Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 132-Elk!

From Gillette Lake at mile 2159 to wood road at mile 2179

Last night it felt like I didn't sleep at all, despite having a wonderful campsite. It was frustrating. The campsite was flat and nothing was poking me. The stream bubbled away. It was warm. On the up side we were the first ones out of camp.

We had eight miles of climbing to do and I really felt each mile. Every zipper on my pack was strained with the effort to keep all my food inside. We stopped for a lot of quick snack breaks.
As we were nearing the top and nearing lunch time we started to get some views. First was Mount Hood with not a cloud around the mountain. I felt jealous of all the hikers who climbed above tree line and didn't have clouds darkening their day. We saw the Colombian River Gorge-it looked very far away even though we had lunch there the day before. We saw Mount Adams from a very sunny and hot grassy section of trail. Mount Adams had a wispy cloud behind it that looked like it had burst from the mountain.

We saw four northbound hikers walking south back to town and they told us about trail magic a ways ahead. It would have been a nice way to hike the section, but I'm happy going north, even if that means a day of uphill. Sometimes it feels strange going north though. As an AT southbounder going north feels strange. It feels wrong to be rushing north into fall and not moving south trying to stay ahead of fall.

The trail entered a cool shady and breezy stretch of forest. The climbing was done for the morning. Lunch was on my mind. And then something came crashing through the sparse trees up ahead to our right. Two elk that looked like young moose bolted from the trees, crossed the trail in front of us, and were gone into the woods. It was too quick for cameras. It was hardly long enough to gape at them in wonder.

Our lunch spot was just minutes after our elk sighting. I was buzzing with happiness. I rummaged through my food bag for something heavy to eat and settled on tuna and potato chips. We were going to stay for our usual hour long lunch, but the shade was thick there and the breeze was persistent and it was cold. After a half hour we packed up and I was cold enough I wore my mittens.

There was an unexpected section of uphill after lunch that rewarmed me nicely. It gave us a view of Mount St. Helen, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams. I imagine it was as good, if not better, a view than the one I missed out on a few days ago before Indian Springs campsite. I don't know why I thought that view was going to be my only chance to see those three mountains-I should know better by now.

Trail Magic!
The trail magic was a welcomed site three miles after lunch. There was a cooler full of candy and a register and two five gallon bucks. One full of PBR the other Gatorade. Portrait and I both took a blue Gatorade and two candies and browsed through the register.

We moved on and downhill to Rock Creek where we had another quick snack. We kept expecting to see the others from last night's camp, but nobody showed up at the creek. Even though the creek was at the end of an 11 mile dry stretch we didn't take any water. We both decided to wait for the last water source of the day just a few miles north of the creek.

The trail started to go up again. My pack felt extra heavy with extra water. Two miles after the last stream the trail went up. Portrait and I talked more about gear. We've become slightly obsessed with the idea of making down-filled gear. Verbally creating pieces of gear really helped to pass the time and the climb.

Before long the sky was tuned pink and then it started to get dark. We finished the climb but still needed a place to camp. Portrait had expected camping in the saddle, I had been feeling pessimistic and didn't expect any camping. The full moon glowed orange through the trees, but didn't give me enough light to see by so I put on my headlamp.

It took awhile, and I was starting to get frustrated, when we saw a path intersect the trail. We followed it a couple minutes to an unused woods road. It had a little pull-over with a log in front of it. I hardly beamed my light around before agreeing with Portrait that the mostly flat little pull-over was home for the night.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 131-Bridge of the Gods

From Cascade Locks, OR at mile 2155 to Gillette Lake at mile 2159

Town chores
I think it may have been Cascade's rush hour-if a town of 1,100 can have a rush hour. I had toyed with the idea of eating an ice cream cone while walking across the Bridge of the Gods into Washington, but in the end, a walk into town with my too heavy pack on just felt overwhelming. Everything but one chocolate bunny, who I didn't want crushed, fit inside the pack.

We lingered at the bridge's enterance for an 18 wheeler that was so large it made the bridge look tiny to exit. We walked past the toll both attendent who told us to walk against traffic and we started across. Once over the water the pavement under our feet was replaced by an open grate.

One truck towing a car stopped and stuck his head out his open window. "Do you want some melon?" He called, holding up a quarter of cantelope melon. I almost said no because I wasn't sure how I was going to eat it, but earlier in the day I had been bemoaning my one piece of fruit town stop. I darted to his window, took the melon, and scurried back to my side of the road. He waved as he pulled away and I brought the melon to my face and took a bite.

There was no reading aloud on this stretch of road walk. It was hard enough to say "Welcome to Washington" loud enough when we passed the very small sign halfway across.  We didn't even get pictures with the sign because a string of traffic came through at that moment. 

I was happy to see another Welcome to Washington sign after the bridge. Portrait took a few photos of me in front of it. The whole time cars were flying by and he said I looked like I was worried about being run over in all the pictures.  Finally we retreated to the woods and I finished eating my trail magic melon. By the time I was done I had melon juice from my forehead to chin and more dripping down my arms. It was a very classy moment that I was glad Portrait was able to witness.

The first mile of Washington was not scenic. We had a thin wall of shruby trees between us and the road and powerlines overhead. And then we passed on the edge of backyards. Then we finally made it into the woods of Washington.

After another mile of hiking we came across Moss sitting in the middle of the trail. She got up, brushed herself off, and hiked with us to Gillette Lake.

It was dusk when we got to camp. The lake was brown with plant life growing on top. Luckly there was a creek flowing into it to drink from. Because it was nearly dark it took awhile to find somewhere to camp. Portrait and I ended up in a huge site that could easily fit a dozen tents. The full moon lit up the clearing.


Moss's pet scorpian
We brought our dinners over to Moss's tentsite. While she was getting water Portrait spotted a scorpian-in Washington of all places. We all studied it under headlamps. Moss captured it in her cookpot-what she intended to do with it I'm not sure she knew.







Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 130-Many Different Falls

From Tenas Camp on the Eagle Creek Trail to Cascade Locks, OR at mil 2,155

I slept well last night with the rushing water so close by, but tiny no-see-um bugs came out in the morning. They were visious and promptly kicked us out of camp. I wanted to get going anyway: town awaited and Washington was going to be within sight.

After the fun and magic of Tunnel Falls the day before I had stopped noticing the beauty of the rest of the Eagle Creek Trail. On the morning walk into town I again looked at the trail with wonder.

We passed more waterfalls. I hadn't realized before how different waterfalls could be from one another. We saw tall skinny falls, a fall that came shooting out of a rock tube, and a large cascading fall. I could have spent the whole day walking the narrow cliff hugging trail.

There was a sign pointing us to a waterfall viewpoint off trail and even on town days I try not to skimp on seeing the extras. Portrait and I first decided to skip it and than we thought we could see the viewpoint from the trail so we started down. Another sign informed us the view was 1.5 miles away. We stopped and turned around as quickly as if the trail had washed out in front of us.

