Days 109-122: Ashland (Mi. 1716.2) to Bridge of the Gods (Mi. 2144.6)
Spoiler alert... Oregon is DONESKIS.
I was told the state would fly by, but man... I did not anticipate being in Washington so quickly! There was a tiny bit of the state that we had to skip due to fire closures (I'll get to that soon), but I'm excited to have that as a to-do Oregon vacation once the trail opens back up.
Anyway. Oregon is in the books and I'm getting border fever. Day 109: Zero in Ashland
This morning I got all of my chores done pretty early, so I was able to REST for the majority of the day!! I skipped around downtown Ashland (the favorite town on trail yet), visiting local shops and eating whatever my heart pleased. I blogged a bit and called all the fam & friends. I'm starting to get a hang of this whole town thing! Day 110: Ashland (Mi. 1716.2) to Hyatt Lake Campground (1740.2)
Lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy. Wowzers, today was an easy day! The early risers (Lady, Wasabi, Neon, Unger, and I) split a cab and made it to the trailhead around 7:20am. A hop skip and a jump away, we made it to the first water source (about 8.5 miles in) and took a break. I took my first nap of the day here (that's right, I took more than one). The rest of the day was pretty darn easy. After our first break, we went another 7.5 miles to a road crossing where we stopped for lunch. This is where I took nap #2. Nap #2 was a little buggy, but still very enjoyable. Oh, I almost forgot to mention!!! The heat wave is over!! The weather today was fantastic. Cool breezes and cold shadows. Seriously, Praise the Lord, because those hot days were t o u g h. After our late lunch, I finished the 7 miles into camp fairly quickly. With a little bit of service, I was able to chat and laugh on the phone with my best friend, Taylor. Thankful for this friendship. 🙌 At camp we had some KILLER trail magic!! Karaoke's girlfriend came and met us, bringing all the things- Root Beer Floats, Pizza, Cereal, Donuts, Chips, Carrots, Grapes, Hummus, etc.
^ not sure why I capitalized all those improper nouns... 😬. Current feelings towards food I guess...
Happy camper over here. 31 miles tomorrow- let's go!
Day 111: Hyatt Lake Campground (1740.2) to Hwy 140 (1770.9)
Did the 30!
^In hindsight, I'm realizing that's all I wrote for today... I must've been tiiiiired.
Day 112: Hwy 140 (1770.9) to Mi. 1801.8
Yooooo! I'm going to be real honest- today was borrrrring. The trail was a long green tunnel for a long while, which put me in a terrible mood. I wanted vistas, dangit! The trail led me to get creative- so I got reaaaally into my music.
After the 4th John Mayer guitar solo with my trekking poles, I was back to boredom. Today we needed to walk 31 miles to set ourselves up for the Crater Lake fire alternate. This is our first major 2017 wildfire we're having to navigate around, so tomorrow won't be super fun. Yay road walking. 🤔 Day 113: Mi. 1801.8 to West Rim Alternate (PCT approx. 1829.8)
Yo yo yo! What a DAY! The day was mostly consumed by a 22? mile road walk among dirt roads and a highway. Roadwalking is kind of the worst, but we made the most of it!! Olaf, Lady and I trekked single file along the road... and at one point, we were all three dancing to whatever music we had playing in our earbuds. This is the making the most of road walking. Highlights included roadside berries and ALMOST getting hit by a car. Some unintelligent person decided to pass a semi as we were walking on the tiny shoulder facing oncoming traffic. He probably missed us by a foot- if not inches. Loserpants. 22 miles into the walk, we started getting pretty antsy. There was a small junction up ahead, and I joked to Olaf if it was Mazama Village (our first destination), I'd poop my pants in excitement. Turns out it was Mazama!! We weren't anticipating hitting Mazama until wayyyy later, so we were pretty stoked to have made it this far so early (it was only 2:30pm). At Mazama, there was some incredible trail magic hosted by two women from the Ashland-Medford area. They heard morale was low on trail from the fires, took time off work, loaded up on all the sweets and sodas, and hit the road to Crater Lake. We also met a SOBO (Southbounder) with a fiddle?, which made way to some beautiful midday entertainment! Mazama was also a resupply point for this leg of the trail, so I picked up a package my mom mailed out for me. Thanks ma!!! HeLlllllLlloooooooo mashed potatoes, ramen, tortillas, peanut butter, and snickers. 🙌 Nearly everyone hitched around the closed section of trail, but a few of us wanted to maintain the continuous footpath we've had since Mexico. We know the upcoming closures will break this footpath, but we want to do the alternates as long as they're available. So, while we planned to camp in Mazama campground, we still had a few miles to do to get to the Lake Rim (our starting point for tomorrow). We did it without packs. That's right!! Lady and I left our packs in Mazama, hiked the ~5 miles to the rim, and hitched back to the campground. In the morning we'll hitch back up to the Rim and continue where we left off. Cheating? Nahhh. Lazy? You betcha.
