Washington!!

I hiked into Cascade Locks and under the Bridge of Gods, which connects Oregon to Washington, last night and all I could do was cry. I am exhausted. I’ve hiked all of California and Oregon (mostly sick) and the toll is setting in. My body is hurting. I can barely walk without my pack. And my left leg bones are crunching together at my knee. And I haven’t had a day off from hiking since South Lake Tahoe (mile 1,094) on the 4th of July! (Part of the tears are about me being at this point on the trail- after all I have gone through! I almost can’t believe it…)
I was going to hike out this afternoon, but decided that I needed a break. It’s not possible to enjoy anything in an exhausted state. And I am so tired of having to hike over 25 miles every single day…

Lately, I have been thinking of a few things I am looking forward to when this hike is over:
-sleep!
-slowly repairing the damage I have done to my body
-taking a few yoga classes with some of my favorite yoga teachers
-having some time to write about and process this hike

-catching up on my friends’ PCT blogs and videos
– getting to listen to some new music (!)
– getting hugs from friends and sharing my photos and stories

I got ahold of some antibiotics for C. diff (the bacterial infection caused by the antibiotics for giardia that I have learned has been causing my intense stomach pain [especially after eating town food!!!] and diarrhea up to 5-6 times a day for the last 3+ months!!)
I am still not better, but at times, have some hope.
These medical issues have made this hike at least 10x harder than it already is… Hardly anyone out here can believe I am still going!
All I can say is that willpower is strong…
This is absolutely where I want to be.

I have made new friends out here, and interestingly, I have lost some good acquaintances from ‘home’ during this journey…
These experiences have made me even more sure and determined to teach the practice of yoga. Our world is clearly hurting. People are hurting.

Unlike the AT, I have yoga to help bring me peace and clarity of perspective whenever I need it. And I have something healing to return to (along with loving people who like to give hugs!).

520 more rugged miles to go! Hopefully the weather will hold out!

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Day 125: Ramona Falls

Day 125
August 21
mile 2107.1-approx. 2126.5
19.4 miles

I was one of the first in line for breakfast. Although there were several other thru-hikers around, I didn’t feel close to any of them and preferred to sit alone. My waitress was very nice and brought me a complimentary shot of apple shrub, along with my coffee. I was surprised at how good it tasted! I had tasted apple cider vinegar from the store before, but this tasted so much more delicious! She brought me over a second one. Miraculously, my stomach was not hurting for the first time! I attributed it to the apple shrub and told my waitress. It was made on the site and I asked her if it was available to buy. She went to check with the chef and told me it was, for $25 a bottle. I said I couldn’t buy it now, but thought it would be very helpful to me when I got home. She said I could always come back after the hike.
I was able to do a little correspondence as I ate. I couldn’t believe that my stomach wasn’t hurting and was able to get seconds, including a Belgian waffle. I really liked this place. It was nice to have a bit of luxury right on the trail!
I headed back to my room to take another shower and begin the packing process, which always takes a good amount of time. Then, I checked out and took some pictures around the lodge. I liked the patio outside, even though I never sat out there. It had a very European feel.
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By 11:00, I was finally able to head out again. Slowly, I climbed back up the paved road and turned onto the PCT.
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Lots of people were out for a walk in this section.
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The trail wrapped around Mt. Hood and then returned to the forest, which now had a much more lush feel to it. There were many cascades of water, moss, and ferns.
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There were also lots of huckleberries! I passed by a woman out on a section hiker who had a hard time drawing herself away from these bushes. She asked me my trail name and mentioned a few other thru-hikers who she had met. As I went on ahead, she said she was jealous of my “super-model legs”!
I found a nice creek to stop at and have my ice coffee and snacks. Very soon after, I reached another ford with milky white rushing water. I walked up the creek, searching for a good place to cross. I made it across one section, but still had several more to get across! My one pole kept collapsing, which made the crossing even more challenging! At last, I had made it to the other side and now had to re-find the trail. I wasn’t expecting to lose so much time at that creek and now felt under even more pressure to hike the remaining 44 miles to Cascade Locks by tomorrow!
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When I reached the trail to Ramona Falls, I branched off the PCT. I was a bit concerned about finding my way back, but didn’t think I could get too lost…
Once I arrived at the falls, I wasn’t blown away. It was nice, but nothing incredibly amazing.
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I followed my instincts as to which trail to take when the paths diverged and ended up meeting a southbounder. He wanted to know how the breakfast buffet at the lodge was and if it was easy to collect water from the falls. I told him there was a creek close by, so that wasn’t even an issue. As I continued to walk, I realized that he had been following the creek for awhile. He must have just wanted the more pure falling water!
I passed by another group of young people who were just out for the day and then re-connected with the PCT. A couple of people were set up to camp already. I then reached another creek crossing. The bridge had collapsed and a log had been placed over the rushing water.
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It looked quite scary…I stepped onto the narrow log with my one good pole and suddenly got scared and had to step off. My backpack always leans strongly to the left because of the curve in my spine and I did not feel stable enough. I thought about walking through the water, but decided to give the log one more try. I tensed my stomach muscles and told myself I was going to get across without falling. Somehow, I did!
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The trail climbed once again. Along the ridge, I was surprised to see someone in front of me. It was Story Time. I thought I was the only northbounder on this part of the trail. I passed by him and then headed down the other side of the mountain with him following fairly close behind. When I found a log to sit on, I stopped for a snack break. I was so tired and needed to boost my energy. I also wanted my own space. The mosquitoes immediately started attacking me. As StoryTime approached he said that he had heard that my stomach had been bothering me. I was extremely perplexed. He had heard? I had been telling him that since the day I met him in the Sierras! And just yesterday, I had mentioned it again to the group of people at the table he was sitting at in the lodge after my lunch. I just can’t understand some people… Once again, he thought that offering me some oreos or nutella might help. “No. No, thank you.”
I encountered several more campers right before the road at Lolo Pass.
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I started the climb up the other side, passing under the power lines, and stopped at the little stream to collect water. StoryTime had also stopped there… He had spread his things out across the trail and was cooking dinner. I patiently filtered my water, as he boasted about being able to keep up with the younger hikers and about his recent forty mile day. As I continued on, I noticed a camp site several feet beyond the water and wondered if he would spend the night there. It was already getting dark and I felt disappointed about the number of miles I had hiked today. I had wanted to get farther down the trail so the next day would not be as stressful. I was now in thick forest with heavy growth along the sides of the trail. Luckily, after a little while, I looked down to see a small clearing. I found my stopping spot! I bushwacked down the slope and began to set up my cowboy camp and cook my dinner. Then, I watched StoryTime pass by and head out into the darkness. He did not seem to see me.
During the night, another animal ran up to my head. “Animal!…”. Sometimes, it was hard to get any sleep!

