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Archive for the 'Oregon' Category

Cruise control

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

I’m becoming more and more removed from the hiking world of the last five months. From Seattle I drove to Ashland. Almost eight hours on one road gave me time to think about things but I didn’t really use it. I was busy surfing the airwaves trying to find a station that actually played music. One end of the dial is all religion all the time, and the other end is dominated by country & western. When I did find something I could put up with I couldn’t help but find some way in which the songs were picked out right for me. “Move Along”, “We are the Champions” and “Highway to Hell” are the ones that stuck in m mind. I found it a lot easier to sing along while driving than while walking uphill so I took the oppourtunity and ignored all the strange looks from passing cars. After an overnight stop in Ashland to visit Claudia and Vic I continued down to Redding to my great Aunt Agnes’ place. The PCT crosses I5 twice and I took a break at Castella to check on the PCT register and try to place myself back in the mood I was in when I reached there on foot two months ago. That was the worst part of the trail for me. The days before were hot, stuffy and exhausting. At that point I was closer to quitting than any other time, and it was there I received the memory card with videos from home and knowing everyone was willing me on gave me the kick in the junk that I needed. So thank you to all that contributed to that, and to all those that are congratulating me. I feel it’s possibly more real to you lot at the moment. I see my time in Southern California as a whole different trip and can only think about the last week in Washington as recent. When I’ve put some time between me and the hike I’ll probably merge it all into one event

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A truck on a truck on a truck on a truck

I met up with Blue Sky, now known by her civilian name of Caitlin, in Davis where she is waiting for college to start. I tagged along to a college party where the plan was, after multiple rounds of Beer Pong, get to the doughnut shop when it opened at 5:30am. None of our little troupe made it but a good time was had by all and I saw a very different side of American culture. We even took a drive by of “Frat Row” and saw all the houses with their greek letters on display. What a change in my life, last week shivering in my tent alone and tired. A week later Nicole is driving me, Caitlin, Kristen and Rebecca at about 85 mph down the highway.

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Ladder ball

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Drinking in Davis

Davis was a blast but I had to leave. I’ve driven in this area before but after following the crest for so long it’s quite a mental shift to be in a valley so wide you can’t see the edges. I spent the afternoon wandering the streets of downtown San Francisco and smiling to myself about the looks I was getting. After I’d returned my rental car I asked the guy (I’ll call him Juan for now) directions to the piers. He said which road to take and asked if I needed a ride organized.
“No, I’ll just walk”
“Really? It’s a long way”
“I can handle it”

As I walked away I heard him tell the next person in line “That guy’s going to walk all the way downtown!” haha.

I got a similar reaction in a book store. After giving me directions to another one he said, with a bit of a sarcastic attitude “enjoy your walk”.

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San Francisco from below

One minor disaster, I lost my PocketMail device. I left it in a phone booth near Pier 40.

I think this is enough for now. I have some socialising to do. My flights are booked, I’ll be back home on Oct 4th and I’m really looking forward to it.

2007-08-28 The Dalles

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

The Ballingers of Oregon, parents to Riddle and uncle/aunt to Stretch, have given me the run of their house today and I’ve used the rest day well I think. I posted off my tent after first checking I was indeed able to erect the one Blue Sky has lent me. Also gone is my bounce box and it’s probably a pound lighter than it was now that I am carrying my cold weather gear.

Along with a new tent I have new shoes and socks, even new (ish) trousers and shirts.

After sorting all that I took a leisurely stroll around town and came home via the historic district of Trevitt. Here I passed The Bennet House. An impressive building from a bygone era when turrets, wrought iron stuff and fish-scale pattern shingles were de regueur. I thought it was rather impressive and so does some US historic society.

I’m definitely ready to get back to what I am quickly considering to be the real world. On the trail I know what I’m doing. I’ve organised all my food, I have the maps and if there is any doubt I’ll just go further north. I have been counting the miles and hoping for the end, but right now I just want to disappear back into the woods for a while. This outside world is becoming more and more alien to me. It’s too much like my dream, I want to get back on the trail. I want to sleep on the ground under the stars. I want to get to Canada but I don’t want this to end.

