Day 126: Eagle Creek to Cascade Locks

Day 126
August 22
mile 2126.5-2155
approx. 26 miles

Just as I started looking for a place to go the bathroom, 4 happy section hikers headed along the path above me. Great… Luckily my body was able to hold out. One of them commented to another on the magnificent sight of the rising sun. I tried to look through the trees, but couldn’t see anything.
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I packed up, climbed back onto the trail and headed on my way. The woods opened up for a brief section that allowed for a nice view. I was reminded of a similar part of the trail in the desert with piles of rocks on one side and an open view on the other.
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Low clouds hung in the air like fog, making the orange leaves on a small tree stand out. It looked like fall.
I continued on and at one point noticed a little animal by a rock on the side of the trail. It scurried underneath the rock when it saw me, but couldn’t keep from poking its head out. I talked to it and after a few moments, it decided to come all the way out. It was adorable! When it became nervous, it would run back under the rock, but again, stick its head out and then gather all of it courage to fully reveal himself. Our little interaction made me feel so happy!
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Soon enough, I found the pipe with water trickling out and collected water. I still had over five miles to get to the Eagle Creek Trail.
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As I climbed to the top of the next ridge, dark clouds covered the sky. Drops of rain began to fall a few minutes later. I decided to just kept going, rather than stop and put on my rain gear. Within minutes, thunder boomed over my head and bright lightening bolts shot down right in front of my face! The storm was directly over me! It was time to run! I moved as fast as I possible could with a thirty something pound pack on my back, allowing the adrenaline to overpower any fear. At last, I found myself back in the safety of the trees. I felt grateful. I took off my pack and dug out my rain clothes. Then, I headed on towards the Indian Springs campground. Only because I had read the directions multiple times beforehand was I able to find the trail. The entrance was obscured with low hanging branches. There was a nice spring on the side of the trail, but I was too cold and wet to stop and collect water. I had to keep moving.
When I got tired, I climbed up a bank and sat on a dusting of pine needles under a tree to partially shelter me from the rain. This was going to be a trying day. After a snack, I continued down the steep trail and finally reached the Eagle Creek trail. I felt extremely tired and down because of the rain. A previous thru-hiker had told me that this trail was the “best of the best”, but I didn’t find it so amazing. Maybe it was due to my mood, my sickness, the weather, and just plain exhaustion. I encountered two young guys heading the opposite way. One asked me if I had come all the way. I scrunched up my face and asked him what he meant. He asked if I had hiked all the way to the pond. “The pond?! I hiked from Mexico!”. He then scrunched up his face, unable to comprehend what I had just said. His friend nonchalantly said, “Yeah. She’s hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.” The other one had never heard of it.
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I found a nice place to sit along a pool of water for my ice coffee and snack, which I hoped would boost my mood. Several other day hikers were around. As the trail got closer to the famous falls, it also got increasingly more crowded. A lot of people passed by without a greeting.
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I waited for a group to head underneath the tunnel and after it was clear, went through it myself. I didn’t find it so earth-shattering. It was just a waterfall. I think expectations often bring disappointment. I remember walking behind a tiny misty waterfall on a trail in Switzerland and being much more excited about that!
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I still had about 10 more miles to hike… All I could do was plod along. I ended up leapfrogging with a small group of guys on a day hike.
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After nearly five miles, I reached the upper Punchbowl falls. Maybe I wasn’t seeing them from the best viewpoint, but I wasn’t impressed by what I saw here, either. I continued on until I reached an intersecting path to the lower punchbowl falls. I wondered what I should do… I finally decided to take the path for at least a little ways. When some people came up, I asked how far away they were and if it was worth it. I was told that it was worth it and that it wasn’t too far. I continued down the steep path, knowing I was going to have to climb back up. Four teenagers were jumping into the water, ignoring all of the posted signs not to do so. I walked on and came to a shallow pool of water with a view of the falls.
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Then, I started my way back to the trail. I walked on and on, feeling more drained with every step. At last, I made it out of the woods and on to a paved road. I still had to make my way to the trailhead. The guy that encouraged me to take the lower punchbowl path asked me if it was worth it as he lounged on a swing. “I guess so.” Two thru-hikers who I didn’t recognize were being picked up by their parents. I wasn’t offered a ride. Instead, I continued walking down the road, looking for the next side trail that would lead me into Cascade Locks. I eventually found it and followed it through the woods and back onto a road. It was once a scenic driving road that had now turned into a historical landmark with informative signs along the way.
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I texted Connie and found out that she was in town. I was looking forward to having dinner with her and possibly sharing a room. At some point, I asked her where she was and told her I was only a mile away. Then, she informed me that she had already taken the bus to Portland! I felt so crushed. Her flight was scheduled for several days later and I thought she was going to at least spend one night in Cascade Locks. I was only a couple of hours away from seeing her. In my exhausted state, tears started to flow out of my eyes. She was one of the few people that I had really enjoyed being around, and now I wouldn’t get a chance to see her again.
I made it to a stone bridge beside a tunnel underneath the highway and took off my pack, drank some water, and dumped some of the excess out.
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Then, I continued along.
Finally, I started seeing the road signs announcing that I had made it to Cascade Locks. I saw the Bridge of the Gods and I couldn’t hold back the tears.
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I had just walked the entire length of California and Oregon, and was now at the border of Washington state. The magnitude hit me hard. I also felt so, so exhausted.
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I moved on, past the fish and vegetable market, and the CharBurger, and towards the entrance of the Best Western. The lady at the desk was very nice. I asked her what time check-out was and she said noon, which brought me great relief. I was going to need all of that time. She recommended the pub down the street for dinner. I dropped my pack, took a shower, and headed down for some pizza and a glass of wine.
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Later, I heard a loud voice boasting about having recently become a “trail legend”. It was Story Time. He had found an audience of locals and was taking full advantage. I headed back to my room in the dark, once again encountering the hitch-hiking “thru-hikers” whose parents had paid for their room, and got myself ready for bed.


