Forest Fires, Volcanoes and Waterfalls (T-Fox)

August 3 – 2001 to 2022 (21 miles)
August 4 – 2022 to 2048 (26 miles)
August 5 – 2048 to 2057 + 16 miles fire detour (25 miles)
August 6 – 5 miles fire detour + 2083 to 2105 (27 miles)
August 7 – 2105 to 2117 (12 miles)
August 8 – 2117 to 2138 + 6 miles Eagle Creek alternate (27 miles)
August 9 – 9 miles Eagle Creek alternate (9 miles)

image

August 3 – 21 miles

There’s a situation we’re dealing with here, and that situation is Lorax’s hat. It’s falling apart, and you’d think the logical next step would be to throw it out and buy a new one…even another cheap one to get to Canada. At least that’s how I feel…

He loves that hat. He can’t seem to part with it. It also doesn’t help that EVERYONE loves it too (except for me). Lorax says it gives us “street cred” since I don’t look grubby enough to have walked from Mexico. When people stop us in town or on the trail, they always know we’re thru-hikers…and he thinks it’s the hat.

And I think he’s right…as painful as it is for me to support him wearing the dang thing. So the hat’s going to make it to Canada, or at least that’s the goal!

We slept in a bit this morning since it was a later than usual night. We hiked about a mile to Big Lake Youth Camp, which is a Christian camp that allows hikers to send boxes there eat, shower, and do laundry…all by donation. This place blew us away! They were the kindest people ever, and everyone kept saying, “stay as long as you want!”

We got our packages, opted out of the shower and laundry (oh dear…we don’t seem to care as much these days), but we did stay for breakfast. I’m not sure why, but they only serve vegetarian meals, which made me so happy!! I’m usually having to scrape meat off my meals, or give it to Lorax, which completely negates the point of being a veggie – if he just eats it, then there were no animals spared. So I was in heaven. The camp director even invited us over to his cabin for coffee after breakfast. What a loving community…

We did eventually leave, and found ourselves entering Deschutes Wilderness. We hiked around Three Finger Jack, an incredibly rugged peak.

There are a lot of forest fires going on these days, but luckily none of them have affected us at this point. The sky is thick with smoke though, and today was exceptionally hazy. I thought it was overcast…but nope…just really smokey. There’s also helicopters in the sky constantly, either trying to control the fires, or monitoring for more. It makes me a little nervous, but I’m sure they have protocol on removing hikers from fire areas…right?

Since we didn’t shower, we decided to camp at a lake and have a much needed swim. Swimming is one of our best friends out here…makes me feel human again. Such a delicious, glorious dip…cool, crisp water…ahh…

image

Wild strawberries...

Wild strawberries…

Three Finger Jack

Three Finger Jack

image

August 4 – 26 miles

Climbing today – not crazy (roughly 2500 feet), but it felt like a biggie. It was just so dang humid…dripping, sweaty, mess!

Mount Jefferson…I think I love you. He’s the second tallest mountain in Oregon, and he’s HANDSOME. The Cascades in general have been mind-blowing.

Mount Jefferson

Mount Jefferson

image

image

August 5 – 25 miles

FIRE CLOSURE.

Dang it! We want to hike the PCT, not the road! But we set out to walk from Mexico to Canada, so there will be no skipping for these two crazy Canucks!

The detour around the closure was roughly a 20 mile road walk. Some people hitched it, and that’s fine – hike your own hike right? I must say, I was a little jealous of those Yellow Blazers, but we’ve done roughly two other 20 mile stretch road walks on this trip, so we can’t “cheat” now.

I wouldn’t say the road walk was fun, but it wasn’t all that bad. I listened to some podcasts, and we put my iPod on speaker for the afternoon and listened to various artists.

“The road is your dance floor T-Fox!” Lorax encouraged as I broke out in full performance of Mariah Carey. I can’t hit those high notes, but Lorax didn’t notice when I took it down an octave, or two, or three…

Worst part of walking on pavement, is the toll it takes on our feet. We made sure to take breaks (coffee breaks!) and try to walk on the side where we could.

I looked down at my feet, and watched them shuffle one after another, back and forth, in steady rhythm. It’s amazing isn’t it? This simple act of one foot in front of the other is able to propel me for over 2000 miles so far. Unreal.

The road walk was also an opportune time for Lorax to work on his trekking pole moves. He has perfected the double back flip toss where he catches it on the hand grip, and can often catch a triple. He’s quite good actually…and I’m proud…

We set up camp 5 miles shy of the end of the road walk. We wanted to finish, but it was getting late and our feet were screaming. The road was creepily quiet, and had a post- apocalyptic vibe. All the signs were worn down to completely illegible (is that legal?), and we probably saw 5 cars total that day. We didn’t hear a single car that evening or night…did the world end and we just didn’t get the memo? Kinda creepy…

Lorax enjoying a coffee before the road walk

Lorax enjoying a coffee before the road walk

Roadside break...get the feet up!

Roadside break…get the feet up!

First view of Mt. Hood

First view of Mt. Hood

August 6 – 27 miles

We road walked for 5 miles, then it was back to the PCT. Oh PCT, I love you so much, and I missed you! Crap…what am I going to do when this is all over?! Don’t think about it Fox…just enjoy it.

What a beautiful day! Honestly, if I could bottle up my own romanticized version of this PCT experience, today would completely capture it. No bugs! Sunny but not hot! Walking without getting exhausted or hurt! Wonderful conversation with my best friend in the whole wide world!

And we feel strong. Obviously we ARE strong from this endless walking marathon day after day…but we don’t always feel it. But for some reason, today was good to us. We are so motivated and happy to be hiking.

We entered Mt. Hood Wilderness today. I love The Hood! I know I say that about all the mountains…so nothing new here.

We also passed the 2100 mile mark. It’s stopped being excited to pass markers…now it’s more sad and sobering. This is going too fast! What am I going to so after this hike? How will I survive! I know…I’m being so dramatic, but honestly, I don’t think I will look at things the same ever again.

We camped 2 miles short of Timberline Lodge, which is a MUST VISIT for all thru-hikers. We decided to camp so we could read our books (we love reading!) and then roll into the lodge for the breakfast buffet. SO EXCITED!

image

image

image

August 7 – 12 miles

Oops. We slept in! No a lot, but we scrambled to take down camp so we could book it to breakfast!

Only 2 miles of uphill trudging through loose sand, and you can eat a glorious buffet. As we slowly maneuvered ourselves up the steep incline, we had to laugh at how ludicrous it all is. Rush, rush, rush…work, work, work…get to that FOOD!!

It was so worth it! Lorax wins though because he managed to eat WAY more than me. I never really like buffets because I don’t get a lot of value from them since I don’t eat a lot at one sitting. Being a PCT hiker has definitely increased my calorie intake, so a buffet makes more sense now…but no one can out-eat my Lorax these days. That’s my man! The skinniest guy I know (honestly, he’s lost roughly 20 pounds and he was not over-weight), yet he eats like a horse!