Day 123: Little Crater Lake and some nice company

Day 123
August 19
mile 2074-2099.2
25.2 miles

The lady who was in her tent before I arrived last night was the first one up. I shifted around for several minutes, hearing her move in and out of her tent and then finally sat up. I still felt tired. As I ate my breakfast, the nice girl in the green tent came out and gathered her things for breakfast. She sat on a stump in front of a little table, near the head of my sleeping bag. The other woman joined her and asked about her hurt foot as they shared the hot water for their coffees. I listened for awhile and then eventually got included in their conversation. At some point, she started talking about how they had planned to have some of their resupply boxes brought out to them by their good friends in Portland. They quickly regretted this idea when they found that even after only a few days on the trail, they no longer had much in common to talk about. She said that next time they hike for several weeks, they will just mail themselves their resupplies and be more fully immersed in what the trail has to offer. I found her story to be very interesting, especially after my experience in Bend. I thought that the interactions with my friend from high school, who I have barely interacted with since, and who has a much different kind of energy than me, were difficult mostly due to personality differences, but listening to Ashley made me feel so much better about what I had been feeling. Ashley and Sean were very nice, relaxed, and cool people who, I would imagine, would get along with most people easily. She said that at home, they have lots of things to talk about with their friends and enjoy their company, but while in this experience, they were living in a very different world and found it difficult to connect with the kinds of things their friends were talking about.
I had been feeling quite exhausted the past few days and also felt under immense pressure to hike big miles every day. Another visit with this high school friend felt too taxing for me and not having the time to hike fewer miles would only result in an unpleasant couple of hiking days. Ashley’s stories made me feel better about limiting my outside interactions.
Puma walked through our site while I was still sitting in my sleeping bag for the second morning in a row. He gets up early! I called out his name and waved to him.
When I was ready to head out, the other woman named Peter Pan, was right behind me. She looked at her watch and exclaimed that she couldn’t believe it was already after 8. I looked at mine and said it was 7:53. She didn’t believe me. One of our watches was off…
I hiked up the hill and quickly found my own space. Each time that I took a break, Peter Pan caught up and continued on ahead. Then, I would pass her again.
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When I reached a little river, I decided to take an extended break to have my ice coffee and a snack. The sun was burning down strongly and I had to keep shifting to find a bit of shade under a tree. A family on horses, who I saw preparing on the road, trotted by me. Then, Tumbleweed came along and wanted to know if I had seen Puma. I hadn’t since he walked through my campsite but assumed he must be ready for a break anytime now! Peter Pan followed Tumbleweed as he continued on. He planned on eating lunch at Timothy Lake.
A little bit later, I found a nice bench along the trail and decided to take my pack off and rest for a second there.
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My intestines were still not doing well. I was at least glad to have found a bit of privacy in the woods behind my crowded campsite this morning, but the entire area was one big exposed bathroom with toilet paper everywhere!
From what my app was showing me, I wasn’t even sure if the PCT was going to go near the lake. I could see it down below and it looked to be turning away from it.
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However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did parallel it! I decided to take another break at the edge of the water. The temperature of both the air and the water was perfect for swimming, but again, I felt like I did not have time for that. Instead, I just put my feet in the water, keeping my shoes and socks on. I knew the sun would dry them out again soon enough. Some day, I hope to have time on a future hike to swim…
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I wondered where Tumbleweed and Puma were. I saw no trace of them!
I headed back into the woods and found a nice alcove to take a pack break. There, I found a text message from my high school friend asking when I would be arriving at Timberline. She was trying to make plans. My stomach twisted. I was going to have to tell her that I needed some space. I let her know that I was extremely exhausted, planned to eat, do my laundry, shower, sort through my resupply, and sleep, and journal a little if I had any extra time. I also told her that I needed to hike the 48 miles to Cascade Locks in 1 3/4 days. But I told her she was welcome to join me for dinner at the lodge if she really wanted to come out. As I was typing, I looked up to see a bicycle whiz down the trail. I felt bewildered and stared at it. Then, a second and third one went by.
I continued to walk and came to several signs telling bike riders that they had to dismount on this section and that bikes weren’t allowed on the PCT. These people obviously didn’t care.
Several miles later, I reached the side trail to Little Crater Lake and decided to take it. I walked along a nice boardwalk and came to a very small, very deep, brilliant blue lake.
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It was much, much smaller than I was expecting! Several people were there, reading the signs about it. I walked over to the grass, took off my pack, and took out my food bag. A little later, Tumbleweed and Puma came along! I was so excited and so happy to see my fellow thru-hikers and have some company that I probably waved to them about 5 times before they came over to sit near me. We all thought the fallen trees in the water made it seem creepy. Puma was the first to test the temperature of this ice cold water. As I collected some to filter, the boys talked about their next hike in which they would only hike 5-10 miles a day and have plenty of time to relax and enjoy themselves. I looked over and nodded, so happy to know that we all felt the same way. Thru-hikes are very stressful and exhausting!
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I gave Puma my tangerine. Then, an eclectic family came along. One girl really wanted to jump into the freezing water. She convinced her deaf relative to jump in with her. When she got out, she decided to do it again. It was quite the entertainment for us.
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The boys headed out a few minutes before I was ready.
A little while later, I came across an enormous spider web hanging across the middle of the trail! I had never seen anything like it. I carefully stepped around it and then took a couple of pictures, surprised that no one had knocked it down!
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About four miles later, I found them sitting along the trail, near a side path to a spring. They greeted me nicely and I went over to sit with them for a couple of minutes. The spring was only about 50 feet away, but I didn’t feel like checking it out. I had plenty of water on me. Tumbleweed was talking about how Peter Pan had assumed that he had lightened his pack over the course of his hike and how opposite that actually was. He had added more things as he went along. I knew exactly what he was talking about. That was what had happened to me on the AT! I felt like I kept my base weight fairly constant over the course of this hike and told them that I had never been a light-weight hiker. The boys looked at my pack and said it looked small to them! I am sure that was the first time anyone had said that about my pack! We all headed out together and continued the climb. At a small opening through the woods, we got our first glimpse of Mt. Hood.
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The boys wondered which part of the mountain we would ascend to get to Timberline lodge. As we hiked, I told them how I had been passing time by remembering what had happened at that mile into the hike, in relation to how many miles I had left. Pumas said he had been doing the same thing! “Really?”. I love how we all think and do similar things! They started telling stories about the beginning of the hike such as when they were trying to decide how many nights to spend at the Saufley’s and how many to spend at the Anderson’s, all based on wanting to stay ahead of the “herd”. I laughed, remembering how that was also a big concern for me! “The herd is coming! The herd is coming!”. They talked about hiking with Drama and how they were going to invent a chart app. We talked about why Drama left the trail and his interactions with SunDog and Giggles as he headed back to Tuolemne Meadows. “I’m done with this hiking thing! Possibly forever!”. It was so nice to have a little bit of company again and nice for my brain to get a rest from calculating how many miles I had left to hike over and over and over again!
They ended up calling it a night before I was ready to, when they spotted a flat area in the trees before the highway. They invited me to camp with them, but I told them I would rather hike a few more miles now instead of in the morning.
I headed down to the highway, got stalled when I found a register to read through, and then headed across the road, where I found a picnic table to take a quick snack break at. I ate a couple of snacks to get me through the last couple miles and discovered that Connie had sent me a text. She was now ahead of me at Timberline Lodge because she had gotten lost and scared while she was alone, but got rescued by a nice Indian family who was out picking huckleberries. She spent the night at a hotel in Government Camp and then restarted her hike from the point I was now at. I was happy that I was going to get to see her tomorrow when I arrived there!
I started the climb and reached a ridge as it began to get dark. Both sides of the trail were saturated with heavy growth. Things were not looking promising once again. I continued to walk until, suddenly, I saw a small patch of dirt to the left of the trail that looked big enough to cowboy camp. Still, I dropped my pack and walked on to see if anything looked better ahead. I found a fire ring, but no place to camp, so I returned to my spot and set up.
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As the sun went down, a male hiker approached and stopped very close to me, but said nothing. He was staring at his iphone, his face scrunched up. Is this really happening, I wondered? Finally, he acknowledged me. “Sorry. I’m just trying to see what mile I’m at. This is my first 40 mile day. Are you planning on getting to Timberline for breakfast? I can’t wait.” He headed on. I have no wish to ever do a 40 mile day and I knew I would not make it in time to arrive for the breakfast buffet tomorrow. Lunch would have to suffice for tomorrow.
I hunkered down and recharged my iphone. Around midnight, I discovered a text from someone who had not communicated with me for awhile. I wrote him back. I needed to pee and then realized this was the first and only night I had forgotten to take my headlamp out of my bag! I got up anyway.
Tomorrow, I had about 8 and a half miles, most of it uphill, to get to Timberline Lodge! All I hoped for was that I could eat without a lot of pain!

