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Archive for August, 2007

2007-08-21 I can see clearly now

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

The rain has gone, for the moment anyway. Under cold blue skies I took down my soaking wet tent and filled my bottles from the freezing spring nearby. I set off quite late from camp to give my stuff a chance to dry. While pacing around I discovered we’d camped right beneath one of the Three Sisters. This section is one of the highlights of Oregon so I’m glad I got to see a bit rather than pass it all in clouds.

I wore only shorts today, with gaiters, because I was fairly confident that with all the volcanic rock we’d be going over I wouldn’t be pushing through damp plants.

The trail was good and mostly down hill until the last mile to Highway 242 where it suddenly crossed a lot of scoria and became an awkward balancing act. It continued on the other side of the road too until a few miles and 1,000ft later at the Belknap saddle where I met the Noodleheads.

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A burned forest recovers

On the slopes of Mount Jefferson we went through yet another burned section. This area seemed fresh, the trees still really black and many of them still standing. I wonder if this is the area that Rolling Thunder had to miss because of fires. That would mean this is where he came back to redo this year and saw all the snow. Nothing here now except way up the mountain.
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Lunch break under Mt Jefferson I think

They went off to Big Lake Youth Camp to get their resupply box and I just trundled on. Until I met Nafta, TeaTree and A Train who reported not one but two chilly bins (“coolers” in american) of trail magic at the road, then I picked up the pace. Home made cookies and a Sierra Mist, mmmm. Then, reunited with the Noodleheads, I crossed the road and found the other magic was staffed by Andrew and Ian. They had all sorts of stuff and as it was quickly getting cold we decided to just stay the night at the trail head. The latest weather report says 20% chance of rain tonight and sunny tomorrow so I’m cowboy camping again.

Two major measurements today. I completed 3/4 before lunch and passed the 2000 mile point after lunch. 2000 miles and I still have 25% to go!

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Deal of the day: Angelhair wanted to save some weight so she gave me a king sized Snickers bar in return for a regular one. mmmm free calories

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Bend to Little Crater Lake

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2007-08-20 Cloudy times

Monday, August 20th, 2007

At 5:30 this morning it was still pitch black. Autumn is well underway and it makes me want to get north as soon as possible. Tradja drove us to the Elk Lake trail head and we began ascending into the clouds. The ground was damp which made for good walking but soon it began to drizzle and it hasn’t let up all day. When I stopped to put on my borrowed jacket Lucky Joe, Samurai Joe and Two Dogs caught up and for a while there we were in a convoy of seven hikers. After a little while those three, who have been on trail in the rain for the last few days, went on ahead. Moving fast to keep warm.

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Rumble, Tradja, Rigatoni, Angelhair and Heaps

At Rigatoni’s request I came up with a suitable word to convert WIRD to Weather Induced Extra Rest Day. A WIERD. I also came up with a team name. Heaps of Rumbling Noodles a.k.a. Team Horn.

The rain wasn’t as cold as it could have been. We passed some small snow patches but I didn’t put on my gloves until the afternoon.


We started crossing lava fields and with the constant grey mist, basalt rubble and green lichen it felt very much like the Tongariro Crossing. We spent a while debating one un-signed junction, even to the point of going the right way, going back and trying the wrong way, then setting off on the right way again. Not a great thing to do when poor Angelhair was getting dangerously cold. She only said it once but I could see her shivering and it getting worse. I admire her for not losing it and giving up. Anyone who has come this far has to be a pretty determined sort of person so I wasn’t surprised really.
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Great weather for ducks

Now I’m in my tent again. I haven’t put up the inside this time. Using the cord I prepared back home I set up the poles and dropped the outer cover over the top. It gives me more room to maneuver inside, though still not much and there is no proper floor. It’s a bit colder than the full set up, but I trust my sleeping bag.

We’ve all got our fingers crossed for sun tomorrow.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Bend to Little Crater Lake

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2007-08-19 WIRD

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Today was my first WIRD (Weather Induced Rest Day). That name was cooked up by the Noodleheads, another reason they’re cool to hike with.

More general eating and lazing was the order of the day. Everyone else, that being Tradja, Jess, Angelhair, Rigatoni and Rumble, went out for a bit more shopping during the day while I sat on the couch and watched movies. I suppose I thought about the rest of the trail too. Though there are 700 more miles to see I feel very close to the end. I’m 30 miles from the 3/4 mark so it’s not like stopping here is enough to be considered complete. I am not even considering stopping here, not now, not when it’s getting down to just a mental thing. I’ve sent all my food on. I just need to turn up and walk. That’s easy.

