to bed with the sun– a rhythm that, three days on the trail, is already becoming familiar.