Day 124: Timberline Lodge!

Day 124
August 20
mile 2099.2-2107.1
7.9 miles

I had less than one mile to walk before I reached the 2,100 mile point! When I arrived, I found some disheveled sticks meant to spell out the number. I spent a couple of minutes fixing them, but they were so linear that the 2 ended up looking like a z! Oh, well… I continued walking along the foliage filled ridge and then made my way down to the highway, where I proceeded to get confused once again… I saw two men at their car preparing to start their hike and thought the trail must be close by. After several failed attempts and a lot of walking back and forth, I realized that I needed to follow the paved road for awhile. (If I ever hike this trail again, I feel that I will save SO much energy, knowing where it goes, for the most part, now).
Right before I arrived at the actual highway, I looked back to see two guys behind me. I thought it was the day hikers, but then realized it was Tumbleweed and Puma! Yay! Together, we found the trail and began the nearly 2,00 foot climb. Tumbleweed was on the lookout for a good place to stop for a snack break. I let them go on ahead, knowing the climb was long, and wanting to pace myself. I saw a small opening in the woods that gave a bit of a view and was surprised they didn’t stop there. A little later, I found them sitting on a fallen tree in the forest. “This is where you chose to stop?”. They said it was a nice log! I kept walking and said I would see them farther up the climb.
Before long, I got hungry and tired, myself. I found my own fallen tree to sit on and pulled out a Snickers and packet of almond butter. Then, I texted Connie. To my surprise, she said she was getting reading to head out! Nooo!! I was really looking forward to seeing her! She said she might still be there, but I had to hurry! I still had four miles to climb!
Along the way, I suddenly heard a loud voice singing and the strumming of a musical instrument. Two hikers appeared, headed southbound. I almost wanted to tell them that they were about to run into two other hikers with guitars. They could have a jamboree! But then, I decided to let the encounter be a surprise.
As the trail emerged from the woods out into the open, the walking got tougher. A gravelly sand replaced the compact soil beneath my feet and it was now pulling all of my energy downward. It took greater effort and more time to lift each foot with every step I took.
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I kept plodding forward, checking my watch, and hoping that Connie would still be there. Mt. Hood now loomed in front of me and I kept stopping to photograph it. Pretty flowers of different colors dotted the forefront.
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I was struck by the amazing red color of the berries on the bushes alongside of me.
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Slowly, I kept inching my way forward.
When I got my first glimpse of the lodge in the distance, I wanted to text Connie. “I can see it!”, but I decided not to waste any time stopping. I still had a mile to go.
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As I got closer, I met a woman on her way down the mountain. She asked if I was hiking the PCT and we chatted for a few minutes. She had stayed in the bunkroom with several other thruhikers the night before. She encouraged me to go to a clinic in Portland and told me that starting next January, everyone would be able to get free health care. Her son was now snowboarding on Mt. Hood and she had to hurry so she could get back in time to meet him.
I continued to climb. Soon after, I stepped to the side of the trail so four people could pass by, also on their way down. After they all passed, I looked back and saw the last person looking back at me. We both noticed each other’s packs! He asked if I was thru-hiking and told me that he had hiked the PCT 2 years ago. Then, he was the first person to congratulate me on almost making it to the state of Washington!
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I kept my eye on the roof of the lodge. Then, the trail turned away… It seemed to take forever to actually get down to it!
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When I did, I saw a backpacker outside. I thought it might be Connie and got excited. Then, I realized it was one of the “thru-hikers” that was hitchhiking around. My heart sank. I had trouble finding my way into the building, but finally made it to the main part. I looked around but saw no Connie. I texted her to tell her I was here and headed downstairs to check in. She said she was in the next building over, adding her extra food to the hiker box and would be over soon. My room was not yet ready, but they said they would give me a call when it was. I went to use the restroom and when I walked out, I finally saw Connie! I gave her a hug and we went back upstairs to find a place to sit. Puma and Tumbleweed arrived. We still had a half an hour before they started serving lunch. After only a few minutes together, Connie said she had to head back out. I was a bit sad about that.
I was able to get into my room and drop off my pack before lunch. It felt so wonderful to have some private space! Although the beds were twin ones, they were fluffy and high off the ground, and the bathroom was nice. I headed down to the lunch buffet and stood in line, waiting for the mozzarella salad, black bean orzo, pasta, ham, and an assortment of dessert pastries. Puma and Tumbleweed were sitting at a small table with StoryTime, who had also just arrived. There was no room there, so I just sat at my own table.
Drinks were not included in the price, but I decided to get a blueberry mint lemonade as a treat.
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It didn’t take long before the pain started up again in my belly. I felt awful.
On my way out, I said hi to Puma and he told me about the jam session they had had with the two other guys. Someone had already told them about Puma and Tumbleweed, so it did not turn out to be such a big surprise, which disappointed Tumbleweed. I told them it wasn’t me! Then, I mentioned how the word “jamboree” had popped into my head, which greatly amused me. I told them I needed to go lie down because I was in so much pain! But first, I needed to go pick up my resupply box at the store.
They charged me $5 to hold it. I saw a tiny roll of Tums in the glass counter and asked the cashier how much they were. She checked and said $2. Two dollars? For that little thing? I said I would think about it. I bought a few postcards and headed back to my room, where I lied down in one of the beds before even showering!
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I eventually got up, took a shower, then headed down the hall and downstairs to find the washer and dryer. After I put my clothes in, I headed out to the pool. Even after hiking all of these miles, I still felt self conscious about my body. The swimming pool was too cold for me to want to go in, so I headed over to the crowded hot tub instead. I was so tired that I couldn’t even keep my eyes open!
I made my way back to my room, stopping to put my clothes in the dryer, and then decided it was time for dinner. There was an expensive option and an extremely expensive option. I realized that they make all of their money on this meal! I sat at my own table and looked over the menu several times. Nothing seemed particularly appealing. After I ate, and while I waited for my piece of chocolate cake and coffee, which took forever, I could no longer keep my head up and had to rest it on the table! It reminded me of my days in high school, where I was always in an over-worked and exhausted state. When I had a “free” 45 minute class period, I would go down to a basement carrel in the library to do some homework, always ending up napping with my forehead down on the desk. Within a matter of minutes, I would start dreaming.
After dessert, I went back to the dryer to collect my clothes and then returned to my room to do an initial sort of my food. I discovered that one of my socks was missing! Someone had taken my clothes out of the dryer and now I didn’t know where my sock was! This was a big deal as now I only had two pairs! Finally, I climbed into bed. The room was not at all soundproof and I heard employees walking up and down the hallways and then people loudly arguing above me, which made my body tense. Although it was a generally nice place, all of the noise and commotion made me long to be back out in the woods, where everything was much more peaceful.

Day 122: So tired!

