Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Northern Terminus

And so it goes, at some point along this journey it all has to end. The last time I posted I was just entering Washington on an abnormally sunny day for September. We climbed out of Cascades Locks from the Columbia River and were instantly rewarded with views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier. Views of these volcanoes from this distance would prove to anyone how clear and beautiful the weather was. At this point on the trail, I had no idea this beautiful weather would fortunately continue through most of Washington.

Often when PCT thru hikers reach Washington, they have mailed themselves extra rain protection, warm weather for the threat of snow in the north Cascades, and are mentally preparing themselves to spend days in nonstop rain. Well just to brag again that this was the perfect year to hike the trail, we didn't have to deal with any of that. 2012 on the PCT has been the most enjoyable year comparable to the previous two especially because of it's wonderful weather. I was gifted with actually seeing Washington, not running through to escape the rain. If you have never traveled to Washington please do. It proved to be the most beautiful state along the trail.

If you are ever looking for the perfect 80 mile backpacking trip, you should hike from Trout Lake to Whites Pass. I had been told by past thru hikers that the Goat Rocks Wilderness was one of their favorite places on the trail and of course I would have to agree. From Trout Lake you follow the trail along the base of Mt. Adams on it's western side and continue into a lava field with a beautiful spring. As you drop back down to 4,000 feet, you climb back up into the Goat Rocks Wilderness which is arguably more beautiful than the High Sierra. As you climb you cross over two passes with 360 views of Mt. Adams, Mt Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier. There are waterfalls, goats (which I sadly did not see any), and glaciers. It is absolutely beautiful!!!

We had a few days of weather leaving Snowqualamie Pass about halfway through Washington consisting of beautiful big flakes of snow, sleet and rain. If we didn't experience some weather, I would have been disappointed. Our 'weather' day was filled with laughs though. Honey Bear and I decided to cover ourselves in trash bags because we were carrying them for some sort of rain protection. Although I had a rain jacket on and a pack liner, the wind attractively blew my grey trash bag from side to side as I walked every mile. We passed a few day hikers in the morning, and a friend of ours hiking half a day or less behind us ran into the same day hikers. These day hikers proceeded to tell her that she looked way more prepared than these other thru hikers she saw earlier. She told our friend, "You look like you know what you are doing and are going to make it; I'm not so sure about those other girls in the trash bags." This made me smile and laugh when I heard it. Don't judge a book by it's cover, or a hiker by its trash bag! We rocked the trash bag for one day only, and it filled our day with laughter.

The Love Train reunited in Washington and completed the trail together on September 21st. The evening before was most emotional for me. I decided to hang back and walk alone over the last pass of the trail, Woody Pass. As I looked north tears filled my eyes because I knew the mountains I was looking at were in Canada. I was overwhelmed with emotions of pride but was really sad realizing that there is an end to this trip. When I crawled into my sleeping bag that night, it was strange to believe I wouldn't be sleeping in my tent anymore. My routine of packing my bag, cooking on a single burner backpacking stove, and walking for days on end was over. The beautiful thing about knowing it was over was that I knew I had made it. I had reached my goal, Canada.

The Love Train at the Northern Terminus of the PCT
I am so proud of all the thru hikers that made it to Canada this year. This was a record year by far for persons to complete the trail. Journeys like these answer questions that you didn't think to ask in the beginning. This was a wonderful experience that I would recommend to anyone.

This journey has been an amazing experience, especially since Honey Bear and I started and finished together. To have a friend and support throughout the entire trail with me every day has been an experience of a lifetime. You learn a lot about a person walking with them every day. She is off to grad school and I could not be more proud of her!

Thank you so much for supporting me on this adventure and if you ever wish to hike the trail, please contact me with questions. I cannot thank my family, friends new and old, and even complete strangers that supported me along the way. I will surely pay it forward.

With love,
Oasis

I made it!
More photos to come with Honey Bear and others!