The Eagle Creek Trail spit us out into a parking lot that was mostly empty but I imagine on weekends it is jammed. We followed the road through a picnic area and to a bike path that went into town.
The path followed the interstate for a few tenths of a mile then left it behind for the dark and lush woods. Portrait read aloud as we walked. I kept making quick stops to pick blackberries eventhough they weren't ripe. Berry after berry gave me the face of a woman sucking on a lemon. Finally I stopped searching for the ripe ones and just listened to the story.

After two miles on the bike path we walked into town on the sidewalk. The trail ended right in front of a produce stand and a resturant open for breakfast. It seemed Cascade Locks was going to be a good town.
Packs waiting at the diner


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 129- Pure Little Kid Joy

From small stream and campsite at mile 2124 to Tenas Camp on the Eagle Creek Trail

I was glad there was an old turning back into the earth log at my feet last night or I may have slipped all the way down the side hill.  The morning dawned cool and bright.  We apparently had a great view of Mount Hood from our campsite last night, but hadn't know it because of all the clouds.   It was another walking breakfast--it might be our new thing, but it sure is going to make eating oatmeal harder. 

The clouds had lifted during the night, but they seemed to settle back around Hood and every other peak by the time we had hiked to the first view of the day.  I felt very lucky that I had the view of Hood that I had the other day.  It didn't seem like we had much time to linger over views anyway.  We wanted to get to Indian Springs Campground for lunch, so that meant we had to hurry a bit.  We did six miles before stopping on a log for a mid-morning snack break.  When Portrait told me we had already done six miles I was surprised. 

After our snack the Oregon forest started to open up more, but the Oregon clouds did not.  The guide book boasted about an amazing panoramic view of Mount St. Helen's, Mount Adams, and Mount Rainier that we would be able to see if the clouds would move out.  I could see the bottom of Helen and Adams, but most of the mountains were lost to the clouds.  I supposed at some point on the trip I had to have a view dampened by clouds, but it was still very disappointing.  Hopefully there were be more chances to see the mountains. 

After our non-view we descended a bit to the campground.  It was a large dirt area with a very sad looking picnic table.  I sat gingerly at the table hoping not to be poked by nails or wood or have the whole thing collapse under me.  Portrait and I were joined by a French couple that we had seen at Timberline, but hadn't really talked to. We didn't talk with them much during lunch either--communication was a bit challenging, but we were able to tell them where the spring was.  And what a cute little spring it was too.  We filled up on the way down the Indian Springs Trail.

Since entering Oregon it seems like we haven't spent that much time on the PCT--certainly not lately--and we were leaving it again for the official unofficial Eagle Creek Trail.  We had to do two miles on the very steep and not that well maintained Indian Springs Trail to connect to the Eagle Creek Trail.  Eagle Creek Trail is described as stunning, favorite place on the PCT, amazing, but at first I didn't see it.  At first it just seemed like a trail, but then it evolved into a trail from the rain forest.  Moss hung thickly from the trees like a roof for the trail.  Eagle Creek roared at my left elbow.  It alternated between deep swift water and plunging waterfalls that were so loud Portrait and I couldn't talk.  Little springs bubbled up from the side hill we walked next to, flowed over the trail, and joined the creek.  It was truly stunning.

I had been looking forward to Tunnel Falls since I first heard about it.  The trail tunneled behind a tall, narrow, and roaring waterfall.  I had seen pictures and videos of hikers walking towards the falls and disappearing behind the sheet of water.  My excitement level was high and was being teased higher by each of the falls on Eagle Creek that weren't Tunnel Falls.  I was more excited about the tunnel than I had been about the 2,000 mile marker.  I was maybe more excited about the tunnel than I was about getting to town the next morning. 

Finally I heard it.  Then I saw it through the trees:  a tall column of flashing white water.  The trail had been blasted into a rock wall making a half arch to walk along to the falls.  Ferns grew down from the ceiling of the arch and touched my head. 

Portrait was armed with three cameras: my camera, my phone's camera, and his D-SLR camera.  I walked to towards the falls on the lumpy rocky trail staying close to the rock wall:  It was a long way down to the pool of blue water below.  I looked back a few times at my camera man, but mostly focused on the falls ahead of me.  The roar of the water echoed back at me from the rocky arch I was walking under.  Near the falls cold mist sprayed me and big fat drops of water dripped from the ferns and moss growing above the trail.  A puddle had formed by the trail near the falls and I stepped very close to the edge to of the cliff to avoid wet feet.  I looked back at Portrait who was aiming his four pound camera at me.  I peered up at the water and down at the pool sixty feet below me. 

Behind the falls the tunnel had a low ceiling, a slight bend, and was nearly dark until my eyes adjusted.  Then I could see the black walls of the tunnel studded with white rock.  The curved walls dripped water and muffled the noise from the falls.  It wasn't nearly as loud as I expected.  On the other side of the tunnel I popped back out into the sunlight and waved my arms at Portrait.  I imagined I looked very small surrounded by so much green growing life and thundering water.  I passed back through the tunnel with as much wonder at it as the first time. 

I walked back to Portrait, resisting the urge to look over my shoulder at the water crashing behind me.  He scrolled through the photos he had taken, put his camera away, and got out my cell phone.  I walked again to the falls.  I walked that section of trail eight times (for three different cameras and to video waling through the falls, and to take pictures of Portrait walking through the falls).  Each walk I felt as much pure little kid joy at the idea of walking behind a waterfall as I did when it was still out of sight.  I could have stayed there all day. 

Finally we did leave though.  We still wanted to get in a few miles after the falls before dark to set us up for an easy day into town, and we couldn't sleep there--any tossing and turning at night would have sent you off the cliff.  After the falls the trail continued to follow Eagle Creek and moss covered trees continued to crown the trail, but somehow it felt less stunning.  Tunnel Falls had exhausted my since of beauty and wonder.

A handful of the two dozen campsites that we passed had tents set up, not thru-hikers.  We were hoping for a spot at the campsite three miles past the falls, but it was full.  Dusk was coming, I was hungry, and tired, and I told Portrait I'd like to take the next campsite we came across.  Those words were hardly out of my mouth when we came to the next campsite.  It was just a small lumpy thing right next to the trail.  Portrait and I looked at it, then each other, and I told him I wasn't that tired.  We walked on.  The next one was a dream in comparison, but still not that flat.  We decided that it was still early enough in the day that we could afford to be picky so again we walked on.  We had gone minutes when it felt like the trail had changed.  We were back on a side hill with a cliff leading sharply to the river.  It didn't feel like we would find a place to camp anytime soon.  It is almost a rule that on a thru-hike a hiker never back-tracks, but this time we did.  It really was a nice campsite:  large, almost flat, no rocks or roots, a log to site on, and a rushing river to listen to.  We had dinner and cowboy camped under leafy trees.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 128-Ramona Falls

Timberline Lodge junction at mile 2107 to small stream and campsite at mile 2124

Over dramatic as it was, but upon waking in the morning my first thought was "I made it through the night."  My second thought:  "is it time for breakfast yet?"  It wasn't, but judging from the light it was time to look at Mount Hood at sunrise. I got up and went up the trail a few feet only to discover that Hood was lost in a thick dark cloud.