Day 122
August 18
2046.1-2074
27.9 miles

The air was still very cold in the morning, so when I sat up to eat breakfast, I put the hood of my down jacket over my hat. None of my layers, including my down jacket offered much in the way of warmth, which made me worried about how I would fare in Washington. But what additional layers could I add? Puma walked by while I was sitting there, happy as usual. I asked him if he had camped in that nice little spot in the trees and after pausing for a moment to think, he said he had. I knew it! Neither one of us had made our mileage goal yesterday. It was good to know I wasn’t the only one. He commented on my nice view and then disappeared down the trail.
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I took a look at the toe that had lost half of its nail. Half the nail? What was I supposed to do with that? It had started to lift off, so I cut part of it away when I was in Bend. I was going to be quite the sight at this wedding with my extreme tan line, missing toenails, and uncut hair!
I packed up and headed into the woods. Before long, I started seeing artistic signs on pieces of cardboard, announcing trail magic at Breitenbush Campground. They seemed to be offering non-breakfast food according to the signs- Cuban sandwiches and beer. I had also read that there were outhouses, which I was more interested in (unless the people at the campground were giving away toilet paper, too!). After I had declined the offer of more toilet paper from the nice men, I realized that had been a mistake, as I was running out! And I still had 60 miles to hike until I got to Timberline Lodge. I found the dirt road that lead away from the PCT and to the very smelly restrooms. Fortunately, there was a lot of toilet paper in there, so I rolled some up to take. Everything was okay once again.
I headed back down the road and saw another sign for the trail magic. I reached another road and looked around, but saw no one. I had no idea where it actually was. I decided I would head away from the PCT and walk up the gravel road for a few minutes to see if it was close by. I didn’t see anything or anyone, so I turned back. Ollalie Resort was coming up in a few miles, and I was looking forward to getting breakfast there and didn’t have time for this extra stop anyway.
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As I walked, I imagined sitting in a restaurant, drinking coffee and eating an omelet, or maybe some french toast as well. I tried to walk quickly in case they stopped serving breakfast on the early side, but didn’t arrive until a little after 11.
It took me some time to find my way to the store. When I walked in, I saw a very small selection of processed food, which made my stomach turn, and then found a little area in the back where PCT hikers could buy things such as a cup of coffee with powdered creamer. I asked one of the employees if there was a restaurant here and I was told there was not. I didn’t want to buy anything, so I went to the porch and decided to eat out of my food bag.
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I watched a couple taking romantic pictures in the water. I wanted to make an ice coffee, as it was very warm out, but the little water I had was too hot for that. I decided I would buy a cold bottle of water. Before I could, Sam, the girl who worked there, told me that if I hung around long enough, she had a little treat for me, which she had to sneak out of her car when her boss wasn’t around. I told her I was going to buy some water, but she told me not to. She would get me one! I didn’t want to spend much time here, as I had a high mileage day planned. Luckily, she was able to get to her car before too long and bring me three pieces of fruit! A banana, apple, and tangerine! I told her I would be happy with the banana alone, but she told me to take all three. Then, she told me stories about some of the other hikers who had come in before me. Apparently, she convinced a group of four guys to stay overnight by getting them drunk with mimosas. Sprinkles was one of them. They talked about one guy who I had heard about at Kennedy Meadows, named Texas Poo. The male employee told me that he had no filter on his mouth and that some of the stuff he had said was scary. Apparently, the other guys in the group had called him out about never buying his own cigarettes and he ended up getting mad and leaving the group. He said that he had gotten stung by a bee and had gone into Portland to get it checked out. Sam said I would probably run into him soon as he was now behind me. I didn’t know if I wanted to meet this person…
Sam continued her story by telling me that she felt so badly about making the guys miss their goal of getting to Timberline Lodge in time for the breakfast buffet, that she figured out where they would be based on their pace and miles per day that they were hiking and drove to a road twenty miles ahead with a huge bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Five minutes later, the first hiker arrived! I told her she was amazing!
I packed up my things and headed back to the trail. Although I wasn’t able to eat the breakfast I had imagined, use a restroom, or fill my water bottles, I was able to throw out my garbage (always appreciated!) and was given some nice treats. I headed down a short path to a pond, where I collected water. While I was there, a couple that I had seen breaking down their camp arrived to do the same thing. They told me they had met Puma in the morning. He did not stop at Ollalie.
As varied and interesting as the terrain was yesterday, today it was mostly forested.
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I saw another patch of thimbleberries and picked a few more berries, but mostly, I plodded along, thinking about what I needed for my Washington stops and when. I also worried about whether I had enough toe socks back home to last me the rest of the trip. While they are great for preventing blisters, they get holes very quickly. I had asked my resupply people to check my remaining boxes and let me know which ones contained socks, and how many extra pairs I had remaining, but for some reason, this request was not being met. Instead, I was told to duct tape them! I was also struggling with one of my poles, which kept collapsing every time I put any weight on it. As I walked, I had to continually lengthen it back out. It was particularly problematic in the fords yesterday, as I only had one reliable pole.
In the evening hours, I noticed that I had the tiniest bit of reception and tried texting my resupply people. Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to go through. I set my pack down and was going to pee when I saw a hiker approaching. It was Tumbleweed! “How did you get behind me?” I asked. I decided to use the break to take a Starburst out of my hipbelt pocket and eat that instead. He told me that he had gone to the trail magic and ended up camping with them. This morning, they were fed an incredible breakfast! Only he and two other thru-hikers were there. I told him that Puma was ahead and he said, “I know! I’ve been following his tracks!”. I’m amazed that people can tell where their friends are by their shoe prints! He headed on and I tried to pee for a second time. Then, I saw two more hikers approaching! What was going on? Where were all of these people coming from all of a sudden? I did not recognize this couple.
I was aiming to get to the river, but Tumbleweed said he was probably going to stop at the spring just off the trail before the river. I began to grow more and more tired, but somehow, I seemed to be able to keep up a decent pace, as I could see Tumbleweed and the other couple ahead of me. We introduced ourselves when they sat on a log to take a break and snack. They also said they were planning on getting to the river tonight.
I walked and walked through the forest, and at one point, heard the laughter of two guys off to my left. I smiled, knowing that Tumbleweed and Puma were now reunited. I never saw the path that they took to the spring.
Right before I reached the creek, I saw a Big Agnes tent set up in a nice area. The people were already inside. I wondered who it was as I walked by. I decided I would see what was available on the other side of the creek. After I crossed the narrow bridge, I saw more tents and people! This area was even more crowded! Someone asked me if I was looking for a spot to camp and told me there was room. I ended up claiming a spot next to a green tent and was concerned about the lack of privacy, given my problem. I spread out my cowboy camp and then went to collect water, filter it, and boil my pasta as the sun disappeared.
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I was invited to join the group of people around a fire across the way, but was too exhausted to socialize. I just needed to lie down. I felt completely and utterly spent. They couldn’t believe the number of miles I had hiked today and completely understood. All of them were hiking the 200 miles of Oregon that Connie had planned. The other thru-hiker couple then came in, looking for a spot. They had to set up their tarp two times to make it fit. I learned that they had hiked 31 miles today, beginning with the snowy section!
In the middle of the night, as I tried to sleep, an animal ran around my head, frightening me and not allowing me to rest. I’m pretty sure it was a chipmunk.

