Thursday, August 6, 2015

One more sleep

Tomorrow night I'll be home. In a bed with a mattress, Netflix, and a coffee pot. And snuggles from the boys I love. Today is my last chance to hike 20 miles in a day, so let's get on with it. 

There is an opportunity to depart the PCT for 2 miles to check out Ramona Falls, so I did. 

Worth it. 

The trees opened up for great views of Mt Hood.

And Lost Lake. 

And looking north, Ranier. 

What I'll miss most are the sweeping views of the valleys. I hardly ever have company while I'm hiking, so it feels like these are unfolding just for me. 

Met Penny Lane, badass northbound solo thru hiker from Seattle, and Diatom, moving quickly but memorizing the mile numbers for all his stories. Stealthfire, heading south, super brave. Thanks for being welcoming and awesome! This wasn't the best campsite for my last night, but chatting with you all made it much nicer! 

Oh, found out I'm not 'just' a section hiker. I'm a LASHER. Long Ass Section Hiker. I wear my new title with pride!

One more day! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Full Belly and a Full Day

I camped early last night to get a good night of sleep so I could get the 3 mile climb to Timberline done in time to meet Rob and Trent for breakfast. Good plan, but it felt like Christmas Eve and sleeping was difficult to manage!

Scared a herd of elk as I got moving. They started running before I saw them, so no pictures. Sounded like the forest was crashing down next to me!

Mt Hood in my sights! Really prefer when she's wearing a bit more snow. 

Brett and Amy, if you're reading, this is for you! 

Timberline Lodge is famous on the PCT for its buffet. Hikers talk about it for miles before they get here and for miles after they've had it. 

Forgot to get a picture before I started. It really was pretty darn tasty. 

But better than this shameless gut-busting meal was the surprise Trent brought me from home. 

EXPLODING KITTENS! So very very awesome, and so impressed Trent waited for me to open it! We chilled in the lodge and played while my breakfast settled. 

Back to the trail! 

Mt St Helens and Ranier getting closer!

My dilemma today was wether to cross the Sandy River before making camp, or to save it for the morning. I took a look, and decided to get it done today. Camping close enough to hear it, and knowing I had to contend with it would have meant a very restless night. I don't have a picture, and I know my description might be over dramatic. There are some rocks, but not really a way to cross without putting your feet in the water. You must pick a path across, but the water is moving fast and is silty enough that you can't see the bottom. I had more confidence this time than I did at Russell Creek, but signs on the trail earlier reference crossing safety and a girl that died crossing here years ago.  I picked my spot, took my time, and may have yelled a bit in triumph when I was done. 

Another full day, and only a few more to go!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

28 Days Later...

Woke up early to the threat of drizzle, but shared a hot breakfast with Drag'n Fly and her hiking partner Barb. There may be done things I would pack differently if I did a long hike again, but I would not be a happy camper without that cup of coffee.

In the night, another hiker had joined our spot. His name is Tiger, and he's heading south and climbing the 10 highest peaks in the Cascades while he does it!

The trees opened up just long enough for me to get a few peeks at this gorgeous thing. 

Pretty excited by this piece of trail magic bestowed on me by a guy trying to train his 11 week old puppy.

Fresh fruit is amazing stuff. Yes, that's Nutella in the background. It is also amazing stuff. 

I was a little too excited about my citrus gift and promptly ruined half of it. 

The PCT meets up with Barlow Road, the first road built over the Cascades. I had read about this in a book about the trail, but didn't realize it was still an area you could explore. Adding this to my list of a thousand places I need to get to in Oregon! 

Short hike of only about 12 miles today. Leaves me just a few to get to Timberline for breakfast with my guys!  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Brush with Fame

Nearly 364 miles behind me. It hardly feels real, but my app keeps telling me I'm inching my way closer to Timberline and then Bridge of the Gods!

Timothy Lake

When I saw Timothy Lake on the map, I thought it would be a great place to camp with the family sometime. I'm sure it would be, but there is a distinct difference between a large, public campground like this and the many amazing places I've seen in these hundred miles. Trash. I've been trying to pick up trash on the trail where I see it. Even conscientious PCT hikers will miss a wrapper now and then. But I couldn't begin to keep up with the garbage here. Most of it toilet paper. People, I beg you. Pack out your garbage. As a lady camper who's gone nearly 400 miles...if I can do it, so can you. 

Anyway. Timothy Lake was still a nice spot for a little break. 

And a little spa lunch. 
Filter your water, friends. You never know what happened upstream. 

Little Crater Lake was just a quarter mile off the trail, so I had to check it out. 

Blue and deep and gorgeous. 

And apparently not a crater. 

I had started the day with big plans to do my first 20 mile day. The weather was mercifully cooler, the elevation change wasn't too crazy, and after 19 yesterday, why not? But as I stopped at a spring and campsite about 4 miles short of my goal, I said hello to the two ladies already camped and decided it was a lovely spot. 

This trail really makes me believe things happen for a reason. 