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

20 Days of Oregon

Wow time has flown by and so has Oregon. I am sitting on the Oregon/Washington border next to the beautiful Columbia River, preparing myself to enter the last state on the Pacific Crest Trail. We are approaching the last three weeks of are trek north and should be finished with the trail around September 22nd. It's hitting me that there actually is an end to this voyage. We've dedicated so much time each and every day chipping away at this goal. This really has shown me what a person can accomplish if they dedicate whole-heartedly to something. 

So you might ask, "How was your first time in Oregon? Was it everything you expected it to be?" Everything and more. Oregon in a nutshell: Crater Lake, Sisters Wilderness, and Mt. Hood. If you have never been to these places, please put them on your to see list that I am sure is already dozens of lines long. Absolutely stunning!

Spud, Honey Bear and I walked into Mazama Village, the few stores just south of Crater Lake, on August 11th with enough time to fill our bellies and find a campsite with the rest of the Love Train. We hiked 36 miles to get to the restaurant before it closed at 8 pm which was our longest day on trail so far. It felt rewarding to make it there, yet I didn't realize how rewarding the view of Crater Lake would be the following morning. From Mazama Village you have to walk about five miles uphill to the rim of the lake and as we approached the rim, tears filled my eyes. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the lake was and the fact that I had just walked there to see it. For the first time I felt like I deserved to see such a breath-taking place. We had worked so hard and the reward was a view far more beautiful than I had imagined. We spent the afternoon hiking around the rim following the PCT for six miles as it hugged the edge of the lake. Deciding that watching the sunset and sunrise at Crater Lake was an experience we didn't want to miss, we set up camp on the edge of the rim and fell asleep to the Perseid meteor shower above.

Just as breath-taking as Crater Lake was the Sisters Wilderness. The Three Sisters, three volcanoes named the South, Middle and North, distracted me with their glaciers, lupin filled fields at their bases, and lava fields. At one point on the trail we were surrounded by miles of dried lava that were difficult to walk on. Being from the east coast, this was a new sight for me. The terrain varied drastically and excitingly through this wilderness.

From the Sisters Wilderness we were able to get views of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood from the distance. There was a haze in the air though as we made our way north. Wildfires had spread over thousands of acres west of Mt. Jefferson. Fortunately we missed all of the wildfires that are occurring in northern California and southern Oregon now but this fire had closed a twenty mile section of trail just north of us. When this happens though, the PCTA creates a detour around the fire for hikers which more often then not, requires you to walk on roads around the fire. I am extremely happy to be passed all of this and to be back on the trail.

Between the fire detour and Mt. Hood we had some visitors out on trail! Honey Bear's dad, Henry and younger brother, Chris ventured out into the backcountry with us to experience: True Life - I am a dirty PCT Hiker. It was so much fun playing games, watching Chris perform magic tricks (although it was a one time show), and sleeping in since we decided to slow down our pace. One morning I woke up from the sun hitting my tent, which rarely happens because we are up before or just as the sun rises, and heard Henry and Honey Bear talking near Timothy Lake where were camped. They were relaxing, enjoying some hot morning coffee and were enjoying catching up on life. It was absolutely beautiful watching Henry interact with his family. He is such a loving, supportive father to both of his children. We had a great time hiking with them and I would LOVE to see both of them thru hike in the future.

A day after we parted ways with Henry and Chris, we began salivating because we knew the Timberline Lodge buffet was just a measly 10 miles away. The Love Train cruised into the lodge at the base of Mt. Hood as the buffet opened at 7:30 in the morning. My breakfast included: a huge Belgium waffle with fixings, two strawberry pancakes, a huge helping of eggs, a croissant, coffee, grapes, pineapple, cheese, home fries and cherries. Of course two hours later after the buffet, we all went to the Blue Ox, another restaurant inside the lodge, and ordered pizza for lunch. I have no idea how my appetite is going to diminish when I am finished...

So here we are! Washington here we come! Canada is in sight but we have 500 miles of trail left to go. I cannot wait for the Goat Rocks Wilderness area in Washington and to set my eyes on Mt. Rainier.

Love to all,
Oasis



By the way, I cannot be more thankful for all the love and support I have felt on this trip so far. I feel like I am apart of a loving and caring community on the trail but feel just as much love and support from my friends and family all over. Thank you again for all of your encouragement! 



