mile 1670 – about 1699.2
When I awoke, I looked out on a completely new landscape- one that looked more like the sea than the sky! White clouds hung below the tops of the mountains, making them appear to be floating. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!
After I ate my breakfast and shifted around, I noticed a huge squished bug that looked like a giant tick on my groundcloth that I had apparently rolled over on during the night. Sometimes, it’s best not to wonder about what is crawling around your head while you try to sleep…
I headed out, continually looking at the horizon and the unbelievable views that the low clouds were creating. It was stunning!
After a mile or so, I came upon Rabbit Stix staring at his map at an intersection. The trail was actually marked here, but I waited for him to confirm our direction and then headed on. As I climbed, I looked back to see another hiker approaching. I couldn’t tell who it was. I began to heat up in my layers and decided it was time to strip. While I was doing so, the other hiker caught up. It was Band Leader, who I hadn’t seen since Echo Lake! He said that I had caught him going to the bathroom, but I didn’t know what he was talking about. Apparently, he was up on the ridge and saw me coming. He said that I was keeping my eyes on the trail and he thought he was going to go unseen, but at the last second, my eyes turned up to where he was! I told him that I didn’t see him at all! I was just looking at the amazing views!
The next water source was a questionable one in a marshy area. Rabbit Stix decided to check it out and I turned off the trail to follow. I wished I hadn’t because only a pump would work with the small puddle that existed. Another hiker left the area shouting. Something had clearly gotten him worked up!
I headed back to the trail and ended up stopping to take a pack break right before the next potential water source. The frustrated hiker came along and asked if there was any water here. I had no idea! It turned out to be only a faint dribble. We headed on through the woods and then coming back out to a ridge. The air was extremely smoky and all of the views had now disappeared. I wondered how close we were to a fire and if we were safe.
As we descended to a dirt road that lead to a spring, I saw a large tent set up, along with a grill and some gallons of water. I wondered if someone was offering trail magic. A woman with a stern face then emerged from the tent and glared at me. I guess not… I asked her if the spring was that way and she answered in an unfriendly manner. I started down the path and then decided to wait instead and hope for water at the next spring that was closer to the trail.
No officials were waiting at this road to tell us to get off the trail, so I assumed it was safe to keep walking. I passed by Band Leader taking a break. He wanted to know where his friend Sky Eyes was. I told him that he needed to stop to get water at the last spring and would be along shortly.
I ended up taking a break further ahead and Band Leader said he wished he had waited to take his break there when he passed by.
Several miles later, when I reached Bear Dog spring, I found Band Leader and a hiker I did not know, named Wight sitting on a log, eating their lunch. Runs with Elk was sitting above them in a grove of trees. The guys told me the spring was dried up and then, when they admitted they were kidding, said it was a quarter mile downhill. “No, it’s not!”. Unfortunately, it was only a puddle, so they said I needed to scoop out the water with. I told them that, luckily, I had a wide-mouthed smart water bottle for that purpose. Wight said that wouldn’t be good enough and lent me his mug.
I joined them to eat my own lunch and filter my water. Wight had only eaten a Cliff bar and was ready to head out again. Band Leader complained about having too much food on him and asked me if I wanted anything. I also had too much! Runs With Elk was interested, however, and came down to look through the offerings. The only thing that had looked good to me was some pastel colored eggs. Finally, Band Leader asked if I wanted any. “Yes, please!” I felt so happy just staring at them in my hand!
Runs with Elk asked me if I had ever made a nest on a hike to leave some chocolate eggs in. She said she had done that a couple of times. Band Leader thought that sounded like a fun idea and asked if they could build a nest now! He went off and started gathering pretty leaves and flowers and quickly turned them into a beautiful nest and placed it on a log with some of the candies in the center.
Sky Eyes came along and when the nest was pointed out to him, first thought it was real, and then that it had taken someone a long time to make!
I headed out into the hot afternoon and after about twenty minutes, decided that an ice coffee sounded good. I figured I had better make it now before my water got too hot. The boys passed by and made fun of me for stopping so soon after my last break. We were all excited about reaching the Oregon border, which we were shooting for tonight “Remember when it used to take us all day to hike 20 miles?” I asked Band Leader. “Yeah. And now we can easily hike 30. I think we’re getting the hang of this thing, Wendy!”.
I was excited to have people in my vicinity and hoped I could keep up so that someone could take my picture at this monumental point!
I hiked at a strong pace by myself for the next several miles and was glad to come across Band Leader and Sky Eyes sitting down taking a break. “We only have ten miles until the border!”. We talked about the wedding I was trying to make it to and Band Leader joked that I should wear my current outfit to it. He said I should arrive late, apologizing profusely, and then ask, “Is there any food around here?”. In a normal thru-hiker state, that would make sense, but I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to eat at the wedding!
I continued on, watching hawks fly overhead, and then had to sit down to take my break as the boys pressed on. I soon caught up to Band Leader and Wight and hiked with them to the last water source of the day.
Our guidebook made it seem like it would be difficult to find and easy to miss, but that was actually far from the case! We found Cookie leaving the source and could hear it from a distance! The water was so cold that my hands hurt trying to filter it. Wight spread out his groundcloth and decided to make some hot chocolate and perhaps stay there for the night. I headed on. I soon caught up to Cookie, who said she didn’t know if she was going to try for the border tonight. (How could you not know that?). I hiked as hard as I could, wanting to stay ahead of everyone to make sure there was someone to take my picture. Still, I had to take my little pack breaks.
My energy remained fairly strong until I hit the last mile. Cookie had caught back up to me and was obviously going to reach the border, as well. I struggled to keep my pace and kept looking at my GPS as I walked. Where was this thing? As I got closer and closer, I wanted to stay in the lead, even though I knew it didn’t matter who got there first. I felt like I had worked really hard and wanted to see the sign appear in front of me, rather than another person reaching the sign.
At last, there it was. Cookie let out a yelp behind me and I let out nothing. No emotions arose within me. I was just there.
As we read through the register, the boys came along with much more excitement. Sky Eyes fell to the ground, so happy to be in his home state of Oregon, and Band Leader tumbled on top of him. Sky Eyes said that he had been waiting for this moment for an entire week- and that his reason had to do with Band Leader. Cookie and I looked at each other. Then, Sky Eyes pulled out a joint. Band Leader promised he would smoke with him when they arrived at the border and now it was time to make due on his promise. I was offered some but said no. Sky Eyes understood. He said that for people who naturally laugh a lot, marijuana just makes them very sleepy. It was now very cold out and the haze from the smoke of the forest fires caused our surroundings to look a lot like one would expect Oregon to look like.
I thought the boys were planning to sleep at the border, but we all ended up putting our packs on and heading out. Cookie lead and pulled over when she saw a spot without saying anything. I continued walking and once I crossed a dirt road, noticed a patch of dirt beside a tree. I decided I would stop right there. There were a couple of beer cans around, and sleeping by a road is never the most comfortable thing, but I was dead tired and this place offered me my own little space. I set up my cowboy camp, cooked dinner, washed up, layered up, and went to sleep.