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Archive for August, 2007

2007-08-11 Drifting

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Today we swapped ranch for cabin and after settling in we took to the bikes. I was worried at being offered the “two wheeler”. I’ve not done much (any?) off road motor-biking and I’d be risking my whole trip not just my ankle. It turned out to be a two-wheel drive ATV (all terrain vehicle a.k.a quad-bike). I took a little while to adjust to driving again, especially with a clutch-less, thumb-driven handle bar but soon enough I was tearing up the dirt road and rolling to a stop at where it crossed the trail I had walked a week ago.



Kicking dust

We had lunch there and I’d really hoped to see a hiker or two. Alas no-one came but I got the chance to be on the trail with friends from the outside which was pretty cool.
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On the way back we took a gravel road and I was really able to pick up some speed. I even started drifting around the corners.


Drifting

Memories of walking the woods alone are beginning to fade. I don’t think it will take long to adjust after I get home. I’ll certainly miss the trail but I’m easily distracted.

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Levi, Sarah and SunWalker

Hyatt Lake Resort does indeed serve great pizza, but the real winner is the sundae as prepared by the cheerful waitress. Strawberry and chocolate sauces oozed down the glass. Huckleberry ice-cream was burried under mounds of whipped cream and glacé cerries. This is the sort of thing thru-hikers dream about.

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Quite a sundae

Again I was looking around for dirty hikers. I know Rocket-Cop came in when he passed and I’d hoped to see some others. People further back on the trail are seeing much larger groups and having a much more social hike. I’m glad I’ve gotten to know those I have and being a small troupe like this has been nice. But I’m interested to re-connect with some of those I saw early on and to find out who else is out here.

Quote of the day:
Claudia: What are ya doing hun?
Vic: Just making sure the door closes

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

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2007-08-10 Meanwhile back at the ranch

Friday, August 10th, 2007

A soft bed is never a bad place to wake up, even if it is not yet 6am. Despite not have any distance to go or much to do I got up and began pottering around. The view from the deck is certainly impressive. The manicured green grass lies thick around the the house. English and Black Walnut trees dot the lawn and beyond them are fruit trees laden with apples, pears, plums and peaches. Over the white fence a high power sprinkler is ticking away in the horse pasture.

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The household, consisting of Claudia, Vic, Levi, Sarah and the miniature dog Tory, slowly came to life around me and after all the morning stuff was done Claudia drove Sarah and I to Ashland so I could do the rest of my Washington food drops. With that done I’ve only got two points at which I’ll have to buy food. Everywhere else should have something waiting for me.

Lucky Joe, Samurai Joe and Two Dogs were in town too. I briefly met Samurai Joe and his fiance at Evolution Creek in the sierras. Since then she has fallen and broken her foot and returned home to New York. That group is hitting the trail tonight and they shouldn’t be too far behind when I get back on.

I spent a fair bit of the rest of the day online and catching up with Levi while he was working from home. After a great dinner and dessert of homemade peach ice-cream I found Dad online and video-chatted with the family. As I expected things are just the same as they were before.

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Mmmm. home made peach ice-cream

Right now it’s hard to remember how I got here, Have I really walked this far? Have I really been out here this long? I feel like it’s always been this way. Working and walking are a distant memory. Soon I’ll be back on the trail and I feel like I’m starting again. I’ve only 830 miles to go and this time I’ve been training very hard for 6 months.

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

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2007-08-09 Turning up roses

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

It’s amazing how quickly I can be removed from the wilderness. Just this morning I was fighting off the mosquitoes alone in the woods trying to convince myself to get out of my sleeping bag. Now I’m at Claudia and Vic’s ranch looking down on the town of Talent. There’s manicured grass, fruit trees and WiFi! So how did this happen?

Tiki came by as I was packing up. We walked down to Crater Lake campground, just a couple of miles, and found Troll, Oblivious and Anchor (the wife and mum of those two) already in residence and sharing out BBQ spare-ribs and chicken. Quite a breakfast. I basically spent most of the morning eating, using the phone, picking up and sending on mail. I’ve forwarded on my next pair of shoes to Cascade Locks so hopefully the ones I have on now will get me there. An impressive 1000 miles since I put them on in Truckee.