We lounge around the lodge for a few hours, digesting and relaxing. We ask some fellow hikers if there’s showers here, and they let us in on the “insider secrets” on how to act like a guest and receive a glorious shower. So I try to clean myself up and look less “hiker,” strut down the hall that reads “guests only,” grab a towel, and enter a private shower room, complete with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Total luxury! Turns out that the staff are fine with us using the showers, so I wasn’t really doing anything all that stealth.

We are like celebrities when we enter civilization. It’s weird really, because to us, we’re just hiking and doing something we enjoy. Tourists stop us (and any other thru-hikers) and want to know all the details of our hike. We enjoy talking about it, but we also feel that too many people underestimate their ability to do something like this. Lots of people say they could never so it, and that may be true, especially if they don’t have the interest and drive to do so. But it’s the ones who WANT it so bad, but feel that they can’t. We try to encourage them that THEY CAN!! There are 80 year olds who do this! And there’s always section hiking, where one does a piece each year, slowly connecting the pieces together and completing the whole trail. Those are my heros! To stay at this for years at a time…such dedication and motivation!

We got back to the trail by 1 p.m. It was great to see so many day hikers out, enjoying the hiking trails surrounding Mt. Hood.

image

image

image

Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls

August 8 – 27 miles

Another splendid day in the wilderness, breathing fresh air, and enjoying each other’s company. We can see Mt. Hood behind us, and fresh views of Mt. Adams Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Rainier.

Lorax has added a new trekking pole trick that will be featured in our PCT video when we are done hiking. He can now do a triple back flip, and rather than catching it, the pole stabs vertically into the ground. He did this all day…and it brought a smile to my face. He’s so carefree and happy out here…it makes me beam.

We decided to take another alternate route off the PCT that is the same distance but takes us to the famous Tunnel Falls. The trail was really tricky with steep descents and jabbing and poking rocks. Luckily it was all worth it when we reached the gorge. Waterfalls everywhere and everything was so lush! Northern Oregon has been so green and splendidly ALIVE.

Tunnel Falls was unreal. The trail literally goes behind the falls. We spent a while playing and exploring here…like a bunch of children.

It’s the weekend, so this area was very busy with weekend hikers (or “weekend warriors” as we like to call them). We managed to find a camp spot that had room for our tent. About an hour later, two girls waltzed in and made themselves comfortable. Oh well, we thought. There’s room for them. We didn’t realize that they had three more people in their hiking party. The site was PACKED. Only one night Fox…you can be cramped for one night. I felt anxious and eager to camp back on the PCT with copious space.

image

image

image

image

image

Tunnel Falls!

Tunnel Falls!

image

August 9 – 9 miles

We woke at our usual 5 a.m. start and tried to be as quiet as possible as not to wake the sleeping weekend warriors. We hiked 9 miles out of the gorge and found ourselves even more crowded with Saturday morning hiking traffic. We’ll never survive in a city! So many people…

We were offered a ride to Cascade Locks, but declined as it would be skipping 3 miles. Dang purist hike! We had breakfast upon arriving in town with at least 10 other hikers (yay for hiker community!) and hitched to Hood River to resupply. We bought 21 days of food and hit up the post office to mail it all ahead. That’s the last grocery shopping we will have to do! No more re supplies! All of our food will be waiting for us in towns. That’s crazy really…this trip is almost over.

Sorting our food outside the grocery store. We got lots of weird looks...

Sorting our food outside the grocery store. We got lots of weird looks…

Now on to The Bridge of the Gods…the official entrance to Washington. Thanks for the good times Oregon!

Walk on,
T-Fox

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

May the Forest Be With You… (T-Fox)

July 28 – 1856 to 1884 + 2 miles Skyline alternate trail (29 miles)
July 29 – Skyline alternate (18 miles)
July 30 – 2 miles alternate + 1913 to 1932 (21 miles)
July 31 – 1932 to 1960 (28 miles)
Aug 1 – 1960 to 1985 (25 miles)
Aug 2 – 1985 to 2001 (16 miles)

“Any portion of the earth’s surface, left unpaved and alive, is infinitely rich in details and relationships, in wonder, beauty, mystery, comprehensible only in part.”
– Edward Abbey

image

July 28 – 29 miles

“Let’s pounce!” exclaims The Fox. Another beautiful day of magical views and copious opportunities to explore!

By mid-morning, we came across Theilsen Peak – what a rugged mountain! And the way the sun was hitting it just right…truly breathtaking. The trail never ceases to amaze us, keeping us on our toes with unexpected views and findings. What an adventure.

But my feet hurt. A LOT. I thought the new shoes would elevate the discomfort, but I was mistaken. We’ve been pounding miles lately, and it seems that no matter how gentle the terrain is (which it varies throughout Oregon), my feet scream. I hope this is temporary. It’s always a little unsettling when the body protests. I may be comfortable cranking higher miles, but we still need to be careful.

Nearing the end of the day, we had a decision to make – continue on the PCT, or take a 110 year old alternate trail called The Oregon Skyline Trail. The miles were a bit shorter on the Skyline and it had less elevation gain, so we opted for that one. Also, the water has been dry in this area of the PCT, and the alternate trail was teeming with lakes. Everyone has their own goals and views on what hiking the PCT means to them, and for us, we just want to make sure we hike every step from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. If an alternate route is more scenic or has appeal to us, we’ll take it.

Mt. Theilsen

Mt. Theilsen

July 29 – 18 miles

The Skyline Trail was really nice, and there were lots of people riding on horses!! Man I miss riding.

Today we entered Diamond Lake Wilderness – a lush, green Forest, teeming with life! We’re not sure if it was the impending rain, but it just felt “wetter” here…it reminded us of west coast British Columbia – home sweet home. The trees were covered in Old Man’s Beard (at least that’s what we call it in BC), which is a green (sometimes brown) mossy lichen. It was everywhere! It even managed to make it’s way onto our faces, or maybe we just placed it there…?

FEET. ARE. KILLING. ME. I hate to say it, but I am currently a heavy-user of Vitamin-I, more commonly known as ibuprofen. Sigh.

Only 18 miles to Shelter Cove for a food resupply! Approximately 2 miles shy of the resort, the rain started coming down pretty hard. It has been so hot lately, and we could feel a storm coming on. It’s funny how welcome we were of the rain. When you hike everyday in the humid, sticky air, a little rain feels great! We quickened our pace a bit, but secretly (or not so secretly) enjoyed the “shower.”

