Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oregon is Weird

Oregon is weird.  It's a land of contradictions.  When I arrived in the Jefferson Wilderness back in August, I had one of the strangest weather days that I have had.  It started with a dusty, dirty morning sweating my arse off.  Then, I climbed high up into the Jefferson Wilderness where I hit a high pass that was still snowbound.  It was freezing.  I could see glaciated mountains off in the distance. From the top of that pass, I could also see a wildfire off in the distance.  All around me, the wild flowers were still budding in patches, like in early spring.  And later in the day, I saw wild flowers in full bloom.  You know, 3 seasons in a day - Spring, Summer and Fall.  Crazy.  Heck yeah, Oregon is Weird.

This is my whirlwind Ode to Oregon.  I've got a real computer.  And I've got an hour before I collapse into a heap.

Oregon is full of good people.  They are kind, generous, liberal, wacky and friendly.

Oregon is a land of forests.  The forests come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Dark, green and ominous.  Dry, arid and dusty with lots of deadfall.  Giant swaths of burnt forest from years and years of fires.  Arid, dry forests.  Creepy dark forests.  The forests cover the mountains from top to bottom.  Frequently there is no "treeline".  The Willamette Wilderness was like that - wonderful, but lots of forest.

I'm a mountain girl, so I like to get out of the forest.  Oregon had just enough mountain stimulation to keep this girl happy, after slogging through forests - sometimes for days.  Starting with the Mount Hood Wilderness, the Jefferson Wilderness and the Three Sisters Wilderness.  Awesome. I had technical difficulty, thus no photos of these areas.

I had a surprise outside of Crater Lake, after spending a long day sweating through a forest.  Shortly after Miller Lake, I ran into the lovely Keala aka. Dancing Feet.  I scared the poor thing when I skipped down the trail and gave her a hug.  She wasn't expecting it. :)  We're Facebook buddies on the PCT Class of 2012 Facebook Page.  It was wonderful to see a familiar face!  I've been looking forward to meeting her, I like this girl and her attitude.

Shortly after that, I came out of the woods into a meadow with a sign that said:  Highest Point in Oregon and Washington.  What?  Really? I was legitimately confused.  I had been marching through a forest all day.  Had I been going uphill?  Oregon.  It's Weird.


Miller Lake, about a day outside of Crater Lake


Dancing Feet - Keala from Hawaii!!

The same day, I did finally break out of treeline.  I watched the sunset, even though it meant I was going to be stressed pitching my tent in the dark.



The next day I zoomed into Crater Lake.  Along the way, I had been meeting the last of the Northbound Thru-hikers.  It was a colorful mix of the old, the injured, the super-relaxed, the young and the oops-I had to much fun in the town kids.  I could do an entire blog posting on these folks.  But, good peoples.  Anyone who walks from Mexico to Oregon, has my respect.  I salute you, Northbound Back of the Packers!!

So, this is a HUGE change.  All of a sudden, there are no more people.  None.  There is nobody on the trail except me, myself and I.  This is a brand, new world.  It took a little mental adjustment, but all is well.  I'm O.K with it.  But, it was a big reality check:  there's only me out here now.  Really.

Thank goodness for Crater Lake.  And back to civilisation but for a brief moment!  I love my brief stops back in humanity.  I crave them and I enjoy them.

Oh, Crater Lake.  You are Amazing.


Oh, Leslie.  You are Amazing. ;)





Yep, it's a Crater.  And a wonderful National Park.

 Surprisingly (or shall I say, weird?) some of the worst trail marking for the PCT was in the National Park.  I don't get it, but the trail(s) were terribly marked.  The famous rim trail - yeah I know it's a rim and all - had no signage/distance or anything.  Weird.  They've got to have their reasons.

Oregon has funny signs.  I thought of my friend Danni and laughed very hard when I saw this sign. She has a Giant White Dog in her life.


Hikers also leave each other notes.  Sometimes, the notes tell you where there is water or a spring or a pretty campsite.  Sometimes, like this one - they scare the Beejeeberz out of you as you walk alone in the wilderness.


There is lots of "layered light" in Oregon (and Washington).  We just don't get this in the Canadian Rockies. Cool.  Or shall I say:  It's Weird.



I kind of felt bewildered when I saw this sign.  I'm trying to focus on the present and it was a BIG reminder of the reality of the overall picture. One step at a time?  Right?  My mental strategy has been to focus only on each day and each section.  As a result, I'm pretty joyous when I reach the end of each section.



