Yet again, my friends. I’m in town. Well, a city. Portland, OR. Damn near finished the entire state of Oregon as I just arrived in Cascade Locks a few hours ago. I had planned on spending some time near the Columbia River (the OR/WA border), but up at the Locks, not here in such a large city. But since Timberline we’ve been walking past notes left by So Far (PCT ’03) inviting us hikers to his house. I was going to resist but lo and behold I finish breakfast in up in the mountains and my friends have already secured a ride with So Far’s roomate Gloves, leaving in 10 minutes. I make it sound like a difficult decision but really, a zero is just a natural part of thru-hiking, at least for someone who has taken nearly a month of zeros in the past four months. I’m now sitting in a cool coffee shop, using wifi, drinking San Pellegrino soda, and listening to weird music. Can’t do that on the trail! Zero, will come tomorrow. Today is but a nero. Besides the 57 miles that I had to skip, I’ve finished Oregon~! Washington will be finished by the 1st of October. I’ve picked up my foul weather gear and I’m ready to take it easy on the last leg. Only 510 miles to go.
Slept on the Eagle Creek Alternate trail last night. Boy, that’s an incredible trail. Eagle Creek is a must-do alternate. The trail passes by countless impressive waterfalls as it winds along sheer cliffs. Luckily, there a plenty of cables to hold on to should you slip. Most impressive is the famous Tunnel Falls. There is a tunnel drilled behind a waterfall nearly as large as the cascades of Yosemite Valley.
Yesterday we did about 30 miles, as we do every day. By “we”, I mean the great group of hikers I’ve been around since Sisters: Snail, Dr. Jones, Nemo, Pine-nut, Shera, Hot Sister and Pouch. Most are a part of the High Alpine Knitting Club, a group of hikers who have been taught to knit hats by Nemo and T-Bird. I am the newest member and am working on my first hat. Admitedly, it’s strange that a bunch of dudes are out here knitting. But it’s actually a good fit with thruhiking. We wear hats, it requires only sitting on your ass and shooting the shit, and it’s ultralight. Good stuff.
The day before on Mt. Hood, we litterally froze. I was about an hour behind the group pulling in to Timberline Lodge. Good thing becuase they got snowed on. I just got to spend an extra hour in wet, cold weather. My skimpy poncho was barely adequate. Thank goodness for the beautiful Timberline Lodge. We took most of the day off, posted by the fancy central fire place and had a hiker garage sale with gear spread out drying everywhere. Clearly, it was unacceptable behavior for a fancy hotel but it took them hours before they shooed us downstairs. Very nice people work there. Thanks!
Back in time a little more.. Getting out of Sisters was chaotic. And we had a ride. We all had to go around the fire closures. The grapevine tells of one hiker ahead of us who walked through the southern fire. He had flames on both sides of the trail and up to a foot of ash to wade through. Then he hit the fire line and was thankfully not busted by a group of Hot Shots. The only other hiker we’ve heard of that tried to walk through was caught and turned back. And that’s the southern, tame fire. The northern Puzzle fire is a total no-go I think. Anyways, back to getting around. I have no idea how hikers behind us are going to manage. We got a ride up to Brietenbush Lake. The road to the lake is a rough dirt road that is only trafficked by a few campers. It requires high clearance. The car full of hikers behind us couldn’t make it and everyone had to walk the last six miles, finally finishing at 2am. One of them had to carry the pack of a hiker that was in my car. Ugh, six miles with two loaded packs. Chaos. We were all pretty whipped so we barely hiked the next day. Had a great time lounging by Olallie Lake.
Just a quick entry.
I’m in Sisters with a bunch of my hiking friends. I’d been alone (well, nearly alone) for the past couple of weeks and then *bam*, see everyone in town. We’re all staying at one of their friend’s cabin. Great time for a beer.
The hiking has been awesome. I’ve been doing about 30 miles per day which isn’t very hard considering that the rumors about Oregon are true. It’s FLAT. Had a beautiful night stealth camped up on the Crater Lake rim. Greatly enjoyed passing about one lake per mile in the southern part of Three Sisters Wilderness and then the past two days in the northern section has been going past the amazing volcanic mountains. Plus, I’ve experienced some sweet generosity from strangers. Ok, only a little bit of it was “yogi-ing”.
We’re all having to skip the next fifty or so miles because of forest fires. Bummer, but it seems like there is at least one section closed to fires every year.. I’ll be done with Oregon on Friday! Boy is it flying by.