Shelter Cove had the most delicious coffee I have had in a while (full espresso bar!), and Lorax got a sausage on a bun with all the fixings. I had the shortest shower ever (dang coin showers), and we sorted through our food for the next lag of our journey. In our true fashion, we camped away from the resort. Our trail book suggested camping by the train tracks, which I found odd, being as there were trains running throughout the day. Lorax assured me that it would not be recommended if trains went all night. Oh right…of course not. Silly fox!

image

image

July 30 – 21 miles

Trains went ALL NIGHT. Hardly slept a wink. Lorax swears he only heard two trains, while I counted more like eight. Why can’t I sleep like that?

So I was tired. So very tired. Sleep is such delicate thing out here – we NEED enough of it; it makes or breaks the hike.

So I broke. And cried. And struggled. And complained. But ultimately, kept hiking.

Needless to say, it was a short day. We had planned on pushing another 5 miles, but a huge storm was brewing. The clouds were churning, and expressing their displeasure and irritation with faint, but increasingly loud thunderous booms.

We needed to seek shelter. We set up camp by a lake at around 5pm, an embarrassingly early quit time. I’m glad we did though! Moments after Lorax set up the tent, and had a three minute swim, the rain POURED. I mean torrential downpour.

The rain turned to hail…relentless hail. I’m so glad we were in our tent! When nature takes a turn like that, it’s really rather humbling. All that power and strength and magnificence, and here I am huddled in a nylon home.

Mother Nature eventually finished venting whatever it was she needed to get off her chest, and the skies calmed. The Forest had an increase in vibrancy in her colours…characteristic of a good “drink.”

Goodnight earth. Goodnight sky. Goodnight all.

image

Hail outside our tent

Hail outside our tent

July 31 – 28 miles

Let’s start off the day with some decapitated trees! The PCT takes us to unforeseen places, with plenty of surprises…and today she brought us to another old fire zone. Obviously forest fires are sad, but they are also beautiful. It’s great to see nature growing back, with new life maximizing and thriving.

Today we entered Three Sisters Wilderness. We could see the South Sister off in the distance – the first of three peaks in the park.

Holy Mosquitos! skeets, skeets, everywhere skeets! We were going a little batty. I thought the bugs would be over by now, but apparently this area got a fair amount of snow last winter, and the melt was later, and that equals a delayed Mosquito season. Too bad for us. Load on the DEET!

So I listen to podcasts on the trail – ranging from educational to entertaining. My supply was low, and I have been struggling through these last couple of days. As I mentioned, my feet have been hurting, and one way that I cope is to put my head down and zone out with my podcasts. So Lorax decided he would hike an extra 3 miles off trail to Elk Lake Resort where he could use the wifi to download me some episodes. MY HERO.

I walked 1.5 miles by myself on the PCT, set up the tent, and waited for his return. He rolled in sometime around 9pm.

Confession: I have not set up the tent yet. As in NEVER. As in, we’ve been out here for over 100 days, and Lorax has set up the tent EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I know…I’m spoiled.

It took me half an hour. Lorax does it in under 5 minutes. But in my defence, we have a weird tarp tent that is oddly shaped, and needs to be set up “just so.” So I fiddled, and adjusted, and repositioned until I was satisfied.

Lorax was happy with my work, and suggested that I set up The Den from now on.
We’ll see… (It’s been 6 days, and I haven’t set it up since. He’s so much better at it!)

image

image

image

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

August 1 – 25 miles

August?! Wow. Time flies when you’re having a ball. At the beginning of this trek, everything seemed so daunting, and four to five months of walking seemed unheard of. Now that it’s coming closer to completion, I just want time to slow down…has anyone figured out how to do that yet?

It rained a lot this morning.

We had planned a 30 mile say to get to the town of Sisters today. We didn’t quite make it. The terrain was tougher than expected, with lots of ascents and descents…but man was it gorgeous! The lava flows are just spectacular. I love to imagine that the rocks are still pliable, piping hot, and snaking their way around the land, slowly cooling and forming deep impressions in the earth. It’s hard to picture actually…the earth literally on the move…it’s almost unsettling. These volcanos are dormant right…?

We are officially in Three Sisters Wilderness! I am LOVING Oregon…these prominent volcanic mountains are just stunning.

Lorax and the south sister

Lorax and the south sister

image

image

image

image

August 2 – 16 miles

Just four miles to make it to the road, then we hitch to Sisters. We don’t need anything at all, but are craving a good, hearty breaky.

We reach the road, and there are NO CARS. Zip. Two cars finally come at us, heading the other way, which at least gives us hope that people actually use this road. The second car waves at us enthusiastically, then pulls a U-turn. Turns out they are heading into Three Sisters too, but they forgot their poles! When they saw us with poles, they remembered! They invited us into the car, as they had to head back home. Lucky for us!

Breakfast. Coffee. Internet. McDonald’s.

Hitching back to the trail went well. A guy (I forge his name! ) picked us up who hiked the PCT 8 years ago. We swapped trail stories and generally shared the stoke for trail life. He was heading into Three Sisters to summit the middle sister with some friends. Lorax wants to come back and bag some summits, since the PCT doesn’t run up summits, but takes “the easy way.” Maybe someday Hun.

By the end of the day, we reached the 2000 mile marker. I happened to be in a fowl mood (sorry folks…I sometimes get grumpy after several hours of walking along hot stones all day), so I wasn’t feeling particularly celebratory. Instead of standing at the marker to contemplate 2000 miles, I decided to do so in. The comfort of my sleeping bag that evening.

Laying in bed, thinking back on all that we’ve accomplished and learned, I started to cry. Sad tears because I don’t want it to end, but happy tears because I know that this adventure is just one of the many more that we will have. I honestly think that we will never be the same after this journey. How could you embark on a trek like this and not be changed? My goal is to be as impressionable as I can – to allow this journey, while relatively short, to shape and mould me.

image

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

100 Day Walk to Crater Lake (T-Fox)

July 23 – 1727 to 1755 (28 miles)
July 24 – 1755 to 1782 (27 miles)
July 25 – 1782 to 1812 (30 miles)
July 26 – 1812 to 1829 (17 miles)
July 27 – 1829 to 1856 (27 miles)

Lorax hitching out of Ashland...got picked up by the second car!!

Lorax hitching out of Ashland…got picked up by the second car!!

“Today I finally overcame trying to fit the world inside a picture frame. Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m in the mood to lose my way with words.” – John Mayer, “3×5”

July 23 – 28 miles

Man, it’s great being in Oregon! The trail is flat, and the trees are so wholesome. It feels awesome being able to crank out some serious miles with less effort.

image

image image

July 24 – 27 miles

There are so many berries out here!! – huckleberries, grouse berries, wild strawberries, thimble berries…and I love them all.