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 122: So tired!

Day 122
August 18
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 111: A very rainy day into Mazama Village

Day 111
August 7
mile 1811.2-1830.2
19 miles

I stayed in my tent a little longer than I wanted because of the rain falling outside. It would seem to stop and I would get hopeful, but a few minutes later, it would just start right back up again. Fortunately, my sleeping bag remained dry. I ate breakfast, packed what I could inside my tent, and strapped my wet tent to the top of mypack. I hadn’t seen where Wall-E camped last night and saw no one pass by in the morning.
The terrain was gentle as I started and then began to climb. A man with a huge backpack labored slowly ahead. When I passed him, he told me I would be running into a bunch of boyscouts ahead. The rain continued to come down. The scouts were much further up the trail than I had expected. I passed by them with their garbage bag covered packs and then sat on a wet slope and snacked in the rain. My body was cold.
I couldn’t imagine that Baxter and Wildcat and their friend would choose to camp out in these conditions and not push for the store. Maybe I would see them there after all.
About half way through the day, I ran into my third Southbounder. His name was Vogue. He told me that there were a bunch of people ahead of me (Yes, I know…) and that I was the 126th northbounder he had run into. He seemed to sense my dejection because he then said that I was still at the front of the pack! My eyes grew wide and a smile spread over my face. He said that the main pack was now between Chester and Etna and that most of those people would not finish. He also said that I am now in a lull in the trail, but that the last 700 miles will be beautiful. “You’ve hiked this trail before?”. Yes, he said that he had previously hiked it northbound. I was so happy to hear that it wasn’t just me who found this part of the trail boring! His southbound experience had so far been amazing. He had sunny blue skies for the entirety of Washington and could see many of the views that he had not been able to see on his northbound hike.
After he left, my energy lifted a bit. His words helped counteract the constant rain. I wanted to write a message on Facebook that said, “You guys… I think I’m actually GOOD at this!!”. I always knew that I was fully capable, but hearing that I was toward the front of the pack, especially in my sick condition, made me think I had finally discovered what I excelled in.
A few minutes later, I reached an intersection and stepped over a huge arrow drawn with sticks, as well as the letters “NO” and proceeded straight ahead, before I decided to double-check my decision… Whoops… I often want to take the path of least resistance.
I headed on, feeling a bit better, but still wet and cold. I met a group of three, who I passed, and then found a place to sit on a steep embankment along the trail for another snack. Then, I plodded on. Because it was so wet out, I hardly drank any of the three liters of water I was carrying and as I got closer to the road, started dumping some out.
At last, I reached the road and turned right to walk the mile down to the store. It was still raining. I hadn’t seen another northbounder all day, but suddenly, Viking overtook me on the road walk. I wasn’t sure where to turn down to get to the store. I had read that if we walk in on the road, that we have to pay an entrance fee to get in! At a certain point, I just cut down the bank and arrived at the restaurant and gift shop. I brought my pack into the entrance and was surprised to see Tumbleweed there!
After I used the restroom and inquired about my box, I found out I needed to head back to the store. There, I found Ole, TrackMeat, and a few other hikers. I waited in line to collect my box, thankful to have it in my arms, and then headed back to the restaurant to eat. I had to wait a long time to be let in and was then taken to the nearly empty backroom with plenty of open tables! I returned to the entrance to invite Tumbleweed over to join me if he wanted and I was happy that he decided to. He was the first person I had heard of who was also planning a September 17th finish! Everyone else I had talked to was planning on finishing later than that, and I still felt a tremendous amount of stress about my ability to finish the hike in that amount of time. I also needed to buy a plane ticket when I arrived in Bend. I ordered a chicken sandwich and some hot chocolate and Tumbleweed headed for the soup and salad bar. He had no fork to eat with, however. Our waitress was very inattentive, so after waiting several minutes, when she appeared again, I told her that he needed a fork from across the room. Tumbleweed told me that I am very direct! Sometimes, I am…
I charged my phone and camera battery as we ate and caught up on stories. I asked Tumbleweed if he had met Forrest Man. He paused for a second and then said, “I thought that was his name, too”. Later, he had asked him to clarify. “So, your name is Forrest Man?.”
“No. It’s Forrest.” I asked Tumbleweed why he would call me “Man” and why there wasn’t a pause or a tone change between the two words. He didn’t understand it either, but found it interesting that I had had the same experience! The chicken sandwich started hurting my belly almost immediately after I finished it. When was I ever going to be able to eat a meal again?
After the meal, it was time to sort through my food and pack up again. Tumbleweed headed off for the trail. The rain had now stopped and the sun had finally come out! I went outside to sit on the bench and do my sorting. People coming in for dinner made comments about me being able to feed them…
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Finally, I took off my rain pants and saw the mud caked on my legs. “Just a tiny bit muddy” I said to a man sitting nearby before I headed back into the restroom to try to wash some of it off. I had planned on taking a shower and doing laundry here, as well, but I was running out of time. I decided that the surprise shower I was offered a couple of days ago made up for one here. By now, there was a large contingent of hikers gathered around the store. Baxter, Wildcat, and their friend, Susan had in fact come in, as well as Beer, Ranch, Viking, and several other hikers who had obviously skipped huge parts of the trail and hitched up here. Some were trying to figure out where to stealth camp, as all of the paying spots were now taken. Commando and Purple Haze were able to get the last RV site. I wanted to get back onto the PCT, so I headed out, not sure of how to get there.
Fortunately, a ranger helped direct me to the side trail that lead back to the PCT. I climbed up the hill with my full pack and hiked until I reached the intersection with the PCT. There, I found a flat spot to set up my tent, eat a few snacks, and head to sleep.
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Day 110: A surprise reunion and awakening during the night