Time to get back to socializing. Need to keep those skills up
I did it! I hiked from one end of California to the other! Before I left, that didn’t seem like such a big accomplishment. After all, it’s not doing the whole PCT, it’s not stepping from Mexico to Canada. But, now that I’ve done it, jeez, I know that it’s a HUGE accomplishment and something I’m very proud to have done. 1,700 miles, hundreds of ridges, valleys and streams, dozens of passes and milestones crossed, many cities and towns,… It’s been a long, challenging (hard!), and superb walk crossing my home state. Would I do it again? HECK YEAH! But not before I get to walk across some newer pastures.
I’m currently in Ashland, Oregon. My wonderful parents drove hours and hours to see me and support me up here. Today, I took my first zero since Tahoe City with them. It consisted entirely of resupplying for the rest of the trip. I’ll be mailing out seven packages from here for the rest of Oregon and Washington. Before I started, I was pretty enthusiastic about “buying as I went”. Now however, I appreciate the convenience of not having to play the stressful resupply game every few days. I’m looking forward to just opening boxes packed with good provisions and dumping it in my pack. No need to hitchhike 30 miles to buy food off dusty shelves at a tiny country store. I’m excited. Yesterday, I pulled in to town midday and sat in the laundromat. Washing a sleeping bag takes a long time, so I used it as a sort of “relaxation nero”. Ashland is a nice town. Expensive but not overly burdening when you have parents paying for everything I like the hippy/liberal atmosphere. I’ve been asked twice so far if I was attending a rainbow family gathering. I fit right in with my unkempt beard and hair. Lots of hikers in town too. Town’s big enough that we don’t dominate like we do over some of the smaller places we’ve recently been.
Did the closure area solo. No problems in my case. Saw no rangers and only one other thruhiker. Whatever major fires there were nearby didn’t show themselves. Only saw a couple of small, contained, spot fires and the smoke was a non-issue. I didn’t know that the section in to Seiad Valley ends with a road walk so I was a little surprised when I had to hike official PCT miles on such a long stretch of pavement. At least the crop of blackberries were good!
Pulled in to Seiad Valley alone. Ate a grilled cheese at the cafe, resupplied marginally, then chatted with the locals. I really should have pulled out and done the 4500 foot climb out of there as it wasn’t hot and it was only 2pm. Instead, I decided to end the day at the 18 miles I had already done and go watch TV at the trailer park. Cost was $7 which seemed reasonable for a day spent watching TV and a bathroom accessible dirt patch to sleep on. But when 16 other hikers showed up and we each ponied up $7, I got a little miffed at how much we were paying for the amenities received. I suggest that future hikers ask around town about places to stay. There seems to be plenty of land you can just crash on (maybe by the dredgings?) and lots of very friendly people who might let you tent on their land. Anyways, 16 people!! Holy cow that’s a lot of hikers together in one spot for so far up north. Everyone had taken the bus around the Marbles and it had bunched us up. I met a decent number of people that i’d never even met before. Strange how thruhiking works.
Left the park earlier than most and stayed in front of the pack all the way in to Ashland. Hiking alone again is nice although I do miss Pepi’s (and Pouch’s) company. Alone though I’ve been doing more miles, more easily and enjoyably and I’ve been noticing nature more. I had been feeling like I wasn’t connected at all with my surroundings. Always staring at the ground, pounding away the miles and at breaks chatting with friends. Alone I’ve been noticing the beauty of the area more closely, including having more wildlife and wildflower encounters. I guess nature is my companion. I’m not one of those hikers that gets bored or anxious often when alone. I didn’t even spend much of the past few days alone. I hiked near Leprechaun (a fun new guy I only recently met). It was nice to have someone else around to celebrate the California/Oregon border with. Just before the crossing I passed some off roaders with a cooler and I scored some ice cold celebration beers off them. Very nice!
Ok, not much else to report, probably because I’m very tired. I hear there are two more closures due to wildfires in Oregon alone. One is in Crater Lake and isn’t a concern (just the equestrian PCT) but the other is closing off pretty much an entire section from Mckenzie to Santiam Pass (I think). That’ll be a bummer if it’s closed when I get there. I’ll deal with it if I have to. Not sure that i’d be inclined to enter a closed area again though. It’s a stressful and truthfully stupid thing to do.
Aiming to be done with Oregon by the end of the month. I can’t quite get those words to register myself. If I do that, I’ll have a whole month to do Washington.