Grand entrance of Timberline
We packed up, and headed for the lodge. We were only a little early for breakfast so we passed the time reading about the history of Timberline. Then we went upstairs to eat before all the other thru-hikers ate it all.

There had been a lot of build up for this buffet. I did a pass through to check out my options and felt very underwhelmed. I had expected more after a week of dreaming.  There was still plenty to eat-the main attraction being the waffles, which I had two of. There were five of us at the table (Portrait, Moss, Blueberry, Skippy, and me) and we ate and talked for nearly three hours. The staff was working on setting up lunch when we left.  I may have been underwhelmed to begin with, but it turned out to be the morning I had dreamed about.

Before leaving Portrait and I dropped a few things off at the hiker box. We got on trail much later than Portrait had planned-he didn't realize the buffet would take so long. I felt great though:  energized and ready to hike. We passed a lot of day hikers and weekenders as we went leaving Mount Hood behind us. It wasn't long until we were back below tree line.

Mostly we hiked. Hood was behind too many clouds to take many pictures. I felt like I didn't ever need to eat again. It seemed like we were making excellent time-not enough to do Portrait's original 26 miles, but we were doing good. We met up with Heart and Gone Fishing looking like a couple of black bears in a blueberry patch. We chatted for a bit and then pressed on.

At the bottom of one descent we arrived at a silty glacier river with a three log bridge crossing its swift moving water. It looked a little sketchy with a slack yellow rope hand hold and a boot at either end. I went first first, and it was fine even with the middle log bowing under me.

After that was the Ramona Falls Loop trail. A quick .4 brought us to the falls. Probably the best ones I've seen on the hike as far as being the tallest, widest, and with the most cascades. We sat in front of the falls on a log for lunch and while I ate I thought about how grand the west is compared to the east. It made me a little worried that the east coast will be less impressive when I return.

The stunning Ramona
We stayed for an hour and a half-I don't think either of us meant to stay so long (and it was really cold by the falls so I don't know how I managed to stay so long). The trail followed the Ramona Falls creek back to the PCT.

Portrait crossing Muddy Fork
Right after rejoining the PCT we had to cross Muddy Fork-which did look very muddy. There was a tree a cross the river-high above the churning water, but wide. Again I went first. Near the end the trunk had a twist in it that made it a little harder to walk upon. To get back on land I had to squeeze through a gap in the tree's root system that had been widened by many hikers before me.

After the river the trail went up 2,000 feet in two miles. It was a little bit of a slog-enough that I stopped responding to Portrait and conversation was left at the bottom of the climb. From the top we could see Mount Adams (we think) and had just 2.7 miles to camp.

Those miles were downhill for the most part. To me they felt unusually steep and a little jarring for my body. By the time it leveled out I was looking forward to camp. Camp already had four people in it and no water like the book said. We chatted with Doc and Blue Jay for a bit, but I made the call to press on mostly because I wanted water.

No water was listed for four miles, but I was hoping for bonus water like we had seen for most of the day. It didn't seem promising. I kept hearing phantom water that was always just out of sight. When I heard real water I knew it-no mistaking it. We filled up, I had some chocolate, and we got out our headlights-it was probably going to be a long night.

Three steps from the water we found our campsite. A little bit sloped, a little rock and root-y, but good enough for just before dark done with the day in need of dinner kind of camp.



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Da 127- Lunch with a Triple Crown-er

From mile 2089 to Timberline Lodge trail junction at mile 2107

Just before leaving camp I took a quick look at the trail profile with Portrait looking over my shoulder. We had about a half mile of mostly flat trail and then hiked up off the page. I ate my walking breakfast once we were underway-hiking uphill and eating doesn't work for me.

It was rather cloudy-great for the uphill, but not for views of Mount Hood. We had a few cloudy views of Hood-better than no views.  That mountain is huge. It made Shasta look small.

The miles didn't slide by as fast as yesterday. The ascent had a lot to do with that, and maybe the excitement of Timberline Lodge and breakfast the next morning. At lunch time we had only hiked eight miles, which didn't seem impressive like yesterday's 12. There was a road crossing there with a register. So many people are ahead of us now because of the detour. It was a little disheartening to look at all the names of people who passed us.

I rallied for lunch at the register because we were already sitting with our packs off. Portrait wanted to hike another 1.5 miles so we'd have less to hike after lunch. I put my pack on and we darted across the very busy road. We went into the woods a dozen feet and there was a little picnic area with a table and trash can with a path leading to a parking lot.

We were both so excited for the trash can. My trash bag since Sister's seemed huge-packed to the bursting point and heavy. We grinned at each other like we'd just won some prize. The trash can was almost overflowing with empty beer and soda cans-it seemed pretty clear that we had missed some kind of trail magic-but there were three fruit gummies on the ground near the information bulletin that we ate.

Trail magic lunch
This time when I rallied for lunch it worked-Portrait knows how much I love picnic tables. I settled in: shoes off, food bag out, lunch out, water handy. I had just started to eat when a women walked over from the parking lot with a man right behind her with a cooler. She called out "haven't I met you?  I'm Steady."  We had met her the day we left Shelter Cove. "I hope you haven't eaten too much lunch already," she told us while Steve set down the cooler. I assured her that while hiking I've never eaten too much lunch.

Like magicians they kept making food appear: sodas, Subway, chocolate cream pies (which I had been dreaming about a few days ago), Little Debbie snacks, fruit, chips, and two hiker boxes. I ate a six inch ham and cheese sub with two deserts and some fruit-perfect. We chatted about the trail-our hike and Steady's current hike and her thru-hike a few years ago.  She let slip that she had hiked the CDT so we peppered her with questions about her hike. The food was wonderful, but getting to eat lunch with a Triple Crown-er and ask questions really made it magic.

We left just after one-we wanted to get to Timberline early enough to get our boxes.  The trail continued on its way uphill and we followed it. We entered the Mount Hood National Forest and saw from their map that the lodge really was on the side of Hood. We met a southbounder, Leslie, and chatted with her for awhile. She seemed plucky and had a wonderful attitude and we wished her all the best on her hike.
















We were making good time despite the uphill. Assuming the store that was holding our boxes did close at 7 and not earlier because it was Sunday it looked like we would make it with plenty of time. We stopped for a snack on the edge of a huge gully on the side of Hood. It was brisk there so we didn't stay long.

The trail started to leave the forest behind. The trees stood in tight little clumps-scared of the wind and snow. It was windy, too. The clouds had grown threatening, the air was cold, and the winds high.  It didn't seem like conditions that would make camping just 3.5 miles from Hood's summit very comfortable, or safe.

With the forest behind us we could finally really see Hood. We were close enough to really see the blueness of the glacier on Hood's side. It was incredible. We stopped and took about 100 pictures and I think I could have taken 100 more as the clouds changed. 