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lolly scramble! (for hiker foods donated by Gary)

Eventually I got things sorted and made a dash up the hill to the crater rim. I’d left my bag with Troll so I climbed the hill pretty fast but wow did the view ever take my breath away. The lake that has formed in the shell of Mount Mazama, that erupted and collapsed in 5700 BCE, is the most beautiful shade of blue imaginable. I’d seen photos of this before but they can be tinted. I was awestruck and just sat there staring at it until Troll drove up to get me.

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Crater lake

He and his wife then kindly drove me all the way across to Medford where Claudia, Levi’s mum, picked me up and took me back to her ranch.

Levi and Sarah are here now too. I haven’t seen them since I stayed at their place in Boulder a few years ago. If you’ve heard the story about the couple that abseiled into their wedding, this is them. We’re going to go ATVing, eating, general time-off stuff and when I get back on the trail in a few days I swear I’ll be a new man. And this time I’ll only have 830 miles to go. It’s hard not be super confident at this point.

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

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2007-08-08 Oregon “desert”

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

The scenery sure changed for the better today. Within the first few miles I was seeing far distant horizons, lakes down in the forest and modest but jagged peaks. In the afternoon I saw two more southbounders that briefly had me wondering about yo-yo-ing the southern two thirds of the trail ;-) Would that qualify me as a thru-hiker?


Oregon hills

Those two girls, and four horse riders are the only people I’ve seen all day. The trail register at the Pumice Flat trail junction showed a bunch of PCTers that I know are only a day or so ahead. Speed Stick, last seen at Agua Dulce, and Jacob, last seen at Rodreguez Spur (day 4!) are among them. I’ve stopped a couple of miles short of Highway 62 near Mazama Village because I don’t want to do 30 miles today, no matter how easy it would be with this flat terrain. I’ll roll in tomorrow, reach Crater Lake rim with a nearly empty pack and start finding a way back to Ashland.
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Oh, the “Oregon desert” is just an area where pumice and ash from the Mazama volcanic eruption in 5700 BCE covered all the streams in a big-ish area and now there is no surface water. Plenty of trees though so I hardly noticed the change.
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In Oregon even the desert is green

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

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2007-08-07 Still in the woods

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

The red scoria path continued for most of the first hour this morning. It was cold again but the sun was doing its job by the time I crossed highway 140. Like yesterday I spent most of my day trotting along with no views to speak of and no-one to speak with about the lack of views. At lunch time I was passed by a group consisting of father, son and three twenty-something guys who may have been friends or brothers I couldn’t tell. I saw them again at Christi’s spring and heard one complaining, quite rightly, that the guide book spends more time on the alternate routes than it does on the genuine PCT. I’ve noticed it too and I’ve hardly read section C of Oregon because of it. The trail is marked well enough and I use the data book to know about water sources.

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I saw my first southbound thru-hikers today. They say the snow won’t be an issue by the time I get there and the mosquitos are dying rapidly. This is good because they were biting today, even getting me while I walked, which is unusual.

I pulled off the trail to a viewfull overlook at 5pm and I’ll sleep here. The trail continues to be easy so I’m racking up miles with time to spare. There’s enough light to walk until well after 8, but I’m enjoying having lazy evenings. Reading Shogun, cooking dinner and ruining my instant pudding. It turns out that I didn’t have nearly enough milk powder so it hasn’t set. Maybe it will overnight.

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

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2007-08-06 Two thirds done!

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Oregon has wasted no time in living up to its reputation. The walking is easy, the weather is cooler and the sights aren’t there.

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Little Hyatt Reservoir in the morning

I woke to see the early morning mist wafting across the reservoir. There was a definite chill in the air and I walked quite a way still wearing my thermal top (mmmmm, merino wool). I stopped for a little while to send messages via the telephone at Hyatt Lake, where I’ll return to this weekend to visit Levi and his family.