Something that really stood out to us from today was the lava rock flows. It’s amazing how many stories the earth will tell, if we just stop and listen. The things she has seen! The events she has witnessed! The trail kept meandering through the lava, then back into the sugar pine Forest, and back to the lava again. How Mother Nature manages to grow such magnificent trees among the black barren rocks is mind-boggling. I stopped, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and sighed out my love and appreciation for this opportunity. Feeling so blessed…

image

image

image image

July 25 – 30 miles

Surrounded my magical Fairy infested forests…trudging along, whistling a little tune. This is a happy place…this is wholesome and good for the soul.

It’s a John Mayer music marathon kind of day! So I set my iPod to shuffle JM, and mellow out. Music was my fuel today.

The wildflowers never cease to inspire and amaze! We saw a brand new one today, which is called Grandpa’s Beard. We prefer to call them Mini-Truffula Trees because…well…I am married to The Lorax, and they are so dang cute.

We past Luther Peak today, which is another volcanic mountain along our journey. We can still see Mt, Shasta in the distance, way way behind. It’s hard to fathom just how far we are walking everyday, but the sum of those days is incredible. We crossed the 1800 mile mark today, and it really took me by surprise. They’re lying right? There’s no way I walked that far. But I did…apparently.

The trail has a lot of shale on it now, and my feet are getting sore! My shoes are SO DONE. They are literally starting to fall apart. Hang in there shoes!! Don’t break on me now!

image

Grandpa's Beard

Grandpa’s Beard

Ouch says the feet...

Ouch says the feet…

image

July 26 – 17 miles

DAY 100 ON THE PCT!!! What?! That’s crazy!! I would never have pegged myself as someone who would hike for over 100 days…and I don’t think my family would have either. I’ve always been a bit of a princess (and that may be an understatement), and that just goes to prove that anyone could do this. Having a super-supportive and PATIENT husband helps too.

Just 17 miles to Mazama Village, which is one of the two Crater Lake tourist re-fuelling spots. I could use some good old touristy re-fuelling myself! So we book it FAST to “town.” Upon reaching the highway that does a complete loop around Crater Lake, we are greeted by Lightning Rod who offers us Corona’s, iced tea, and watermelon. He started hiking the PCT this year and made it roughly 500 miles, but his feet were giving him grief, so he had to drop out. He felt compelled to give back to this wonderful community, and therefore decided to give out refreshments for a few days. That may have been the most refreshing iced tea I’ve ever had! We had just come out of a decent sized waterless stretch, and I was clean out of water. I almost cried when he offered me the drink.

We loitered in Mazama village for a while – showers, food, and general civilized activities. It always feels so weird being around a lot of people. Everyone is so rushed and stressed and entitled to this and that. Isn’t this a vacation destination? A place to relax? Is Crater Lake best enjoyed by whizzing around her perimeter, grabbing a bite to eat, purchasing a “Crater Lake shot glass” and returning to the road? Don’t get me wrong…I’ve been the car whizzing tourist myself. But it feels like there’s such a disconnect when we encounter natural wonders from within the comfort of our car.

I finally got my new shoes – put 1050 miles on the previous pair. We didn’t want to dish out money to camp at the campground, so like we so often do, we returned to the trail to find our own real-estate. We were greeted by a sign that stated “no camping within 1mile of the road.” Why? To keep the squeaky clean image of Crater Lake National Park? We wouldn’t want people from within their cars to see – gasp! – people camping in THE WOODS! That would be so uncivilized! What an eye sore. But whatever…we’ll comply. Well…we’ll go a quarter mile.

image

Freedom and T-Fox getting spoiled with bevies....

Freedom and T-Fox getting spoiled with bevies….

On to pair #3!!

On to pair #3!!

July 27 – 27 miles

We wake feeling excited to see Crater lake, as Mazama Village didn’t offer a view of her yet.

What an incredible rim walk! We highly recommend this hike to anyone who is planning to visit Crater Lake.

We had our usual mid-morning snack break along the trail. Man, when did we get so ugly? Lorax in his deteriorating hat, and me in my ripped shirt and homemade visor…we are a sight to see! Look kids! Hiker Trash! Remember, stay in school and get good grades and you won’t end up like those two!

After the madness that was Crater Lake (honestly, it was gorgeous…just a bit too “clean”), the trail returned to its Oregon smoothness. This was a big waterless stretch (27 miles), so it was nice to have easier trail.

The Forest in this section was so…sickly. We’re not sure why, but the soil must be contaminated in some way because the trees are struggling here. Lorax thought maybe the soil was too acidic from the volcanic activity, or possibly there’s heavy metals in the ground. But whatever the reason, the trees were strangely cancerous, full of bowls and maimed branches and stunted growth. It was sad really.

image

image

image

So many people...

So many people…

Fox sighting!!

Fox sighting!!

image

Cancerous trees

Cancerous trees

Nom Nom...me love PCT signs!!

Nom Nom…me love PCT signs!!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Oregon Ho! (T-fox)

image

July 13 – 1506 to 1531 (25 miles)
July 14 – 1531 to 1554 (23 miles)
July 15 – 1554 to 1584 (30 miles)
July 16 – 1584 to 1607 (23 miles)
July 17 – 1607 to 1630 (23 miles)
July 18 – 1630 to 1656 (26 miles)
July 19 – 1656 to 1680 (24 miles)
July 20 – 1680 to 1710 (30 miles)
July 21 – 1710 to 1727 (17 miles)
July 22 – ZERO

We are alive. Just beat. So we apologize for this HUGE post, but we have been a tad bit busy trying to average a marathon worth of walking everyday. We’re sure you understand…

July 13th – 25 miles

We leave our motel room in Mount Shasta at the ungodly hour of 6 am (honestly, isn’t half the point of getting a room to sleep well and sleep IN?), and load our gear into a small and cramped shuttle car with two other hikers – Wash Pot and White Water. We decided to shell out the money for a cab rather than hitch because we wanted to get an early start, and by “we,” I really mean “you know who.” Love you Lorax!

What a gorgeous section! We found ourselves entering Castle Crags Wilderness area, which was scattered with breath-taking castle-esque rock. I was waiting for the fairies and dragons to emerge from their hiding places among the magical rocks, but it must have been too dang hot. I can’t really blame them for staying in the shade. We, on the other hand, had to climbing the hot hot sun…man was it humid and hot! There was sweat dripping down my face…my back…my EVERYWHERE. We had to climb 5000 feet in total. Why does every first day back on the trail include a monstrous climb??

Despite the heat, the climb went well. Until..wait a minute…was that an F-bomb?

“Lorax, did you hear an F-bomb behind us?”
“No…I think it was my pack creaking.”

Fast forward 10 minutes later – loud, clear, ANGRY profanities from someone behind us in the trail.

“Do you think he’s ok? Should we go check?” I ask.
“No. Those weren’t yells for help. Someone’s just not having a good day.”

20 minutes later, while we’re sitting down to lunch, Wash Pot rolls in, all sweaty and tired.

