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,

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,

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,

                                                         Sisters together in Tahoe!