Day 121: One month left

Day 121
August 17
mile 2022.2-near 2046.1
23.9 miles

Soon after the dogs were allowed out of their tent, they sprinted into the woods after a deer. Cowgirl was left waiting for them to return on their own. While I ate my breakfast and got ready, the dogs returned and Midnight Chocolate and Cowgirl started their walk. After my fourth pill of six, I felt a bit hopeful. If that was all it took to cure my problem, I would feel stupid about not doing that a long time ago. “But at least I am learning,” I said to Connie.
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We talked a little about the message that I received yesterday as we filtered our water and then I packed up and headed out. I hadn’t seen Puma at all and wondered where he had camped last night.
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Several miles into my hike, I came across three men, each from a different generation, sitting along the trail taking a break. They were interested in talking to me and asked me a few questions about my hike. I mentioned what I was suffering from. The older man immediately said, “You need more toilet paper!” and then asked me how I was able to eat anything! Wow! Someone that understood! He told me that his wife suffered with it for a year. “A year?!” He knew all about it and told me not to be shy in asking for more toilet paper if I needed it. I said I was fine, but thanked him and then headed on.
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I stopped at Shale Lake for my ice coffee break and collected more water there. A young couple was there when I arrived and headed out shortly after. The three guys walked by and made fun of me for stopping so soon after I had announced how many miles I still had to get in this day. As I sat snacking, a huge bird soared over me, flapping its wings in whooshes, almost as if in slow motion. I had never experienced anything like that before! I thought it must be a condor! As I packed up and started walking, Connie came along! She didn’t need to collect water so we both headed on, but ended up getting confused as to where to the trail was! Finally, we found it and I took the lead. A minute later, I heard her voice call my name. She wasn’t sure which way the trail went and I directed her towards me.
Later on, I was surprised to see Puma taking a break in a little alcove in the woods. I stopped to say hi and told him that I had first met him at the Anderson’s, but was never introduced. He now remembered and we caught up with each other on what had happened to us over the last 1,500 or so miles!
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Then, I headed on. As I approached Milk Creek, I could see the girls and their dogs down below. It looked like they might wait for me to arrive, but then they suddenly took off and started climbing up the other side. I was left to find a way to ford the glacial river on my own.
About halfway up the next climb, I found a spot on a steep slope along the trail to take a break. It was otherwise covered in thick brush. While I snacked on stale Goldfish crackers and disgusting beef jerky, I looked up to see someone approaching. It was Connie! She sat beside me for the remainder of my break. Puma walked by and commented on our nice spot with the same serene smile he had had the day before. We asked him if he played his guitar while he walked. “Sometimes,” he said.
I took the lead as we continued to climb and found the girls taking a break with their very tired dogs. One was too tired to even lift up his head! They asked if I had seen Connie and I told her she was right behind me! They all planned on stopping at the next big lake. When she arrived, they warned us that there was another ford coming up (implying that we should help each other).
We climbed and climbed and then the trail descended a short way. I could hear the rushing water before I saw it and my stomach tensed.
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When I reached the edge of the water, I followed it upstream to look for the best crossing. A man that had passed me a little earlier (who tried to convince me to stay at the lake and swim in it), told me that he had rock hopped across, but also told me about watching a woman who was too scared to do the same, even with her boyfriend helping. I saw the rocks and they looked much too far apart for me to cross, especially with a heavy pack on my back! Connie reached the water and I gave her a shrug. I was just going to walk through it. I lengthened my poles and plunged them into the rocks below and carefully placed my feet in the rushing, cold water. From the other side of the bank, I asked her if she could lengthen her poles first, and then watched as she carefully made her way across. This was her first real ford and I felt so proud of her!
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I continued on ahead of her, and as I thought about what she was accomplishing out here by herself, tears welled in my eyes. I felt a bit like a proud mother.
The trail climbed and I eventually had to stop to take my pack off. I was surprised that Connie was not appearing! Shortly after, I saw a sign pointing to the lake where they planned on stopping at for the night. I kept on the PCT and once I saw the trail leaving the direction of the lake, decided to walk down and check it out. There were a lot of campers in the area and I didn’t feel like I was missing much. I definitely did not have time to go for a swim. Back up on the PCT, I had another emergency with my intestines. All hope that I had in the morning was now completely gone. Nothing had changed! I ate a little snack to boost my energy and headed on, disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Connie or tell her how proud I was of her.
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About a mile later, I ran into a couple going the other way. The guy asked me my trail name and then told me that he had also hiked the PCT and that his friend was putting on the PCT Days Trail festival in Cascade Locks. He thought I might want to go. I asked when it would be held and he said Sept. 6-8 and then realized I would be far from there at that point!
I felt tired and down. The trail continued to climb.
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I was surprised to see the sign saying that I had entered the Mt. Hood wilderness already! I searched for the direction of the trail and then saw a field of snow in front of me.
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When I talked with Forrest Man, I was worried about the snow I would encounter in Washington, but assumed there was none in Oregon. He corrected me, but then thought maybe it would have melted by the time I arrived.
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I stepped through it and then came to an even bigger patch. I followed the footprints across it but could not tell where the trail went! I walked back and forth on the slippery surface and wondered how Connie was going to find this. Finally, I decided to backtrack and make my way down by side stepping, as I could see the thin ribbon of dry trail in the distance. I walked through the rocky landscape as the air turned chilly. The sun had already begun to set. Parts of the trail were so rocky that it took a great amount of time to travel just 100 yards…
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Eventually, I made my way back into the woods. It was very windy and now very cold. I spotted a nice place to camp on the other side of a pond, in some trees. It looked very cozy, but I was much, much too cold to stop! I felt like I was going to freeze. I decided to keep walking.
At a bend in the trail, I saw a flattish piece of dirt that I decided I would stop at. It was warmer at this lower elevation than at the nicer campsite. Although I was sleeping next to the trail, I had a nice view of a distant mountain in the few minutes before the sun set. I bundled up, cooked my dinner, and snuggled into my sleeping bag.
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Day 120: Stuck in my head

Day 120
August 16
mile 1994.6-2022.2 (Rockpile Lake)
27.6 miles

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I headed out into the landscape of burned trees and lava rock and started climbing back into forest. Last night, Allyson had pointed out the huckleberries along the trail to me, and I got my first taste of these sweet berries. Now, it was easy for me to spot them and I stopped occasionally to grab and enjoy a few.
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During my first break of the day, while sitting on a rock in a tunneled forest section, I was surprised to see that I had reception! I checked Facebook and saw that someone had sent me a message! I wondered who it was from before I opened it. It was from my doctor friend from college. The message had no greeting. It began, “I saw your post.” I immediately knew that this was not going to be a friendly message. In my two minutes of time that I had to compose my update on what was happening to me in Central Oregon while in Bend, I had written that I had discovered that I been suffering from C. Dif which I likely contracted from the antibiotics I had taken for giardia. In parentheses, I wrote that I hate Western Medicine. Every time I had gone to a doctor for a problem in my life, I always returned with an even greater one. When I stress fractured one of my metatarsals, the doctor that I saw squeezed it hard and told me that I just needed to rest it and take ibuprofen for 10 days. I walked out of that office in much more pain than when I had walked in from his squeezing and the ibuprofen did nothing to alleviate it. I later had an MRI which clearly showed the fracture and was ordered to use crutches for the next six weeks. When I had my upper and lower jaws broken and moved, I was left with a permanent sinus infection, which I now have to deal with every single day. I even had a second surgery to remove the plates and screws (later to find out they were not all removed…!). My surgeon had no idea what was causing the sinus infection. Before the surgery, he had told me that the jaw is not connected to the rest of the body. The antibiotics that I took on this hike to treat girdia gave me something even worse. These are just some of the stories of what has happened to me. I have found that Western medicine is not a holistic healing treatment and most often causes greater harm to the body with its invasive methods.
Her message continued, “Flagyl rarely causes Cdiff. It can, but it isn’t the most common abx to cause it. I am really offended by your post about hating Western medicine. ‘Western medicine’ was there for you when you needed treatment for your ‘giardia’. Next time email your yogi friends to call in a prescription to nowheresville CA.