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

Google Maps

2007-08-27 Ori-gone

Monday, August 27th, 2007

How quickly things can go wrong and ruin a day. One false move and it’s all shot. I made three bad moves this morning.

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The precarious trail down Eagle Creek

The Noodleheads and I walked most of the way down to Cascade Locks together. The Eagle Creek trail is through dense forest but has the interesting creek as scenery. The general setting reminded me of the Waitakere ranges west of Auckland, the creek bed especially. Casually flowing over mossy rocks and downed trees one moment, then plunging down deep chasms and waterfalls the next. At such times the trail was hewn straight into the cliff face. A metal rope was attached to the side for the agrophobic amongst us. The highlight of the this trail, and the reason I was prepared to divert form the official PCT was Tunnel Falls where the path goes into the cliff wall behind the waterfall. It was definitely worth the trip.
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Tunnel Falls

I went on ahead when the others needed a break and that’s when things went awry. I was supposed to find Gorge Trail 400 at the “far end of the parking lot”, but all I could see was a paved road going up hill (which was the right way apparently) so I carried on down towards the highway and found the start of the cycle path that intersects with GT400 later and went that way.

I rushed along there, still eager to reach town and get an ice-cream, until I saw the side trail to return to the PCT. Though Yogi’s book said the bike path was easier I thought I should approach town the official way so took the side trail. Mistake #2. It was up hill. A lot of it, and by the cobwebs I now know not many take this path. I raced along this stretch too, dreaming of milkshakes and cookies. A good 20 mins later I came to an intersection. Dirt road running perpendicular to the trail. On the opposite corner a sign pointed to the sky to “PCT South” and pointed left to “PCT North” From the angle of the sign I thought skyward meant up the dirt road so I took the path straight ahead of me. Mistake #3. I charged along it, now longing for just for a place to sit. I’m very glad I talked with the first day hikers I saw because they questioned my route and managed to convince me I was now south-bound. Grrrr. I ran back to the sign, nearly a mile I’d say, and stomped down the dirt road into Cascade Locks thus ending Oregon.

In town I picked up boxes and mail. One letter had been diverted from Echo Lake two months ago, so I can see what Bex was thinking waaaaay back then. The boxes brought me new shoes and socks. My current Montrail Continental Divides have done 1,000 miles. I’m quite impressed that they lasted so long and hope this new pair do too. I also got a new tent (and homemade chocolate brownies!) to borrow from Blue Sky. I got through Oregon only using mine once, but Washington is only going to be wetter.
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1000 miles of wear and tear

Now I’m at Riddle’s house though she isn’t. Stretch is her cousin and the Noodleheads passed on her phone number so I’m warm and comfortable and resting well for the final push. Just 500 miles and suddenly I’ll be going home for real. I dreamt of home last night. I was there and happy but then realised I hadn’t finished the trail. I panicked. How could I go home unfinished? I had to get back there, I needed to reach Canada. I do and I will. Just four weeks.

Quote of the day: “You look like you’ve been hiking for days” – a day hiker heading up to Tunnel Falls. If only she knew.

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

Google Maps

2007-08-26 Tourist or Purist?

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Ah yes, the Pacific Northwest. I’ve heard of thee and now we meet.

At some horrible hour of the morning, when the light drizzle began to get heavier Monty and I both moved into the hanta-virus shelter. Strangely this prompted Monty to make a cup of coffee. I however was quite prepared to go back to sleep for a few hours.

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Home of the viral mice

I was faced with a tough decision today. The trail seems to split in a number of places, the data book tracking one path and the guide book another. Since I’m logging the whole thing I should stick to the official route as much as I can, and I have, but this morning I took the scenic detour to Ramona Falls and right now I am a little way down the Eagle Creek Trail. In both cases the alternate routes are more popular with PCT hikers so hopefully my data will be relevant to others.

