The miles started getting really enjoyable. Mileage went way back up, and it was easy to hit 25 miles every day. Even with stops! A comfortable hiking routine kicked in, and I really enjoyed the fun and games that ensued. At one point, we found a machete on trail and Spoc and Dutch learned how to throw it rather efficiently, after a close call with Dutch's shin, and it has been in Spoc's pack for the last 600 miles or so. Twiggy and I enjoyed the company of having another gal around and chit chatted away for miles and miles while the boy just threw crap, and all were happy!
The terrain of No. Cal. was decent, and most importantly, very snow-free!!! We barely needed the GPS, and the trail was beautiful, clear, and smooth. I have never appreciated a trail as much as in Northern California. We also found lots of fun things to do, such as playing in a lava tunnel, whacking miles of brush along the trail, splashing around in creeks, shooting a potato gun, and drinking lots of energy drinks. These guys retrained me into a expert at packing-out awesome snacks, taking long-ass breaks, and being a jolly, long-distance hiker.
Unfortunately I had to leave the group upon entering Oregon to make a dash for the northern border with Washington, but not before crossing the CA/OR border, hanging out in Ashland OR, and eating a box of 12 tacos from Taco Bell in 36 minutes. The rather large gentlemen working the counter was duly impressed.
(last photo in cali!!)
Oregon had a completely different vibe to it for me, as I had all my food shipped ahead, and a very tight schedule to make it to Cascade Locks in time to meet my pops. I had to average over 30 miles a day to make it, and needed to do even longer days to compensate for picking up packages and grabbing food in towns. I left Spoc, Twiggy and Dutch just before Crater Lake, and then proceeded for the next 10 days mostly solo. The trail walks right along the rim of Crater Lake, and dang, is it awesome!
Unfortunately, right after Crater Lake, the mosquitoes attack in full force. They inspired me to hike some big days, from 33-36 miles to avoid stopping, but they were so frustrating. I wore my bug net alot, and tried to keep my skin covered, but it was enough to make a person go crazy. Since the only long layers I had were rain gear, I had to alternate between sweating to death, or soaking my body with a rapidly depleting supply of 100% DEET. It eventually ran out right before Sisters, OR, but thankfully the bugs had retreated and I was able to restock before I donated too much blood. My food package wasn't in Sisters when I arrived, so I ended up having to do a rapid resupply with what I could find and pushed on to Cascade Locks.
As everyone probably knows, there have been super intense fires in the West and the winds from the hurricanes has stirred up more flames. Lightning strikes over Oregon have created two fires that have created closures on trail, and one of which started the afternoon I was hiking out of Sisters. It was located right next to the trail, and since I was alone, I freaked out and genuinely considered what it would be like to die in a forest fire. I pushed super hard to hike away as fast as I could, and considered hitching into Sisters to get out and find more information about it, but other hikers convinced me we were fine. We ended up being safe, but I felt pretty ridiculous about how I acted until I heard that the fire had grown into a really big area, and they evac'd the trail and the surrounding areas.
The next few days of the trail I hiked with Topsy Turvy and Data Muffin and really enjoyed their company. We made it to Timberline Lodge on the side of Mt. Hood ready for the most amazing breakfast buffet I've had all trail. Belgian waffles with fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, eggs, pastries, yogurt, awesomeness. It was incredible. And to top it all off, a ton of other hikers had pushed super hard behind us and were able to make it and there was a really large crowd of hikers that took over the place. I was able to catch up with familiar faces and lounge around for the better part of the day before I realized that I needed to haul tushy in order to make it to Cascade Locks in time to meet my pops. I ended up being a little late meeting him, but ran into him right near the super cool tunnel waterfall on the Eagle Creek Trail.
Since then, I have had a great chunk of days off trail. I have hung out with my pops for the last 5 days, and we have done a few short hikes to the local sights, hung out at the PCT Days event in Cascade Locks, checked out Portland, and eaten tons of food! Its great having him out here so he can see this crazy lifestyle I love, and meet some of the amazing people that I share it with. Tons of hikers were in town this weekend, and he was able to help some of them get to and fro with the rental car, and heard some of the stories from the trail. After so many days pushing hard to get to Cascade Locks, it was super wonderful to take a break, and relax and rejuvenate for the next 500 miles. Having only seen him a few times in the last two years, it was nice to have him out here and catch up on all the latest news back home, and give him an idea of how my last 4 months have been.
Tomorrow morning I will have to hug my pops goodbye, then cross the Columbia River on the Bridge of the Gods, then keep pushing North. I'm setting a conservatively aggressive pace for myself, and will push to do 25 miles a day until the border and don't expect any extended breaks along the way. So three weeks to the Canadian Border. I have my passport, entry papers, and a well rested body to make it there. It's crazy to think this whole time will be done in less than a month. Whoa.