I sat there stunned and all I could think was “Wow!”. Wow…
So many thoughts went through my head. Did she really want to burn the bridge with me? How could the sweet person I had known say such things to me? This was a side of her that I had never before witnessed. Where was the compassion of a doctor (and brand new mother)? I had been suffering for months now, all the while hiking over 20 miles a day. I did not ask her for help a second time, not wanting to overstep my boundaries or ask for too much, but I finally relented when given the names of the antibiotics that could help some 1200 miles later… I never felt better, even for a day, after taking the flagyl. It was not “there for me.” If she was willing to listen, I could explain my reasons for what I had written. My experience is just as valid as hers and I have a right to speak my truth. In her last sentence, she not only put me down, but my yoga practice, yoga community, fellow hikers, and people who live in these towns along the trail.
As I walked on, I realized that the things she had written were partly stemming from jealousy and things that she was not happy with in her own life. She had told me before that she sometimes regretted taking the path of the MD. Choosing a path closes other doors. By insulting these trail towns, she was really telling me that she was not happy being stuck in Boston, having to go into work every day. Still, I couldn’t believe this attitude and her choice of words. I realized that there are different sides to everyone, but if my first yoga teacher, Checka, who is one of the sweetest and kindest people I have ever met, ever wrote something like this to me, I would lose all hope in humanity.
I started to think about the people I know who practice yoga and felt extremely grateful for having discovered this practice and community, without which, I would be much, much worse off. It is possible to disagree with one another and still be kind. We need to leave space to hear one another out, listen to each other’s experiences, and start an open dialogue. Typing or shouting out harsh words in an immediate reaction to something shuts everything down and leaves no place to go. I took a small amount of comfort in knowing that I don’t interact with others in such a way.
I decided that I would only respond to her message when I had a chance to sit down and type out a thoughtful, compassionate message that explained why I had written what I did.
In a couple more miles, I reached the 2,000 mile point of the hike. There was no number drawn in stones or sticks. There was no fanfare or recognition of this fact at all. I remembered the road on the AT that marked this milestone. Here, I just kept walking. I still had nearly 700 miles to hike.
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The sun was burning down on me. Before long, I reached a flat stretch and heard the traffic on the highway. Some hikers chose to hitch into Sisters or Bend from this road and I was curious to see what the situation looked like. Before I came out to the pavement, though, I spotted a box of donuts and the biggest chocolate bar I had ever seen in the dirt! I decided I might as well have some! I felt gluttonous, standing there stuffing my face.
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Then, I headed to the road and waited for a break in the traffic to cross it. Cars were speeding down and it didn’t seem like hitching from there would be an easy task! On the other side of the road, I found a small water cache and some more donuts! I stopped to collect some water and then two male hikers headed down. One told me that there was a little more water up the way a bit and the other told me I would find some candy on the posts!
I finished filtering and headed on, keeping my eyes out for the post. I didn’t see one! What were they talking about? Then, I spotted a cooler and my eye caught a red candy wrapper hanging from some twine on an evergreen tree! I found the candy! My spirits lifted. I sat down and decided to eat something. I thought about posting a picture of the hanging candy. “Here, in Oregon, candy grows from the trees!”.
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As I headed on, starting the next 2,00 foot climb, I checked my phone again and let Checka know that I had bought a ticket home! She wanted me to promise her that I would make finishing the trail my priority.
All day, as I hiked, as much as I knew better, it was hard to get the words from my college friend out of my head. They kept replaying again and again as I continued going over them in attempt to make some sense from them. They were really gnawing at me and bringing me down.
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I made it to the top of the climb, crested the ridge and then headed down the other side. All of a sudden, I spotted another hiker ahead of me on a switchback below. Where did he come from? Within a few minutes, I realized that it was Puma! I had not seen him since I walked by his tent on the night that my sleeping pad had blown away before Mojave! I watched as he stopped to gaze out on our incredible surroundings with a serene smile on his face. Hiking looked like such an easy and pleasant activity for him! He had his travel guitar slung around his neck. Occasionally, he would take a picture, just as I was doing. At one point, he looked up and acknowledged me, but did not seem to recognize me.
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He remained ahead of me as we entered another zone of ripe huckleberries. We both seemed to stop at the same times to eat a handful now and then. When I stopped to take a short break, he zoomed on ahead. My intestines were still acting up. Baxter’s prescription only consisted of 6 pills and I had already taken two of them. I hoped they would kick in soon!
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I wondered how far Connie had hiked today and if I would catch up to her. I guessed that she might be at Rockpile Lake tonight. I had to climb another 1,000 feet before I got there.
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As I saw my first glimpse of the water, I heard a lot of noise from a group of people! They were definitely not thru-hikers. They seemed to be banging on their pots and talking extremely loudly! I continued to walk around the water, aiming to camp in the woods on the other side. Before I got there, someone called out my name. It was Connie! I told her I thought she would be there! She was already set up in her tent and looked nice and relaxed. Another tent with two people inside was set up beside her. She introduced me to Midnight Chocolate and Cowgirl. I said “I know you! We met on the climb out of Scissors Crossing!”. They asked me my name and didn’t seem to remember me. Then, one of them asked me if I had been wearing a gray skirt. They said they didn’t know my name was Wendy.
I went to find a place to set up my camp, as the sun was already very low. Everyone agreed that it was unlikely to rain, so I didn’t set up my tent. After I started soaking my pasta, I brought my guidebook pages and maps over to Connie. She told me that she had met Tumbleweed and the girls at the Big Lake Youth Camp, and they had helped her out. She was invited to camp with the girls last night and decided to hike with them for awhile, as they now had their dogs with them, and were doing lower miles because of that. I told her that I knew the thruhikers would help her out!
It was really good to see her again. Unfortunately, it was just about dark and I had to return to my sleeping bag to clean up and get ready for bed. The girls planned on getting up fairly early in the morning.

Day 119: Back into the Lava Fields!