The trail became loose deep sand that was just as hard to slog through as the lava rocks of past had been. The sand had the added bonus of sandblasting my face when a few strong gust picked up. That went on for probably a mile until we reached a cluster of trees that had become the thru-hiker Timber Lodge. We decided that it would be a windy place to camp, but it was the best we'd seen. That settled we brought ourselves off trail 50 feet to the lodge.

The lodge was beautiful. Built in the 1930's to compliment the mountain it was perched upon. They did a good job back then. Inside the lodge was full of thick timber and stone work. And lots of windows. We watched the sun set from inside the lodge-fantasist display of pink even with a thick layer of clouds.

We stayed for a few hours enjoying the soft seats and being out of the wind and cold.  I know I didn't want to go back outside into the weather. It just seemed like a bad idea. 

When we did go back to the PCT it wasn't that bad. Sure, it was cold and there was wind, but neither was as bad as expected. Inside my tent it still flapped loudly like it hadn't done since the early days of the desert.




Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 126- Little Crater Lake

From mile 2066 to mile 2089

I'm not sure if I ever slept so good on the trail before. I woke up feeling great and ready to hike. We got out of camp early and ate breakfast while on the move. Portrait has been trying to get me to eat while hiking for awhile, and maybe it's not as bad as I thought. He said it gave us an extra mile done.

I was thrilled to be on the PCT-it felt new and full of wonder to me. It helped that there wasn't much in change of elevation in the morning and I was surrounded by tall pines and green underbrush. We came out of the forest into a small clearing and there was Mount Hood looming large. If it hadn't been for the fire we would have seen Hood small on the horizon.  It was neat to see the mountain up close for the first time. 

As we hiked Portrait and I talked about gear, which is funny because it was the same conversation we always have when we talk about gear. We talk about what we would change in our packs, how we'd go lighter, what gear we'd like to try and make, and wonder about quilts. I know we've covered that ground before, but it made the miles roll on by.

There was a lot of water near the trail today, and not just lakes like Oregon was a hundred miles ago. We passed so many little springs and a few streams. I hope the trend continues.

By the time we stopped for lunch around 12:30 we had twelve miles done on the day and feeling great. My lunches have started to get a little on the meager side, but my food bag is finally feeling light enough.  While eating three women on horses went by. It took us awhile to figure out what we were hearing before they came into sight. We kept lunch to a strict hour long break.

The trail continued being easy and pleasant and I continued loving it. There's nothing like 25 miles on a road to make you appreciate a narrow dirt path through the woods. Not too long after lunch we went down to a campground on a lake to fill our waters at the head water of the lake.  It was a wonderful spring-fast moving, cold, and no floaties.

We followed the trail halfway around Timothy Lake passing a few dozen weekend campers with huge tents and coolers. I had forgotten that it was a weekend and for a bit I was surprised by the number of people out. It wasn't even an option to camp at the lake-it was so noisy (and it was early yet). We continued on hoping that were we wanted to camp, Little Crater Lake, would be free of campers.

Little Crater Lake
When we got to Little Crater Lake at just after six we discovered there was a campground just .2 down the side trail from the lake. The area surrounding the lake was marshy-not good for camping. The lake itself was a small blue gem. The water was as blue as the big Crater Lake, but at Little I could stand right on the edge of the water and star into the blue water.  On the bottom was a sunken log-it looked like the mast of a ship. According to the informational sign it was only 43 feet deep and a cool 34 degrees. It was very cold dunking my hand in to fill my water bottle.

We had dinner by the lake and then went back to the PCT to find a non marshy place to set up camp. It took awhile to find a good spot, but it was still just barely light out when I crawled into my sleeping bag.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 125- PCT Open

Fire Detour

It was a cool morning. My jacket was the last thing I put in my pack and I started hiking with my hat and mittens on. The coolness was nice-better than being hot already at 8 a.m.

We had been walking for about a half hour when we saw a white truck coming towards us start to slow. We thought it was the sheriff stopping to tell us about shuttles. Instead it was Forest Service. He informed us the fire closure had been lifted that morning and the PCT was open and all signs and flagging were coming down. It was hard information to hear-we couldn't just pop back onto the trail. We could do a detour with slightly less road walking, but we still had a day on the road to look forward to.

We thanked him, and trudged onward. At a junction a couple of miles later we stopped to look at the maps and decided that wasn't our road-it seemed to peter out soon. We continued on: up hills, over a bridge, down hills, and through twisting curves. All the while Portrait read aloud making the walking more bearable.

He stopped reading behind me and I stopped to see him looking over the maps. He had bad news. According to the GPS coordinates we were off the map. The turn we didn't take was the one we had wanted. The junction had been over an hour ago and felt like longer. Since than I had finally warmed up enough to take my hat off and the sun had started to melt some of the thick shadows on the road.

We wanted to hitch back, even if it was only two miles. The first two cars didn't even slow. The third, a pick-up, slowed but went past. Then it did a u-turn and we piled into the back. Portrait's hat blew off, tumbling down the road behind us. He looked stunned. I knocked on the window and the driver stopped, hit reverse, and stopped when we were close. Portrait jumped out and retrieved his hat-it had come such a long way already.

At the junction we got out and the driver went over the maps with us and told us what he thought was the best way to go. It was a shorter detour, but it would have put us way far south on the PCT. We would have had to walk it twice, basically. We said thanks and walked on.

Around one at a creek we stopped for water and lunch. It didn't feel like we had made much progress and it was lonely knowing everybody else was on the PCT and we were probably the few to have walked the detour. All the road walking made my Achilles tendon hurt and ever break I tried to stretch it out.

After lunch the smoke started to feel thick. It kept drying out my mouth. It seemed a little surprising that everything was open again. To make the air even harder to breath the road switched from paved to gravel and traffic seemed to pick up.
We came to another junction:  one way was five miles south to a resort and then .1 to a southern junction of the PCT or slightly less miles by road and a half mile bushwack to rejoin the PCT where the detour ended-that would put us further north so we wouldn't have to re-hike miles. We went north.

It was easier to talk on the road so that helped time pass because there sure wasn't much to look at. Even with the talking and many snacks I started to fade around five p.m.  my tendon was painful and making me hobble. I longed for the PCT and dinner and camp.

We had been checking the maps regularly-we didn't want a repeat of the morning's bonus miles. That happened anyway. The forest service had taken down every sign and every piece of pink flagging so we were relying on maps. There weren't many land marks to judge location with. The last turn, the bushwack, was just a faint track going into the woods. I'm not surprised we missed it the first time. We left a carin and a wood arrow just in case anyone else was looking for it.

We could tell others had passed that way. We saw foot prints and broken vegetation. We had map, compass, and GPS coordinates to guide us to the jeep road we were supposed to hit front on-good practice for the CDT.  Somehow we did hit the jeep road on our first try and a half mile later after more than 48 hours apart was our trail. It was so wonderful to see the PCT again.