“Sorry about that little display of anger…that’s kind of embarrassing,” he confesses.

Lorax comforts him by replying, “Oh, you don’t have to apologize to T-Fox. She is the Queen of temper tantrums.” I just smile.

“I think I’ll just hang with you two today if you don’t mind.” And so the threesome formed! A memorable day filled with great conversation. Wash Pot even deemed it “Real Name Monday,” and revealed himself as Jeff. “I’m Tara. Nice to meet you Jeff.” It was all strangely formal, but fun.

We decided to camp beside a beautiful lake and take a much needed swim. I have never had so much salt crusted in my hair before! As we sauntered into camp, we noticed it was a campground accessible by vehicle, and there were several vehicles at that. “If we can’t yogi some free stuff, there is something seriously wrong with us,” Wash Pot announced. “To yogi” is a term that refers to getting free food (or anything) from people who are not hiking. Think Yogi the Bear, and his fantastic ability to “yogi” food from campers in Jellystone.

So we put our serious yogi on, and waltzed right up to a campsite with three adults and two children, and several dogs. “Oh, there’s dogs…I totally got this!” I tell Wash Pot. After 30 minutes or so of wonderful conversation with Tim, Cookie and friends, we all have drinks in our hands, and our “arms are being twisted” to stay for dinner. Well if you insist…

We stay up late telling all sorts of tales from our travels to these fine folk, and finally retire to our sleeping pads. We camp under the open sky tonight, complete with a full moon. What a great day! I’m so glad we’re doing this! What a blast.

image

Magical castles!

Magical castles!

image

Wash Pot and T-Fox

Wash Pot and T-Fox

image

S'mores!!

S’mores!!

July 14th – 23 miles

I wake up the following morning feeling very under-rested. I toss and turn in my sleeping bag, wishing the daylight away, but to no avail. Lorax hands me breakfast, and I grudging eat. At least today is going to be easy! We hardly have any elevation to gain or lose…just smooth sailing.

But I sucked. It was as if someone had stashed 20 extra pounds of goodness-knows-what into my pack. I was crawling.

For some reason, I was all anxious about “being bored.” I know…it’s pathetic now looking back on things, but at the time, all I could think about was how I just want to do something other than WALKING. I could be mountain biking, or lounging by a pool, or just simply be surrounded by friends and family. Can I honestly make it to Canada? Will I lose interest completely? So I even want this anymore? And so on.

I’ sad to report that this lasted all day, and the result was a measly 23 miles on one of the easiest terrains. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all right?! Since Lorax had a great day, he wanted me to note that we saw lots of colourful butterflies today, and a Jack rabbit! I’m glad he wasn’t bored and he enjoyed himself.

image

Lorax's stellar break spot

Lorax’s stellar break spot

image

So. Tired.

So. Tired.

July 15th – 30 miles

The next morning, I was ready to hike! I was feeling strong, capable, and stoked. Do I have bi-polar? Possibly. But after talking to lots of hikers out here, I’m getting the impression that I’m not alone. The highs are high, bit man are the lows low! It comes with the territory I guess. Yesterday felt like “miles away.” How could I feel so down?!

We spent the day hiking in The Trinity Alps Wilderness. Gorgeous.

image

image

image

image

image

July 16th – 23 miles

Ugh. Down again. No idea why.

Lots of people are dropping out at this point, and I have a good idea why. I don’t want to quit (not at all, and I won’t!), and I can’t imagine many people actually WANT to leave the trail. This adventure is amazing and we are all so fortunate to be out here. But maybe the constant hiking is getting to people…maybe it’s just too much. Just a theory. But having gone through this, I have a lot more grace towards people who hang in the towel. This is HARD. Harder than I ever imagined.

As I trudged along and dragged my foxtail, I mentioned to Loraxhow I wished we were going to Etna. Etna is a town that’s a 15 mile hitch off trail, but we had no need for a town – we had enough food. A few minutes later, Lorax suggested that we go anyway. “You’re tired Hun. You need a break.” Music to my ears!! I think I started crying more when he said that. What a sweet man I have…

So we hitched to town around 6pm, after completing 23 miles. It was a hard day. But knowing that I would get a hot dinner was a huge morale boost. After dinner, we set up our tent behind some trees (possibly private land, but it was dark and we weren’t bothering anyone), and hit the hay. It was a warm night!

image

Passed 1600 miles...

Passed 1600 miles…

A typical Lorax feast!

A typical Lorax feast!

image

Yup. We camped in Danville.

Yup. We camped in Danville.

July 17th – 23 miles

We wake at our usual 5am start, even though we’re in town. There’s something about camping and getting up with the morning light…it just feels natural. We take down camp, and walk the 2 minutes across the road to a local bakery.

Doors open at 6am – we’re there on the dot. Coffee! Breakfast sandwiches! Donuts!

After our complete sugar overload at the bakery, we head to an area of Etna that’s better suited for hitching. We eat another donut (which is just glutinous!) and stick out our thumbs. There are very few cars, but we are picked up by a local man named Tim who is heading up the mountain to do construction work. We load into the back of the pick-up and are in for a windy and winding ride.

Upon dropping us off at the trailhead, Tim proceeds to rant about the Forest Service, to which we nod and smile. It’s always refreshing to see people who are passionate, whatever it may be about. There’s only one world, but there’s many different tastes, opinions, and passions. Tim was awesome – we admired his determination and desire to share his thoughts with the world.

Soon we were in Marble Mountain Wilderness – full of alpine lakes, twisting trails, jagged peaks and spectacular views. Lorax has deemed this sections, “one of his favourites.” How many favourites can one person have anyway? We are both exhausting the list…

We had a delicious afternoon swim in one of those lakes. The water was teeming with fish and salamanders! They were not phased by our presence at all, and continued to swim around happily and carelessly. Thanks for reminding me to just take it easy and enjoy my swim Sun Dogs!

image

image

Swimming with sun dogs

Swimming with sun dogs

Random mules wandering in the park...

Random mules wandering in the park…

image

Lorax in his happy place.

Lorax in his happy place.

Gorgeous white rock in Marble Mountain Wilderness...

Gorgeous white rock in Marble Mountain Wilderness…

July 18th – 26 miles

This is jus embarrassing…but I struggled again. I think NorCal has been a lot harder than I expected, and I’m a bit upset at myself for not “flying down the trail” everyday. I need to learn to allow myself to take breaks, to slow down, and to do whatever I need to in order to enjoy myself. There’s nobody holding a gun to my head, and screaming, “Walk Fox!!” So relax…enjoy…live.

By the end of the day, it was all I could do to make it to camp. There was poison oak everywhere, and it was so draining avoiding it! Everything is green out here…how am I supposed to see the oak?! I trudged on, and chanted to myself, “You are strong and capable…strong and capable…strong and capable…” all the way to camp. Not sure if it helped, but it felt appropriate.