When the shoppers returned we fell into a gear weighing contest. We’ve all made some changes to our gear here, mine being in the rain protection area. I’m sending my Macpac rain jacket and Dry-Ducks jacket on and borrowing Tradja’s Marmot Precip. If it works out then I’ll probably buy one soon. Only $100USD and very light.

I’m accustomed to my stuff weighing more than everyone else’s but my hat was the lightest. IceBreaker saves the day :-)

I fulfilled my chocolate and bananas food fantasy, then my ice-cream and chocolate fantasy, then pizza, and more ice-cream. Calorie wise I’m pretty well taken care of.

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Calorie loading

The sun did shine on Bend today but not up there in Three Sisters Wilderness. From Tradja and Jess’ back deck we can see where the mountains should be but instead we’re faced with a foreboding wall of cloud, from which an alien space ship (a la Independence Day) could emerge. It’s just hanging there covering the hills. It may even be snowing up there and the forecast for tomorrow doesn’t sound great either. It’s 42 miles to Big Lake Youth Camp. Too far for one day so I expect I’m back in my little nylon box tomorrow.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Mt Thielsen to Bend

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2007-08-18 Yet more postal stuff

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

What an easy day. When the Noodleheads had sorted their Washington mail-drops we all went to the post office and sent our packages. I sent just one, to a place just 34 miles north of Cascade Locks. Yeah it cost me $9, but there’s 11lbs of food that I don’t have to carry up 4,000ft so I think it’s worth it. We also went to a gear store and happened upon Troll and Anchor (his wife). He’s a couple of days up ahead but I could make that time up before the end. I’m not sure who I’ll get to finish with. There are so many people I’d like to see at the monument, camping there is really appealing to me.

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Tonight we’ve watched movies and I’ve spent lots of time online emailing home photos and videos. I keep thinking I’ll not see another computer before the end and they keep popping up. Very handy.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Mt Thielsen to Bend

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2007-08-17 Booking it to Bend

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Fall is well under way in Oregon. Thankfully rain hasn’t arrived yet but it was a surprise to be so cold this morning. Rumble, Angelhair and Rigatoni all left camp before I did but the thought of a town day got me moving fast and I passed them all within a few hours.

The trail tread here is great. The path is about two feet wide and soft to walk on. There are patches of almost sand-like material but mostly it’s just dirt with ground-in leaves, needles and general duff. Not as hard on the body as granite and more traction than sand.

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meadow in the woods

It wasn’t until after 10am that I had control over my fingers. They’d been in that semi-frozen state of still moving but not fully responsive. The sun had been up but the dense forest kept me in shadow all morning. The lakes and ponds were beautifully still and reflective. A small mist drifted across the larger ones and I stood on the shore for a while trying to see it forming. It definitely came from one side and flowed to the other but was only visible over the water and not in the trees.

I churned out the miles and soon found myself at the first junction to Elk Lake Resort. Four hours into my day and I’d done a half marathon. That’s what a town day will motivate you to.

I continued to the second trail and on the way down I found Arnold, a fast looking Korean guy, talking to Tony, who has an impressive long red beard for someone in their late 20s. I got Arnold to teach me “thank you” in Korean, always a good word to know, then he went north and Tony and I went to the resort where he had already sorted out a ride to town.

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Bend is by far the biggest town I’ve been in for a while, and so much of it is new. We’re way out of town with friends of the Noodleheads that stayed with them while doing the CDT. The strangest thing is Rumble already knew the guy here, Tradja, after walking with him 10 years ago. Small world.

So we’ve eaten, shopped, talked and eaten. World Market is a fun store. Besides interesting housewares they have foreign chocolates and pasta and such. I bought some Lion bars, Double Deckers and McVites Chocolate Digestives but resisted the urge to buy the super exotic Heinz Baked Beans.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Mt Thielsen to Bend

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2007-08-16 …and a ladder

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

We found the Maiden Peak hut about a mile from where we camped. It was basic but would have been nice enough for the four of us. Instead we had woken to a mist. I probably noticed it first being the only one not in a tent. It was 4:30am and I figured it wasn’t wet enough to be worth getting up yet.