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strange pyramidical plant

It did warm up eventually and with the trail being so flat I found it pretty easy to get where I wanted to be. Unfortunately flat amongst trees means no views and the walk became tedious after a while. I really wish I had someone to talk to or something to occupy my mind. Songs are an ok distraction but I’d rather have an audio book or two.

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Unfakeable proof of 2/3s

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Not much further

Things picked up in the late afternoon. I passed mile 1770, the 2/3 mark! Then ran into Gary who gave me some useful pointers on edible plants. We were near some thimble berries which I tried. They’re like bland raspberries but will do in a pinch. He also confirmed the ones I’d seen earlier were huckleberries and a little while after leaving him I found some more. Those things are delici-most! Tomorrow night I’m making up some instant pudding (assuming I camp with enough water) and a handful of huckleberries will go down nicely.

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a thimble berry

I started looking for a camp just as the trail hit the slopes of Brown Mountain. Great boulders cover the ground here as if the whole mountain was flowing down through the trees. Across these solid rivers the trail has been beaten flat and then topped with red scoria making it look like a fancy driveway. If the whole trail was marked like this the guidebooks would go out of print.

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follow the red scoria road

I eventually found a flat spot that some previous hiker has cleared and as I settled into my bag Troll and Oblivious came by. I told them about Caitlin going home and they presented me with my lost ground-sheet.

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

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2007-08-05 The breaking of the fellowship

Sunday, August 5th, 2007
PCT The bed was so comfortable, the duvet so thick and soft. I can’t remember the last time I slept on something like that. I miss my bed. But as I wrote at the CA/OR border, the trail goes on and so must I.

Laura had prepared a hearty oatmeal breakfast with fresh apple and strawberries. I finished my bowl, then the pan and she drove me to the trail. I said goodbye to Blue Sky, now back in the real world as Caitlin. Hopefully not for the last time. Both she and George have said they’d come visit me on the trail though you can never hold someone to that. People get jobs and commitments and the hike they did over summer becomes less important. I’ll do my best to visit them on the way out which I guesstimate to be the last week of September.

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I walked alone up the road from where we were picked up yesterday. Caitlin and I didn’t walk side by side but it still felt odd to be without anyone at this point. At the sign I stepped back into the forest and more pressing things came to mind. Avoiding poison oak, where the next reliable water was, when I could stop for a snack. The walking was incredibly easy. If the rest of Oregon is like this I’m not surprised that people say it can be done in 3 weeks. I could have done a lot more today but there’s no point. I only need to do 20s until Thursday so by 5:30 I had settled next to Little Hyatt Reservoir to cook dinner and sleep. Then I discovered I have lost my ground sheet. That was really useful, and worth the few ounces on my back. Maybe someone will overtake me with it tomorrow. A few cars, a truck (that almost got stuck in the mud) a quad and a motorbike have driven past while I’ve been here. Though the setting is nice I regret being off the trail and near ‘civilisation’.
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Apart from Gary, the only other hikers I saw today were from a near-by church camp. A very cheerful bunch they immediately offered to take my photo, then got one for themselves with the strange explorer guy they’d found in the woods. A nice bunch of people, very interested in the trail and gave me some fresh water which was very welcome as the next source had lumpy bits.
PCT

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

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2007-08-04 Ashland

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Tonight Blue Sky and I are at my friend’s friend’s sister’s house. As tenuous as that link may sound Laura, Russell and 1 year old Lily have been very welcoming and we’re clean, well fed and I am packed up for the next section.

Blue Sky unfortunately is not. She is going home. The last week on the trail has not felt right for her and if you’re not enjoying something why continue with it?

I sensed something was wrong yesterday when we passed two old ladies and she didn’t sound confident when answering the usual ‘and where are you going to?’ question. This morning when we left our trail-side camp I let her lead. Partly in an effort to stop me from racing on ahead to the road and straining my shins as I do on town days, but also so we’d be within talking distance. I had vaguely hoped that a cheerful conversation for the few hours into town might be enough to show that she won’t always be alone on the trail like the last few days where I have been pushing on ahead and only seeing her at brief breaks.