Berries everywhere!

Berries everywhere!

A snake munching on what appears to be a slug

A snake munching on what appears to be a slug

July 19th – 24 miles

Today we hiked 6 miles to reach Seiad Valley for breakfast! The road on the way to town had blackberry bushes all along it, and I was scolded by Lorax several times to “get my paws out of the berry bushes!”…but I just couldn’t help myself. As we neared town, there was a black bear meandering along the road coming towards us. I imagine he was loving the berries as well. As he approached, we started yelling, “Hey bear!” in low voices. The second he saw us, he was gone in a flash.

The town is on the trail, so we just had a quick stop for blackberry pancakes and eggs, coffee, wifi, and a few snacks for the road. About an hour later, it was back to the trail. We had a 5000 foot climb (again), and we didn’t want to leave it for the heat of the day.

We were feeling strong! Feeling stoked! Feeling JACKED on coffee! We motored our way up that climb like it was nothing. Why can”t everyday be like this?! We are athletes to be hiking all day everyday…this is nuts!

image

image

image

Mac 'n cheese for dinner

Mac ‘n cheese for dinner

July 20th – 30 miles

Today was a special day! It was OREGON day baby!! The Lorax and The Fox hopped out of their den this morning with excitement wonder. “We get to finish California today!”

Early in the morning, we passed Freedom, who was just tearing down her tent. “I’m sick,” she said. Oh dear. She asked us if we knew how hard the day was, since she forgot to mail herself the information for that section. “It’s about 2600 feet of elevation gain throughout the day,” Lorax responded. “Oh,” said Freedom, “That’s not bad at all.”

Not bad at all – to gain almost 3000 feet when one has the stomach flu and has to hike 25 miles. That girl has grit. Proof that thu-hikers are super-athletes…

The last morning of hiking in California consisted of a Forest walk, complete with clear cut and selective cut logging. Not the best way to say farewell California, but at least I know you have more glorious sections.

We reached the Oregon border at 3pm. OREGON! No frickin way! We have been in California so long…I never thought this day would come! We sat at the border for a bit, and contemplated all that we had seen and accomplished. Man it’s great to be out here!

Hearts!

Hearts!

A cat track! Either a small cougar or a bobcat (we think)

A cat track! Either a small cougar or a bobcat (we think)

image

image

July 21st – 17 miles

Just hike to Ashland…a mere 17 miles, and you can REST.

Ok.

So hike we did…and rest we did.

Can still see Shasta...

Can still see Shasta…

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Cooked Hiker-Trash…not pleasant (T-Fox)

Grumpy Fox...

Grumpy Fox…

July 6 – 1366 to 1388 (22 miles)
July 7 – 1388 to 1416 (28 miles)
July 8 – 1416 to 1429 (13 miles)
July 9 – 1429 to 1454 (25 miles)
July 10 – 1454 to 1482 (28 miles)
July 11 – 1482 to 1506 (24 miles)
July 12 – ZERO

Hat Creek Rim. We had been dreading this section for quite some time. It’s a waterless stretch of trail (no water for 33 miles), a recent burn zone, and is full of black, hot, lava rock.

We procrastinated the section, and hung-out at Old Station for at least three hours. Finally, at three o’clock, we rolled out.

Hikers hanging out in Old Station - that's our laundry hanging out to dry

Hikers hanging out in Old Station – that’s our laundry hanging out to dry

It was HOT…as expected – no surprise. But it was also stunningly beautiful! It is always such a pleasant surprise when a rumoured “horrible” section has some redeeming qualities as well. We set up camp among eerily beautiful burned trees, with Mt. Shasta in the distance.

image

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

The following day ( July 7), we hit the 1400 mile mark! Feeling awesome! Feeling strong! Feeling capable!

Ridiculously hot…again. Lorax cut my trucker hat into a visor so I can wear my hair in my favourite top-bun. Hiker Trash much…? We reached a water hydro plant in the afternoon, and wasted no time plunging into the water. Our insides were boiling, and the cool, refreshing water saved us. We pushed for a 28 mile day in order to reach the town of Burney. Despite the heat, we managed to finish the miles and be hitching by 5pm. We went to McDonalds for dinner, ice cream, and coffee. The A/C was PUMPING! I can’t believe how cold I was…especially after sweating my butt off all day. I tried to drink lots of fluids with electrolytes to replenish my body, but I think I was beyond dehydrated.

Best. Visor. Ever.

Best. Visor. Ever.

image

I woke the next morning feeling pretty crappy. Not necessarily sick, but definitely lethargic. “Today I will drink more water, today I will drink more water…” Why does Northern California feel like the desert all over again?! Sigh.

We only did 13 miles today. But I blame our poor progress on being hijacked by Trail Magic several times! After some coffee at a local breakfast joint, we stuck out our thumbs. Several cars passed us by, but as a hippie car approached, we knew we got one. Fourth hitch in a VW van baby! We piled into the back, as two other thru-hikers stacked on top of each other in the front seat. Turns out he already picked up some hiker trash! As we drove down the road, the driver (Uncle Jerry) decided to pickup another hitcher – pile ’em in! It was an eventful 8 mile hitch to say the least.

A mere 1 mile down the trail, and we hit the craziest food stash ever! An entire cupboard filled with hiker food, a cooler filled with cold sodas and water, shaded picnic tables, and a solar shower…all in the middle of the trail. WHAT?! It was nuts.

Signed the Class of 2014 picnic table

Signed the Class of 2014 picnic table

MAGIC!!

MAGIC!!

Only a handful of miles later, we came across “The Pop-Up Trail Angels” – Uncle Jerry, the same guy we hitched with) and The Chef. They called us over to their psychedelic trailer (painted with galaxies and planets), offered cold water and beer, and begun cooking us tacos. The food was delicious! Such a treat.

image

Emu tacos...delish

Emu tacos…delish

Uncle Jerry and The Chef

Uncle Jerry and The Chef

Ripping our spoiled butts away, we finally pressed on. We ended the pathetically short day with a delightful dip in the coolest swimming hole. Steve was lured in as well, but he decided to push for another 10 miles afterwards (40 mile day for him!), while we just crashed nearby.

image

On the morning of July 9th, it was apparent that I was sick. It’s common for hikers to talk about bowel movements out here on the trail, so excuse me if this is too much, but basically my bowel movements were not normal. As hard as I try to stay hydrated, hiking this much and this hard puts a serious toll on one’s body – my digestive tract was not impressed. Giardiasis? Random hiker sickness? Extreme dehydration? Not sure…but not fun.