Shortly after I’d crossed the ‘hiker bridge’ at the end of the Ramona detour I came face to face with A Train and Monty. Somehow they’d forded the river, rejoined the PCT and headed south on it. For a guy who has done this a few times before Monty makes some dumb mistakes.

I met a scout leader with an interesting pack this afternoon. It looked almost exactly like Dad’s one except all the zips were intact and some stitching was in a slightly different place. Clearly from the same manufacturer it was probably a year or two newer, though having “Peace” in big letters on the back means it must have been around in the 70s.

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A pack very much like Dad’s

Quote of the day: “I’ve had this bottle since the beginning, it’s great” – Rigatoni. About 3 minutes before he tipped fuel onto a still-lit stove, setting his beloved bottle alight and melting the cap beyond repair. D’oh!

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

Google Maps

2007-08-25 The Shining

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

At about 4:45am I woke to see two headlamps coming off the trail and searching for the spring I was camped near. If I had known who it was (and been dressed) I’d have snuck over in the darkness and surprised them. Probably just appearing on the log next to them when they sat down after filling their bottles. Instead I turned on my light and tried asking them if they needed help. I had to ask quietly so I wouldn’t wake Rumble and they couldn’t hear me so I just laid back and went to sleep.

When I woke again I was alone. Up over the ridge the world was very different. A thick fog was down in the valley so downhill to my left I couldn’t see anything and it seemed as if the PCT was the only thing left in this world. The trees in front of me were a damp green colour but as they rose to the canopy they just became grey on grey. Mushrooms continue to line the trail. They’re huge and wonderful in their oddness. Some the size of dinner plates they often have dirt on top and cracked ground around their stalks as if they burst through fully grown.

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Funky fungi
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I’m told this is edible, but has “side effects”

After Barlow Pass the trail went steeply up hill and emerged from the trees with a close-up view of Mt Hood. The soft sand and low shrubbery could have been from beach-front land, so strange to see it in the approach to a ski resort. That last push was made more pleasant by the lupins and other purple-tinted flowers. I’m always happy when something smells good and stronger than me.

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Mount Hood and the field of lupins

At the lodge I found loads of hikers. The Noodleheads had done 42 miles yesterday to make it here for breakfast and it was TeaTree and Nafta that woke me this morning.

I ate a lot of food discarded from people’s resupply boxes and I enjoyed the far reaching views back to Mt Jefferson and Sisters. The lodge was apparently used in The Shining, but I wouldn’t have recognised it.

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Team HORN leaving Mount Hood

Eventually we got going again. Undulating doesn’t begin to cover this afternoon’s hike. Up and down big ravines, even a considerable river to ford (though we found logs to balance across). Now I’m tired and ready to sleep. We came all this way this evening to reach a shelter and found a notice on the door about mice with hanta-virus, and it smells funny. So we’re all sleeping outside.
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Catching a tree with my foot

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

Google Maps

2007-08-24 Fast on the flats

Friday, August 24th, 2007

After yesterday’s stunning alpine-esque scenery today’s pancake walk was pretty dull. But I made good use of it and did my longest day yet at almost 34 miles. The Noodleheads did even more and people coming southbound reported they were last seen 4 miles north, I expect they did at least 40.

The trail was in good condition and very flat but even so I’ve pounded my feet too much and had I continued I’d be blistered into a rest day. There were no views to be had though a couple of nice sights to be seen. Clackamas Lake and Little Crater Lake are both spring fed from below and have that wonderful clear blue colour so you can see the dead trees sitting on the bottom. In Little Crater Lake’s case that’s 45ft down. I really wanted to swim there but a little family was nearby and I didn’t want a fuss.

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Little Crater Lake

Rumble is camped here with me. She did 2,300 miles of the trail in 2003 and started from the beginning this year. I don’t know if I’d have the patience to redo so much of it. A Train just left, putting in a couple more miles to counteract him sleeping later than us tomorrow. Everyone’s talking about the Timberline Lodge’s all-you-can-eat (AYCE) brunch. The lodge was used when filming The Shining, it’ll be cool to see that for real.