We were loosing sunlight and didn't want to camp on the jeep road-we wanted to really be on trail. It soon became clear there wasn't going to be camping until the site listed on our maps in just over a mile from our return to the PCT. We hiked-me first, slowed by exhaustion and a tender tendon.

At 8:30 just before full dark I came sluggishly into camp. Dinner hadn't tasted that good in a long time and the ground hadn't been so supportive to lie upon in a long time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 124- Endless Road Walking Ahead

From 3.5 miles on the Breitenbush Trail to Road 46

The Breitenbush trail resembled a stream bed more than a trail, but we saw a surprising amount of people going up the trail for a Thursday. Two hikers out for a long weekend told us we were just over two miles from the parking area which thrilled me. It's really a really odd feeling to not know how long a trail is, or where we are on the trail, or when we will rejoin the PCT.

A few of our questions were answered at the parking lot by White Jeep (who we had met back near Etna, CA). He had turned the trail head kiosk into a PCT fire detour kiosk. He had printed out Halfmile's detour maps, added notes about how long parts of the detour were, and where we would joined the PCT. I was a little shocked looking at the information to find out we had thirty miles of detour walking ahead of us.  A very large chunk of that walking was on a paved road- which we knew. On Halfmile's maps near the end of the detour was the note "Start bushwack here." That's something to worry about tomorrow, I guess.

After the parking lot we could continue on the B trail, or take a gravel road that parallels it. We decided trail, figuring we were in for a lot of road walking already. After two miles of tiny ups, downs, winding, and stream hopping, we decided to take to the gravel road at a crossing. Our speed picked up, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything the trail had to offer.

Where the gravel road met the paved one was B Creek and Halfmile suggested filling up on water there so we both did. On the paved road there was small stream after tiny stream taunting me for having 2.5 liters of water. For a road, the forest along it felt very lush. It was also late enough in the day that we were almost completely walking in shade.

Around 5:45 the road started to climb. I assumed that a road wouldn't ascend for very long, which is pretty irrational considering the roads Portrait and I have hitched on into town. Going into Sisters' was 15 miles of downhill. Thankfully this ascent wasn't anywhere close to that, and I had Portrait reading aloud from his iPhone to entertain me.

I really wanted to get to the top of the climb before stopping for dinner in a pull off of side road, but there didn't seem to be an end to the climb. So I told Portrait I was going to take the next pull off for dinner and that ended up being five minutes later.

Dinner, with nearly endless road walking ahead
As we were finishing our meal a woman in a car stopped to tell us there would be a hiker shuttle in the morning-we told her thanks, but we planned on walking it. Not long after her a Sheriff's pick-up truck with 6 or so hikers in the bed flew pass. They waved but didn't stop. Then the tow-truck right behind the Sheriff's truck stopped and asked if we were hobos, we told him PCT hikers, which seemed to mean nothing to him. After that we decided it was time to get walking again.

Portrait started reading again and the road finally topped out and I ate a Snickers bar on the mostly flat section then brushed my teeth as we walked. It slowly got dark and the half-full moon shined on our backs. Traffic lessened. I tried not to worry about where I would sleep, and didn't worry much, mainly because Portrait was confident that we wouldn't have any problems finding a camping place.

We passed roads on the right hand side that were closed because of the fire. We though off of one of those roads would make a good place to camp-quieter than the main road.  We checked our maps and figured we were about a mile from a closed road and made that our tentative end point for the night.

We either weren't where we had thought we were or missed the road while story time was going on, but we didn't see it. We were both starting to yawn so we cut into the woods. They weren't as flat as they looked from the road, but thirty feet back from the road we found a place that would work. Dinner was eaten so at 9:30 we were able to just call it a night and climb into our bags.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 123- PCT is Closed

From mile ? to 3.5 miles on the Breitenbush Trail

I woke up to Jefferson turning pink in the sunrise sun...then I went back to sleep. I was chilly last night and had some trouble sleeping. Having the new sun on me felt wonderful and I dozed for another hour or so.  And by the time we left camp smoke from the nearby fire was wrapping itself like gauze around Jefferson's side.
It turned out that there were plenty of camping options if we had continued north, but I liked our spot, even if I was a little cold. The other spots didn't come with a view.

A handful of miles into the day we met up with Heart and Gone Fishing getting water. In a boulder field there was a small spring under the rocks. We had to walk off trail and down hill aways before the water came out from the rocks, but it was worth it. I gladly dumped out my lake water and took three liters of bonus spring water. Back on the trail we made an H2O sign out of pebbles.

Had I known how much bonus water I was going to pass I wouldn't have taken three liters or bothered to make a sign. There was so much good water flowing across the trail I didn't feel like I was in Oregon any more. Compared to yesterday it was nice to drink my fill and not have to worry about getting more water.

Our first listed water of the day was a lake that we didn't even pause at. It was a little buggy there and had a surprising number of campers on the banks. I was a little tempted to go for a quick dip, but it was still a little cool out. Our second listed water was a glacier creek four miles away.

About a mile from the creek I informed Portrait that I was going to die of hunger. I think he was unsympathetic and told me we could stop for lunch where ever. Of course that wasn't true. I don't stop for lunch just right on the trail. I stop off trail where I can spread out my Tyvek, take my shoes off, and not worry about having to move out of the way.

To my disappointment there was no lunch spots on the near side of Milk creek, and the creek wasn't milky from glacier runoff. We crossed on a small log with no problems and started up the hill on the other side. We had gone about 20 minutes when we found the spot to stop for lunch. It had everything I was looking for.
We ended up having a long lunch-we both fell asleep. As we were packing up a whole herd of people went pass. We caught up with most of them pretty quickly as they stopped for snacks. When we stopped for snack we were passed.

At Russel Creek the creek bed was filled with snow. I think that was how the Sierra's were supposed to look. It even had a mini snow bridge by a spring.

Only a few miles later we got to the trail junction everyone had been talking about for days. The PCT was closed due to a fire and we were being rerouted around. The post had nearly a dozen sings informing us of the closure.

Relaxing at camp before dinner
Our new trail was nice. It had a lot of clear streams and springs flowing next to it. It seemed a safe beat that we wouldn't be dry camping. Turned out to be a wrong bet. We could hear water from our camp, but it was in a gully about thirty feet down. We both had enough water to camp, and we're pretty sure there will be more in the morning as we continue on the detour.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 122- Three Fingered Jack

From mile 2008 to mile ?

My dream knew it was raining on me before I did. I woke up moments after someone commented in my dream that it was raining to find drops landing on my face and sleeping bag. I grabbed my headlamp and my tent and quickly got it spread out so I could work on setting it up with it protecting my bag. I had a moment of dislocation when I couldn't remember where I put my trekking poles, but I found them, and the tent was up in minutes. Thankfully it was a light rain and I went back to sleep with the sound of rain on nylon. It's a nice sound.