So we hiked. What else could we do three days from town? We also couldn’t afford another crap mileage day considering we sucked the day before. Lorax encouraged me saying, “we’ll just take it easy…just go for a walk.” All I wanted to do was crawl into a bed – if I were “home” I would be watching t.v. with my dog curled up beside me…but instead I hike…for 25 stinking miles.

It was a lethargic morning, with plenty of breaks and tears. STUPID TEARS! They just make me more tired and dehydrated…but then why do I keep crying?! Ugh.

Lorax tried to cheer me up (and did so quite successfully I must add), by serenading me with some stellar singing. “In the Big Rock-Candy Mountains, the jails are made of tin. T-Fox can walk right out again, as soon as she is in. In the Big Rock-Candy Mountains, Lorax is in the lead. He’s charging up the steep incline, at 3 miles-per-hour speed.” Hours of fun here folks!

By mid-day, I felt like I was going to pass out. We took a five minute break off the trail…more like on the trail as my legs were sprawled directly on the foot path. Flying, cruising Tarzan comes whipping by, and upon seeing my sad and sorry condition, he exclaims, “Hang in there baby,” and continues on his way. Did he just call me baby? I love that guy.

Evidence that The Lorax was here...

Evidence that The Lorax was here…

image

image

image

July 10th – I don’t even know! I was slow, and sick, and we hiked 28 miles. All I remember was running out of toilet paper (makes sense, considering my state of constant usage), and I was scrambling to grab some leaves because I had to go NOW, when Lorax exclaimed, “there’s an outhouse down here.” You’ve got to be kidding me!! What a stinky, yet welcoming outhouse! It was heaven.

Mt. Shasta!

Mt. Shasta!

 

image

July 11th was poison oak central. That crap was everywhere. The day went really fast though, with Lorax being his usual amusing self. I can always tell when I’m hiking too slow – Lorax starts adding jumps and twists and pole tosses into his hiking…just to keep it fresh. We only had 24 miles to Castella, where we picked up our resupply box filled with more boring hiker food. The plan was to hitch to Mt. Shasta and get a well needed and well deserved hotel room.

Poison Oak

Poison Oak

image

image

image

We stood at the on-ramp of the highway for a good hour and a half! No luck. There were barely any cars, and it was getting later and even less busy, so we decided to just camp at Castella. We grabbed a two-litre of Rocky Road ice cream and two beers for dinner, gobbled it up (mostly…I may be a hiker, but a litre of ice cream is insane), and went for the 50-cent coin shower at the campground. We pitched our tent in the woods by the store, and were OUT. Didn’t wake up till seven.

A discouraging and unsuccessful hitch

A discouraging and unsuccessful hitch

Come Jult 12th, we still wanted that zero day in Shasta. So we tore down camp, trudged back over to the highway, and prepared to hitch for as long as it took. We needed town – wifi, food, rest, and a room. We got picked up by the first car! The driver was Rob, and he was awesome. He’s a fellow BC’er who is moving to California to devote his time and energy to surfing. He even lived in Whistler for a bit! He drove us to town, and we continued chatting while he got some breakfast and a coffee. A lady sitting nearby was inspired by our journey, and offered us the rest of her breakfast burrito. She embarrassingly apologized for her dirty napkins, to which I replied, “oh honey, you don’t need to apologize for anything!” Free food. It’s a wonderful thing.

Walk on,

T-Fox

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

The PCT Will Break Your Heart…

“The PCT will break your heart.”

image
Those are some final thoughts I read on Carrot Quinn’s blog, a thru-hiker from 2013. I read her entire blog around the time Dan and I decided we were going to do this hike, and that phrase stuck with me.

I guess I always perceived that statement to mean the following: The PCT is like a “summer fling” – she’ll show you places you’ve never dreamed of before, give you butterflies in your stomach, and whisper “sweet nothings” in your ear…and then…she’ll leave you cold and dry. Lonely and without meaning. Wandering and without adventure.

But the more I get to know the PCT, the more I understand that statement, or at least what that statement means in my case. The PCT will break your heart, that I understand completely, but not in a “this will never last” sort of fairy tale way, but in a good way.

The PCT is breaking my heart with the things that break her heart. And by “The PCT,” I mean those who hike her (past present, and future), the creatures who live all along her, and the God who formed her mountains, streams, and all that’s in between. The wild, ancient, and ever living PCT is inspiring a break in my heart that is meant to trickle into my life. As I walk along the trail, I wonder PCT-inspired thoughts such as, why is there not MORE wilderness? Why is this area not protected from logging? How many more times can the soil take another clear-cut? Why are there no fish in this lake? How could we have shot the last Grizzly bear in California in the 1920’s?

The trail inspires, but in order to do that, hearts must be broken. How can we truly change if we don’t see the problems with ourselves and the wrong-doings that have come from our past? What’s the point of hiking for five months if I just go back to wishing there was more being done for the “endangered” environment, yet doing nothing about it within my own life?

I’m not saying that I have all the answers or that I’m going to single handedly end global warming. I just wanted to get these thoughts down, so that one day if I forget, (God forbid!) then this will serve as a reminder of my calling to care.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Halfway to the True North Strong and Free!

Halfway to Canada!!

Halfway to Canada!!

June 29 – 1197 to 1220 + 1 mile side trail from Sierra City (24 miles)
June 30 – 1220 to 1250 (30 miles)
July 1 – 1250 to 1272 (22 miles)
July 2 – 1272 to 1292 (20 miles)
July 3 – 1292 to 1315 (23 miles)
July 4 – 1315 to 1344 (29 miles)
July 5 – 1344 to 1366 (22 miles)
July 6 – 1366 to 1388 (22 miles)

Lorax:

We started June 29th in Sierra City, the unofficial northern end of the Sierra mountains. The Red Moose cafe opened at 7am. We’re so used to getting up early now that we were waiting outside before the doors were unlocked. Breakfast was eggs and sausage (Lorax) and pancakes (T-Fox) accompanied by bottomless coffee. It was great. Not great in the sense of high quality food, but great in that a non-oatmeal breakfast with semi-decent coffee feels rarer than an ivory billed woodpecker in Appalachia, and thus always sets the day off to a great start. T-Fox was also told that she needs to eat way more by the innkeeper Margaret, which she took to heart and downed some candy right away.

Torn between the bottomless coffee and the rising temperature, we finally slipped out of Sierra City and the Red Moose Cafe at 8:30am and road walked 1.5 miles before beginning the 3000′ ascent back into the high country. It was here on the climb that we encountered our second rattlesnake of the trip. This one was a eager juvenile that was located well off the trail, yet felt the need to rattle vigorously anyways. It was neat hearing a rattle for the first time, as our first snake at mile 650 was too mature to bother. The ensuing buzz was quite a bit higher frequency than I had imagined – more akin to a motor with a loose nut than a pair of handheld morocca’s.

image

image

The hat is looking pretty rough these days...