Day 110
August 6
mile 1782.5-1811.2
28.7 miles

I knew I would have to get up on the earlier side in order to catch up on some of the miles I missed yesterday. Of course, waking up is always tough for me. The mosquitoes and flies buzzed around me as I ate my breakfast, making the first part of my day even more unpleasant than it already was.
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My morning began with the continuation of the climb I had started the night before (I actually had at least 2/3 of it go). On my way, I saw the section hiker I met at the Callahan’s packing up his camp, and then at the top of the climb, found another hiker I did not know taking a break. The trail remained in the forest and offered nothing spectacular in terms of scenery.
For a moment, I saw Ole and Track Meat, who had just emerged from a side trail, presumably to collect water, but they sped away as we started the next climb. I stayed within my own means and rhythm and did not try to catch up to anyone.
After ten miles of hiking, the guy I did not know, named Wall-E, came along during one of my short breaks, asking where the spring was. I told him that we should find it any minute now. A sign on a tree further up ahead pointed down to it and we were both relieved that we had not passed it. Water was scarce in these parts of Oregon! Because we had different methods of filtering water, we were both able to collect at the same time in different areas of the small pool. While I filtered, the section hiker came down and kept loudly asking where the spring was. I found it odd that he couldn’t see the water directly in front of him. As he complained about his shoulder pain, I left Wall-E to commiserate with him and headed back to the trail and to my own space.
Soon afterwards, I came across 4 men, taking a break. They were speaking to each other very loudly. I had no idea which direction they were hiking, but quickly learned they were also headed north.
I found a secluded spot off the trail to each some lunch and make myself an ice coffee. The bees wouldn’t leave me alone, however! They swarmed me at every break I took. I watched the men pass by, still loudly interacting.
Not long after, I saw a women and a couple taking a break. I assumed the couple was the same one I had seen yesterday, and as the woman was looking in my direction, I said hello to her first. Then, the female of the couple came running over to me and threw her arms around me. It was Wildcat and Baxter, who I hadn’t seen since Kennedy Meadows. “You caught us!” they yelled. I smiled. I felt like I had been slowly gaining on people whose names I had been reading in the registers ahead of me. I told them about my sicknesses and Susan, their friend, asked me some questions to help determine if it was really C. Dif. that I was suffering from. From my answers, she agreed that it was. We talked about our projected finish dates and when we planned on arriving at Mazama Village. Before I headed out, Wildcat said that she was still carrying her essential oil kit and offered me the one for digestion. “Maybe it will help!” she hopefully offered. I told them that I had to get going to stay ahead of the annoying hiker behind me and zoomed off.
It didn’t take long to catch the group of men, who were startled to see me. They didn’t notice that I had taken a break. One by one, they let me pass, until the leader asked me for a favor. He was in charge of the group, but had failed to bring a large enough map and wanted to know how on track they were. I gave him my estimate for the miles they had hiked so far and then asked if he wanted me to confirm that with my GPS. I had to wait for my phone to turn on, and then wait for it to pick up the GPS signal. Meanwhile, his buddies were shouting at him to “let her go!”. “You’re holding her up!”. I smiled and then confirmed what I had already told him. As I walked away, he said that they were using me as their pacemaker. “I wouldn’t do that,” I strongly stated. “That’s not a good idea.”
Wall-E came along and also wanted to know what mile we were at… We ended up leap-frogging each other for a bit, as we took our little breaks at different times. I wondered if we would be close enough to take each other’s photos at the 1800 mile mark, but he stopped to make a phone call just short of that point. So, I took a picture of the marker itself and moved on.
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The trail climbed and I grew more tired with each additional mile. I stopped to take a snack break and then put in my headphones for a little extra boost. A couple of boyscouts headed towards me, wanting to know how close the upcoming intersection was.
The trail continued to climb for several more miles. as I made my way down, I came to a nice creek and then saw the beautiful tent site that Baxter and Wildcat planned to stop at. They were not planning on making it to Mazama Village until the morning after tomorrow. I wanted to get there by late afternoon, which meant I had to hike as long as possible tonight. There were a series of small creeks ahead, the last at which, I would need to stop and fill up on water. The next 21 miles were said to be dry.
As I approached this last creek, I looked down to see a tiny frog spring across the trail.
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I carefully stepped around it only to see another one just ahead. Again, I placed my steps carefully. All of a sudden, I saw many jumping frogs in front of me! They were all over the place! I set my pack down on the slope of the trail and brought my collecting bag to the streaming water. I started a boil for my pasta dinner, figuring it would be wise to eat here and not carry the water to immediately use in a couple of miles. As I filtered my water and ate my dinner, Wall-E came along. I watched him look down at the ground and stop at his first frog sighting. He took another step and then had the same reaction as I had had at the great number of them! He crossed the water and put his pack down across the trail from me and exclaimed about how tough the latter part of the day was. He wanted to know if this was the last water source we would come to today. Several minutes later, another hiker came along. He, too, had the same reaction to the frogs! It was amusing to watch. After he crossed the water, he stopped to ask us our names. He thought for a couple of minutes and then asked me if I had gotten lost in the Sierras. I shook my head no. He mentioned something about Bear Creek, and still I said no, I didn’t get lost there. He then said he was probably getting me confused with someone else. After thinking about it for a few minutes while he conversed with Wall-E, I realized he was talking about my early attempt to cross Evolution Creek. “Wait a minute… Yes, that was me! I was in a bad mood, then!”. I asked him what his name was and he said, “Commando.” He was aiming to hike several more miles this evening to camp along a side trail with water access. He headed on, followed by Wall-E who had scoped out this area for a place to camp, but didn’t see one. I was the last to leave.