Friday, August 17, 2012

Welcome to Oregon

Etna, the last town I posted in, might be the best kept secret in California. The locals loved bragging about how adorable their quaint downtown was, including an old fasion soda shoppe with pharmacy on the corner. For a town of its size, it had the best food and homemade pies at every restaurant. And don't let me get started about the brewery! Of course, I was told not to post about it because it is the best kept secret town in California.

The Love Train started in Etna. The Love Train you may wonder is a group of PCT hikers, about 15 of us, that hopped and piled in the back of a truck in Etna, packs and all, and started back out on the trail at the same time. It has been rare to see this many people bottlenecked in the same area on trail this far north but fate brought us together, and oh ya, some planning of the best backcountry meal I've ever seen!

We all met up earlier in the morning to discuss this smorgasbord of food we were about to carry out to make an extravagent backcountry meal. Hours later, dumping a truck load of relatively clean hikers off at the trail head with packs pushing weights that felt like we were back in the Sierras, we hiked in 11 miles and built a fire. As we all filtered into camp the food began exploding out of our packs. I had a five pound bag of potatoes, Wompus carried biscuits and veggies, Hallmark and Yankee Son had bananas, chocolate, and marshmellows for banana boats, and others had sausages, onions, garlic, and butter. The best truely of all was miss Honey Bear. She walked in and took 10 pounds out of her pack - ten pounds of wine. We packed in a huge bag of wine and decided to celebrate by passing it around in our 15 person circle and drinking directly from the large bag that quickly loss weight with every sip. After a few hours of preparation and cooking on the fire, I had one of the most delicious and anticipated meals in my bowl which rapidly went directly to my stomach. Such an amazing night.

California is just shy of 1,700 miles long via the PCT. It is by far the longest section of the trail and reaching Oregon is a huge, I mean HUGE milestone. The Love Train was still rolling along together before the boarder and the night before we knew we would hit Oregon, we couldn't stop talking about it! Spud and Honey Bear are both from Oregon and have been anticipating 'making it back home' the last three and a half months. Spud, Scarecrow and a few others left camp earlier than I did that morning so I knew they would hit the boarder just before I did. The trail meandered around a lot and out of no where I heard a bunch of yelling and cheering. I knew they had made it and I was soooo close! I hit the last switchback in California and then 200 feet in front of me was 11 other hikers, most in the Love Train, laughing, hugging and cheering me in, greeting me to my first time in Oregon! We hung out at the boarder for almost an hour. Tons of photos were taken and bags of candy was passed around. It seemed like everyone had packed in the large sized bag of m&m's, skittles or starbursts to share. There was a trail register and someone had written a note that said, "Trail Magic 2 miles ahead!" We decided to take off because we figured we could continue our celebration and enjoy some tasty treats from them. I put on my pack and followed 7 others with Honey Bear right in front of me. About .2 miles later Honey Bear looked behind and said, "Oh, Adriana!" and there up the trail, not 2 miles but .2 miles was a huge group of people with party hats, food, and best of all Ryan. Ryan had driven from Colorado after his job directly up to the boarder of Oregon and California to suprise me! I stopped dead in my tracks, mouth gaping like a goon as he approached. It was amazing to see him especially since I thought I wouldn't until after I had completed the trail. Definitely, by far, one of the best days on trail.

The first town in Oregon is called Ashland, which is known for it's Shakespearean theatre and lithium water fountains. We took a day and a half off there to celebrate some more, spend time with Spud's family and Ryan, resupply, and relax. It was a really enjoyable stop along the trail and at some points, like when we saw a show at the theatre, I felt like I wasn't even hiking anymore. Spud's family treated us to so many meals and were graciously hospitable. Having my best friend around in Ashland too really recharged my energy to keep pushing on to Canada. I feel so special to have such supportive and loving people in my life.

Next stop, Crater Lake and venturing through new terrain I've never seen! Oregon... I can't wait to see you!

Love and miss you all,
Oasis

The Love Train

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So much to Celebrate!