Back in Mazama, we were gifted by trail magic YET AGAIN! Unger's friends from YWAM Salem came down to treat PCT hikers to an AMAZING spread of food: hot dogs, burgers, Oreos, chips, corn, carrots, beans, soda, chocolate cake, etc etc etc. I haven't seen that much food from magic on trail yet. And my friend Otter caught up to us!! It was such a fun evening with a ton of laughs.
Thank you YWAM Salem for cultivating this atmosphere of relaxation and for loving those on trail so well! So easy to see Christ's love through you guys. So, so cool. I am PUMPED for the rest of the trail. Yesterday I was not at all (#tiredprobs), but I'm particularly excited about the West Rim Trail tomorrow. Gonna be dopppee!
Oh, and I'm just excited to be in another National Park. This is our 5th National Park to hike through, and we just have two more to go!
Fun fact: Did you know Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States? Also, it used to be a mountain that blew its top. Dang.
Day 114: West Rim Alternate (PCT approx. 1829.8) to Thielsen Creek (mi. 1853.6)
Crater Lake is freaking BEAUT! Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here's a handful of my favorite shots of today. Other than the Rim Trail, today was pretty dang long and boring. It was just around 25 miles, but for some reason I was just wiped out and a little irritable. Enjoy the shots and book a trip to Crater Lake ASAP.
Day 115: Thielsen Creek (mi. 1853.6) to Summit Lake (mi. 1886.9)
Hahaha... I attempted to record everything I did this day chronologically for a bit more creative post. Halfway through the day I lost tabs on my activity... and once I completed the 33 mile day, I just about passed out.
In hindsight, my days really aren't too interesting when listed out. It's a lot of hiking, peeing, leapfrogging with people, and eating. This has me thinking- what makes a good story? Is it the content, or the way it is told? If I feel my life with a lot of interesting things, but fail to communicate, listen, empathize with others, and make a connection... am I still living a good story? Is a story even measurable? Food for thought.
Once again, I apologize for a half-hearted post. While the intentions were good, the execution was poor. ;) 5a- Lady wakes up
5:45a- I wake up
5:47a- Eat a snickers
6:05a: Leave camp
7:10a: Pass olaf
7:33a: Reach PCT Oregon/Washington high point
7:45a: Got a bar of service- checked PCTA website for updated conditions on the central Oregon wildfires
8:45a: pee break!
9:21a: 10 miles in!
9:30a: See Olaf- break for our 10x10 break.
10:03a: See Smeagol... keep breaking.
11:45a: Meet Lady for lunch with Smeagol
12:43p: Leave lunch with Lady, Smeagol, and Olaf.
1:35p: Find water at cache.
Yep. That's just about as far as I got.... oops!