The hat is looking pretty rough these days…

We topped out on the climb around noon and had lunch next to a dusty jeep road where off-road enthusiasts took the faster, albeit more expensive, route to the high country. The extent to which seemingly remote areas in Northern California are accessed by motor vehicles is similar to SoCal: absurdly high. How did all these roads to nowhere get paid for? It’s a contrast to the high Sierra and hopefully a contrast to the upcoming wilds of Northern Oregon and Washington.

The next day we continued to traverse the Sierra Butte’s in Tahoe National Forest. The weather has been particularly hot lately so we got started early and planned a mid day swim at a small lake. We arrived at the water at 11am but the brown water left our team split on the appeal of a dip. We decided to march on, since covering miles is always a good idea. Despite the heat, the walking was fairly good and we covered 15 miles by noon. Some trail magic in the form of two Oreo cookies lured us into the shade for an hour with Steve, Tarzan and a section hiker who showed us the most soft, clean and yet blister ravaged feet we’d seen in months.

Disappointed by our earlier failed attempt at a swim, I proposed a 30 mile day to T-Fox that would reward our endurance with a swim in the Feather River. She vacillated and the decision was deferred, but in the end the lure of a dip was too strong so we hiked until 7:30pm to complete our first 30 mile day of the trip. Late in the walk I encouraged T-Fox by exclaiming “only 30 more minutes” to which she replied “that’s what most people consider a full workout at the gym”. The water ended up being completely glorious as we sat on the cobblestone creek bottom, neck deep in pleasantly cool water with an amphibian newt (?) standing guard over the pool.

T-Fox's feet after a 30 miler. Her feet look so pretty with that polish from Mikki...

T-Fox’s feet after a 30 miler. Her feet look so pretty with that polish from Mikki…

image

T-Fox:

We started July 1 – Canada day! – a little late at 7am. Our 30 mile day previous had us heading to bed a little later than we’d like, so with some begging and pleading, I was able to convince Lorax to allow an extra hour of sleep. It was a scorcher.

Happy Canada Day!! We even found a maple leaf, which we haven't seen a lot of.

Happy Canada Day!! We even found a maple leaf, which we haven’t seen a lot of.

SWELTERING hot. Literally dripping sweat. If you have never experienced full on sweating before – the kind where you can’t feel a dry spot on your entire body – than I guess you haven’t hiked the PCT. It’s not like this was the first time it was this hot…just the first time I may have sort of…well…partially enjoyed it. Sweating like that makes one feel alive – like you are truly embracing Mother Nature and your current circumstances. No air conditioned car to drive to your air conditioned office, then on to your air conditioned dinner spot and so on. Just full on heat for the entire day, and well into the evening.

As gross (and incredibly smelly) as I was, there was something wholesome about it. It was hot…and that was ok. There was absolutely no escaping the fact that I was disgusting…and that was ok. Had I showed up in Starbucks that afternoon with sweat stains and horrendous body odour…that would not have been ok. Sort of odd really, that we place so much emphasis on appearance and such in “the real world,” yet out here in the TRUE real world, nobody minds, and everyone is happier for it. I do have to admit that some days I miss makeup and jewelry, but it’s freeing to be without.

image

image

We had a two and a half hour nap in the heat of the day, which was glorious. Later on, we came across some Trail Magic – beer!! Being as it was ridiculously hot, we took our two beers and chilled them in a stream later and had them ice cold with our pasta. It turned out to be a fairly festive Canada Day dinner considering!

July 2nd we woke with town on the mind. We were hauling! Unfortunately I slowed down a lot after that (which can happen when I push too hard), but we still did the 17 miles to Belden by noon. There was a 5000 foot descent to the valley…my knees were knackered.

image

image

image

We had a refreshing swim in Feather River, just outside of town. I felt at least partially more presentable for town. Belden was a weird town, but we hung out there for the afternoon, mostly trying to stay still due to the heat. At 7pm we decided to get 2.5 more miles that evening, since the trail ascended 5000 feet.

July 3rd we got on trail at the usual time of 6am. Soon we were entering Lassen National Forest. The climb was MAD. Truly horrific.

Whoever was in charge of developing that trail was either on crack or a saddist. There were parts that shot straight up the valley, with no switch backs. Needless to say, it took us a lot longer to hike. Fox was panting…again…but we managed a 23 miler.

Lunch at the top of the 5000 foot ascent

Lunch at the top of the 5000 foot ascent

image

image

Mt. Lassen in the distance.

Mt. Lassen in the distance.

Lorax:

The next day, July 4, we achieved a monumental goal. Shortly before noon we arrived at the PCT midpoint marker post that lies 1325 miles from both Mexico and Canada. It’s pretty nuts. We’re now closer to Canada than Mexico! Actually getting to Canada feels slightly tangible now, and I think it’ll quickly draw close as the miles are passing pretty quick these days. It took us 78.5 days to get from Mexico to here. We’ve only got about 60 days to complete the second half, but thats 3 days ahead of schedule. The second half should be much easier since we’re now in extremely good shape plus we won’t have to cross the Mojave or the tough high Sierra.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

At the midpoint monument...

At the midpoint monument…

The paramount event of July 5 was the $13.50 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Yeah Lassen Volcanic National Park has some pretty neat wonders like Terminal Geyser and Boiling Springs Lake, but those geological abnormalities didn’t capture our attention like endless trays of hot bruschetta-pizza. Actually the trays of bruschetta-pizza weren’t endless. The last tray was emptied a full 20 minutes before the buffet closed, thanks mostly to the hard work of myself, Lucky Strike and T-Fox. I downed 7 of these culinary wonders, doubling the combined efforts of Lucky Strike and T-Fox. I also had a turkey breast sandwich so big I felt compelled to try to squish it thinner because it was awkward carrying around a sandwich with 50% of the toppings formerly at the buffet. Add to that 3 coffees, 3 orange juices, 3 brownies and a creme brûlée. T-Fox and Lucky Strike focused more on emptying out the salad bar and draining both large jugs of fresh orange juice. We joked that we should take the jugs back to our table and if the wait staff inquired, we’d just say “oh these aren’t single serving?”. We crawled out of Drakesbad at 2:30 with another 15 miles in mind. We ended up only covering 12, but we had a great swim in Upper Twin Lake. It’s 9pm as I write this and I’m still so full my appetite hasn’t returned. T-Fox is making me have some cheese and crackers but I’d be just as happy going to bed without.

Terminal Geyser, Lassen National Park

Terminal Geyser, Lassen National Park

Boiling Springs Lake, Lassen National Park

Boiling Springs Lake, Lassen National Park

 

2 of the 7 bruschetta pizza's Lorax consumed

2 of the 7 bruschetta pizza’s Lorax consumed

Hiker trash shenanigans at the buffet

Hiker trash shenanigans at the buffet

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments