Monday, August 30, 2010

If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes

Day 139-August 30th
Destination: MM 2370ish
Miles: 27 (plus 0.4 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2046

A cold day indeed.

We're tired, and most of the scenery today was of clear cut forest (or lack of forest), so the blog post will be short.

By some good fortune, the sky was reasonably clear this morning. Then that changed. We took lunch at the Urich Camp Shelter. There was a bit of sun, but that changed. Thirty minutes after we started hiking, we got rained on. Then the weather changed again.

Temperature changes matched our grade changes, up and down, but mostly down. In the end the clouds cleared, making way for a very cold night.

On the bright side, at one moment the sky was clear and we were able to see Mt. Rainier. It was far off in the distance. It would seem that we walked all the way along its side without ever seeing it... Except for a few days before, and a few days after.

On a side note:
By luck, our phone had reception, so Psycho was able to call his father and wish him a happy birthday. Post blog comments to wish him a happy birthday....Psycho's mothers birthday is the day after tomorrow.

Oh, and we saw two elk.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to Foggy Washington

Day 138-August 29th
Destination: Crown Basin Shelter
Miles: 10.5 (plus 0.3 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2019

After pulling a late night catching up with old trail friends, we crashed in our tent only to wake just before 8am. PseudoGnome joined us for a walk over to the room Uncle Tom got. We hung around with him saying our goodbyes. It was kind of difficult. How does one say goodbye to someone they hiked for two months with and now knows that they probably won't see them on the trail again, perhaps never again.

It was great to see MeGaTex, and sad to say goodbye. Good luck guys. In the morning madness, we missed a few friends, but we had to get back to the trail. We packed up while PseudoGnome ran to the store and picked up a few groceries for us. Then we hopped in the truck and made the long drive back to the trail, arriving just before 4pm. He's a trooper, doing whatever he can to help us, and for that we are very thankful.

We left him to his 3 hour drive home, and hit the trail. Very quickly we climbed up into the fog. At times it was so thick, we could only see 100 feet ahead of us, if that. The air was very damp and chilly, leaving moisture on the plants. Our pant legs did a good job at grabbing said moisture.

At one point Psycho was sure he saw a bear, and certainly heard it. He backed down the trail to a reasonable distance and started yelling to scare the bear. It did not run away, so we were rather concerned. As we started making more noise, we heard the "bear" talk. Oops, the bear was actually some campers.

We chatted with the campers who told us that we were going to be getting showers tomorrow, but the worst of the weather should pass after that. We didn't like that news, but we more or less expect rain up here. We made the final two miles towards camp, wandering off trail a few yards to grab water. We then put on our head lamps and hiked another quarter mile to a shelter.

The shelter is more of a lean-to than a cabin, and we put our tent up under it, but we'll be very appreciative of it if it does rain tonight. We are bundled in our bags, hoping tomorrow is warmer, but we doubt it will be.

We wonder what magnificent views were hidden by the fog. We're in Mt. Rainier National Park, but we have yet to see the mountain.
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PCT Days

Day 137-August 28th
Destination: Cascade Locks (via Chinook Pass)
Miles: 0
Cumulative Miles: 2008.5

It was nice to have a zero day that wasn't cluttered with necessary chores, a day about relaxing and socializing. At the last minute, we were able to figure out a way to get back to Cascade Locks, but were sorely disappointed to know that none of our old hiking mates were going to make it.

As the day unfolded, more and more thru-hikers showed up. Before we knew it, we had re-connected with Golden Child, SlimJim, Train, Uncle Tom, Axilla, Richard Wizard, and Duff, as well as several other hikers we have known, but not really hiked that much with.

The event was fun. It is a fund-raiser for the PCT Assoc. Started about five years ago as more or less a gathering of ten people BBQing and hiking, it has grown into an event of 300-400 people with several gear vendors. This year they roughly tripled the amount of money raised for the PCTA, in comparison to last year.

We bought some raffle tickets, but sadly did not win anything. PseudoGnome, our traveling trail angel super hero, did won some Backcountry Pantry meals. The evening was spent watching a movie put together by a past thru-hiker called "Wizards of The PCT", very funny. It is available online for purchase, so go get it.

Tomorrow PseudoGnome will take us back to the trail. Only about 330 miles left of Washington, then we head back down to crank out the last 300 of the Sierras we missed. The end is close enough to see.

What then??
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Friday, August 27, 2010

2000 Miles, Baby!!

Day 136-August 27th
Destination: Chinook Pass
Miles: 13
Cumulative Miles: 2008.5

As if to signify the fact that we would be entering into Mt. Rainier National Park today, it got rainier last night. Around 3am, the sound of rain started beating on our tent. While the pitter patter of the rain was soothing to Apricots, it woke Psycho up enough that he had trouble falling back asleep.

We had 13 miles to cover today, so we were not in a real hurry to get moving. We laid in the tent, listening to the rain die down. Fortunately it pretty much stopped by the time we were out and moving. The collected rain on the undergrowth did a fair job at wetting our boots and pant legs, but the afternoon sun prevailed and we did not end our day wet.

Taking a short break early in the day, Psycho noticed a small animal scurrying up a tree. After talking with others, and researching it a bit, we believe it was a Pine Marten, a very rare sighting from what we're told.

The day, though cloudy and foggy, was fairly nice. The rain was scattered in mercurial drops on the vegetation. Psycho was repeatedly stopping to attempt to photograph the perfect dew crystal, while Apricots urged him to move faster as it was cold outside. The thick fog limited our visibility to no more than 100 yards.

As the day wore on the sun cooked off the fog, and we found our shadows which seemed to forget to wake up with us. The grade allowed us to move with relative ease, and the tread was only rocky in a few places.

About two hours into the day, Psycho turned around and screamed "Two thousand miles, baby!!!" This gave Apricots quite the scare, as it was completely peaceful and quiet otherwise.

When we arrived at Chinook Pass, we hitched our way back to the town of Packwood, where PseudoGnome agreed to meet us. He is driving the long leg up here, just so we can go to PCT Days in Cascade Locks. What a rockstar!

Hiking for Cherryville Heartsongs.
Visit our blog to find out how to donate.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 135-August 26th
Destination: MM 2319ish
Miles: 16 (plus 0.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1995.5

It was a fairly simple day, mostly uneventful. After our late night last night we chose to sleep in a bit. Our plans only called for 29 miles over two days, so it was not too important to get an early start on the day. As we haven't been making our desired miles as of late, we have been fortunate enough to be arriving close to a road for an easy out to town. This enables us to make the trip back down to Cascade Locks for PCT Days, an event that has grown over the years. It should give us an opportunity to catch a few of our old friends from earlier on in the trail, as well as help generate income for the PCT Association. (More on the event later, when we get there)

Psycho went down to the Kracker Barrel store to pick up the resupply boxes this morning. He ran into Kern, another thru-hiker who had just pulled into town. One of his resupply boxes had not yet arrived, so he was waiting out the time until the daily mail came. Since he had an hour to kill, Psycho offered up a shower to him. Like any thru-hiker, he was happy to come up to our hotel room and get a shower in before we checked out.

After packing most our gear, we wandered down to the store for some breakfast before heading back to the trail. A giant cinnamon roll, two sausage and egg muffin, one bacon and egg muffin, two americanos, and some candy sufficed. Once refueled, we finished packing and went to the trail.

The hike was pleasant, mostly green corridor, but several lakes dotted the landscape making it easy to enjoy. Furthermore, the grade of the trail was easy and the tread was mostly smooth. This allowed us to pull 16 miles, despite not starting until 1pm.

The overcast sky led to a very chilly walk, at times downright cold. In the evening the sun had set, and the clouds hid any early evening twilight. Slipping into the forested overgrowth presented the feeling of arriving at camp well past dark, which it nearly was. The days are getting shorter, and we both sense it.

Shorter days, and closer final day.

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A Good Treat to a Bad End to a Great Day

Day 134-August 25th
Destination: White Pass
Miles: 22.5 (plus 2.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1979.5

Some days are hard to put to words, because they are just so breathtakingly beautiful. Today is one of those days, easily making the top ten for the whole trail, except the tail end of the day which falls into the bottom ten.

After rising later than we wished, we began our hike with a nice walk out of the valley we were camped at. We climbed up to the Packwood Glacier. Crossing a couple small snow fields, we arrived at the glacier which sloped dramatically down off of Old Snowy peak. Rather than facing the dangers of following the official PCT across the glacier, we chose to climb up and over Old Snowy as the guidebook suggested.

From the top of a steep rocky climb we were offered views of the entirety of the Goat Rocks Wilderness. We made the descent down the mountain, which was even steeper, and more difficult to hold secure footing on. The clinking rocks sounded like someone putting ceramic dishes away in the cupboard.

We made several steep climbs and descents along a razor-edge ridge, where the rocky slopes dropped off to our sides at 70-80 degrees. One false step could have fatal consequences. The first six miles of our day took just over four hours, because the terrain caused serious slowdown, and the views were so amazing, we were constantly stopping to admire them or take pictures. At times we wished others were here to see what we were seeing, but in the end we were both glad that we had only each other to share it with.

We dropped down into the forest just before lunch, and had a brief forested walk afterwards before climbing 1500 feet back up to open landscape. The day was nearing it's end and we were hurrying to make it to White Pass. We saw the occasional marmot, with their white backed coats and monkey-like demeanor.

As we were running out of daylight, we took a recommended shortcut. This trail would drop us right at the store, and not require us to do the road walk. It also trimmed about 2 miles from the distance. All of that sounded great, as the day was late. We took the "Chairlift Trail" which was simple to follow for a quarter mile. Then it ran into a road and disappeared. Any way we looked at it on the map and GPS, this road would not be shorter than the trail, and would not drop us at the store.

We wandered around, backtracking a couple times, looking for this elusive trail which promised to be better than the PCT, and never found it. Eventually we resigned ourselves to not searching anymore, and followed one of the roads until it was close to the PCT, where we cut cross country back to the official route. Just before we arrived back on the PCT, we heard loud crashes in the forest and Psycho caught the tail end of what appeared to be a couple Elk running off.

Back on the official PCT, the sunlight was gone, the mosquitoes were fierce, and we still had 2.5 miles to go. We put on our head lamps and started cruising, as fast we could while preserving our ankles in the dim light. We talked the whole way down, on the off chance that we might cross paths with a bear. About 100 yards before reaching the trail head, we spooked up some sort of large animal. Given the sound and size of the sound, we figured it was another Elk, but we never saw it. The loud crashes startled us enough to double our heart rates, and give us enough energy to make the final half mile to the tiny community of White Pass.

It was nearly 10pm when we arrived, and everything was closed. The office at the hotel was vacant. We were destined to camp, which made the push to town annoying. At the last moment, we found the door to the assistant manager. We knocked a few times but to no avail. As we walked away, sad and angry, Apricots heard a shuffle behind us. She looked back and saw the manager feeding the office cat. We were able to get a room, and so ended the bad end to our good day with a good treat.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Midday Turn Around

Day 133-August 24th
Destination: Cispus River
Miles: 22.5 (plus 0.6 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1957

Our hike started this morning with your typical green corridor, which we would like to call our northwestern friend. We, however, tend to look at it as a guest which has over stayed their welcome. Fortunately the sky was blue, the temperature was about perfect, and the grade was undeniably easy.

When we arrived at our lunch spot, we passed up a murky pond for a stream about a quarter mile further. It turned out to be a dry creek bed, as was the one just past that. So we were forced to turn back to the murky pond. Knowing the mosquitoes would be in full force down at the water, we left our packs in a shady patch and grabbed water from the pond. When we returned, the wiley sun had moved (or rather the earth rotated) and our shaded lunch spot was no longer.

After fussing with three trees to find an adequate place to hang our gravity filter, we sat down in a new shaded patch to go about making lunch. Before lunch was done being made, we found ourselves in the sun again. Oh well, we were hungry, no moving now despite the cramped dining quarters.

Apricots had mixed the salmon with some water and powdered cheese. When she went to add the macaroni noodles, she kicked a whole bunch of dirt into our cheesy mix. After carefully spooning the dirt out, thereby diminishing our cheese supply, she carefully added the noodles. This time we were relatively free of nature's gritty untasty pepper.

Picking up our bowels, to scoop said lunch onto tortillas, Apricots noticed dirt on the bottom of her bowel. Brushing it off she managed to bump her spoon and fling a cheesy macaroni morsel onto Psycho's arm. All the while, the absence of mosquitoes was replaced with an abundance of flies, which were annoying but fortunately did not bite. As abundant as the flies were the swear words being thrown out of Apricots mouth like some sort of Truckers Convention. We agreed that this was perhaps the worst lunch we have had on the entirety of the trail.

As we readied ourselves to leave, Apricots shook her sun screen bottle to apply some. The white paste shot out, missing her hand, landing in an unusable clump in the dust at her feet. Five minutes later, we were hiking. Fifteen minutes later, we crossed a creek which would have served as a nice lunch spot, had we only but walked another quarter mile.

"Oh, Discordia"

After lunch, we began our climb into the heart of the Goat Rocks Wilderness. What a significant change. The views were breathtakingly beautiful, and easily the best we have had in Washington, and some of the best we've had on the entire trail. Trees gave way to towering rock spires, and hillsides sloped steeply with rocky landslides. We found ourselves taking breaks, not because we needed them, but because we wanted to absorb our experience.

In the evening, we found ourselves cooking dinner next to a clear cascading creek running straight down the hill from snow melt. We climbed just uphill from the creek to a flat area caught in a valley that slopes downward and out towards Mt. St. Helens. We sat around watching the sun set as Crowdog and Beaker rolled in. We caught up with them while they ate dinner, before finally crawling into our tent, positioned at one of our favorite sites on the whole trail.

"Oh bliss"

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Out of the Tunnel

Day 132-August 23rd
Destination: MM 2258ish
Miles: 20.5
Cumulative Miles: 1934.5

Things work out on the trail. They always do. Ask any thru-hiker. This morning, when we discovered that the two trail angels in Trout Lake were out of town (one on a long drive for another thru-hiker), we had resigned ourselves to hitching. While grabbing a coffee at an espresso stand near a gas station, we were offered a ride back to the trail by a retired forest firefighter. It's a small bit of magic, but appreciated to the maximum, as hitching has never been fun despite the "fantastic" experiences we've had with it.

Back to the trail by 11am.

The Gray that lingered for our first three days of Washington was gone this morning. Our hike was under a blue sky, and we emerged from the seemingly endless green tunnel which had sucked the joy out of hiking. And what splendid sights were to be had as we climbed into the Mt. Adams wilderness.

The heavily glaciated Mt. Adams stood as a constant backdrop to the majority of today's hike. Psycho told Apricots the old lore of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams vying for the love of Mt. St. Helens. In a fit of rage, Hood smashed his fist on Adams. This is why the top of Adams is rounded rather than pointy. Apricots added that this kind of behavior caused Mt. St. Helens to "flip her lid" back in 1980.

When we had our backs to the mountain, we had an expansive clear view towards Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens. If the distant views of the other Cascade mountains became too much for us, we had many lupines, indian paintbrushes, and other wild flowers to look upon.

The blue gray basalt highlighted the tips of the lupines abundant throughout our day. Several small streams, glacial melt, wandered almost aimlessly through lush green meadows. Most stream crossings were done with a few rock hops, or a bridge. We did meet with one rather shallow but wide flowing stream that required us to take off our boots. The glacial water was fiercely cold, and our feet hurt after crossing. Yet once we donned our boots, they felt so refreshed, as if the last 15 miles were only 5.

Wandering off the mountain side, we dropped through a forest arriving at a lava flow with a spring percolating out of the lava rock. Crystal clear clean water for drinking. No mud or muck. We set up camp not long after sunset at this spring.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

PseudoGnome to the Rescue

Day 131-August 22nd
Destination: Trout Lake
Miles: 14.5 (plus 3 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1914

Another day in the green tunnel. It was cold, but not unbearable, and it only lightly sprinkled on us twice, for less than ten minutes.

We knew we had to drop down to Trout Lake to get our resupply box, so every road we crossed was a temptation. We scanned the maps and saw several options that would take us out of the cold and down into a warm cafe, hotel, or even grocery store. We debated hitching with each road crossing, but ultimately made it to our desired road before hitching.

We even (very reluctantly) passed up a ride offer from a gentleman out supporting a PCT thru-runner. (These facts are a little gray) the thru-runner is Bob Holtel, author of "Soul Sweat and Survival", an 80 year old man doing a two season thru-run of the PCT. His book tells the tales of his first 3-season thru-run just over two decades ago.

After passing up the offer, we hiked the final 5.5 miles to our desired road, which was dismally empty of cars. We put our rain jackets on, and started the 13.5 mile walk down to Trout Lake. After 30 minutes a car passed, but didn't stop. Another 30 minutes and we found ourselves sitting on the forest road discussing what we would do if we failed to get a ride. Before settling on a plan, a mini-van pulled over to give us a ride the rest of the way.

As we reached the road, we came across a cache of goodies put together by the kind folks at Trout Lake Abbey, a zen temple of sorts. We enjoyed fresh fruit, and new toothpaste to replace our nearly empty supply.

Our filter is toast. A new filter takes about 2-3 minutes to filter 1 liter of water. Our filter now takes nearly 30 minutes to filter one liter. This means that if we want to filter enough water for a full day, we need to filter for about 3-4 hours. Our replacement cartridge is a week or more away.

This is why PseudoGnome, aka DK, aka Jacob C. is our hero. He drove from Portland to Trout Lake at the last minute to bring us a new cartridge for our gravity filter. REI was all out, so he brought us his own cartridge, driving 90 minutes one way to help make our hike easier. Yay PseudoGnome!! No giardia for us, thanks to you.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mmm...Cheetos and Whisky

Day 130-August 21th
Destination: 0.5 North of NF RD 23
Miles: 21.5
Cumulative Miles: 1899.5

We slept in today. Yesterday's miles kicked our butts, and we found it mighty difficult to wake when our alarm went off this morning. We didn't start moving until just after 9am.

The late start affected us in the sense that we didn't have enough daylight left to make it to our goal for the day. We had to drop off trail to a tiny muddy pond to get water, as we weren't prepared for dry camping, despite our knowledge it might have happened.

Today's hike was a little better with a few lakes along the way, but both of us want some scenery, need some scenery, and need it soon. "The Long Green Tunnel" is rarely inspiring to hike in. As such the miles are harder and less enjoyable.

The highlight of our day was a PCT Hiker Stash five miles in. The bucket was filled to the brim with snickers, paydays, kitkats, starbursts, cookies, chips, and m&m's. We took a break, and enjoyed the sweet treats put there by past thru-hikers. We met a section hiker there who told us that there was a forecast of snow or rain at the very least for the coming days. By the temperature of the day and the lingering clouds, it looks daunting. It was very cold, making the hike difficult. Hopefully today's temperature is not an indication of how the rest of Washington will be. We sure are glad that our jumping has put us up here sooner than the herd of hikers who may have an early winter to face.

1900 miles. Woohoo!!
Well...almost 1900 miles, enough to call it at 1900 and enjoy the whisky that Jacob (Psycho's old boss) gave him. One mini bottle each. Today we also enjoyed many of the treats provided to us by Kristine N. Kristine is an old friend of Psycho's, he met shortly after his first thru-hike attempt. Thank you Jacob and Kristine.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

A Hard Day

Day 129-August 20th
Destination: MM 2202ish
Miles: 27.5
Cumulative Miles: 1878

Today was a very hard day.

We started with a climb of roughly 1600 feet, only to descend 2200 feet and turn around to climb 3200 feet. Oregon made us soft, and arduous climbing like this is unfamiliar to us.

We woke extra early with the intention of covering 30-32 miles, and before half the day was done we realized that would be near impossible. By four we realized we a had a "snowballs chance..."

Any way we cut it, it looks as though we won't be able to make the necessary mileage to get to a road to head back to Cascade Locks for PCT days. This is disappointing, but acceptable.

Tomorrow has some more climbs, but not nearly as bad. We did get our first view of Mt. Adams late in the day, which was pretty much the highlight of the day.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Up Up Up into Washington

Day 128-August 19th
Destination: Rock Creek
Miles: 19.5
Cumulative Miles: 1850.5

We slept under the stars last night, and we're doing the same tonight. The lack of mosquitoes and flies is nice, but we don't fully expect it to last, as we'll be heading towards a lake basin soon enough.

After waking later and slower than desired, we drove down to Cascade Locks where we had a large breakfast at Char Burger. While there, we bumped into "The Orange Hat Crew", originally three, now two, thru-hikers noted for their orange hats. We talked briefly with them during breakfast.

Then we packed our gear into our packs, and started our walk. The Columbia Gorge is the lowest point on the entire Pacific Crest Trail, which inevitably means our hike out would be climbing. First, however, we had to walk across the Bridge of the Gods. Originally there was a land bridge across the Columbia river here, but it has since collapsed into the water, and now a massive steel bridge arcs across the water.

Unfortunately for us, there is no pedestrian walkway, so we were forced to walk in the drive aisle on steel grate which seemed to be spaced just close enough to walk across, but just far enough to give a little vertigo to the pedestrian user. Throw in a little famous Columbia Gorge wind, and passing semi's, and you have the recipe for an unnerving road walk. Fortunately, we passed over with no incident.

Our hike started off relatively flat, and in one mile we hit the official low point of the PCT before beginning our 3000 foot climb up past and around Table Mountain which from a distance looks like a layered cake dusted in cocoa and sprinkled with trees.

We took a quick lunch at a saddle before descending roughly eight miles to Rock Creek, where we chose to camp for the night. We only hike 19.5 miles, but we didn't start until after 11am. This push to Snoqualmie will be difficult.

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Zero Number 2 at the OR/WA Border

Day 127-August 18th
Destination: Herman Creek Campground
Miles: 0
Cumulative Miles: 1831

Today was more restful, but we still had food to buy, and hot tubs to be relaxed in.

At the end of the afternoon, NaborJ took us back out to Cascade Locks. We crossed over the Bridge of the Gods to go into Stevenson for dinner. We had some fine ales with our pizza before returning to the Oregon side of the river to camp.

Tomorrow we walk into Washington to begin our trek across the state. We hope to make it to Snoqualmie Pass by the evening of the 27th, so we can come back for PCT Days in Cascade Locks. To do this, we need to pull near 30 mile days for nine days straight.

Guess it's time we tested our endurance.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zero in Portland

Day 126-August 17th
Destination: Portland
Miles: 0
Cumulative Miles: 1826.5

Sweet Glorious Zero Day...

Of course we had "homework" to do...guess we'll just have to zero tomorrow... Fer relaxin' sake
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Old video of blowdowns

An old video, but we'll post it anyway

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oregon Photos

This is a collection of photos from our Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike. It covers some of northern California, and all of Oregon. Next up.... Washington

Down and Out

Day 125-August 16th
Destination: Portland (via Cascade Locks)
Miles: 9
Cumulative Miles: 1826.5

Generally "down and out" implies the negative. This time it implies the positive. "Down" to Cascade Locks and "Out" to Portland for some much needed rest.

Psycho's old manager from his job at Myhre Group Architects was going to hike up to meet the three of us for the hike out. In order to allow Jacob to see the better portion of the Eagle Creek Trail (perhaps the best suggested alternate route of the entire PCT), the three of us took our time getting out of camp.

Usually on a "town day" we like to get an early start to allow for more town time. That was not the case today. We wanted to take our time and enjoy the walk out. It was PseudoGnome's last day of hiking with us, and the longer we waited to start the day, the further up the trail Jacob could get.

We met up with Jacob at the pinnacle of the Eagle Creek Trail, Tunnel Falls. The trail, blasted into a cliff side at times, passes through a tunnel behind this waterfall. We walked along the rough wet trail, holding onto a steel cable for a little mental comfort as we skirted the 100 foot cliffs.

With four and a half miles left, we stopped at a bridge crossing and ducked down to the water. We all put our packs down and shed our shirts for a dip in the cold creek. The frigid temperatures were borderline unbearable, but we all fully submerged at least once. Afterwards we made the final hike out, stopping briefly at Punchbowl falls to watch some cliff jumpers take the three second leap.

When we arrived at the trail head, we went into Cascade Locks to catch some grub at the PCT Pub&Hostel. Unfortunately it was closed, so we went over to Char Burger and ate a large meal.

Then we made the drive into Portland, facing extreme heat on the slow moving freeway. Construction brought movement to a standstill, and only freed up on time to drop us into Portland rush hour traffic. It is nice to be back in our hometown, but at the same time, we were quickly reminded of the burdens of urban living. Hopefully our zero days will be restful, we still have a lot of "homework" to do.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010


Day 124-August 15th
Destination: 3.5 Miles North of Indian Springs
Miles: 10
Cumulative Miles: 1817.5

No rush this morning. We laid in our tents as two hikers walked past at 6:30am. Generally only thru-hikers are moving at that hour, so we figured they were such, and later learned it was probably "Yeti" (who we met in Sierra City) and "Captain Obvious" (who we met at Pooh Corner.

We started hiking around 10am, finishing our walk along the Bull Run Watershed. Not long after that, we dropped down to Indian Springs. Just before doing so, we were given a terrific view of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier, as well as a deep gorge through the hills which is probably the Columbia River. We will cross the Columbia when we hike from Oregon into Washington in a few days. We plan to rest in our home town of Portland first.

At Indian Springs we made lunch and played dice while our water filtered. The gravity filter is a nice addition to our gear as it allows our hands to do other things while water is filtering. It is slower, however. When we left Indian Springs we took the Eagle Creek trail, which was viciously steep for the first mile and a half. It eventually flattened out to more easily managed terrain.

We found a nice campsite a couple hundred feet from a creek. While Pseudo-Gnome was gathering fire wood, he found a better off trail campsite with benches for sitting on, and more room for laying out tents. We lounged away the afternoon playing games and making two dinners.

Tomorrow, on our hike out, we plan on meeting Psycho's old boss who is hiking up to meet us. We will hike out to Cascade Locks with him, and then head into Portland for our first "Zero Day" since July 17th.
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Slow is The Way to Go

Day 123-August 14th
Destination: MM 2132ish
Miles: 14.5
Cumulative Miles: 1807.5

Sleeping in.
What joy it is.

Not that we really slept in that much, as our bodies are so adjusted to rising early, but rather that we woke with no sense of urgency, no sense that time was being wasted, no sense of needing to get "on with the show."

We built a small campfire this morning and drank coffee by it's smoldering flames, our bodies slowly waking after the long night. DK, now known as "Pseudo-Gnome" rose first. He wasn't around the tents when we popped our heads out, so he was likely admiring the morning light scattering through the trees across Ramona Falls.

The four of us slowly packed up camp, and wandered out close to 10am, following the creek down from the falls. The trail gently sloped down next to the creek, which seemed entirely too small for the size of the falls. Across the creek a massive rock wall paralleled us, flanked in it's departed rock masses.

When we reached the Muddy Fork, NaborJ planted the evil idea of walking out with him to his car so he could drive us to a point five miles ahead at Lolo Pass. This would help us skip a steep hot climb, and position us in such a way that water would not be a concern, something we were trying to figure out at the moment. Twenty miles without water is not too difficult if you are pulling 20 plus a day, but since we are not at the moment, we would be required to dry camp.

Eventually we decided that since we had hiked this section a couple times before, we wouldn't feel too guilty about skipping five miles. We left it to fate and flipped a coin; heads we hike, tails we skip five miles. It came up tails, so we hiked the 1.5 out to the car, netting us a loss of 3.5 miles, which we have easily made up for in the side trips for water.

Once dropped at Lolo Pass, we made a lunch and played 10,000 (a dice game) before starting our hike up into the Bull Run Watershed. Bull Run is the source of Portland's drinking water. About seven miles into the hike we found a saddle with a tiny campsite that would serve as our home for the night.

We played dice and cards in the wind, and struggled to limit our water consumption as it was a dry camp and we have about six miles to hike tomorrow.

We crawled into our tents before 8pm, and don't plan on emerging until twelve hours from now. This slower pace is allowing our bodies the rest they need, and while we have no doubt that "Pseudo-Gnome" can pull more miles, we don't want to, so we continue to take it easy.

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Slowing Down

Day 122-August 13th
Destination: Ramona Falls
Miles: 15
Cumulative Miles: 1793

We rose this morning early to get packed up before our tent was spied illegally camped. We hit an espresso stand, and then went to the Huckleberry Inn for a bagel breakfast. Afterwards, we hit the highway to hitch back up to Barlow Pass. Our goal was to get up by 8am, so we had time to hike the five miles to Timberline Lodge to catch the breakfast buffet.

We secured a ride and were able to start hiking by 8:15am. It would be tight, but we had about two hours to cover five miles and about 1500 feet to gain. The first 3.5 miles were easy, and we cruised. Then we hit some sort of cruel joke. The hill became much steeper, the trail became a imperfect mix of silt and sand that slowed our pace to half of what we were moving at. To top it off, the wind picked up and kicked up sand into our eyes. Sticky grit lingered on our chapstick covered lips, and we were running out of time.

Fortunately we arrived at the Lodge with ten minutes to spare. We charged into the dining room and sat down for a delicious breakfast buffet, loading our plates in heaping mounds of eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits&gravy, fresh fruit, french toast, and belgian waffles.

After eating, we snuck showers at the lodge, and waited for "DK" to arrive. Psycho's old roommate will be hiking with us from Timberline Lodge down to Cascade Locks.

He arrived around noon, and after going through our resupply and re-pack routine we hit the trail. The walk started at Timberline and meandered along the mountain side before dropping down into several gullies created by run off from Mt. Hood's glacial and snow melt. We took a short break in ZigZag canyon before climbing out and working our way towards the headwaters of the Sandy River, another rocky silty canyon.

A new pesk has been added to our travels: flies. We heard the flies were going to be bad, but doubted the actual annoyance of the insect. We were gravely mistaken. Not only were the flies abundant, they were also prone to biting. Our breaks were interrupted by a constant swatting to preserve sanity.

After crossing the Sandy River on a small log bridge upstream from the trail, we side tripped up to Ramona Falls, a must-see for all thru-hikers. The side trail is equal distance to the PCT, and the falls hold a perfect majesty to their cascading beauty.

Jason "NaborJ" W. met us at Ramona Falls. Psycho hiked with NaborJ in 2005. Since he now lives in Portland, he wanted to come up and see us as we passed through the area. Arriving at Ramona Falls, NaborJ greeted the three of us with tasty cookies, wine, extra food, and beer. We all sat around a campfire and talked of trail stories.

It was our first campfire since the Sierras with MeGaTex, and one of the very rare times where we actually stayed up past midnight, not just "hiker midnight," but real midnight. To top it off, we get to sleep in tomorrow morning.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Approaching Hood

Day 121-August 12th
Destination: Barlow Pass
Miles: 22.5 (plus 0.2 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1778

We planned on having a shorter day today (less than 25 miles), and so chose to sleep in a bit. We got up around 6:30 and didn't speed to break camp. The casualness of it all gave that sort of enjoyment of camping that is rarely seen in the regular "hurried" lifestyle of a thru-hiker. Thru-hiking is not for people who love camping. Thru-hiking is for people who love walking.

Nevertheless, we are still thru-hikers, and we can't "dally" long, so we were moving just before 8am. The day started with an easy descent down to Timothy Lake, an easy get away for "urbanites." While it is always a good thing for people to get out to nature, such public easily accessed retreat locations are disheartening. We have spent several splendid months in serene clean locations, as this place once was undoubtedly. Now the trails are littered (albeit sparsely) with signs of humans. Countless piles of used toilet paper, and even a dirty diaper, were strewn about. Wrappers from granola bars glinted a sad reflection of our standard lack of care for our natural environment. The closer we are to "civilization" the less "civilized" we seem.

It wasn't a bad experience, riddled with trash, but rather a sad experience with the occasional disruption to an otherwise enjoyable walk. Just past Timothy Lake we took a small detour to Little Crater Lake, an artesian spring 45 feet deep, and about as wide across. The crystal blue water was perfectly clear, and was so distinctly blue those who walked past were heard mumbling "how does it get SO blue?"

We took lunch at Little Crater Lake and then hiked eleven miles further through relatively viewless terrain. Apricots noted how disappointing it was to be walking through Mt. Hood National Forest and yet never seeing the mountain. Three miles before Wapanita Pass we were given one of our first clear views of "our homeside mountain."

Once down to Wapanita Pass we ate a dinner, as we were starving and low on energy. Five and a half miles later we arrived at our destination for the day, Barlow Pass. We knew we wouldn't be able to do laundry at Timberline Lodge, so we opted to hitch five miles down to Government Camp. Once we arrived, we found a laundromat where we did our laundry. We sat and ate a cheeseburger in the laundromat, commenting on the rather surreal nature of such an experience.

Afterwards, we tried to hitch back to the trail, but the sun had nearly set and we were unsuccessful. We walked back into Government Camp to try and find a hotel room (so we could shower), but the town was all booked up. We wandered to the edge of town and found a pseudo-hidden flat camp spot behind an abandoned building.

Tomorrow we will hitch back up to Barlow Pass and hike the final five miles to Timberline Lodge where we'll meet up with "DK", Psycho's old roommate.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Casual Day in The Long Green Tunnel

Day 120-August 11th
Destination: MM 2080ish
Miles: 26.5
Cumulative Miles: 1755.5

We woke up this morning and returned to the Olallie Lake General Store for morning coffee and relaxation. We sat on the porch drinking our coffee and looking out at the misty lake. Small tendrils of lake water clouds misted upward, entangling themselves around the boats of the early rising fishermen. Mt. Jefferson hid behind the clouds, and only showed partially, briefly, as we were leaving.

Our hike was casual, with more frequent than usual breaks, as we were making good time. We stopped for lunch after only 9.5 miles, and dinner after 20. We filtered water out of two simple streams at both stops. The trail wandered viewlessly through what many call "The Long Green Corridor" or "The Green Tunnel". Either are less than fond terms for the Oregon stretch of the PCT. While the trail has it's scenic parts in Oregon, some only remember these mind-numbing types of days, and so look negatively upon the state as a whole.

The highlight of our day came between lunch and dinner. Psycho heard a scurrying scratching sound to his right. Typically this means a bird, or more commonly a squirrel or chipmunk. This time, however, it was much too loud. He looked toward the sound and saw a baby cub bear climbing quickly up a tree. Psycho pointed and Apricots noticed as well. Not wanting to find ourselves splitting a mother from her cub, we quickly looked around and made noise as we hiked further on.

We went 2 miles further than we had planned on as the miles were easy, and pulled in to a relaxing evening in the tent. Joint foot rubs. :)

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Race to a Beer

Day 119-August 10th
Destination: Olallie Lake
Miles: 26.5 (Plus 0.2 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1727.5

We planned on getting to Olallie Lake today, a mere 26.5 miles away. We did get there, but it took longer than expected, and we were fearful we would not make it before the store closed.

Our hike started with finishing the suggested detour and returning to the PCT official route. At the bottom of our descent, we reached a beautiful creek. The valley floor was pretty flat, as such the creek spread out and meandered; a different course every season, for sure.

After climbing back to the PCT, we made our way to Jefferson Park. Along the way we met three older women who wore more weight in perfume than in clothing. They told us the mosquitoes were nothing shy of furiously abundant, and that we needed to cover every inch of our skin to preserve our sanity. Their perfume was so thick, they might as well be wearing flashing neon signs that said "Free Blood."

The mosquitoes turned out to be small and pesky, and were really only bothersome because they kept trying to fly into food while we ate. After lunch we climbed out of the beautiful flat and flowered pastures of Jefferson Park, up to a high point Psycho recalls as being one of the most scenic on the trail. Unfortunately clouds were covering much of the land, and we had limited obscured views of Mt. Jefferson because of it.

After our somewhat snowy descent down the hill, we checked our time and mileage to the Olallie Lake General Store. There was little to no chance of us making it by 8pm, yet there was the potential that the store may be open later, and we could grab a bite to eat or a beer. We put our motor boots on and charged ahead at a lightening pace.

As we walk/ran up to the store, we saw the lights were off, put the sign said "Open." We found the door locked, and almost walked away disheartened. Then the store owner walked out of her neighboring cabin and asked if we needed anything.

Success! A 26.5 mile walk with fantastic views, and tasty cookies at the end to accompany our Coors Light. "The Silver Bullet never tasted so good."


As it was said, a second mosquito poem would be presented. Hopefully our faithful readers are submitting their own mosquito poems.

The Mosquito

by D.H. Lawrence


When did you start your tricks,



What do you stand on such high legs for?

Why this length of shredded shank,

You exaltation?

Listen Here


Is it so that you shall lift your centre of gravity upwards

And weigh no more than air as you alight upon me,

Stand upon me weightless, you phantom?


I heard a woman call you the Winged Victory

In sluggish Venice.

You turn your head towards your tail, and smile.


How can you put so much devilry

Into that translucent phantom shred

Of a frail corpus?


Queer, with your thin wings and your streaming legs

How you sail like a heron, or a dull clot of air,

A nothingness.


Yet what an aura surrounds you;

Your evil little aura, prowling, and casting a numbness on my mind.


That is your trick, your bit of filthy magic:

Invisibility, and the anæsthetic power

To deaden my attention in your direction.

But I know your game now, streaky sorcerer.


Queer, how you stalk and prowl the air

In circles and evasions, enveloping me,

Ghoul on wings

Winged Victory.


Settle, and stand on long thin shanks

Eyeing me sideways, and cunningly conscious that I am aware,

You speck.


I hate the way you lurch off sideways into air

Having read my thoughts against you.


Come then, let us play at unawares,

And see who wins in this sly game of bluff,

Man or mosquito.


You don't know that I exist, and I don't know that you exist.

Now then!


It is your trump,

It is your hateful little trump,

You pointed fiend,

Which shakes my sudden blood to hatred of you :

It is your small, high, hateful bugle in my ear.


Why do you do it?

Surely it is bad policy.


They say you can't help it.


If that is so, then I believe a little in Providence protecting the innocent.

But it sounds so amazingly like a slogan,

A yell of triumph as you snatch my scalp.


Blood, red blood


Forbidden liquor.


I behold you stand

For a second enspasmed in oblivion,

Obscenely estasied

Sucking live blood,

My blood.


Such silence, such suspended transport,

Such gorging,

Such obscenity of trespass.


You stagger

As well as you may.

Only your accursed hairy frailty,

Your own imponderable weightlessness

Saves you, wafts you away on the very draught my anger makes in its snatching.


Away with a pæan of derision,

You winged blood-drop.


Can I not overtake you?

Are you one too many for me,

Winged Victory?

Am I not mosquito enough to out-mosquito you?


Queer, what a big stain my sucked blood makes

Beside the infinitesimal faint smear of you!

Queer, what a dim dark smudge you have disappeared into!

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Monday, August 9, 2010

A Gray Day

Day 118-August 9th
Destination: Bingham Ridge
Miles: 25
Cumulative Miles: 1701

When we woke this morning the clouds had rolled in, and mired us in their gloom. We lingered in our sleeping bags, not wanting to step out into the cool moist air. With our surplus of food we were able to eat a bigger breakfast to help us face the day, and when we finally stepped out, we could tell the sun would burn off the clouds shortly after we began hiking.

They did.

After the first couple hours of hiking, we hit Santiam Pass, where "Catdog" had left a cooler with Beer, Soda, and cookies. The beer was all gone, but we enjoyed sodas and homemade cookies from this trail angel, who hiked the Appalachian Trail not long ago.

Then we continued our northward walk. We (regrettably) chose a suggested alternate route which is roughly the same distance as the PCT, but passes by more lakes and water sources. Unfortunately, this also meant a bit more mosquitoes. Sadly most of the lakes were fairly unremarkable, and so the detour seemed like an unfair trade for the possible ridge line vistas we missed.

In the afternoon, the clouds returned, putting a gray fog across our walk. The burnt forest mixed with an overcast setting sun created a somewhat gloomy end to our day. We were tired and climbing with extra water (for dry camping). The absence of sun depleted our energy and made for a difficult last couple of miles.

At last we arrived at something somewhat flat, and set up camp.

On a less grey note: 1700 miles.
Woohoo!! 1700 miles.

Psycho's brother submitted two mosquito poems, so we'll share one today and one tomorrow. It would be fun to have our readers write their own mosquito poems and post them as a comment on our blog. Visit:

And add your own mosquito poem.

Here's one to inspire you:

Familiar whine in my ear

You settle on my forearm

Prepare to pierce my skin with your proboscis

I raise my had to strike



What if I let you complete the cycle?

You might feed the songbird

Who cheers my day.


Your larvae might feed the minnow

Who feeds the fingerling

Who feeds the pike

Who feeds me.


You might be a meal

For the brown bat

Whose guano fertilizes

Tomatoes for my salad.



But not today.


Deborah K. Frontiera

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Lava Rocks!! Part Deux

Day 117-August 8th
Destination: Big Lake Youth Camp
Miles: 11.5 (Plus 0.8 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1676

We planned to get out of Bend by 10, but the town demons held us longer...and by demons it is meant the allure of sleeping in and milling about slowly, free of mosquitoes. We left town closer to noon. Our faithful trail angel, Lloyd Gust (who picked us up yesterday), drove us back to the trail. He was even kind enough to drive us to the grocery store so we could buy a few resupply items.

Once back to the trail head, we helped Lloyd restock the water cache he maintains there. He also maintains one back at Windigo Pass. Then we hit the trail running, stopping after one-eighth of a mile to make a lunch. Then we really hit the trail, but not running. It was semi-slow movement, as the trail was very rocky. We were crossing a massive lava field near the Belknap Crater.

Before we walked on the moon, we believed the surface of the moon was much like the surface of lava fields we were walking across. NASA brought their astronauts to this area to have them try walking the surface in their space suits. The first paved trail, now serving the D. Wright Observatory, was built for the media to use while filming the Astronauts testing their gear in the field.

Crossing the barren lava fields, where only a few trees ever took hold, we met several day hikers exploring the desolate landscape. Once we passed the lava fields, the number of day hikers dropped to zero, and we had returned to our own more familiar people-less hiking. Yet the views were still magnificent as we approached Mt. Washington.

Washington had a pointy conical dome with a red scarf wrapped several hundred feet below the summit. We walked along it's foothills, passing a trail crew constructing a new trail. The existing trail was rutted heavily from overuse, and was causing a disruption in the natural flow of water. The crew was working to reset the hydrological state of the environment we were enjoying.

A few miles later we arrived at the trail junction to Big Lake Youth Camp, a Seventh Day Adventist Church Camp, which offers showers, laundry, and food service to thru-hikers. They provided us with soap, shampoo, and a giant fluffy towel. After setting up camp we hit the showers. We passed on the dinner (and breakfast) as we were carrying a surplus of food.

After the shower, we sat on the lake shore and watched the sun set beautifully while we finished our dinner. Then we retired to our tent. Back to big miles tomorrow.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

1000 Mile Countdown

Day 116-August 7th
Destination: Bend via McKenzie Pass
Miles: 24
Cumulative Miles: 1664.5

We were pretty beat after two consecutive long days, and so we decided to sleep in until 6:45am. It seems a bit of a joke that sleeping in still means that we're up before seven, but we'd be hard pressed to remember the last time we slept past seven (save for town days).

It was a stunning day from start to finish, perhaps one of the most beautiful we have experienced. In a couple short miles we reached a vast flat plain on volcanic scree and wildflowers at the base of South Sister. The mountain loomed to our right with its red cap hidden between large snowy glaciers.

Middle Sister hid just behind it, and was our company as we hiked northward into obsidian covered trail. Everywhere we looked small flecks of obsidian glinted reflections of the afternoon sun. We took lunch at Obsidian Falls, a small waterfall which cascaded over a hillside riddled with larger chunks of obsidian. Over the rock outcroppings we could see the craggy peaks of North Sister, the most technical of the three summits.

As we passed by North Sister, we dropped down into a small meadow filled with rich purple lupines. The purple meadow had highlights of rich magenta red Indian Paintbrushes, and another vibrant yellow flower. As we wound our way through the wildflowers we climbed around Yapoah Crater, which fed the lava flows we finished our day with.

For roughly ten miles we walked over and around vast fields of lava flow. The hillside was all but covered in endless mounds of lava rock. Our trek took us up a hillside where climbing was difficult because our feet would slide down a couple inches for every step we took. Despite our struggle to walk smoothly, the terrain was too beautiful to not enjoy our hiking.

Despite sleeping in, we still hit a highway (24 miles away) and got ourselves into town and a hotel before sunset...and inevitably big juicy burgers and hoppy beer shortly thereafter to celebrate the 1000 mile countdown. It's odd how we celebrate everything. 100 miles, 500 miles, 1000 miles, 1500 miles... 10%, 25%, 33%, 50%....suppose we do it as some sort of reward or motivation to encourage us along. If we didn't congratulate ourselves regularly, we might not feel like we were making any progress.

Our 1000 mile countdown reward consisted of a hotel, a big burger, and some fine Oregon Microbrews on tap.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Dr. StrangeLake (or how I learned to love the DEET)

Day 115-August 6th
Destination: Sisters Mirror Lake
Miles: 28
Cumulative Miles: 1640.5

We woke to a chilly morning and a tent damp with condensation. It has been many weeks since the morning was this cold, and rarely have we had as much moisture on our tent as we did this morning. As such, we sluggishly moved quickly; meaning we moved slow until we were out of our sleeping bags, and quickly after that.

Today's hike was about the lakes, ponds, bogs, and tarns we passed along our walk. Irish lake and the next couple lakes were lost in a shroud of thick morning mist rising from their glassy surfaces. They held a certain eerie witch-like charm to them.

About one mile later we passed a small pond, made black by the decaying vegetation that had fallen into it. The surface cast a perfect reflection of the trees across the way from us. It was as if we were looking at black glass, or perhaps fully reflective obsidian.

The remainder of the day was filled with small lakes ranging from crystal clear to blue, green, brown, and black. Often the smaller ones were freckled with Lily Pads, while the larger ones caught the wind on their surface and cast a thousand shifting constellations across their surface.

Near the end of our day we passed two Sobo thru-hikers. Shortly after that we passed another, bringing the total to four and a half (the half is from one Sobo hiker who skipped 75% of Washington). We had a nice chat with the couple about conditions ahead, and behind. Given our plan to return to Echo Lake and hike south once we get to Canada, it is quite likely we will slip into the Sobo herd of hikers, small though they are.

The surplus of lakes surprisingly did not create a surplus of mosquitoes, and we were able to enjoy most of the day free of head nets. Sadly though, our camp was overrun with the whining mini-beasts. We quickly put up our tent and dove in for the night.
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Toothpicks

Day 114-August 5th
Destination: Irish Lake
Miles: 25.5 (plus 1.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1612.5

Twenty Seven miles today, and we didn't even start until just past 9am. We've done 27 before (if memory serves correctly), but not on a day with such a late start.