Day 119
August 15
mile 1989.5-1994.6
5.1 miles

Last night, I had written a message to my doctor friend who had called in a prescription for my giardia when I was in Lone Pine. I told her that I still wasn’t feeling well and that I was pretty certain that I had been suffering from C. Dif for months now. I asked if there was any possibility of her prescribing one of the antibiotics that Allyson’s sister said I needed. While I was unable to sleep, I checked my phone to see a terse message from her saying she could not. Oh, well… It was at least worth a try.
Allyson is an early riser and was having a hard time lying in bed, so I got up for her. She said that she had a conference call in an hour and was going to go grab some breakfast in the lobby first. I told her I would go with her. Connie was still asleep. I ate a bowl of raisin bran with my cup of coffee and then we headed back up to the room so Allyson could get ready for her call. Connie opened her eyes when we opened the door. She had been sound asleep and looked so peaceful! I wished I could sleep like that! While Allyson prepared, I went back to the lobby to eat with Connie. I brought my baggie of guatamalan tea and Old Man’s Beard with me to make my tea, which Connie was curious to see. This time, I ate some waffles. I felt much more relaxed and at ease sitting with Connie. Some people are just easy to be around and it doesn’t matter if you are talking or not. The space is just natural and accepting. Because she felt like she needed to get back on the trail sooner than later, she called the man who had given her a ride to the trail a few days ago and asked if he could take her again. She had to quickly pack up her things and get ready, so we didn’t have time to relax or chat to my dismay.
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Back in the room, we said goodbye, hoping we would see each other again soon. Allyson had now finished her call and was hungry for a real breakfast, so we headed down the road and found a nice place nearby. My omelet looked amazing, but my stomach quickly started hurting again and I wasn’t able to enjoy it. Suddenly, Allyson realized that check-out time was just minutes away! I started to panic. I hadn’t had a chance to take a shower this morning or sort through all of my resupply items! I had hoped to find a place to get my haircut in preparation for the wedding, as well, knowing that this would be my last real town stop on the trail. I also needed to buy a plane ticket and get to the post office to send out my boxes of extra stuff. We were able to get an extra hour in the room, and then we took my stuff down to the lobby to start sorting. I had a lot to go through! First, I needed to divide up my probiotic pills, go through my maps and guidebook pages, pack my food bag for the next 120 (!) mile stretch, decide what I wanted to send further up the trail and where the best place to send it was, and what was worth sending back home. All the while, the pain in my stomach was growing worse and worse! Then, I needed to look up prices for flights and think, think, think…! I was now committing myself to finishing the trail by a certain date. If I wanted to get to the wedding, I would have no leeway for storm days or any days of rest. I would need to do high mileage days throughout Washington without knowing what the terrain would allow. (I had heard that Washington is tough and steep- second in difficulty to the Sierras). I sent a message to Checka and she wrote a very heartful message back that brought tears to my eyes. She did not want me to rush or stress to get to her wedding and said that the years of friendship we had in the future was more worth it than this one day. Being the stubborn person that I am (and not wanting to be selfish), I went ahead and bought the plane ticket so that I could make it to her wedding. Then, I wrote a quick update about what was happening with my hike to post on Facebook. By now, it was late in the afternoon and I felt bad that Allyson had to sit around while I attended to all of my chores. Connie had sent a text to Allyson, saying that she had somehow dropped her maps on the trail and asked if I could buy her a new set. All I could do at that point was make copies of my own pages and give them to her when I caught up to her.
We loaded up the car and headed out to buy new water bottles for me and find something to eat for her. I was in too much pain to eat anything. I don’t think Allyson understood because she insisted that I tell her what would be appeasing to my stomach. We ended up buying some peanut butter and chocolate frozen yogurt smoothies which we drank on the way to the trail, but by that point, nothing could make my stomach feel better. Even after emptying all of its contents, I still had clear diarrhea and a lot of pain.
We stopped to use the outhouse near the stone tower and I thought I recognized the green jacket and bandana of the hiker on top. I wanted to shout out, “Baxter?!”. Another hiker approached from behind the bathroom when we needed someone to take a picture of us. He asked if we were hiking the whole trail and I found out that he was a southbounder from France, named Poptart. I asked him if I would be able to hike 25 mile days in Washington. He hesitated for a few seconds before saying that it might be possible since I already had my “legs”. I smiled, feeling the tiniest bit relieved, but still feeling immense apprehension about my ability to do this.
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We walked back down to the trail and found Baxter and a friend of his sitting on the side of the road. It was really him, after all! At first, he didn’t recognize me, but was then happy to see me. He asked about my stomach and I explained that I found out what antibiotics I needed and that I had written to two doctors I knew from home, both of whom turned me down. He was sorry to hear it. When Allyson mentioned the name of the antibiotics I needed, Baxter asked, “Cipro? That’s what you need? I have a prescription of that on me. Do you want it?” Baxter was a nurse and was given three different prescriptions from his co-worker doctor for several things that he might need while on the trail. Wildcat had the other antibiotic with her. She was now in town. I found the difference between a hiker’s willingness to help out another hiker in need and the willingness of people living in society who had the power to help, but ultimately would not, quite astounding. I also found the timing of this encounter to be extraordinary. What if I had left town an hour or two earlier? I would have never run into Baxter.
Allyson wanted to hike a couple of miles with me before she had to turn back and drive to the bus station to meet her boyfriend. Although my stomach was still in great distress, walking felt good and helped to create a different and better environment to interact in.
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I felt bad that it had taken me so long to sort my things and take care of my business, as Allyson would have liked to hike more of the trail. When it was time for her to turn around, I was surprised to hear her say that she wanted to come out and hike a bigger part of the trail with me. Even if she wasn’t able to do that, she wanted to meet me at Timberline Lodge. I took off my pack to give her a hug goodbye, which she didn’t seem to expect. I thanked her for helping me out and being my personal trail angel and then headed on as she jogged back. We had just crossed another section of volcanic rock and it looked like the trail was now headed back into the woods, where I was sure I could easily find a nice place to camp. To my surprise, the woods were very short lived and the trail took me right back into the lava fields! Oh, dear… Finding a place to camp in this area was going to be a major challenge!
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I ended up passing by a very tiny spot that would be possible to cowboy camp in, but decided that I wanted to get in five miles tonight. I kept going. To my great fortune, I ended up finding a much bigger and better spot ahead!
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A nice open, flat space among the lava rocks! And there was still plenty of light out to set up camp! I spread out my groundcloth, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag and bundled up to protect myself from the cold wind. Then, I boiled water for my dinner of Lipton noodles which had looked so gross to me in the hotel room. They turned out to be really tasty, however- probably because they were something different! As I tucked myself into my sleeping bag, I felt completely content (other than my hurting belly). Here, in the harsh lava rock field, all alone in the dark, I was a happy girl.
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Quick Oregon update

Over halfway through Oregon. Only 166 miles until the Washington border! I am still sick… I’m pretty sure that I got Cdif from the antibiotics I took for the giardia. (I hate western medicine!!) Yesterday, I learned that the probiotics I have been taking for over 2 months were not doing anything because they didn’t contain the strain that fights cdif. I’ve hiked most of the trail unwell, so I am sure I can finish off these last 700 miles in the same condition. Southern Oregon was cold, stormy, and wet. There are a lot of bees, trees (and mosquitoes in Oregon!) And cute weasels. Crater Lake was a spectacular sight (even when it was cloudy). I am getting very sad about this journey coming to a close. I will miss many of these people and the simple life… Thinking about being in the airport and going back to Boston is already a traumatizing thought.

Day 118: A New Friend!