For some fun reading... here's a little bit of info on our upcoming fire closure:
Day 116: Summit Lake (mi. 1886.9) to Lower Rosalie Lake (mi. 1908.5)
Shootdang! Today was reeaaally nice. 22 miles with lots of R&R. I slept in, crossed the 1900 mile marker, and hiked about 17 miles into Shelter Cove Resort, where most of the gang chose to resupply. I only needed a few snacks, which freed up time to do laundry for the crew and take a quick, expensive shower. No joke- it was $1.75/3 minutes. I treated myself to a nine minute shower 💁🏼♂️. I love this bubble that I'm surrounded by right now. From my close trail family (Unger, Lady, Wasabi, Olaf, Bamboo, Karaoke, and Neon) to those that we leapfrog throughout the day... I'm just grateful for the positivity and constant laughter. After Shelter Cove, we hiked about 6 miles up to Rosalie Lake to camp. On the way, we ran into some ultra marathoners! They were finishing their 100k trail race. 100k!!! That's like 64pointsomething miles! Whatthe. So cool. We cheered them on as they finished out their last few miles, encouraged by their motivation and dedication to finish strong. A lot of the anxiety I've been carrying about the upcoming closures has definitely subdued. We have a game plan!! Bamboo's aunt and uncle are going to give us a ride around the 83 mile closure (there's no alternate 😪) on Monday after the eclipse. We will resupply in Bend and get to Brightenbush Lake Monday evening. From there, Lady and I plan to book it to the OR/WA border by Friday morning beeeecaaause MY DAD is coming!! And Lady's boyfriend! So fun! Lady and I plan to do a 40+ mile day on Tuesday, followed by some high 20's Wed/Thurs. Anyway. Game plans are good. Now it's just time to do them. Day 117: Lower Rosalie Lake (mi. 1908.5) to mi. 1937.4
"don't you... forget about me." CAN'T GET THIS SONG OUT OF MY HEAD. And now I just want to watch Breakfast Club. Thanks a lot, Spotify. Today was really enjoyable. The miles were flat and soft terrain, so the day passed quickly. The rest of the group (Otter, Bamboo, Karaoke, Neon, Lady, Olaf, Unger, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Wasabi) pressed on extra two miles from my tentsite beside a small unnamed pond. Not mad about it- this means I get some much anticipated alone time! Hooray introversion! I know I mention this a lot, but I love this group that I'm hiking with. We laugh, dance, eat, and sleep together. We accidentally stumble across each other taking a squat, and go on midday adventures together (today, otter and I took an afternoon swim in Lake Charlton! 🙌). This is family. One thing Otter and I were talking about today is how the trail has become very tame. Since the Sierra, adrenaline rushes are less frequent to nonexistent, and our surroundings have been a little more traditional to backpacking (lots of lakes and trees). We've noticed that since the hike has become pretty monotonous, hikers are creating challenges. We're pushing our miles to best personal records, some choose to partake in the 24 Hour Challenge (a full day of nonstop hiking), and others choose to fill their day with podcasts and loads of 80's/90's pop classics 🙋🏼♂️. In summary, the trail isn't nearly as thrilling. We're ready for a little more challenging miles, but still enjoying our time out here. Washington, we're ready for you!!
Today was a good day. Oh, and we got some dirt road trail magic (magic in the middle of NOWHERE). He had a pint of ice cream and a Coke each one of us. He's an angel. Also, yes. You read that correctly. I downed a PINT of ice cream from a stranger in the middle of a 29 mile day 🙂. Day 118: Mi. 1937.4 to Breitenbush Lake (Mi. 2037.5)
The Pacific Crest Trail has been absolutely relentless to thru-hikers this year. The desert brought its typical heat, long water carries, and poisonous poodle-dog bush. The Sierra was home to record snow, relentless creek crossings, and many fatalities. Northern California gave us record-beaking temperatures, and Oregon is giving us an abundance of wildfires....
Buuuuuut. The trail also crosses the 2017 Solar Eclipse's path of totality in Oregon... RIGHT where the average thru-hikers would be around this time of year. Unfortunately, the majority of this totality belt is closed due to the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson fires, but were able to get right up to the Three Sisters fire and view the Solar Eclipse with almost complete totality (98% I believe??).