As the sun went down, I started to look for my own spot. I ended up moving a little ways ahead after my first possibility, finding a better flat spot there. I set up my cowboy camp and, for the first time on this hike, decided not to wear my thermal bottoms because it was too warm out. I tried to write down a few notes from the day, but the mosquitoes were vicious. Instead, I closed my eyes and tucked myself into my sleeping bag. Suddenly, I felt something crawling up my bare thighs! I swatted at my legs, only to feel it again! Ants had somehow gotten into my sleeping bag! I probably only felt them because my legs were uncovered! I got up and swatted them off.
A couple of hours later, at around 1 in the morning, I heard a giant roll of thunder rip through the sky like a jet engine. My eyes opened wide. Was that really thunder and if so, do I need to do something about it? A flash of lightning lit up the sky. I guess so. My heart began racing. I had to dig out my crumbled up tent that had been resting at the bottom of my pack, unused for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Did I even know how to set this thing up anymore? In the dark, I worked as quickly as I could, talking myself through the steps. Rain drops fell on my stuff sacks and sleeping bag. I hurried as fast as I could and then threw everything inside the tent and lay awake, listening to the thunder and rain, hoping that I had set up the tent well enough to stay dry.

Day 106: To Ashland

Day 106
August 2
mile 1699.2-1726.6
27.4 miles

I got up and ate some breakfast as a couple of birds flitted around me, hoping for some crumbs. Wight walked by before I packed up. As I headed out of the woods and climbed 1,000 feet onto a ridge, clouds once again hung in the air below the tips of the mountains in the distance. It was an incredibly peaceful scene and a nice way to start my journey into the state of Oregon.
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I passed Wight as he took a break near Sheep Camp Spring and continued on my way. I saw no traces of Sky Eyes or Band Leader. They get up much earlier than I do!
When I began to tire, I sat along the edge of the trail and found the “Energy Bomb” bar that Tanya had sent me. It tasted much better than I imagined it would and really did seem to boost my energy! I decided to eat the Kind bar she had also given me. I heard a loud insect buzz close to me and wanted to shoo it away before I realized it was a humming bird! It was curious about me and flew near me a couple of times before landing in a tree. I hoped it was a sign of good luck!
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The trail descended and then climbed another thousand feet.
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I decided to take my next break on a rock on which I had a view of the winding trail ahead of me and flowers in the grass in between. Oregon was a pretty state so far! I had reception here and received a text from my friend, Amanda, asking me where I now was. I got to send her my Oregon border photo! She had just written a post on facebook about all of the wonderful things that had happened in her life over the past 8 or 9 months- things she had never imagined possible, and this both made me happy for her, and gave me hope for myself. For now, I was content walking the path in front of me.
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I encountered a couple of day hikers ahead. One man asked me where I was headed. “Canada!” I said. He sated at me dumbfoundedly. “Canada is that way” he said pointing in the direction I had come from.
“No it’s not. It’s that way,” I confidently stated.