Two days ago after lunch, stuffed with sharp cheese, an english muffin, almonds and oreos, I was walking along the trail just behind Spud and looked ahead across the ridge to see twenty goats ranging in all sizes following each other to a grassy hillside where they stopped to graze. I asked Spud if he saw the goats and he said, "Do you see the smile on my face!?" Spud loves goats. He wants to own a goat someday and name her Louise. He also wants to own a cheese store and make his own goat cheese from Louise. The store will be named "Cheese Louise". Pretty clever. Nonetheless, it was so funny hanging out with goats on trail, especially since we found out one of the goats was named Osama and of course it had a long beard.

We reached the halfway point of the Pacific Crest Trail about 250 miles ago and celebrated by packing in a bottle of champagne to pop when we crossed into the 'closer to Canada than Mexico' section. It feels great to have walked this far but know that we have so much more to look forward to!

                                                        Burney Falls near the halfway point

Just after the halfway point is a 'hiker hotspot' called Drakesbad Ranch. It is a small resort similar to what you would find in Dirty Dancing (at least thats what I thought) in the middle of the woods. Just before arriving there we saw the hottest hot spring in the United States, Boiling Hotsprings, along with the Terminal Geyser which was an amazing site. I have never lived or visited areas with volcanic activity so this was a new and exciting experience for me. Drakesbad Ranch knows the way to a hikers heart. Showers, hot springs, discounted buffets and free laundry are all we could ever ask for. Such an amazing stop along the trail! Plus, although they might not want to admit it, Spud and Histo decided to wear Honey Bear and my dresses the day we walked into the resort. Daily challenge : "Dresses to Drakesbad!" Locals gave us interesting stares but those boys rocked their dressed with style.

Presently we are in Etna, California about 5 days south of the Oregon/California boarder. I am so excited to reach the Oregon boarder and walk through a state I have yet to visit previously. Etna is a cute, small town with the most amazing milkshakes. I have to say that the four of us hiking together seriously talk about milkshakes everyday. We often make up a new song as we are about to hitch or hike into a new town to resupply; for example we visited Castella last town stop and it was... " We are getting cereal in Castella, ella ella ey ey ey... cereal in Castella", of course to Rhianna the best singer in the world. (joking).

Life as a thru hiker is very simple. For the first time in a long time I have not felt anxiety or stress in my life. I believe a big part of it has to do with the constant interaction I have with nature. If you have not read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. I highly recommend it if you are interested in this topic. My hiking partner Honey Bear is going back to grad school in the fall just after we finish the trail to study public health and focus her studies on children's health and their lack or involvement with the outdoors. I am so proud of her for going back to school and studying such an important issue that surrounds every generation in society today.

I understand this post is all over the place with focus and content but there are so many random things that happen in my daily life that I just needed to share a small amount! Oregon here we come and will finally get back into the Cascades!

Love and miss you all,
Oasis

                                                         Sisters together in Tahoe!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day of Silence

Three days ago Spud, Histo, Honey Bear and I (the crew I have been hiking with for the past week and hopefully for a long time to come), decided just out of Sierra City to make the next day interesting. We had chosen to challenge ourselves by spending the day completely silent, to not speak to a single person on trail, to give us a chance to reflect in our own minds. As the day was coming to an end, we made camp in a beautiful spot above a large cliff face, watched the sunset and discussed our plan for the next day since we wouldn't be able to talk about water sources and a desired ending point. Since we figured we wouldn't be sitting around distracting ourselves with conversations, we could handle doing a higher mileage day too. To challenge ourselves mentally and physically, we would hike 32 miles to the middle fork of the Feather River completely silent.

I looked around as we were all cowboy camping the night before our big day and each of us were engrossed with writing in our journals. I was excited for the challenge, interested in where my mind would take me, and looking forward to catching up verbally with everyone the next day. As darkness filled the sky we all said goodnight and "I look forward to talking to you in two days!"