It was a slow start to the morning. Waking up at midnight to put up a tent and then on and off through the night makes for a very tired morning. There was also the excuse that the tent needed to dry before being packed up. Once hiking I was glad to see that we weren't the last ones to leave camp or have a slow start. We passed Iceman Dan taking down his tent.

The first part of the morning was spent going through the burn area. It wasn't as bad as it could have been-the rain had cooled off the day. Even in full sunlight there was a chill in the air.

I was maybe more tired than I thought because it felt like the trail in the morning was all uphill. I'm sure that wasn't the case, but a hard day can really color your perspective on what the trail was like. I always try to keep that in mind if I ask someone traveling the opposite way as me what the trail was like--you never know who woke up with rain drops on their face.

Three Fingered Jack
All that uphill did give a pretty awesome view of Three Fingered Jack. We went right up on the side of the peak and right below the rock spires that gave the peak its name. It felt like the closest the trail had gone to a peak in awhile.
Right after walking below the spires we stopped for lunch in a little shady campsite. Portrait insisted on the shade although I ended up basking in the sun. I even fell asleep for a bit. It was really pleasant.

After lunch I felt like the whole hike was about getting to the next (and only) water source. When we left camp we thought water was ten miles away, and hadn't realized until later that the water was 13 miles away. I usually get by on two liters for ten miles-and I'll get there empty. I knew I'd run out around mile ten.

We had a snack break overlooking a lake down in the valley and I accidentally sucked down nearly a half liter of water leaving me with a third for four miles. I ended up running out when I stopped for another snack about two miles from the lake. It was nice not to be carrying heavy water for a few miles.

At the lake I drank a liter and took three more for dry camping. Portrait and I planned to hike until 7:45 then camp. Picking up my water bloated pack I was tempted to lobby for dinner at the lake than hiking (while knowing I would than lobby for camping at the lake).

The trail took us up to an exposed windy ridge. Now the day didn't have a hint of chill, it had gusts of chilliness. The views were nice, but the wind was harsh. Around 6:30 we came to a lovely wind-free campsite with a stunning view of Jefferson. I wanted to stay, but Portrait talked me into pushing on. 

Mount Jefferson
For awhile the trail went on a side hill and it didn't look good for camping. Portrait saw a clearing about .2 downhill off the ridge on the windless side. I could see pines up ahead and talked him into trying further up the trail. The pines gave decent shelter to a wide flat area with a great view of Jefferson. Portrait didn't like it, he wanted to hike back to the off trail clearing, and he stopped talking to me while I set up camp. I ate dinner with Jefferson while watching the golden light play on his flanks and Portrait sulked at the campsite.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 121-2,000 Miles Done

From mile 1990 to mile 2008

The trail angels that we camped with a couple nights back warned us that the upcoming trail was lava rock with no shade and a good deal of climbing. They recommended an early start. We got on trail before 7:30 feeling a little groggy-even the most relaxing town stops are tiring.

After a half mile the trail left the little wooded area (after passing many campsites just as good as ours) and entered the lava fields. The lava is like being on the moon-it's really cool-for about a mile. Then it is exhausting to walk on. The small rocks.shift underfoot, they are easy to stumble on, the walking is slower, and attention has to be paid to each step. There also wasn't any shade-the few trees standing were dead gnarled tree trunks.  It was cool, but I was happy to see another island of forest up ahead.

Two of the Sisters overlooking lava rocks
The forest was a little deceiving-behind a row of pines were burnt and twisted trees that offered no shade. It seemed like a very lonely speck of forest, yet a deer had walked the trail before us.

Ahead we had great views of Mount Washington as the peak grew larger. Behind the Sisters were still keeping watch, but were shrinking with each mile. We followed the trail uphill and closer to Washington until it seemed like we were standing on the mountain's flank. And then just like that we were past the mountain and on our way to the 2,000 mile mark.

Someone had been impatient to reach the 2,000 mile mark and had made the sign .2 miles south of the actual 2,000 mile mark. We hardly stopped to look at the impostor, but continued the .2. When we got there there was no marker so Portrait set about building one while I sat in the shade on a log. When he was done I joined him for some pictures. Oddly enough the 2,000 mile point didn't feel any different than the other recent markers. I remember how excited I was for the 1,000 mile mark, but today I felt none of that excitement. Maybe it was because I wanted lunch and still had a ways to go before it was time to eat.

Oops and Gone Fishing studying fire detour maps
At Big Lake Youth Camp I picked up my resupply box and settled in for a celebratory lunch of town food. I had a spinach salad kit (it came with all the fixings) and two slices of pizza. It made for a very tasty meal out in the woods.

Once I repacked my resupply my pack was bulging. Portrait and I headed back on the .8 side trail to the PCT. My pack was heavy and I could feel it in every joint.
Mount Washington
We stopped once before the other road to Sisters for snacks, and again at the road to read a register there (but the cooler was empty). On the other side of the road was a water cache and a small parking area with a pit toilet, trash can, picnic table, and thru-hikers. Portrait and I didn't stay long. At that point it was getting late. I knew if I stayed at the table for dinner I wouldn't hike on, so I resisted the lovely call of the table.

After the picnic area the trail went through a burn area. I think it goes on for awhile and it didn't look promising for camping. The ground seemed lumpy and slanted. The spot we found may not be the best, but I doubt it will make it on the list of the worst camping place.




Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 120-Always Save Room for Ice Cream

From Sisters at mile 1989 to mile 1990

Since back in the desert I've been making plans to meet up with Tammy-one of the head rangers that worked at the state park I worked with as a ridge runner.  After many messages passed back and forth she pulled up in a rental car in Sisters, OR. 
The three of us went out for dinner at one of the many Mexican restaurants in Sisters. It was early and we were seated right away and our drink orders were taken quickly. 

We talked about the PCT thus far and what is in store, we talked about Wild and Bill Byrson, we talked about the AT and the new ridge runners and the thru hikers on that trail. Tammy told us about her trip so far and what else she was planning to see-including Crater Lake. The food was good, and filling, but my hiker hunger is still missing so I wasn't too hungry anyway.

I did have room for ice cream though. It seemed like a wise idea to get ice cream, hungry or not. There are only so many stops left on the hike. The first shop we went to was closed, but there was another one across the street. I had a peppermint candy ice cream in a cone. It was a little bit of pink heaven surrounded by a waffle cone.
After I filled up my waters at the ice cream shop we piled into Tammy's car to return to the trail. Tammy had come over McKenzie Pass on her way to Sisters, but hadn't been able to enjoy the moon-like lava fields or mountain views. This time the sun was low in the sky lighting up the area.

At the pass we went to the observatory. The view was so different than yesterday's. The only cloud in the sky was a plume of smoke from a fire near the trail to the north of us. The mountains gleamed in the later afternoon sunlight. Tammy and Portrait had out their large cameras to take many photos. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.

It was getting late when we said our good-byes in the parking lot. Portrait and I both wondered where we would possibly camp in the middle of a large lava field. We set off the .2 down the road to the trail.