This is Drag'n Fly. We first heard of her when Neon was chatting with Sprout a few weeks ago. 
Drag'n Fly holds the record for being the oldest woman to finish a thru hike of the Appalachain Trail on the east coast, at 74 years old!  Shorter than the PCT, and easier to resupply, but with no kind regard to holding close to a 15% grade or less like its western sister, the AT is much more difficult terrain to cover.  
Drag'n Fly also camped out on the Appalachain Trail to meet Scott Jurek as he attempted (and succeeded) to break the supported speed record for that trail. 
It was wonderful to listen to her stories and get some great tips from her. I feel like I've met a member of hiking royalty, and thrilled I didn't make my goal today!

Read more about Drag'n Fly here: Drag'n Fly

Making Miles

Leaving Olallie Lake was hard. I wanted nothing more than to sit on that porch or maybe nap in a rowboat, and listen to PCT hikers tell stories all day. 

Southbounder Pan, playing his namesake flute. As one does. 

Brett and Amy, section hiking the same route I am through Oregon. We've caught up at a few stopping points now, and due to the timing of their reservation at Timberline, this may be the last time we cross paths. Guys, I don't know how you don't have trail names. Every time I see you you're smiling and looking so happy with each other, and the song "I Got You Babe" came into my head when I left today. Maybe Sonny & Cher? ;)

I was warned (thank you, Mantis and Future Dad) that this stretch would have no nice views, but was a good downhill area to pound out some miles. So I did! 19.17 to be exact. My best yet, and it was over 95 degrees. I didn't see another human til after 4:00, which is odd and was not my favorite thing. 

No hitchhikers! I let him stay for a bit. He was much more pleasant than the swarms of yellow jackets that wanted to attach to my pack a few miles later. 

Luckily, the area of the burn section I had to walk through was small. It still smelled like charred wood and felt desolate and sad. 

Most of my day looked pretty much like this. No epic views, but it was glorious to have pine needles under my feet and plenty of shade!

Warm Springs River

My home for the night is on the other side. This little spot is cute, but I think the regular residents may keep me awake for a bit. I hear lots of rustling critters playing by the water!

Couple days til Timberline! Home is closer every day!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A day of rest, mostly

Woke early again today, happy to have a short day of hiking to get to Olallie Lake. And then was immediately sad when I realized I hadn't packed enough coffee for today.

The downhill trail today was not any easier than the uphill climb to the campsite last night, with my thighs still burning and trying not to let the loose rocks take me down. After another burn area, the trail went past a few lakes that were looking a bit low. 

Upper Lake 

And this scenic viewpoint. 

Maybe the trail has spoiled me. Not sure if this was worthy of the sign. 

This was the best sign of the day. Cold drinks. What I've been waiting for all day!

The kind folks at Olallie Lake have a nicely stocked store with not just cold drinks, but ice cream bars and nearly everything else a hiker could need. And a nice shady porch to enjoy your food and conversation. 

A kind camper at the lake gave us a wonderful treat! 

Trail Magic!

And my favorite dudes brought me supplies, clothes, and some not-so-healthy but just as delicious treats!

Hard to believe my next stop is Timberline! 

Bucket List

Remember what I said yesterday about not waking up early most days? Today was an exception, and I'm glad. Not sure how I would have fit so much if I hadn't woke with the sun!

Thanks to Hakuna Matata for waking up early! She's hiking southbound solo, inspired by her parents who had always talked about doing it. I'm sure they're so proud of you! 

Finally, after living near the Catskills in NY, and hiking hundreds of miles in Oregon, it happened. I saw a bear. In the wild. 

I heard it before I saw it, tearing bark off a dead tree to find a snack. She was focusing pretty hard and didn't hear or smell me coming! I got a few pictures and a quick video, and when she took a few steps toward the trail, I yelled and she took off running. For those who don't know, I was a zookeeper for a few years and bears became one of my favorite animals. I'm not dumb enough to try to get close or make friends, just wanted to catch s glimpse. Bucket list item checked off!

Russell Creek 

The map says "Potentially Dangerous creek crossing." I'm sure many hikers have no problem with this quick moving mountain stream. I spent close to 45 minutes hiking up and down the edge, trying to find just the right spot, hopefully letting my feet stay dry. No luck. I had to plunge my shoes into the water and balance across. I've had a few hikers who knew I started with a friend ask me how hiking alone is different. For me, this is one of the hugest differences. Getting over the parts that scare me with nobody else motivating me to do it. 

From there, the trail climbs and climbs to this perfect little spot. Tonight I get to look back at Mt Jefferson:

And look ahead to Mt Hood:

If you look closely, Mt St Helens is even in there. Couldn't have asked for a better place to land!

Sharing this piece of Oregon heaven with Paul, who just happens to come here every year, and sobos Mantis and Future Dad. Mantis's girlfriend is heading north from Mexico, and they're hoping to meet up in Crater Lake. How adorable is that!

[Edit] Mantis has a blog too. You should go read it: Corkbottle