Later, I encountered two women who were excited about what I was doing and wanted to ask me some questions. The first was if I was carrying all six pairs of shoes that I would go through on me! They wished me well and we headed on our separate ways.
When I arrived at a beautiful cascade of water, I had to take a break. It was too good of a source to pass up. All around it were beautiful wildflowers. A man came jogging past on the trail.
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The trail descended to the Mt. Ashland Inn, where two excited dogs greeted me. A nice man pointed out a water spicket and picnic table that he had set out for the hikers. He and his grandson were working on a wood project and were both very welcoming! I hadn’t planned on taking a break here, but decided to take advantage of the table. One of the nice dogs came over to keep me company.
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As I headed out again, I saw an older man with a huge backpack ahead of me. He didn’t seem to hear me approaching and I think I ended up startling him when I said hello. We chatted for a few minutes and I learned that he had just started his section hike of Oregon and had camped near Slack last night. He wanted to know if I knew him. I asked him if he was planning on hiking to Callahan’s and he said he thought it was too far to get to tonight. I encouraged him to try if he felt like it. There was a side path that lead down to it and he asked how he would know where it was. I told him he would see a sign. I got moving, feeling strong and energetic.
I found the side trail which emptied out onto some railroad tracks and then got totally confused. I wished I hadn’t packed my guidebook pages away! I decided to head across them and after checking out the area, only saw a wide dirt road to take. It kept going and going. I could see the highway below me, and then the Callahan’s sign, but this path was taking me further down the highway. I finally gave up, realizing this was the wrong way. Now, I was tired and had just lost a lot of time! I was hoping to make it there by 6 or so, not knowing when dinner was served.
As I neared the railroad tracks again, I saw my new friend, Phil! He had made it after all! We looked around for the path leading down to the highway, but neither of us saw anything! He finally got out his phone and I found the number for Callahan’s. The staff didn’t seem to offer any help, however. I went to look again and waved Phil over after I realized where it was. I walked ahead of him, but didn’t want to walk too fast… Then, I crossed the highway, headed under the overpass and finally reached our destination! I was tired!
We had to pay $50 for a shower, dinner, breakfast (excluding tips), and camping out in the backyard. I also had to pay $3 for each of my boxes that were shipped there. (Last year, it was free).
The lady took us out to a garage-like building with a single shower and said we could have dinner after we washed up. Phil said I could go first while he set up his tent.
I decided to cowboy camp on the lawn and after I set up my sleeping bag, went up to the deck and found a table. Phil joined me after his shower. It was nice to have company. I wasn’t able to eat much of my spaghetti because my stomach started hurting. How frustrating! It got pretty cold out so we ended up taking our meal inside to finish.
A couple seated by the door asked me about my hike when I couldn’t figure out how to open the door! They invited me to sit down with them and before I went back outside, gave me their contact info in case I ran into trouble along the way, as they knew several people in Washington that might be able to help me out if I needed it. I thought that was very kind of them!
I headed down to my spot in the grass while the patrons returned to their rooms and hunkered down for the night.

Day 105: Oregon!!

