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!