The next morning we woke up as usual around 5:30-6ish and quickly picked up our things since we had many miles to move through. I made eye contact with Spud and Honey Bear, smiled, and that was about the extent of any interaction we all had all morning. We hiked along until the first water source where we all knew we had to fill up a few liters, of course I filled five since it was a dry stretch, exchanged glances and head nods, and continued. By lunch we had already gone 15 miles. We were sitting in a shaded spot just after a beautiful ridge line that gave us a spectacular view of the foothills of the Cascades. A day hiker walked passed us sitting together and said, "Great spot for lunch guys!" and we all smiled a nodded our heads. For some reason the day before I hadn't imagined running into anyone else on trail since the past few days we had only seen one or two PCT thru-hikers. Since we hit the Sierras the 'pack' has spread out enormously which definitely gives the trail a more peaceful feeling. Sadly, we were wrong about not seeing anyone...

Seems pretty simple? Well, I thought the hardest part of the day would be analyzing thoughts in my head. Oh no no. Completely the opposite. As the day continued we found ourselves in more and more awkward situations. Just as we were about to cross a highway we see an RV sitting on the side of the road with half a dozen lawn chairs in front and many friendly, welcoming smiles. It was wonderful -trail magic! But wait, we couldn't actually talk to them. The four of us looked at each other, smiled and laughed. We hiked up to them and wrote down an explanation as to why we would be so boring in their presence. Spud earlier in the day had written a note saying, "Three of my friends and I have decided to hike today in silence. Please respect our decision and we look forward to talking to you tomorrow! Thank you." which he had shown to a few thru-hikers earlier in the day. Fortunately these thru-hikers had also told the trail angels about us and already 'expected' us. We sat around, ate grilled cheese, cookies and drank sodas of course silently. The Beatles played in the background as a few other thru-hikers decided to leave. Three Bears, a thru-hiker, yelled to the people leaving, "NO, don't leave, I won't have anyone to talk to!" Throughout the endless hospitality these trail angels provided us, I on many occasions wanted to share my gratitude with them. We awkwardly wrote thank you notes, hugged them goodbye and smiled and waved when we decided to continue down trial. 17 miles to go.

It was around 2:30 when we left the trail magic and decided to pick up our pace with that unexpected stop. From then on we separated on trail, walking our personal comfortable paces and decided we'd meet up at the same water source down trail for dinner. I was hiking just in front of Spud during this stretch of trail and picked up one of the largest sugar pine cones I had ever seen in my life! It was longer than the bottom half of my leg. I showed it to Spud and he replied, "It's HUGE!" Just at that moment, realizing that he spoke for the first time all day, he threw down his trekking poles and fell to his knees, arms raised above his head and mouthed, "No!" Absolutely hilarious reaction to the situation. I laughed out loud for a good minute and we communicated non verbally that we would keep this secret between us.

After another quiet meal, we finished dinner and descended 3,000 feet to the Feather River as the sun started to set. I was so excited and surprised by how beautiful it was! We all jumped in the river and laid on the hot rocks that had been heated all day by the sun. This was an perfect ending to a 32 mile silent and awkward day on the PCT.

The next morning we woke up, looked at each other and smiled. I think at first it was hard to move our mouths to make words. Then once we started talking over breakfast we couldn't stop! Even though we were all present with each other the day before and had all been through the same terrain and trail magic, we had so much to share. We laughed and stayed in our sleeping bags til 9 am, went swimming in the river for another hour, then by ten decided it was finally time to start hiking again.

As we enter northern California the miles are going to fly on by. Thru-hikers often move a lot quicker because we are halfway through the trail, have the Sierras with large elevation change behind us, and have flatter terrain to move through ahead. Big days like these will become more consistent yet this one was unique. To spend a day in silence really allows you to reflect and analyze what you've been experiencing so far on the trail. I thought a lot about moving to Berkley in the fall, who I am as a learner and educator, and how I can be a more effective teacher. I also realized how ADD I am on the trail. Every time I wanted to hike and really dig deep into a thought I was distracted by a beautiful wild flower or the color of the lichen on the trees. Life couldn't be better. I am curious once in Berkley this fall to try this experience once again in the other world. To spend a day in silence out grocery shopping,  making dinner at home and interacting in my every day routine would be interesting. If you try this, tell me about it because I would be very excited to hear about your experience!