Day 105
August 1
mile 1670 – about 1699.2
29.2 miles

When I awoke, I looked out on a completely new landscape- one that looked more like the sea than the sky! White clouds hung below the tops of the mountains, making them appear to be floating. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!
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After I ate my breakfast and shifted around, I noticed a huge squished bug that looked like a giant tick on my groundcloth that I had apparently rolled over on during the night. Sometimes, it’s best not to wonder about what is crawling around your head while you try to sleep…
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I headed out, continually looking at the horizon and the unbelievable views that the low clouds were creating. It was stunning!
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After a mile or so, I came upon Rabbit Stix staring at his map at an intersection. The trail was actually marked here, but I waited for him to confirm our direction and then headed on. As I climbed, I looked back to see another hiker approaching. I couldn’t tell who it was. I began to heat up in my layers and decided it was time to strip. While I was doing so, the other hiker caught up. It was Band Leader, who I hadn’t seen since Echo Lake! He said that I had caught him going to the bathroom, but I didn’t know what he was talking about. Apparently, he was up on the ridge and saw me coming. He said that I was keeping my eyes on the trail and he thought he was going to go unseen, but at the last second, my eyes turned up to where he was! I told him that I didn’t see him at all! I was just looking at the amazing views!
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The next water source was a questionable one in a marshy area. Rabbit Stix decided to check it out and I turned off the trail to follow. I wished I hadn’t because only a pump would work with the small puddle that existed. Another hiker left the area shouting. Something had clearly gotten him worked up!
I headed back to the trail and ended up stopping to take a pack break right before the next potential water source. The frustrated hiker came along and asked if there was any water here. I had no idea! It turned out to be only a faint dribble. We headed on through the woods and then coming back out to a ridge. The air was extremely smoky and all of the views had now disappeared. I wondered how close we were to a fire and if we were safe.
As we descended to a dirt road that lead to a spring, I saw a large tent set up, along with a grill and some gallons of water. I wondered if someone was offering trail magic. A woman with a stern face then emerged from the tent and glared at me. I guess not… I asked her if the spring was that way and she answered in an unfriendly manner. I started down the path and then decided to wait instead and hope for water at the next spring that was closer to the trail.
No officials were waiting at this road to tell us to get off the trail, so I assumed it was safe to keep walking. I passed by Band Leader taking a break. He wanted to know where his friend Sky Eyes was. I told him that he needed to stop to get water at the last spring and would be along shortly.
I ended up taking a break further ahead and Band Leader said he wished he had waited to take his break there when he passed by.
Several miles later, when I reached Bear Dog spring, I found Band Leader and a hiker I did not know, named Wight sitting on a log, eating their lunch. Runs with Elk was sitting above them in a grove of trees. The guys told me the spring was dried up and then, when they admitted they were kidding, said it was a quarter mile downhill. “No, it’s not!”. Unfortunately, it was only a puddle, so they said I needed to scoop out the water with. I told them that, luckily, I had a wide-mouthed smart water bottle for that purpose. Wight said that wouldn’t be good enough and lent me his mug.
I joined them to eat my own lunch and filter my water. Wight had only eaten a Cliff bar and was ready to head out again. Band Leader complained about having too much food on him and asked me if I wanted anything. I also had too much! Runs With Elk was interested, however, and came down to look through the offerings. The only thing that had looked good to me was some pastel colored eggs. Finally, Band Leader asked if I wanted any. “Yes, please!” I felt so happy just staring at them in my hand!
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Runs with Elk asked me if I had ever made a nest on a hike to leave some chocolate eggs in. She said she had done that a couple of times. Band Leader thought that sounded like a fun idea and asked if they could build a nest now! He went off and started gathering pretty leaves and flowers and quickly turned them into a beautiful nest and placed it on a log with some of the candies in the center.
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Sky Eyes came along and when the nest was pointed out to him, first thought it was real, and then that it had taken someone a long time to make!
I headed out into the hot afternoon and after about twenty minutes, decided that an ice coffee sounded good. I figured I had better make it now before my water got too hot. The boys passed by and made fun of me for stopping so soon after my last break. We were all excited about reaching the Oregon border, which we were shooting for tonight “Remember when it used to take us all day to hike 20 miles?” I asked Band Leader. “Yeah. And now we can easily hike 30. I think we’re getting the hang of this thing, Wendy!”.
I was excited to have people in my vicinity and hoped I could keep up so that someone could take my picture at this monumental point!
I hiked at a strong pace by myself for the next several miles and was glad to come across Band Leader and Sky Eyes sitting down taking a break. “We only have ten miles until the border!”. We talked about the wedding I was trying to make it to and Band Leader joked that I should wear my current outfit to it. He said I should arrive late, apologizing profusely, and then ask, “Is there any food around here?”. In a normal thru-hiker state, that would make sense, but I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to eat at the wedding!
I continued on, watching hawks fly overhead, and then had to sit down to take my break as the boys pressed on. I soon caught up to Band Leader and Wight and hiked with them to the last water source of the day.
Our guidebook made it seem like it would be difficult to find and easy to miss, but that was actually far from the case! We found Cookie leaving the source and could hear it from a distance! The water was so cold that my hands hurt trying to filter it. Wight spread out his groundcloth and decided to make some hot chocolate and perhaps stay there for the night. I headed on. I soon caught up to Cookie, who said she didn’t know if she was going to try for the border tonight. (How could you not know that?). I hiked as hard as I could, wanting to stay ahead of everyone to make sure there was someone to take my picture. Still, I had to take my little pack breaks.
My energy remained fairly strong until I hit the last mile. Cookie had caught back up to me and was obviously going to reach the border, as well. I struggled to keep my pace and kept looking at my GPS as I walked. Where was this thing? As I got closer and closer, I wanted to stay in the lead, even though I knew it didn’t matter who got there first. I felt like I had worked really hard and wanted to see the sign appear in front of me, rather than another person reaching the sign.
At last, there it was. Cookie let out a yelp behind me and I let out nothing. No emotions arose within me. I was just there.
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I asked Cookie if she would take a couple of pictures of me and then I did the same for her.
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As we read through the register, the boys came along with much more excitement. Sky Eyes fell to the ground, so happy to be in his home state of Oregon, and Band Leader tumbled on top of him. Sky Eyes said that he had been waiting for this moment for an entire week- and that his reason had to do with Band Leader. Cookie and I looked at each other. Then, Sky Eyes pulled out a joint. Band Leader promised he would smoke with him when they arrived at the border and now it was time to make due on his promise. I was offered some but said no. Sky Eyes understood. He said that for people who naturally laugh a lot, marijuana just makes them very sleepy. It was now very cold out and the haze from the smoke of the forest fires caused our surroundings to look a lot like one would expect Oregon to look like.
I thought the boys were planning to sleep at the border, but we all ended up putting our packs on and heading out. Cookie lead and pulled over when she saw a spot without saying anything. I continued walking and once I crossed a dirt road, noticed a patch of dirt beside a tree. I decided I would stop right there. There were a couple of beer cans around, and sleeping by a road is never the most comfortable thing, but I was dead tired and this place offered me my own little space. I set up my cowboy camp, cooked dinner, washed up, layered up, and went to sleep.
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Day 104: Seiad Valley