At the trail head we met up with Bluejay, who was mostly off trail, and was doing car support now for Doc and Clutch who I hadn't seen since the Anderson's (in the 400's). Seeing them was a little bit of a surprise, even though I knew Clutch had been making miles. We talked some, but they were going into town, and we were going into a lava field, so we wanted to get going.

The trail did go into the lava field. Two of the Sisters lit up a pink gold color as the sun set. We saw trees ahead, but I thought the trail would skirt them. Much to my surprise the trail didn't skirt them but went right into the mini forest. There were flat spaces everywhere. I was feeling good like I could hike for a few hours, but lava fields in the dark sounded like a horrible idea. We walked a little ways into the trees and picked one of the many flat spots to set up camp for the night.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 119- A Nero to Sisters

From Lava Lake Campground at mile 1988 to mile 1989 at McKenzie Pass

It looked like rain when I woke up.  The sky was dark and for that matter it sounded like rain with thunder rumbling in the distance.  We had less than two miles to hike to the pass, and I really didn't want to hike it in the rain...if it rained.  We bid farewell to the trail angels after a quick breakfast of bagels and made our way back to the PCT.

Two of the Three Sisters
From the lava fields I had a good view of the threatening sky.  It looked like it was raining in the distance, but not where we were, not yet anyway.  Through the clouds we could see Mount Washington, Three Finger Jack, and Mount Jefferson waiting for us.  Behind us the Three Sisters lurked in the dark clouds.  

About halfway into our very short day Portrait pointed out the Dee Wright Observatory.  The building was made completely from dark brown lava rocks.  It looked like a natural part of the landscape.  Once we arrived at the road we made straight for the observatory to check it out.  it provided wonderful views of the surrounding mountains--even with all the clouds.  A metal disk told us how far to each of the peaks that we would be going to.

Then it was time to start hitching.  


Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 117 and 118-Picture Post

Day 117:  From  Horseshoe Lake at mile 1948 to mile 1972
Burn area before Elk Lake Resort 
















This field smelled strongly of wild flowers


















Day 118: From mile 1972 to Lava Lake at mile 1988


Obsidian Falls
Red Lava field



Oregon lava field
Trail Angles at Lava Lake Campground

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 116-Highlight of the Day


From mile 1924 at Bobby Lake to Horseshoe Lake at mile 1948

...We were focused on moving north so we would get to camp at a reasonable time.  Portrait, who was in front, stopped suddenly. He said nothing, but pointed into a clearing just twenty feet away from the trail. In the middle of the clearing a black bear was running away from us towards the trees.  He made a racket--breaking sticks and gallomping uphill.  Once in the trees he slowed to a walk and I could hardly see him anymore.  We watched his dark shadow move through the underbrush for awhile until he was lost from our sight.

After our bear sighting the rest of the day was a lot less interesting.  The trail was easy, the uphills short, the down hills gentle on the knees.  The bugs were annoying, but not as bad in the past.  We made it to our planned on campsite, only to find a marshy lake and bug filled area and one very lumpy campsite.  It didn't take long to decided to move on.  

We ended up at Horseshoe Lake for the evening with three weekenders who peppered us with questions when we arrived.  There were bugs there, too, but they seemed to die down pretty quick.  I managed to choke down a dinner without swatting at too many bugs.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 115-Lake Day


From Shelter Cove on the OST to PCT mile 1924 at Bobby Lake

We stayed at the picnic table until 9 o'clock and then went back to the Skyline trail to find a place to camp. We hiked back the way we came some to put distance between us and the train tracks. I counted on the river to down out any night train noise and it did the job wonderfully.
Returning to the PCT

My pack was heavy with my new supply of food when we set off. We hiked a side trail for just over a mile to get back to the PCT. I wore my headnet-seemed like it was going to be another mosquito filled day. I did take it off while at an overlook that gave a view of the lake Shelter Cove Resort was on the banks of. I had no idea the night before how huge the lake had been.

We arrived at a ski resort that is only open on the weekends just before lunch time. We took the .25 mile side trail in search of water. I had less than a half liter and the trail was nothing but up for a ways. The ski area was locked down pretty tightly, but they did have one outside water fountain, a handful of very dirty port-i-potties, and a picnic table under a shade tent. We grabbed water and made for the table in the shade. We planned to sit for a bit-Portrait wasn't feeling good, but it didn't seem to be what I had. 

We left about an hour later. Portrait was feeling mostly better and the day had time to go from hot to makes you combust in the sun. It was the perfect time to hike. It was actually the perfect time to swim, and I knew there were lakes up the mountain. They worked as a fine motivator.

After a few miles we arrived at Lower Rosary Lake which was just fantastic looking. It had calm deep blue water that shimmered in the sun. The lake was large and back by rock cliffs-it reminded me of the Sierra's. There were also people there. A family on an overnighter sounded like they were having a ball in the water. We decided to just have a snack and move on top the next lake. Portrait had to just about drag me away from the water.

The next lake was only .6 away. We went to the far end where there was shade on shore, some logs to sit on, and sunny water. I waded in. The bottom was murky, but the water felt nice. Just knee deep in and I felt clean. Once I had gone under I felt cleaner and refreshed. There was a bit of a breeze coming over the water so that made it a little cold to linger.  I got out, dried off, and I was ready to hike again. 

The trail went uphill after the lakes.  From the open ridge we could see one of the many wildfires that had popped up somewhere behind us.  Two helicopters went that way, but I don't know if they were in response to the fires.  

We stopped in at the Maiden Peak Ski Hut-a very cute octagon shaped hut with large windows and a woodstove inside.  Sadly it was much too early to call it a day, and there was no water there, so it was only a brief visit to the hut.  We paged through the register book, and saw very few names that we knew.  Seems like not many hikers visited the hut.  
Bobby Lake at Golden Hour

We made it to Bobby Lake with plenty of daylight left.  I thought about going onward, but the lake was such a lovely spot, and somehow it was mosquito free.  That sold me on the lake.  Portrait made his first ever campfire and we roasted marshmallows after eating dinner. 




Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 114- On the Oregon Skyline Trail


From the OST junction at mile 1884 to Shelter Cove via the OST

The mosquitoes were just as present in the morning as they had been last night. They kept great company over breakfast. They buzzed so much Portrait and I couldn't hardly get a word in.

The first half mile of the Oregon Skyline Trail was on the forest service road. We followed that into the woods. The trail ascended gently, although with my headnet on I still got pretty hot. Every time I thought I could take the headnet off the mosquitoes would remind me they were there and hungry. 

Time and miles seemed to pass with a nice ratio. At first snack it was clear we were going to make lunch at the campground on Crescent Lake without worries. It was still to early to know if we would make it to Shelter Cove before the store closed.

For being named the Skyline Trail there wasn't much of the skyline visible. They could have named it the Marshy Lake Trail, but that doesn't sound very epic. The walking was easy though-it was easier than anything I'd done on the PCT lately.
The lake was large and lovely with Diamond Peak standing over the shimmering waters. It was a little cold, but it felt great. A shower wasn't on my Shelter Cove list so Crescent Lake was going to have to fill in. I actually didn't even feel that dirty-I still feel like I haven't hiked recently. 

We had to share the lake with a lot of summer rivalries but sadly we couldn't manage to yogie any lunch. I always feel a little like a failure when I can't even get a soda from some one's cooler. The water from the faucet was cold and they had large dumpsters for our small amounts of hiker trash.  All in all a wonderful stop.
It was too long of a stop, really. By the time we left we had 4.5 hours to hike 11.5 miles. We had to do 2.2 mphs with almost no breaks to make the store by 7 p.m.  it was possible, but I wasn't going to like it. We did the pace we needed for over an hour. Then Portrait called the store. They closed at six, not seven p.m.  that was a lot less possible. We slowed to a snail's pass.

It didn't matter to me if I got my box in the evening or following morning. I had food left in my foodbag. Now we just didn't need to rush. It made the afternoon much more enjoyable.

After awhile the trail started to follow a large rushing creek. It was all fast water and white rapids. It sounded wonderful after the last few dry areas. The trail kept descending with the creek. I saw structures through the trees and firmly told myself I wasn't there yet-no need getting disappointed. Turns out I was right and it was just tanks at the railroad tracks. But after crossing the tracks and walking down a drive we were there.

The store had closed an hour and a half ago, but there was always the hiker box and other hikers around towns. The owner of the resort exited the store shortly after we got there. When I asked if there was anyway two newcomers could get their boxes he lead me to the shed where they were kept. 

I was supposed to be at Shelter Cove on my birthday and my box was brimming with birthday goodies. We took over a whole picnic table while sorting through our new goodies.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Daqy 113-How to Turn into a Pumpkin


From mile 1860 to the junction with the Oregon Skyline Trail at mile 1882

It was nice waking up a few times during the night and hearing the creek. It made it easy to go back to sleep. Lemur was the first one up and moving, followed by Portrait, and then me (although I was awake before anyone). It was nice having Lemur there-someone highly motivated to get up and going. Even before getting sick I've gotten a little sluggish in the morning.

When we left camp we went up through pine forest. The high point for OR/WA was a few miles pass camp. Once there it was kind of a disappointment. The high point was in the middle of a field, it was a slight swell to the land. An old and weather eaten sign declared it the highest point. I don't think we even paused, although we did find some shade and a log just north of there for snack.

After the break it was all down hill, or at least it was for a bit.  We hiked through more pine forest. Portrait had lead the way so far-when I had been sick and on the mend I had lead the way so we wouldn't get separated. Portrait was only just in sight-I think he was enjoying hiking at a normal pace.

I convinced Portrait to stop for an early lunch. My hiker hunger had been missing since I'd gotten sick, and still wasn't back, but my body wanted a break. We found a nice shady spot to sit for awhile. It felt really good on my tired back to just relax and lean against my pack. 

After lunch the trail meandered uphill and down. Our next goal was the spring and the four miles to get there after lunch were uneventful. There was still thick smoke covering the views, but there were too many trees for many views anyway.

The .3 side trail off the ridge to the spring was horribly buggy. It made it a challenge to fill the bottles quickly and start the long climb uphill. The spring reminded me a lot of an AT spring. The forest was green around it, the mosquitoes were starved for blood, and it was way down off the ridge. Pretty good water, even if mine had a lot of dirt floating in it. I drank a whole liter while having a snack back on top of the ridge.

While I was nibbling Portrait reminded me we still had six miles to go and if I wanted to get there before 8:30 (when I turn into a pumpkin) we should get going. 

So away we went for an uphill mile. Then some down hill miles. Then I started to turn into a pumpkin a little earlier than expected. I thought we were making good time and would be getting to the trail junction at every bend in the trail. Every bend lead to disappointment. Then, finally there was the trail junction. I did a little happy dance and was about ready to toss of my pack when Portrait told me it wasn't the right junction. It was buggy there anyway.

Onward again, feeling more sluggish than before. It wasn't too long before we arrived at the right trail junction. It was at a forest road with 7 gallon water jugs, camping places, and a fire ring. While Portrait looked around for where we'd go in the morning I quickly, and on impulse, started a small campfire. It seemed to help with the mosquitoes some, but mostly it was just a nice treat. A Southbound section hiker came in at dark and cooked his dinner over the fire. While he cooked we asked him for trail info from the north. We kept the fire small so it was easy to put out at the end of the night.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 112- Southbounders

From mile 1847 to Thielsen Creek at mile 1860

The trail continued passing through the mostly dead forest first thing in the morning. A lot of trees were down-although nothing like the downed trees around Red's Meadow. These were just little things, but it got old stepping over them. And the mosquitoes loved to pounce whenever I had to pause to get over a log. It was a DEET kind of morning.

We met Team Spiderbark: two southbounders who said they were the first and as far as they knew the only southbounders that had come from Canada without skipping. They seemed proud-and with the amount of snow they had to deal with, they should be proud.

We hiked on in the trees with the bugs. I felt a lot better than the day before, but still in a bit of a cloud. I felt a little disconnected from myself and the trail and still had my headache.

Shortly before noon we left Crater Lake National Park at a road crossing. We seemed to leave the dead forest and most of the mosquitoes behind at the road. The other side the forest was much greener.

We stopped a couple miles later for lunch. I picked at my food eating my Skittles but not much out. I was more tired than hungry although I was really starting to miss my hiker's hunger:  it does wonders to make a foodbag lighter.  I didn't nap at this lunch break, although I regretted that as soon as we got underway hiking again.

The trail was mostly flat for another couple of miles and then it started a five mile climb. Before getting to the climb I was pretty sure it was going to take a huge toll on me, but I felt okay on the way up. The grade was gentle and the trail was dirt with a dusting of pine needles. It was about as nice as I could have asked for.

We would get glimpses of  Thielsen as we climbed, but those quick peeks through trees were nothing compared to sitting at the top of the climb just a mile from the summit. It was a beautiful mountain-painted rock that came to a needles point. There was a one mile side trail to the top. I could tell Portrait wanted to do it, and I did, too, but not that day. I told him I'd wait for him at the creek, but he decided not to go up.

Snow near Thielsen
From there the trail started back down. We crossed our biggest snow field in Oregon, which is to say we walked on perfectly flat snow for a minute. At one snowbank someone had left a small pile of snowballs. I used some snow to clean off my hands-they get so dirty in long dry stretches.

We were less than two miles from the creek and camp. I was ready to call it a day. My back was tired and I wanted that creek. My water was almost gone-my pack was feeling much lighter. I actually drank my last sips standing at the side trail to the creek.

While we were down there filling up with the cold mountain water I saw a southbounder reach the creek and then heard him yell out "Portrait!"  It was Lemur, a southbound section hiker who Portrait had known on the AT last year. They spent the rest of the evening catching up with I drank hot chocolate for my dinner and then went to my tent.