It was a treat- and one of my favorite moments on trail. We didn't have to deal with big crowds, and all gathered in a giant meadow in the Wilderness eating each other's snacks and yelling in excitement over the phenomenon. As the Eclipse progressed to totality, the temperature DROPPED. In an instant, we were all scrambling for our puffies and snuggling even closer than before. We were giggling with excitement, all noting the change of lighting and pointing to the stars that were beginning to make their appearance in the mid-day sky.
Here's some thoughts from Mr. Jedidiah Jenkins on the Eclipse... a piece I'd like to share!
I saw a couple articles yesterday about the loss of productivity caused by the eclipse. Something like $700m lost because of 'distracted employees.' Ha! Makes me laugh. That we could even have the conversation. Something as miraculous and strange as the sky going black at 1:30pm for two minutes, and we talk about money. I mean, I don't mean to be critical. It is interesting to know how much a few minutes of our times is worth, I guess. But the fact that our country is suffering a divided conscience, a broken heart, and a polarized confusion like nothing I've seen in my life... and the sky would go black, inviting every single human being in its path to stop for a few minutes and gaze, is a bit of a miracle, a cosmic gift. And it sliced right across the whole damn country as if on purpose..As I stood there, I thought how lovely unity is, but it only comes from simple problems. Seems that the only thing that would bring us all together is a giant meteor or alien invasion. Science and race and cultural narratives and American myths... these things are complex and our animal brains struggle. A big black orb in the sky, wow, we can all grasp that..I thought about how long ago they predicted this eclipse. There's a NYTimes article from 1932 speaking about the eclipse on August 21st, 2017 like some futuristic fantasy. If science can so accurately predict the movements of the moon and the earth, I wonder why so many people disbelieve the chorus of scientists about our changing climate. I wonder if science's power of prediction is limitless. If everything is just complex math. Like, at some point in our future, will a doctor be able to predict a distant mood swing I'll have in 2061..I thought about the people I was with, their component parts of joy, curiosity, kindness, gratitude, and mischief... and how I get to live life with them...and I get to cry with them... usually at beauty.
The rest of the day was a blast- we hiked the final 2ish? miles into Elk Lake, right where the Three Sisters Wilderness Fire begins. From here, we're skipping 83 miles up to Breitenbush Lake to resume the PCT. After 1950 miles, we're officially ending our continuous footpath from Mexico. It was bound to happen, but it's still a bummer. But again- I cannot WAIT to come back and hike this section of the PCT!! It's an absolute highlight that I will. not. miss.
How did we get up to Breitenbush? Bamboo's aunt and uncle! We snagged a ride through the Eclipse traffic, to the town of Bend (had to snag some groceries!), and across crazy gravel and forest roads up to the trail. There were 11 of us in a pickup truck for nearly 5 hours on these backroads. We laughed until we cried, sang some songs, and mourned the 83 miles we were skipping because of the closure. After arriving to the trail in the 10pm hour, we hiked a mile into camp and called it a day. Woof.
Day 119: Breitenbush Lake (Mi. 2037.5) to Mi. 2062.4
Lazy day lazy day! Today we celebrated our man Karaoke as he turned 34! Festivities were held at a small lake 3 miles into the hike, and included baked goods from Bend, ring pops, and huckleberries picked from nearby bushes. Trail birthdays are the bomb.
When I say today was lazy, I'm not joking. I slept in, took a long nap at lunch (I've MISSED these!), took a couple breaks, and got to camp by 7pm (a total rarity). Somehow still managed to hike 25 miles today. Don't ask me how, because I'm not sure.
I can tell the end is coming up. This evening Wasabi and I planned out our last few weeks through Washington and into Canada, establishing final resupplies and a potential end date. That's insane.
There are so many things I'm going to miss about this lifestyle. From peeing anytime/anywhere, swimming in countless lakes, and eating berries growing on trail.... to the less tangible- community built through discipline, an understanding of self, and the nourishment that comes from nature. It's a good life out here. 🙂 Day 120: Mi. 2062.4 to Palmeteer Trail Junction (Mi. 2087.4)
While the miles were short, today was a pretty long day! The trail was a little uninspiring, with lots and lots of tree cover. Also, I didn't really see the group at all today, because I'm setting myself up for a 40 tomorrow. Once again, I'm camping away from the group... but it's aight!