But in the end she has decided her PCT is over and I’m not going to try to convince her to continue. You have to want this or the heat, the dirt and the endless effort will make you miserable.

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In town we found the main post office, though officially closed, was very happy to help hikers get their mail. I have been reunited with my pack in all its padded glory. I got an unexpected bonus of king size snickers and fruit pies from Truckee, fresh memory cards from home and a birthday card and chocolate from England. Town days :-)

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Blue Sky

The gear store was nearby so I’ve bought a warm hat. I even found an Ice-Breaker one so I’m representing New Zealand brands as best I can.

Troll got a room at Super-8 which I used as a base to organise my food drops. I spent close to $200USD on supplies for 19 days in four sections. The postal substation nearby was closed but UPS now has two food drops for me, another will stay here until I return after Crater Lake and the fourth is in my bag. I’ve also done as much as I can to stop carrying so much. My bounce box is almost bursting open with stuff I have carried this far but just don’t use.

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Oblivious and Rest Stop

Tomorrow I set out alone again. That part of it doesn’t bother me much. I’m happy walking and camping in solitude but there are hikers I’d like to hang out with more. Especially in the last few weeks as we close in on the border.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Etna to Ashland

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2007-08-03 Oregon, Oh!

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

I’m glad to be in Oregon that’s for sure. It’s not that the landscape changes right on the border but I’m happy to know that I’m in a new place.

We took a while at the border, writing in the register, taking photos and leaving a note to the effect of ‘Oregon is closed for the season, please return to Campo and try again’.

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PCT

There were two serious climbs today but with my food supply almost gone they weren’t much of a problem. Unfortunately we managed to miss the recommended spring and had to back track most of a mile. The water was worth it though, so cold and fresh, ahh the source of life.

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A little later I met a weekend hiker from Ashland who proudly told me that they are the largest town in America without a McDonald’s. Thankfully they still have Burger King and I can see a Whopper in my future :-)

Strangely they also have no library. All the ones in Jackson county closed due to lack of funds. That’s pretty terrible really.

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Mt Shasta

On a saddle above Grouse Gap (where a shelter with an incredible view has been built) I found a cache of beer and soda apparently set up by Tadpole, Milkman, Scout and Sandy. The latter two being the trail angels that hosted me in San Diego. I had hoped to see them on the trail, but I’m too far ahead now I think.

Well inside Oregon we’re preparing for a town day tomorrow. I have a lot of food to organise, packs to swap and gear to do away with. I hope I have time for the burger and slushie I have been dreaming about.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Etna to Ashland

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2007-08-02 Goodbye California

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Blue Sky and I are now camped about 4 miles from the Oregon border. It has taken nearly 1,700 miles and over 15 weeks to get here though I’m not feeling much worse than I did in the first week. I’ve learned to feel the onset of shin-splints, which I can do right now, and to slow down when I get that familiar pain. Today we pushed to 27.5 miles and it was plenty.

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From my sleeping bag I could smell the forest fires were still burning. It didn’t seem very thick but as we climbed past the Devil’s Peaks and looked back we could see it was getting pretty bad for those in Seiad Valley today. It was near white-out conditions to the south and east and a good northerly wind kept it all back there and off the ridges we were on.

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Finding water is getting to be a problem again. There are sources up here but no-one wants to carry more than they have to so we need to guess whether the next spring is still running. South bound hikers are good for that.

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After crossing Cook and Green Pass we climbed up towards the day’s high point and had lunch. I mostly ate food other hikers had offered because they bought too much. Freeze-dried fruit from Troll, tortillas from Dr. Bug and apple sauce from Blue Sky.

I noticed with a smile that Riddle has passed through here recently. The trail-side art of a sunrise made from the brilliant white rock chips (quartz?) could only be her.

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The afternoon walk was along the crest and it literally sparkled. Like heavy sand sprayed silver, the mica dust looked solid but gently padded the trail. It turned my shoes back to their normal grey from the red they had become after crossing Copper Butte. When the slabs of it by the side of the trail caught the sun they really shone. It probably won’t come out on camera but I tried.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Etna to Ashland


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