Day 118
August 14
mile 1972.5-1989.5
17 miles

Before it was light out, wile I was half asleep, I heard a noise near me. I thought it was probably an early morning hiker headed out on the trail. Then, I heard it again! This time, I knew it was too close to me to be a hiker! It was a large animal. I shifted in my sleeping bag and told it to go away. It did and then came back! I was too tired to look, but knew it was a deer. I decided that I better get up and eat my breakfast. A lot of moisture had condensed onto my sleeping bag and groundcloth overnight. I packed up my wet belongings and started walking in the overcast morning light.
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After a few miles, I reached the Obsidian Falls area, where a unique kind of shiny, black rock could be seen along the trail.
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I had only previously ever seen this kind of rock in museums and enjoyed this section of trail. It ended all too quickly, however! I soon reached the Obsidian Falls, which were nice, but not remarkable.
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I almost took a break there but decided to keep moving. I climbed the terrain above the falls and saw two men packing up their camp. As I headed on toward a tiny stream, I saw several other backpackers hiking down a different trail. They waved to me as I moved away in a different direction. I then started up a hill and found an open space to take my break. The sun had come out and I decided to take the opportunity to dry out my sleeping bag and groundcloth.
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As I snacked, I watched a woman, hiking with her dog, study her map on a trail below me, and then head on. The two men approached and greeted me. I think they thought I had camped here last night. Once my gear was fairly dry, I re-packed my pack and headed out again. I walked by the two men again as they sat beside the trail taking a break. They now learned that I was hiking the PCT by myself (“You can’t do that!” one said) and asked me when I started. They said they had met a few others with similar start dates.
I continued on, feeling pressed to make it to the pass in time to meet my friend.
I passed by another man who was out hiking with his dog. I thought he was headed in the opposite direction, but then discovered he was going the same way that I was. He chatted with me a bit before I headed on. The landscape shifted into volcanic rock and my energy was fading. I felt so slow today!
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The trail climbed steeply and my breath became labored. This was hard work! I looked back and was astonished to see the day hiker gaining on me! That never happens! He ended up needing to stop to give his dog some water and asked me where I was from. I finished up the climb, followed the trail to the left, and never saw him again.
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The trail descended back into the woods and I reached the supposedly always flowing Minnie Scott Spring. Another solo female backpacker was adjusting her pack on a rock just before the stream. I said hello and went to check out the situation. It turned out to be an extremely shallow stream, where finding a running trickle looked to be a difficult task. Hmmm… I headed back along the stream and collected what I could and then sat down along the trail in the grass to filter it. The other hiker still needed to collect water for herself, and we started chatting. She asked me about my two liter (gigantic!) collecting bag and a couple of other questions and I soon learned that she was out here on her first backpacking trip ever! She had flown to Portland from Houston in order to hike a 200 mile section of the Oregon part of the PCT. I thought she was incredibly brave to do this alone! After her first two nights, she was finding the solitary nature of the experience to be difficult. I told her that if she was near any thru-hiker and didn’t want to be alone, she should ask if it would be okay to camp near them and that I could guarantee her that 99% of them would say absolutely!
As I drank my ice coffee, and ate my Snickers, she headed back out. Suddenly, I felt like a good friend was walking away from me! I wanted to catch back up to her and keep talking! I finished my snack, filtered the rest of my water, packed up, and headed out, expecting to see her not too far ahead. I was wrong! The girl was moving quickly! A family of four walked by me and I continued down to a meadow. Two women were approaching me and in the distance, I could see my friend heading into the woods to start the next climb! The women wanted to chat, though. One of them asked if she could shake my hand when she learned I was hiking the whole PCT! I told her she was sweet. The other one asked if there was water at Minnie Scott Spring and how far they were from it. I headed on and eventually caught up to my friend on a climb. She immediately let me pass and I was disappointed that she didn’t seem to want to chat. Then, I started asking her questions. Was she going into Bend? She said she was not, since she had just started from there a couple days ago. I asked her when she planned on finishing at Cascade Locks. I was also curious about what she had done to prepare physically for this because she was definitely in good shape! She said she had been doing CrossFit. Later, she lamented about following the advice of an older man employee at REI when she asked what to wear on the trail. She said she felt dumpy, but I disagreed! I told her she was welcome to come with me into town if she wanted and that she would have a sure ride. She thought about it and then asked if I would be willing to pick her up a hiking skirt at REI if she gave me the money. I told her of course!
A bit later on, she said that she was thinking more and more about coming into Bend with me. I turned around and smiled. We calculated how many miles she would need to hike a day in order to finish when she planned to if she made this extra trip. It turned out to still be very doable!
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As we crested the peak, we met a group of women hikers who were very excited to talk to us. “Are you hiking the entire trail?”. They were blown away when I said yes and just as excited when Connie said she had just begun her hike two days ago.
After we left them, Connie said, “You must get that all the time!”. I told her I loved it!
I felt under a good amount of pressure to not arrive late at the road as I didn’t want my friend to have to wait for me. I told Connie I was going to pick up the pace, but that she should hike at a speed that was comfortable for her and that we would wait for her.
When I needed to, I stopped to take a pack break and a few minutes later, was surprised to see Connie approaching! She was an impressive hiker!
I stopped at the next lake for a moment and said that I wished I had time for a swim. She said I would have time later on, but I knew my schedule was too strict. We headed on and I again took the lead. I kept checking my watch and the miles I had left. I had not a minute to waste! I did realize that the stress I was putting on myself to get there exactly at 3 was a bit ridiculous. Surely, my friend would understand if I was a bit late…
The trail came out of the woods and headed across a maze of lava rocks. These ones were a bit harder to walk on than the previous lava field. I could see the road, but the trail kept looping around in crazy directions. I could see a stone tower by the road and people standing on top of it and I imagined my friend being able to see me approach from it. I also imagined that she was telling the other people about me and my hike and that they were all cheering me on!
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At last, I arrived at the road, just 2 minutes after the hour. Strangely, no one was there. I didn’t even see the tower. I didn’t want to walk up the road for fear that Connie would think I had abandoned her, so I sat down by the road and dug out my food bag. I was so tired and so hungry. Several minutes later, my friend drove by and stuck her head out the window. “There you are!” she exclaimed. She motioned for me to get in. She began telling me about her ordeal finding the trail and wanted to immediately head into town. It wasn’t easy for me to cut in and tell her that someone else, still on the trail, was hoping for a ride… We headed up the road to use the restrooms and and our way back down, found Connie, looking off into the distance. I felt bad about not being there when she arrived!
We headed toward the town of Sisters, which I had thought from reading the town descriptions, was a very tiny place. It was a lot larger than I had imagined! Allyson asked if we wanted to stop at the coffee shop. That sounded good to me, even though I was dehydrated. (When she had first asked me if she could bring me anything, I thought about asking her for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bottle of water, but then decided not to. Still, I hoped she might bring something… She did not, however). The coffee shop smelled SO good inside! I instantly became happy! I bought a cookie and coffee and paid for Allyson’s treat, as well, since she came all the way out to help me. Then, we relaxed into the leather couches while Allyson started to look up motels in Bend. The choices were overwhelming. She didn’t want to stay long, so we headed right back out. This time, I was given the task of picking out a motel, while she drove, which was a bit stressful for me.
We found one with a pool, but it turned out not to have a washer or dryer. My mind started to become overwhelmed with all of the activity around me as we pulled into the motel. Allyson told me to relax for a minute while she checked us in, and then we took our things up to our room. I started rinsing out my dirtiest articles of clothing, one by one, and Connie took her shower. Then, I showered and we headed out to find dinner. Again, it was a bit of an ordeal. Bend was a big place! It was not at all a trail friendly town. A car was a requirement. We located a tavern-like place and then spent a significant amount of time trying to find a parking space. Then, upon entering the very loud restaurant, we learned that there would be a wait. So, we headed back to the car and drove around town some more. We stopped at a burger place that was more like a fast food restaurant, but they sold wine. As we sat at an outside table, eating, I started to relax a bit. I wanted to get a milkshake after my meal, but suddenly Allyson said that it was almost 8 and REI was about to close! So we raced across town and got there 10 minutes before closing. I asked for my resupply box and then ran around the store, trying to remember the things I had wanted to look for. Why did I not make a list? Allyson helped me find a new shirt, I looked for a matching bandana, which I could not find, I tried to find a plastic eye dropper bottle (also not there), and then remembered I needed another tent stake (my titanium stakes were worthless!). Connie found her skirt, and we checked out and headed on to Whole Foods. Allyson’s sister had had a lot of experience with C. Dif from strong antibiotics over the course of her life and also worked as a nurse in the ER. She wrote down the names of 2 antibiotics that would probably help, as well as the strain of probiotic that I needed in my system. It turned out that the probiotics I had been taking since Lone Pine did not contain this strain and that is why they weren’t having any effect. I bought capsules of the specific strain, another box of general probiotic capsules, and a yogurt like shot of probiotics to drink tonight. I also bought a fudgey brownie. Connie bought a bottle of wine for us to share. She said she was so grateful for our willingness to take her in, but I was just so happy that she had joined me! We headed back to the room and Allyson brought our clothes to the laundromat and washed them for us, while I opened my resupply box and started sorting. I learned that Connie was inspired to come out and hike this section of the trail after reading “Wild.” She had already been a fan of Cheryl Strayed before this book came out, when she wrote an advice column for an internet site. Many people who had seen me on my hikes had mentioned how brave I am to hike them alone, but I thought what Connie was doing was far more brave! I don’t think I would have undertaken my first backpacking trip ever all alone, and I certainly wouldn’t have flown across the country to hike 200 miles my first time! We weren’t able to find a wine opener anywhere and were growing more and more tired by the moment. I fretted about which bed to sleep in. I didn’t want to offend my old friend or make my new friend uncomfortable after just meeting her…
When Allyson returned, she said I could share the bed with her, so I did. However, I was not at all comfortable and my mind raced all night long. In my exhausted condition, I was not able to get any sleep.