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.
mile 1726.6-about 1732
I had a very tough time getting any sleep due to the pain in my stomach from the spaghetti. It was awful!
When the sun came up, I walked across the wet lawn and went inside to use the bathroom. Breakfast was not served until 8:00, so this was one day I could have actually slept in a little, but I was not able to sleep. When I returned to the lawn, I saw a curious deer checking out our tents! My sleeping bag was extremely wet from condensation. I pulled out my iphone and kept it close to me in case anyone happened to feel like texting me now that I had reception and access to electricity. Of course, they did not…
All of a sudden I heard a loud song blasting from somewhere. I recognized the voice as Christina Aguilera and then thought, “That’s one of my songs.” Only then did I realize that it was coming from my iphone! I shoved it further into my sleeping bag try to quiet the sound as I tried to mute it or turn it off, none of which was happening… How embarrassing! I hoped my neighbor Phil was able to sleep through it, or if not, that maybe he thought it was coming from a car on the road.
I tried to lie back down for a few minutes and then got up and started gathering my dirty clothes into a pile to take to the hiker bathroom. Phil beat me to it, however, so I ended up waiting. I looked through the register in the lobby and had a cup of coffee with Phil while we waited for breakfast to open. His wife was on her way from Bend to deliver his hiking poles to him, which he had forgotten. As we waited in line, a section hiker that had invited himself over to our table the night before, and who we both had a very hard time with, asked us if he could join us for breakfast. We didn’t feel like we could say no. My mood shifted. We gave the waitress our tickets for the pancake breakfast for which coffee was not included. We were supposed to get a fruit cup with it, but somehow our waitress did not know about this. Wight arrived straight from the woods and sat down next to me. As I ate, my stomach hurt more and more. I had to excuse myself for the bathroom a couple of times. Wight said that it was probably from overeating, but I had eaten a very ordinary amount- both at dinner and breakfast, and the pain I was experiencing was something very different.
I now how to attend to the chores of laundry, drying out my sleeping bag and groundcloth, and sorting through my resupply. I had a mountain of food in front of me and thought I was going to have to leave a great deal of it behind until the owner said I could mail some of it ahead. He said they could take the box to the post office for me! Wight asked to borrow my phone to call his son and then wanted me to join him for lunch. My stomach was still feeling awful and I needed to finish sorting.
Phil’s wife had arrived in the meantime and he had finished his own sorting and was now heading back to the trail. His wife asked me if I wanted a ride, but I was not yet ready. He thought he would see me soon.
I wrote a short blog update, a few postcards, and finished all of my sorting and packing. The woman at the front desk knew nothing about shipping a box out, so she went to find the owner’s wife who told her she would take my box to the post office for the amount of postage plus a $5 fee. I asked if I could include my stamped postcards and she hesitated and told me there would be another service charge for those. Are you kidding me? This place was all about making money!
Although I was still making trip after trip to the bathroom and the pain was not subsiding, I decided to have lunch anyway, since that seemed like a normal thing to do.
Hiker after hiker was streaming in. The Germans arrived and happily toasted each other at the bar. StoryTime arrived and called my name. I told him I was not feeling well.
Finally, after 5:00, I was ready to head out. Most of the hikers had gotten a ride to the trail head, bypassing a couple mile section of trail. I decided to hike back the same way I had come in- up the hill of the side trail and then through the forest. I hoped I could hike off the pain.
I passed a couple of day hikers and then ran into a couple more on the trail across the road who asked me how far I planned on going tonight. I told them that I didn’t know. I was just going to hike until it got dark.
When the light started to fade, I saw no apparent places to camp. I was in the middle of woods with sloped terrain filled with brush on both sides of the trail. I looked below and thought I saw a flattish looking place so I decided to head off the trail. I could hear what sounded like a loudspeaker in the distance and a voice that was saying, “Down with hikers. Hikers get off the trail.” It was a bit eerie. I searched the area for a place to lie down and finally picked a spot. Instead of making pasta, I made a cup of ginger tea and ate a few snacks. My stomach was still in great pain. The words on my teabag read, “Travel light, Live light, Spread the light, Be the light.” I found them to be very appropriate.
I suffered from painful heartburn all night long and couldn’t sleep. It was a terrible combination of pain and nausea that must have stemmed from the town food I had eaten. Why did real food hurt me so much?? At least I was alone. I got up at 6:45 and my intestines immediately acted up. I still felt the remnants of heartburn in my chest. For breakfast, I ate poptarts so I didn’t have to use any water to dissolve my powdered milk.
By 7:40, I was all packed up and on the trail again.