Day 104
July 31
mile 1651.4-appr. 1670
18.6 miles

Somehow, I was able to get up early. I boiled water for my coffee, ate breakfast, and packed up, all before Elk got up! Miraculously, I didn’t even need to find a place to run off to!
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I had about four miles to walk before I reached a campground and saw nowhere to camp within that part of the trail. Cookie must have done a lot of walking in the dark last night! When I reached the campground, I saw the three Germans (Ranch, Beer, and Viking) sitting at a picnic table, smoking. They had slept there the night before and said someone had arrived late last night and got up very early this morning, but didn’t know who it was. They pointed out the way to the road and said they would see me in Seiad Valley.
I turned onto the road and as I rounded the corner, saw a disturbing stuffed animal rabbit on a log. I have no idea what that was about!
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I began to lose energy as I walked along the dusty dirt road and decided to sit down for a snack break. Several minutes later, a huge logging truck came towards me, kicking up great amounts of dust! Perhaps that wasn’t the best place to sit down… Later, a big truck that was dripping water onto the road came by and passed me twice. Eventually, I turned onto a paved road and began the walk into the tiny community of Seiad Valley.
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I listened to some music to help me along. A lot of people complain about road-walking, but I didn’t think it was too awful. There had been less of it on this hike than I had originally expected.
I walked by a few farms and then came to the center of town. Everything that was of interest to us was essentially in the same building. Next door, was an RV park with a shower. My first order of business was getting breakfast! I entered the cafe and sat down next to Cookie at the counter. She was engaged in conversation with some locals and didn’t even notice me for awhile! Immediately after she finished her eggs, she headed out, wanting to start the big climb before it got too hot out. Last year, a huge fire had burned this section of trail, making the climb even hotter than it had typically been. This section of trail is notorious for the heat, but after the untypically hot and humid past couple of weeks, it was nothing to new to us.
I ordered an omelet and while I ate, learned that Shyshinka had been brought to the doctor yesterday and given antibiotics for giardia! I felt so bad for him! And now his whole plan of getting to Ashland had been thrown off. Just as they were switching from breakfast to lunch, I got in the last order for french toast. Several hikers had come in to eat in the back room in the meantime, including Slack and his group. SunDog and Giggles did not arrive in time for breakfast.
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After I ate, I went to the post office to pick up my packages and then sat outside to sort through my things in the hot sun. The Germans were hovering around, wanting my extras, but I let Slack take what he wanted first. I had given him my extras in Etna and he had been really appreciative.
Then, I headed over to the RV park to take a coin shower. I made it back to the cafe just before they were about to close and got a chicken sandwich, which didn’t turn out to be at all what I was expecting. I should have just stopped with breakfast. My stomach was hurting anyway and I wasn’t able to eat much of it. However, Shyshinka came in while I was there and I got to catch up with him about what had happened! The hikers gathered around the shaded picnic tables outside to sort and then head out or hang around until the sun started to go down to avoid the heat of the day. I headed out around 3, wanting to get in a decent number of miles. I walked along the paved road, not knowing where the PCT branched of. Re-finding the trail always took so much energy for me! Finally, I found the path and started the climb.
In a couple of miles, I came to a piped spring and trough and decided to stop and re-fill my water bottles. I spotted a deer and then saw two fawns and a second adult! They were so cute!
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I took the climb slowly and didn’t find it as tough as I had heard. I felt happy with the progress I was making and the higher I climbed, the more beautiful the terrain got.
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As night approached, I found myself on an open ridge with no obvious place to set up. I checked out a couple of places, but nothing seemed suitable. Above me, I saw what might look to have a semi-flat space, but the wind had really picked up and I felt that it was too unprotected and cold in that gravelly area. I headed back down to the trail and walked on.
A little later, I decided to stop just above the trail in a very sooty area. What remained of the trees were blackened stumps. The ash was still dark and fresh. It probably wasn’t the healthiest decision to sleep here, but I did not have much of a choice. Because I had eaten so much regular food in Seiad Valley, I didn’t feel like I needed to cook a pasta dinner. Instead, I enjoyed a chocolate feast! I bundled up as the temperatures quickly dropped and the wind swirled around me.
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The sunset was gorgeous, and overnight, the most unbelievable stars appeared over my head, revealing the Milky Way. What an incredible place I had found myself in!

Day 103: Sleeping on a Bridge

Day 103
July 30
mile 1625-1651.4
26.4 miles

I heard someone walk by at 6:00 and wondered who it was as I closed my eyes again. I was too tired and didn’t get up until 6:38. While I ate my breakfast, the section hiker who started at the Etna trail head with us walked by. I was now the last of this group!
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At 7:50, I started walking. It didn’t take me long to overtake the section hiker.
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By 11:00, I came across Rabbit Stix sitting in the middle of the trail, eating a snack. I had to step around him to get by.
I later found a spot to sit along the trail for my ice coffee, snickers, and almond butter break. All of a sudden, I heard some extremely loud voices that startled me! I had no idea where they were coming from. After a couple of minutes, I finally saw a couple of men headed toward me, but they barely acknowledged me. It was so jarring to hear people speaking so loudly out here!
Nearly two hours later, I noticed SunDog, Giggles, and Elk sitting just above the trail, enjoying their lunch. They invited me to join them, but I had already eaten and wanted to keep moving. Giggles mentioned the long descent into Seiad Valley coming up, and I told her I was not looking forward to that! Fred had told me that it was a killer on the shins!
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I grew more and more tired as the day wore on and had to stop often to take little breaks. Fortunately, the afternoon miles still seemed to pass by more quickly than the slower morning ones! And the downhill turned out to be not nearly as bad as I was expecting! There were lots of little uphills within the well-graded descent.
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I caught up to Cookie and we hiked a similar pace for awhile. Soon after, Giggles and SunDog caught up and passed us. SunDog kept stopping to pick thimbleberries. I had never seen or tasted this kind of berry before, so I tried to stop at the same places that he had to look for them. Cookie and I both found some and stopped a couple of times to taste these red berries.
There was very little possibility for camping along this stretch and my goal was to make it to the third bridge, where Yogi had written that she had slept on both of her hikes. Cookie peeled off the trail to cook dinner and I continued alone, growing more and more tired. By the time I reached the second bridge, I had to stop, sit down and eat a snack. I felt exhausted! SunDog and Giggles came along and asked about the camping situation. They decided to check out the woods by the bridge to see if there were any possibilities there. They came back, still unsure. SunDog opened up a bag of Fritos and offered some to me. They were the first ones I had tasted on this hike and were so good! I told them I wanted to move on in order of having a chance of making it the Seiad Valley Cafe for breakfast, even though I didn’t know how early I was going to be able to get up. They decided to set up camp there. Before I left, I asked them which places in Oregon and Washington were good places for zero days, as they had hiked the trail before. It was interesting to hear their impressions of what was coming up.
It was now starting to grow dark, so I headed out and let them set up their camp. The taste of the Fritos lingered in my mouth and helped me get through the next couple of miles. At last, I arrived at the bridge, dropped my pack, and walked down the bank to collect water. I cooked my dinner and took out the toffee that Tanya had given to me to enjoy for dessert. I felt extremely grateful for these special treats. I almost felt undeserving of them, but as I thought about my life and lack of love, I started to change my mind. Above me, dark clouds covered the sky. It was an unusual sight.
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While, I ate, Cookie walked by. I had told her about my plan to sleep on the bridge and she seemed to want to do the same thing, but I guess she had changed her mind. The next section supposedly contained a lot of poison oak and it didn’t seem like there were any camping options. As darkness descended, I hoped no one else would cross the bridge. It wasn’t the most comfortable of places to stay, but I told myself that everything would be okay.
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Before I got into my sleeping bag, I heard thumping at the other end of the bridge. It was Runs with Elk, arriving here at 9. I told her I didn’t think there was anyplace to camp ahead. She asked if she could could join me on the bridge and set up at the opposite end. It didn’t feel as scary with someone else now around.