I posted on my Instagram Story asking for podcast/audiobook/music recommendations and got some BALLIN recs. Maybe I'll do one last final "what I'm listening to" post here in a few weeks.... because you guys know good music. Thankya.
Day 121: Palmeteer Trail Junction (Mi. 2087.4) to Wahtum Lake (2127.9)
Forty forty forty!!!!!
Today was just so enjoyable. I did an alpine start (3:30am wakeup heyooo!), in order to catch up to the group at Timberline Lodge for breakfast. Timberline Lodge is FAMOUS for their breakfast buffet. Seriously- I remember being around mile 300 in the desert and hearing people talking about the breakfast buffet at Timberline. Welcome to the PCT- where we talk about breakfast food 1,800 miles before we're there.
I should note- today was a terrible day to choose to do a 40. The elevation gain/loss was insane... and I did 33 miles of it after multiple plates of breakfast. Poor planning.
Anyway- I ran into a bear around 4:30am on trail- I believe he was more spooked than I was. With the perfect blend of adrenaline and grogginess, I made my way up the side of Mount Hood to the Lodge! The Lodge was BUMPING when I rolled up around 6:30am. So many hikers I've been hiking around for the past few weeks- 2taps, Otter, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Baby Carrots, Drop Out, my entire 8 person crew, and probably over a dozen others. We feasted. It was amazing.
The rest of the day was spent trekking up and around the Mount Hood area. I hiked with Neon for the majority of the day, which sped up the miles quite a bit. We even took a spur trip to Ramona Falls. It was neat.
I departed from the rest of the group at a spring around mile 2124, just three miles shy of my 40 mile day. The remaining miles were spent thinking about the 40 mile day. Why was I so intrigued by this goal? Was my desire rooted in pride and accomplishment, or something more innocent like entertainment and amusement? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it was healthy assessment to ask myself this (especially as I near Canada). Also... I read this verse yesterday that was a big reality check being out here.
For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds for the present life and also for the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV)
Here's to the value of training and discipline in all areas of life!
Day 122: Wahtum Lake (2127.9) to Bridge of the Gods (Mi. 2144.6)
Today was a quick 17 mile day into the Columbia River Gorge and the town of Cascade Locks!! I was pretty much heads-down jamming all the way down the 5,000' descent because I knew Papa Glenn was waiting at the bottom!! Seriously- I didn't even take a single picture on the way down. My bad.
We reached Bridge of the Gods around 12:30p and my dad pulled up JUST after. This dude dropped me off at the Mexico Border FOUR MONTHS ago today. After big hugs and introduction the trail family, we all crossed the Bridge of the Gods into Washington together. Talk about chills. The next border we cross will be international. Canada, we're coming!!
Papa Glenn treated us all to lunch and ice cream in Cascade Locks, a big ol' celebration of two states down! My dad kept on saying to the group, "you guys look EXACTLY like you do in the pictures!!" I guess that what happens when you're rocking permanent dirt and only have 1 outfit available.
The group dispersed after our little party because we're taking the weekend off!!! That's right- we're all taking double zeros. Most of us are headed to Portland, while a few are spending time in Salem and near the Timberline/Cascade Locks area. My dad and I are staying at Timberline Lodge tonight (you BET I'm going to have the breakfast buffet again), and heading into PDX for the rest of the weekend tomorrow. I'm a happy camper.
Until next time!! I am going to try and squeeze in as many posts as I can between now and Canada. Washington will be a little be more remote than Oregon, but I have high hopes for service every few days.
Once again, thank you for the unbelievable support as I approach the finale of this hike!! Let's finish this thing together!!!
PS- So sorry for all the potential typos in this post. I don't proofread before posting.... sorry @everyenglishteacheri'veeverhad!!