Just outside of the Ashland, Oregon - the landscape changed really suddenly.  Everything was new.  I saw a Chestnut Tree!  It was the first one.  And now there are many.  And Oaks. And dry grass.  And giant cracks in the Earth.  And giant pinecones.  It's a brand new world.  That's good, because prior to that I had my first day of Boredom.  I put on my music for the very first time and listened to precisely 2 songs:

1.  AC/DC Shook Me All Night Long.
2.  Talking Heads, Psycho Killer

Worthy of mention, I was running down the trail (yes, my pack was light and I was 5 miles away from Crater Lake!) rocking out at full volume screaming:  She was a fast machine!  She kept her motor clean!  She was the best damn woman that I've ever seen!  When I got busted by some day hikers.  Worthy of mention, after a brief discussion they thought my trail name should be Fast Machine.  I like that one. :)




Dry grass and lots of it


Nearing the Interstate and my hotel, Callahan's.  

I've never been so excited to see an Interstate!

I was a very happy girl to reach Callahans and this brand new world.  Everything about this area feels different, but especially the landscape.  And I can see Mount Shasta!  It's very big and beautiful.  And it's waaaay off in the distance where I am pointing, I swear. :) It feels like California. Even the air smells different.

At Callahan's I had a bit of a treat.  A nice soft cushy bed, gourmet food and lots of it.  On a slightly stressful note - I also had my first bad day.  My running shoes didn't show up and the trail was closed due to fires. i had to formulate a Plan B to unfortunately, skip a section.  No choice really, the trail is closed.

So, I entered California in a car instead of by foot.  What do you do?  You improvise. A lift from some friendly folks at the hotel, and a short, brief hitchhike and I have arrived in Etna, California.  It's an amazing little town, with everything a hiker could want.  Including a micro-brewery and a drugstore with a Soda/Ice Cream fountain bar.  It's straight from the Gold Rush era, me thinks.  Either way, it's magical. This day has been one of my most relaxing and enjoyable.  Northern California.  Mount Shasta.  Eeeeek!  Me So Excited. It really does seem like the beginning of another great adventure. 

And I suspect Northern California is even weirder than Oregon. :)

Happy Trails Y'all.

I miss you!




78 comments:

Ingunn said...

...but did you find the Giant White Dog?

Leslie said...

I wish! I would have had a wrestling match. And howled and barked. And scratched his/her belly. I suspect the Giant White Dog has been found. They are hard to miss!

amy said...

we are not weird!

Jill Homer said...

Welcome to California! I'm in awe of your PCT adventure. I hope these Cali trails don't get too lonely. I'd love to come see you along the way if the timing aligns. Are you still carrying your SPOT?

Danni said...

I'm glad you're going with the flow and keeping your quintessential great Leslie attitude. I am envious.

I will send them my giant white dog if they still need one.

Peter Brodsky said...

Sara and I and Rachel and Joely all wish you adventurous, but safe, days (and warm nights) on your journey. Have fun, be safe and come back in one piece.

Helen said...

A third of the way and going strong!!!
Loving your blogs!

Adam said...

Just thought you should know Adam and Laura have been following along. Looks like you're having a blast. Enjoy California.

Horse and Sole Hoof Care said...

Oregon is weird! Love following your progress! Rock it girl.

Helen said...

Flying from Vancouver to LA this afternoon. Will have the binoculars out and will give you a wave. Will be too late to see the happy dance. Have been in awe of your efforts and after the mountains we have been in this feeling has been magnified! Keep on dancing!

eric said...

Met you just before you hit Cascade Locks- delighted to see your progress! And AC/DC's "You Shook me All Night Long" was one of the few go-to songs on my phone as well- keep rocking, and fast machine it through the Sierras! Best wishes,

"Gourmet" Eric Munsing
PCT 2012 NoBo
San Francisco, CA

Barry said...

Glad to see you are back on the trails. Best wishes on the PCT. The weather you describe in Oregon does not seem a whole lot different than what we put up with in Banff National Park. Hail to the three seson day. Keeps us tough and able to maintain an enduring sense of humour.

Craig said...

Hey Leslie,

You really do take the greatest pictures--I've spent a lot of time in the Sierra, and you capture those mountains VERY well! Oh, I'm Craig from Little Jimmy Spring--I couldn't resist complimenting you on the pics one more time!!!

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