One step at a time.
The hike is going well. I’ve been doing big miles for the past few weeks without stopping much. Thruhiking really involves a TON of walking! I walk 12-14 hours a day. Every day. I’m in Etna, almost to Oregon, and am a little pressed for time. It’s late in the season but I’m still towards the front. Just crazy to think that I’m going to have to hike all of OR and WA in a month and a half! Sadly, I’m going to skip the next section because the Marble Mountains are closed due to wildfires. It’s only 55 miles and some people are going through illegally but I’ll take a the shuttle around it and hopefully come back at a later date.
We’ve had our first bad weather of the trip really this week. Some sweet thunderstorms through Trinity and Russian Wilderness. The black clouds gave us rain and pea sized hail off and on for two days. The thunderclaps are enjoyable to me but the associated lightning bolts can be a little scary. Mostly the struck ridges 3-6 miles from us but at least one strike likely hit our ridge. Damn was that scary to have a super bright flash and a ear shattering clap at the same time! When the storm cleared we saw at least two new lightning caused fires nearby. The closer one was an interesting sight. A single tree alight like a torch. Got a good test of my super-ultralight, weight wennie, minimalist gear because of the weather. I had honestly thought that I wouldn’t even use my new poncho/tarp hybrid because it wouldn’t rain in Norcal and OR. Well it did, and it worked. Sure, my hiking friends kidded that I looked like a jelly fish, walking with my tent as my rain gear. They also eagerly checked on me after a night of hail to see if I was wet (I was as dry as they were). While I wouldn’t want to use it for days-on-end continuous rain, I’ll keep my ultralight setup for a while longer hoping that it rains no more.
I’m going to start hiking solo again. It’s kind of a strange thing to be doing at this point it seems. Either, hikers are grouped up and will likely remain so, or they’re very much solo at this point. We’ve been on the trail for so long that most people have fallen in to their niches. I’m in need of some shifting though. Pepi and I have not had a fight or any major tiffs. Sometimes she wants to hike harder to get in to town faster than I’d choose but I can compromise on that mostly, especially because we hike at close paces and need to be doing roughly the same mileage. I’m just really ready to be doing exactly what I want to do, whenever I want to do it. No compromises. No one to satisfy but myself. I’m also eager to see if I can still handle solitude and solo hiking after being with someone else twenty four hours a day for almost two months. We’ve hiked nearly a thousand miles together! Maybe all I need is a week off and then will be ready to hike with friends again?
I’m giving myself my first zero day since Tahoe today. All that I have to do is buy food and get my ass over to Seiad Valley. I’ll also take two zeros with my parents in Ashland, mailing boxes and eating good food. Then, it’s off hiking again! In Etna, I’m staying with about eight other hikers at the Campus California Training Group. It’s a training facility for AIDS educators going to Africa. It’s great! Nice to be in a place that cares about recycling, consumption reduction and all of those good things. Had a super great hitch in to town too. The first car that passed us couldn’t give us a ride but he flagged down the second car for us. They had been sleeping in the forest and had gotten wet in the same storm we had so they were going in to town with a truck bed full of bedding. So I got a ride to town while lying on comforters in someone’s pickup. Very nice. EDIT: All that was said about taking a zero and skipping a section is changing. I’m headed out now. Solo. Hopefully, no angry rangers read this! Please, i’m a nice boy. Really.
I’m in town again, trying to get out of town. Pulled in to Dunsmuir with Pouch and Pepi this morning and will be leaving soonish.
We’re doing 25 miles a day, ready to boost up to a minimum of 26mpd so that we can say that we’re walking a marathon every day. Eat that you couch potatoes! Walking has been pretty easy lately. Few huge ups and downs as the trail is well graded. It’s also thankfully well shaded! While it had been cool, it starting to heat up and the combination of heat and mosquitos last night was not fun. Section O (an infamous section) wasn’t nearly as bad as people had said it would be. In fact, yesterday we got some sweet trail magic of juice, milk, pita, chocolate almonds, chips and other good grub. yay!
I’m enjoying carrying a light pack. It’s somewhere around 8 pounds base weight.
Views have been sparse lately and when they are there they’re covered in smoke. We could barely see Shasta from 20 miles away. The fires in the region are also throwing us a little screw. Word is that the Marble Mountains are closed and we won’t be able to hike between Etna and Seiad Valley. We’ll see.