Quote of the day: “mmmm, these huckleberries go really well on the instant chocolate pudding” – Me. Just now,.

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

Google Maps

2007-08-23 I can see WA from here

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

From today’s high point, a tough 2,700ft above last night’s camp, I could see Mount St. Helens in Washington. Also in view were Mount Adams, Mount Hood and behind us was Mount Jefferson.

The first thing we had to do was cross Milk Creek. The water itself was easy to get across but after a major washout last year the tricky bit is getting down to the edge. The bank now consists of a 15ft slope of loose grit and rock but taken slowly it was passable.

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Milk Creek

Before the final push to that viewful crest the trail crossed a plateau that reminded me of the high sierras with the little tarns, paths worn down through soft soil and granite lumps protruding.

At the top I took the time to make a snow-cone. I used a cut-up Gatorade bottle as the scoop and Emergen-C as the flavouring and it was good. So good Rigatoni even made one too, which was fair since he gave me the idea way back at the 1/3 mark.

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The snow cone and friends

The descent to Olallie Lake went pretty quickly as I wondered hard about what was in the mystery resupply box, courtesy of BlueSky’s mum, that awaited me there. I was not disappointed. The big pasta meals, complete with oil in a sealed packet, the bars and dried fruit selections. I’m thinking I might even gain weight on this section :-)

Lucky Joe wasn’t so lucky this time. I asked at the store and his package hadn’t arrived so I’ve left him Blue Sky’s portion of the food and hope that will see him through.
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This used to say PCT but someone thought that was too useful

For the second night running Angelhair has said how much those two enjoy hiking with me, and tonight she said it would be nice to reach the end together. They’re a cool couple and I’d like that but it’s still 600 miles away and all sorts of stuff can change our plans in that time.

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

Google Maps

2007-08-22 Oregon is not flat

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

I continue to wake many times during the night, and last night each time brought a different sky. The stars would be there in all their dazzling brilliance on one turn and then next they’d be obscured by rolling fog.

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Into the clouds

I finally decided to get up and packing around 6am when a bunch of cars rolled up with climbers heading for Three Fingered Jack. Though it hadn’t rained my sleeping bag was soaked. I was toasty and dry inside but packing it away meant cold hands. I hate having cold hands.

I thanked Andrew and Ian for their angeling and just as the sun was about to reach our spot the fog came back in and we were enveloped in cold. It got me moving quickly, heading above the clouds, and I was rewarded with incredible views south to Mount Washington poking through towards the sun.

I caught the Noodleheads at the end of their morning break and hiked continuously with them all day. It certainly made the miles go by. We swapped adventures in Europe and I heard about their cycling tour of the US. They’ve effectively been retired since they were 34 and we talked about how that has given them the freedom to really do what fulfills them. Truly a remarkable couple and I hope to stick with them for a while.

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drying out at lunch time

The scenery today was amazing. With a few days rain the flowers seem brighter, the greens stronger and the huckleberries were numerous. Crossing over a saddle to see the north side of Three Fingered Jack was quite a climb but so worth it. The top few hundred feet consists of alternating red and black stripes of volcanic rock making quite a sight. Up there I got a strange feeling of winter. Though I was looking down on burned fir forest it reminded me of the woods from my childhood in Sussex. The grey trees, a cold nip in the air and pale blue skies. The ground would be crunchy underneath the mud frozen solid overnight.
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The Noodleheads on a quest for Mount Hood

After Shale Lake (now a small pool in a mud circle) we passed through a gulch of purple lupins and small fir trees. With Mount Jefferson shrouded in cloud as a back drop it was picture-perfect and should certainly be in the Oregon brochure.

Tonight I am camping below Mount Jefferson, which finally lost its clouds in time to turn pink at sunset. I’m not putting up my tent but I have all my clothes inside my sleeping bag where I hope they’ll be dry and warm in the morning.

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

Google Maps

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

Google Maps

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

Google Maps