Day 102: I love the PCT!

Day 102
July 29
mile 1606.4-1625
18.5 miles

My spot on the back lawn of Alderbrook Manor was probably the most peaceful and beautiful place that I had camped on the PCT. It would have been nice to sleep in a bit, but I had to go the bathroom, and I didn’t know what time FunSize was getting up and wanted to go to breakfast. I headed over to the bunkhouse, past all of the sleeping hikers, and was surprised to find Braveheart still in bed and FunSize asleep! Why was I the other person up? I sat down in a chair inside the bunkhouse and started to compose a small update to post while I waited. When FunSize woke up, he looked down at me and said, “Good morning, Wendy!” with a big smile. After he showered, the three of us got on bikes to head downtown. Two mountain biking guests were getting ready for their long ride. We all started out around the same time and I soon found myself trying to match their pace! My competitive spirit was already coming back on my second attempt at riding a bike! I was the first to arrive at the diner, where I had another omelet, toast, and fruit.
On the way back, I saw Veggie relaxing outside a coffee shop, reading the newspaper. I wished I could have stayed another day here, but my schedule was too tight to do so. Having arrived on a Sunday, I did not get to visit the old fashioned soda counter or swim in the pool, as they were both closed. Back at the Manor, I was enlisted to find out about a ride back to the trail. Dave wanted to give Fred some time, so we agreed on 10:00. I went to pack up my things and took two minutes to lie in the hammock, which felt amazing! I decided that I want one of my own some day.
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Lots of hikers congregated in the front yard, anxious to get back to the trail. I filled my water bottles as Cookie and Braveheart played with the dog, and Shyshinka took photographs of everyone. Braveheart then decided he might as well make use of the waiting time by eating a giant bowl of Lucky Charms. When Fred’s truck pulled up, FunSize started feeling sad about us all leaving. He told Shyshinka and I that seeing us makes him feel happy! Shyshinka was planning on doing 30 miles today in order to make it to Ashland before the post office closed on Friday, and FunSize worried that he would never see him again. “Don’t say that!” I said. I knew that would not be the case. (And if it were, it would be too sad!).
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We threw our packs in the back, found a spot in the truck, and waved goodbye to FunSize.
When we arrived back at the Etna Summit trailhead, there was a feeling of excitement and happiness in the air. No one was in a rush to get hiking. I kept thinking, “This is so much fun!”. Sometimes, the right mix of people come together and the energy of a place is really positive. Etna turned out to be one such stop.
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I took the lead until I had to pee. Since everyone was fairly close together, I had to wait for them all to pass by.
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I kept my mind amused with things that happened in Etna, such as Shyshinka’s story about taping up his ripped shorts, which led FunSize to stand up on the couch and impersonate Michael Jackson and me to start screaming with laughter. In a couple of miles, there was a trail register and I waited for Cookie and Elk to sign it before sitting down to read through it.
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I later collected water at a cow-infested stream to make myself an ice coffee and chat with Elk. The water was not cold enough for it, though. My intestines were still problematic, but my mood was good. Elk started hiking before me.
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I later caught up to her at a pond. I took the lead and, towards evening, when I reached the last stream of the day, sat down to collect and filter water and eat a snack.
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Elk came along, hoping to get in five more miles to camp where Cookie was planning on getting to. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hike that far before dark.
The trail climbed and I met two section hikers headed south. They planned on hiking to Sierra City.
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As the sun went down, I found a nice flat spot that was perfect for one person alongside the trail. Everything was well. Today, I loved the PCT and didn’t want this hike to end!