Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More from the Pacific Crest Trail

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Laundromat Days and Fabulous Stays

We, it's laundry day here in the One Horse Town of Bridgeport, California. Then, it's off to the Post Office and the General Store. I have already hit the local diner, which was open at 6:00AM. It's funny that You can't get breakfast anywhere in Banff at this hour, yet here in this small agriculture meets Tourist town in America - Omelets and Coffee in the wee hours. Just don't try to get any food after 8:00PM!!

My big news is that after completing a small section of Northern California, I have decided to skip ahead. My big problem was fires - on 3 upcoming and different sections of the trail. I've been trying to keep my hike "day to day" which worked for me successfully with the fires in Oregon. Every section of trail that was closed due to fire magically opened up as I hiked along. It's possible that this might have happened again, but hitchhiking and walking around closed sections is complicated stuff. The bottom line was - all of this was messing with my "flow". Hiking is easy when you are walking a straight line! The flow is back, now that we are moving forward.

So, with the help from a few more Ultra friends - Gretchen in Truckee and Mark Swanson in Redding, we are back at it!

Well worth mentioning, the Northern Cali section from Etna to Castle Crags State Park was awesome. Over this 4 day, 100 mile section there were many surprises and delights! The first was the elevation - almost the whole section danced around 7000 to 8000 feet. There was also nobody out there! The people tracks all but disappeared and the big surprise was the bear tracks. On Day 1, I saw a blond black bear who shat himself as he ran away terrified. But the amount of bear footprints and lack of people had me unnerved. As a girl alone in the wilderness, sometimes your mind gets the most of you. :). Clearly, the solitude is starting to play with my imagination - but I haven't lost my marbles yet!!

My last day in this section also held a few surprises. As I started my day at the crack of dawn, I heard gun shots! Not 5 minutes later, I crossed a forestry road and at 6AM, a couple of big trucks drove by. Turns out it was the first day of deer hunting season and it was a Saturday - good grief! Fortunately, I soon transitioned into a different "zone" the Castle Crags wilderness area and the hunters disappeared. Or maybe it was too far from the road for them to walk!! :). Castle Crags was beautiful and rugged and enjoyed many hours strolling above treeline. The descent to the bottom of the valley was HUGE!! A 9 mile descent, through a furnace like canyon. It was stinking hot!! The bigger surprise was the bear shit - fortunately they were old. But, never in my life have I seen so much bear shit. I wasn't counting, but 80 - 100 giant piles o' dry poo. :)

So, I will have to save my stories of the mountains for later. I have hiked from Truckee through the Lake Tahoe backcountry and the very beautiful Desolation Wilderness.

In South Lake Tahoe my friend Steve Holman (aka the second Nicest man on Earth) met me for the day. We went for breakfast and a visit, before driving back to the trail. Steve joined me for a few miles, before leaving me on the trail. I can't say enough good things - these brief and wonderful interactions are so integral a part of my Solo adventure. Thanks again Mark, Gretchen and Steve.

This last few days have also been awesome! The scenery has changed yet again. The mountains have gotten bigger and Yosemite beckons!! Now, I am stoked and ready for the big mountains. I really am a Mountain Girl.

Photos to follow...

- Posted using BlogPress

Location:Bridgeport California

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!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fast Times at Shelter Cove

I've been following the dusty footsteps of Thru -hikers. It's hard to get lost when there are the omni-present footsteps! So much dust and so many people that have gone by.

Oregon has been good to me. Starting in Cascade Locks with a visit from friend Amy Sproston, a package delivered and a visit to Trail Angel Schrek. From there I delivered my own Trail Magic and carried out 6 PBR's for the first 6 hikers that I met. I enjoyed the Mount Hood Wilderness and best of all, a visit to the Timberline Lodges breakfast buffet!! There were about 20 Northbound hikers there, so I had some good company. I believe I have hit the "apex" of Northbound Hikers. Between the Timberline Lodge and Santiam Pass I most have seen 20-35 hikers daily!! I also received some amazing Trail Magic from A sweet couple Dave and Steady. They had been parked at the highway for 3 days - THREE DAYS!!! - with a picnic table full of treats and Subway Sandwiches for hikers. WOW.

I hitched out to Bend where I received my own personal magic from friends Chris and Darla Askew. I am forever grateful for the huge favor of a bed, fine company and shuttling me all over town and even back to the trail. Again, WOW. Such generousity! Thanks so much Chris and Darla.

And finally, on September 1, in the middle of the Goat Creek Wilderness I got my very first trail visitor!! My very awesome trail running friend Mark aka. Trail Dog appeared out of Nowhere with a hug and a smile. I get ready thinking about it, it was SUCH a wonderful surprise!! The company was Fab, just to chat and walk for a couple of hours. How lucky am I?

It should be mentioned how supportive my American Ultra Peeps have been. Way back with Michelle and Eric, Amy, the Askews and now, the Trail Dog. Thanks friends.

And I'm Off. I clearly have been putting in some big days and haven't had any time for all things computer. This girl is a moving!! Hope y'all are having your own amazing adventures.

Location:Somewhere in Oregon