So here I am, in northern California about to hit the Cascades and enter the land of many volcanoes. I have never been above Tahoe so this is all new territory for me. So excited for the halfway point in a few days and soon enough we'll be viewing Mt. Shasta!

I need to learn how to post pictures on this blog (they're definitely more interesting with photos...). Soon to come!

Get outside and challenge yourself,
Much love,
Oasis

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Love for a Sleeping Bag

So can I openly and honestly admit that I am in love with my sleeping bag. I have a zero degree Mountain Hardware Phantom bag that hugs around my body each and every night as I crawl into my tent. Every day I look forward to taking it out of it's tiny stuff sack and laying down to reflect upon the long day that had just passed. Most thru-hikers treasure every piece of gear they have on their back because if they didn't, they would not be carrying it thousands of miles. In the Sierras many nights were very cold, but that sleeping bag being excessively warm and much bigger than most other thru-hikers bags was my best friend.

Honey Bear and I purposely only walked 16 miles a day through the John Muir Trail section of the trail. Because of the low snow year, we were not bogged down by huge river fords or long snow field, postholing sections so we were able to walk at a consistent pace. Each day we would take a long siesta during the day, go swimming, and make time some evenings for fishing. Just before Seldon Pass, Honey Bear and I were really hungry because we had not planned enough food for that section and made it a point to fish for some extra food for dinner. We were one day from Vermillion Valley Resort, a resupply point just a ferry ride across Edison Lake to get more food, and had one packet of instant mashed potatoes, a few almonds and cough drops to supplement the calories we needed for 20 miles. We stopped just before the pass to eat the 'last supper' and connected floss, a hook, and some power bait to the ends of our trekking poles. Granted the floss on our trekking poles was 10 feet long and there was no reel, we felt like real fisherman. I sat on the edge of the lake and watched as some large rainbow trout swam past my bait. My stomach growled but I was really enjoying sitting, relaxing and listening to my heart rate accelerate when a fish came close to my line. It was one of the first times in my adulthood I had gone finishing. I honestly dreaded the part after you caught the fish - killing it. Each time a fish came close to my line, I actually was saying in my mind, "No! Save yourself and swim the other way!" I loved the challenge though since I didn't feel completely comfortable in that situation.

About 30 minutes after we started fishing, a foot long rainbow trout finally swallowed my bait. I think I was just as surprised as it was when I started pulling my floss back into shore. I yelled out of excitement and nervousness for Honey Bear to come over and help me out. We stunned the fish and gut its gills quickly. Of course I took a victory 'first catch in the Sierras' photo and proceeded to clean the fish after. We fillet it and cooked it in olive oil and garlic with our instant mashed potatoes. Five star eatin' I must say!

We had many wonderful adventures and views crossing over every pass in the High Sierra. The mountains have slowly become more rounded and green as we are entering northern California. Goodbye granite spires and hello big volcanoes! Truckee is our next stop along the trail and we will be making our way to the halfway point very soon. So much to look forward to as we enter the section that most hikers say you cruise right through and accomplish big miles in a day.

I posted our estimated dates for stops in the blog previously if you would like to mail anything out. Thank you so much for following and more stories about the sierras and more will soon come!

Much love,
Oasis

Friday, July 6, 2012

Northern California Mail Stops


ETA: July 15th
Mile 1423.6 - Burney Falls State Park
Please address in the following way:
(Hiker Name)
c/o Burney Park Camp Store
McArthur Burney Falls State Park
24900 State Highway 89
Burney, CA 96013

ETA: July 20th
Mile 1606.3 - 
General Delivery 
Etna, CA 96027
ETA: July 25th
Please address in the following way:
(Hiker Name)
General Delivery
Selad Valley, CA 96086

ETA: August 1st
Mile 1726.6 - Ashland, Oregon (97520); General Delivery

ETA: August 5th
Mile 1830.4 - Crater Lake Mazama Village
Address in following way:
(Hiker Name)
c/o Fish Lake Resort
State Hwy 140, Mile Marker 30
Medford, OR 97604