A few miles later, I saw SunDog and Giggles. They told me that the trail was very crowded with people behind us! They wanted to stay at the Sulphur Creek camping area, but there were too many people there by the time they arrived, so they had to walk several additional miles before finding a place to camp. That news made me want to get moving quickly! I told Giggles that I liked her new hat and they joked about calling it the “chastity bonnet” because they couldn’t kiss as easily now. “Only on Sundays,” SundDog said. He was massaging Giggles’ shoulders because they were kinked from sleeping in a weird position. Someday, I hope to have a relationship like they have! I told them that I had a scheduled long distance reiki session at 9am that I was excited for and headed on. Around 8:55, I started looking for a place to sit down in the woods. I didn’t see many good options, but finally, I found a rock just off the trail next to a tree. Checka said we would spent a couple of minutes transitioning into the space, then I would practice being open to receiving as she sent me energy, and then we would close it off for the last minute or so. I sat facing away from the trail, as I knew SunDog and Giggles were about to pass by, and opened my palms to the sky. I could feel energy tingling in my hands, and the minutes quickly passed by.
The trail climbed out of the forest and out onto another ridge.
I could see a lake off to the left, well below the trail, which was too far off the PCT to get to. I ran into two older day hikers who were heading towards me. One of them said, “There are a lot of hikers ahead of you.” I wasn’t sure what to make of this. Of course, there were a lot of hikers ahead of me. There were even more behind me!! Then, the man said, “In about three and a half miles… you’re going to come to a road… ” “Yeah,” he said. That was it! I was going to come to a road? I had crossed plenty of roads by this point! Why was he saying this to me? If there was something meaningful at this road, like jugs of water or food, he could have said that, but that was all he had to say! Part of me thought that maybe they didn’t want to ruin a surprise for me, so I felt a bit hopeful!
I headed on, reaching the gravel road in less than three miles and then took a couple of minutes to look around. There was nothing there!
Later on, I ran into a woman walking her dog (carrying a tennis ball in its mouth) and then a grandmother and granddaughter who stopped to talk with me. The grandmother was amazed that I was hiking the trail alone and told me that her nine year old granddaughter wanted to do the same thing one day. She said that I was a good role model! “She’s training for it now,” she said as I walked away.
I walked until I saw a couple of hikers and several backpacks by a tree. I wondered if there was trail magic over there! It turned out that there was a spring 800 feet down a hill that SunDog and Giggles had stopped at. They took off just before I got there. An older man had just returned from collecting water, as well, and encouraged me to take the path down. “It’s nice and cold!”.
“But it’s too far away!” I said.
He told me he thought the same thing, but SunDog and Giggles had convinced him and now he was doubly convincing me! I told him I had enough water and headed on.
Not too long afterwards, I came to one of the best sources of water I had seen on the entire trail! It was flowing out of a copper pipe and was nice and cool. I was so glad that I had waited! I collected water and took my pack up to a bank along the trail. My stomach was still hurting and my intestines acted up again, so I had to quickly find a spot to take care of my problem. Then, I returned to filter my water and make another delicious ice coffee, which I enjoyed with a Snickers bar and a packet of almond butter as my afternoon energy boost. Four kids had come along in the meantime. They stopped to get water here, as well, but did not say hi to me. Then, faster than I could react, a cyclist came whizzing through, greeting the kids on his way past me. I was so stunned that I didn’t know what to do! Bicycles are not allowed on the PCT…
I collected more water and filtered enough so that I had my full capacity of three and a half liters to carry with me. This break had cost me 40 minutes of time! The older man approached just as I was getting ready to head out. He said his name was Rabbit Stix and asked me what mine was. “Wendy.”
“That’s what your mother calls you,” he said, somewhat annoyed.
“I don’t have a mother,” I responded. (Even when I technically did, she never spoke to me, and when she did many, many years ago, Wendy was not the name she most commonly used…).
He took out a little pad of paper and said he had to write my name down. He asked me if I was leapfrogging with SunDog and Giggles. I wasn’t sure what to say. I just am where I am….
As I walked away, I put in my new headphones and was so happy to be able to hear music so clearly with two ears! It helped get my energy going. I didn’t think anyone was around me so I sang along with several of the songs. While I walked, I could see Mt. Shasta, now from a different vantage point. It is quite an incredible mountain and I found it interesting that I had been able to see it for so many miles! I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience like that before. Although I felt very sick today, I could feel the freedom of being out here on the trail, and felt grateful for it. And although my pack was heavy with three and a half liters of water, I felt like I was moving well. The bugs weren’t as bad as they were yesterday, either.
I headed toward Deadfall Lake as the day turned to evening, stopping to give my shoulders a break at an intersection and making sure I knew which way the PCT went. I saw a blue marble under the tree and put it in my hipbelt pocket. A little ways ahead, I was happy to come across some running water in a little creek. I stopped to filter more water and eat a snack and headed out once again. In a meadow, I found Cookie and Runs with Elk setting up their tents. We said hello and I continued on, as I was not yet ready to stop for the night.
There weren’t any nice spots appearing as the sunlight faded, so I made due with what I could after looking around for awhile. Somehow, I ended up camping right next to some kind of dried animal poop. A deer came to visit while I ate my dinner and then ran off into the woods.