We walked in various groupings throughout the morning. It was reasonably easy going and though we were mostly in dense forest there were occasional breaks at lakes. Just before lunch we passed through a big section of a forest fire from 1998. It was really erie to walk amongst the still standing dead trees. Blue sky above, small patches of green below and a wall of grey needles all around. I imagine this is what it feels like to be a nit walking on a buzz-cut head.

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We met a party of assorted adults and children who cheerily informed us they’d been playing a game with the kids setting up little obstacles on the trail. We found them pretty soon. Chest high branches, a big log, a few sticks on the ground. We removed every one. As fun as that must be for the children, this is a hiking path and that sort of stuff is not helping at all. Then we came to an unmarked intersection. As is PCT style one path had a bunch of sticks across it, or was that just the kids playing?

The afternoon saw us return to the woods and pass many more lakes. Some are sizeable and clear, good enough to swim in on a warm day, but most are stagnant little things and the mosquitos don’t let you slow down to look.

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At dinner I counted my wrappers for the day. With two bagels (290 each), six bars, a fair chunk of cheese, two tortillias, a pile of chocolate raisins and peanuts, Lipton Pasta and a packet of instant noodles I think I cleared 3,300 calories for the day. And I’m still hungry.

Today’s food fantasy: Cold bananas dipped in warm chocolate

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Mt Thielsen to Bend

Google Maps

2007-08-15 Heaps?

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

The wind shifted in the night but any wind on an exposed ridge like that is enough to keep the mosquitos and dew at bay.

I trundled off down the hill by myself as usual, expecting it to stay that way all day since most of the PCTers take the easier more scenic route. Over the undulating path I met nine southbounders some more talkative than others. I found a nice cold creek for lunch, even took the time to read my book, then ambled on and on through the woods until reaching Willamette Pass. I tried going up to the ski area there to use the payphone but the place was closed. A guy came out to meet me and offered fresh water. The lakes seem clean enough but I still prefer running water.

I set up camp next to the very lovely Lower Rosary Lake. I’d eaten dinner and was doing my dishes when the Noodleheads and Rumble came along and convinced me to go just “1.4 miles” to a hut. Normally I’d hate to repack and move on but I like these two and the hut sounded nice so I got moving, and moving, and still moving. It was well over two miles later that I found them without the hut. Rigatoni had run on ahead and came back soon, also without a hut.

So we set up here by the trail and by my estimate this is my longest day yet. 32.5 miles!

It’s been a little while since I camped with people. We’ve been talking for a while and Rigatoni said if he found a kiwi on the trail without a trailname he’d name them “Heaps” because kiwis say that a lot. It works pretty well for me because of my superlarge pack so I’m thinking of adopting that one. SunWalker has always sounded a bit too new-age for me, and I expect people to give me the peace sign and say “right on” to me.

Today’s food fantasy: Roasted vegetables. Kumara (a New Zealand sweet potato), garlic, parsnip, carrots. Slightly marinated in ruby wine, Worchestershire Sauce and a bit of malt vinegar, then slathered in olive oil.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Mt Thielsen to Bend

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2007-08-14 Great Scott!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Just before hitting the PCT’s highest point in Oregon and Washington I saw a guy walking towards me. In short shorts, a casual t-shirt and with a pack so small I couldn’t see it behind him I assumed he was a day hiker. As he got closer I recognised the tall lanky fellow as none other than Scott Williamson, the only guy ever to yo-yo the PCT (Mexico-Canada-Mexico in one year). He stopped and talked for a little while and I took a photo so I can document someone crazier than me :-)

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Scott Williamson

See Hiker Completes First Round-Trip of Pacific Crest Trail

The high point was an easy stroll compared to California’s 13,500ft Forester Pass but at 7,500ft there is still plenty of room for undulation between here and the border. Not much later I finally caught Angelhair and Rigatoni, last seen in South Lake Tahoe some 700+ miles ago. I was glad for the company and walked and talked with them for most of the day. I really wish I’d done the same with BlueSky, maybe she’d have stayed longer. They were both sporting the super-light hiking poles from Gossamer Gear. I had a go for a while and it felt like I was just swinging my arms, switching back to mine and I was lifting weights! It’s too late in the game to be worth $110 though.

At lunch I took another stab at making instant pudding, this time with fresh spring water and more milk powder. It worked wonderfully and I ate the lot.

Scott, Angelhair and Rigatoni do not treat or filter their water. I’d like to be that carefree and save the weight of the equipment, but two of those three have gotten sick and I don’t want a week off puking my guts out.

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Noodleheads, Rigatoni and Angelhair

We parted ways at Windigo Pass. The Noodleheads taking the alternate route that is 7 miles shorter, flatter and passes more lakes. I’d like to have done so too but since I’m logging the trail I feel I need to be on the official path as much as I can.

Quotes of the day:
“You know you’re a thru-hiker when someone writes “wash me” in the dirt on your legs” ~Angelhair
“I’ve got a king-sized Snickers in the queue” ~Rigatoni (actually talking about snacks, I thought he was meaning something else)

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Mt Thielsen to Bend

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2007-08-13 The challenge I couldn’t meet

Monday, August 13th, 2007

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Dawn over Crater Lake

Today I nearly climbed Mt. Thielsen. I say nearly because the last 40ft or so was simply too scary for me. It had been a CARS (crazy arse rock scramble), steeply up for more than an hour and following the recommended route I veered right at the top until going forward would mean crossing a vertical drop of hundreds of feet before bouncing the next few thousand. Mucho kudos to Rolling Thunder and his buddies that reached the summit last year. I have no idea what route they took but if it was the one I was looking at they are insanely brave. I’d have done it over deep water but not at the top of a 9,000+ft mountain. Anyway I turned back feeling ok about it, preferring to walk rather than slide down. The view was fantastic, I could even see the surface of Crater Lake. If I’ve given the impression that Oregon is all flat and boring then I have misled you. It sure does have some spectacular parts.

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Q: Mt. Thielsen? A: Insane!

With that diversion I decided not to reach the next water source and camp here on the ridge instead. As I was tidying away dinner (Claudia, I used your dried tomatoes to liven up my couscous, thank you) a chilling breeze came through and I was glad for it. Next to me was my sleeping bag and I love being cozy and warm inside it as the evening settles in.
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When I was at the cabin I caught a news report about the death of a bird in Oregon from West Nile Virus. They were telling people to avoid being outside at dusk/dawn and stay away from stagnant water where mosquitos hangout. Hmmmm, I’ve looked ahead for water sources and most of then end with ‘lake’ or ‘pond’ :-/
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One more thing. While rounding the Crater Lake Rim this morning I came across five bikers doing a big tour around the country. One lady asked me two questions I haven’t been asked before. Was someone doing a write up on me back in NZ? Do I feel blue sometimes? I started to tell them about feeling bad on the way into Castella but the feelings came right back so I changed course and talked about the memory card with all the videos on.
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Friendly bikers

They were incredibly enthusastic about my trip even to the point that one of the ladies gave me a hug goodbye. It sure gave me a boost and for a while my enourmous pack didn’t weigh so much. They called this couragous, but really it’s just a bunch of consecutive camping trips.
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Mt Thielsen

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Crater Lake to Mt Thielsen

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2007-08-12 Craters and Meteors

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Today was mostly about departures. Levi and Sarah flying home to Boulder. Claudia and Vic heading north to a big RV gathering and my return to the trail.

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I gots my slushie!

At the ranch I repacked everything. Claudia gave me bags and bags of dried fruit from their trees and I ziplocked up a selection to take now and mail ahead. From Crater Lake I’m taking six days of food and five liters of water. I’m back up to 143lbs (still down seven from the start) and my pack is back up to 56lbs. The good news is it’ll never be this heavy again. Water shortages will never reach 25 miles again and I’ll only do one more six day stretch.

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The Lively’s backpack

The Lively RV is quite a thing to behold. A wonderful home on wheels and I was treated to a couple of hours in it today. It’s the other end of the scale for taking your life with you compared to my backpack, and I could easily be tempted to do it their way next time. First we dropped Levi and Sarah at the airport then headed east-ish to get me back to Crater Lake Rim Village. It was good to be back on my feet. I’ve had a great break and a lot of fun, really been made part of their family but the trail goes on and so must I. With pizza and blueberries stuffed into my pockets I waved a final goodbye and walked north. I did less than two miles and found a great spot from which to watch tonight’s show. It’s cold now so I’m hiding in my sleeping bag but in a few hours I’ll wake to see the Perseids lighting up the night sky.

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Crater Lake

*early the next morning*

Well the shower wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped and I didn’t manage to get any of it on my camera but I did see quite a few shooting stars and one directly overhead left a smoke trail.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Crater Lake to Mt Thielsen

Google Maps