Our hike took us up past the Rosary Lakes, which shown like gems in the hill when we had climbed above them. We continued along through relatively simple terrain, and generally unscenic after we had gained enough distance from the Rosary Lakes.

The real joy of hiking through a forest without views is in training your eyes to see the subtle changes, training yourself to "see the forest for the trees." Throughout the hike, we have seen more than our fare share of blowdowns. What is amazing is the variety of ways that trees "combat nature."

Some trees are like the green stick that is too large for the campfire. When you try and break the stick into smaller pieces to fit in the fire, you end up twisting the fibers, never quite breaking the stick. The stick is broken, yet still one piece connected by string-cheese-like strands of wood tissue. Storms pass through knocking several trees down in this stingy fibrous fashion.

Still other times the wind knocks a tree down that has withstood storms for decades or even centuries. Wind combined with saturated soil allows the tree to rip right out of the ground, tearing it's own roots as it lifts the earth in its crashing end. This generally is the case with the larger trees, and often results large pits in the ground next to the torn roots.

Once we saw a tree that we couldn't figure out what happened to it. The small tree, maybe 6-10 inches in diameter was split down the core. It's sapwood split and splayed outward, drooping like taffy on a hot summer day. Perhaps the tree was struck by lightening and exploded in some fashion, rendering the pealed banana look to it, but there were no signs of burns caused by lightening.

Lightening is a powerful force. A single storm can ignite 40 plus wildfires, as was the case with the Hat Creek Rim. This evening we walked through the remnants of a burn zone. The forest had begun it's restoration process; Fireweed was blooming, resetting the soil pH to something more hospitable to the wider diversity of a typical forest. The rain had soaked most of the blackened wood ash into the soil, leaving a burn zone which was largely clear of black charred wood.

The bark had fallen off all the trees, and the sun and weather had smoothed over and bleached all the tree trunks. The fire burned the limbs from the trees, and wind has taken the tops of most the trees. What is left behind is a shadeless forest of large white toothpicks. The afternoon wind blew through the desolate area, creating an eerie, yet pleasant, whistling as it passed through the trees.

Over time and miles, and countless opportunities to "stare off into space" does one start to notice the "forest for the trees." We passed a burned out tree stump. The hollow place, where the heartwood once lay, held a sapling. The sapling had it's own fence to protect it, the hollowed out stump. Everything anew.

The mosquitoes were not as bad today. In fact the only times they were bothersome was during lunch, at a small pond, and at camp tonight. This is to be expected when near bodies of water, especially this time of year. So in light of our recent mosquito surplus, we will share a poem passed to us by Apricots' mother.

Taken from Mississippi River Journal to benefit the Audubon Society John Pugh and Jessica Robinson

Ode to A Mosquito

Mosquito. Oh you @!*^%*# mosquito.
My loathing toward you has no bounds.
You are my nemesis.

No friend would torment me so.
Painful proboscis poking.
Suck, suck, sucking away at me.

Why must you torment me so?
I've done you no harm, yet.
So small, yet such a big pain.

Come hither my pretty.
Just a little closer.
Steady now. That's it.
No quarter for you.

Mosquito. Oh you @!*^%*# mosquito!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Type III Vampires

Day 113-August 4th
Destination: Shelter Cove
Miles: 12.5 (plus 1.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1587

Mosquitoes so thick, one might have thought they were swimming in a lake of insects. Sure, they died down a couple miles before the end of this short day, but not before Apricots said:

"There is a special place in hell for mosquitoes, a place where they fly about with thousands of miniature mosquitoes swarming them endlessly biting at their small ravenous bodies."

Psycho added, with a quote from the Tale of Graydick in Wolves of Calla, "May their first day in hell last 10,000 years, and may it be the shortest."

Usually in the morning, the mosquito swarm has dropped down, with the cold night as the sun retires for the day. It would seem that this was not the case today though. We woke with a swarm as abundant as the one we went to bed with.

Wearing head nets and raincoats we packed quickly and abandoned our site, hoping to escape the mosquitoes. We did not. As we climbed into the Diamond Peak wilderness, we walked along the snowy base of Diamond Peak which we paused to enjoy, until the mosquitoes overwhelmed our perfect sitting rocks.

Afterward we dropped into the shade of a forested path, which was riddled with many small lakes and tarns, each with their own family of mosquitoes and the families were large and extended. We fought our way through the writhing clouds of agony until we descended to Odell Lake and Shelter Cove.

We planned to only shower, eat, and do laundry before pushing a few more miles into the day. Yet sadly, or perhaps gladly, the serenity of the place (and general lack of mosquitoes) lured us in for a short hiking day and a restful afternoon.

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Mosquito Mania

Day 112-August 3rd
Destination: 4 miles north of Summit Lake
Miles: 24.5 (plus 0.8 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1574.5

So many mosquitoes.
So many mosquitoes.

We had short reprieve from their constant whining as we took lunch, overlooking Cowhorn Mountain, and that was pretty much it.

So many mosquitoes.

While we took dinner at Summit Lake, the mosquitoes were the worst we had seen all day. When we left Summit Lake, with it's beautiful view of Diamond Peak, we followed a trail through flatish land with multiple many mosquitoes.

Finally, when we couldn't take it anymore, we set up camp and dove into our tent. We spent the next twenty minutes killing all the mosquitoes that followed us in.

So Many.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Paying Tribute

Day 111-August 2nd
Destination: MM 1875ish
Miles: 22.5 (plus 1.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1550

This morning we woke, and hiked a quick six miles up to the Mt. Thielsen summit trail. When Psycho hiked in 2005, he passed up an opportunity to summit the mountain. Two hours later, he was semi-lost in the snow with broken trekking poles and soaked feet. He chose to turn back. Since then, he has felt that Mt. Thielsen acts as a sort of gate keeper to the rest of the trail north. As such, he felt it necessary to linger on the mountain, perhaps even climb it.

We stashed our packs a few hundred feet up the summit trail, and decided to hike up the mountain, at least some of the way. The trail is about one mile long, but you climb close to two thousand feet. This steep ascent was made on loose scree, which had eroded off the rocky escarpments which make up the sides of this shield volcano. We did not go all the way to the top, and the last 50-100 feet require ropes for safe climbing. We went far enough to get above tree line, and have a fantastic view of most of the surrounding land, including Diamond Lake (pictured above).

After taking in the view, we had to return to our packs, and our hiking. We made the skiing sliding descent down the loose scree. When we arrived back to our packs, we put them on, only to find that they seemed much heavier, as we were used to the packless hike up Mt. Thielsen.

Mid-afternoon as we passed by the red dome of Tipsoo Peak, we hit the high point of the PCT for Oregon and Washington. It was only 7560 feet in elevation, and the climb up to it and drop down from it was barely noticeable. It is, however, another PCT landmark to be moved to the "been there, done that" column.

Hiking along the forested hillsides after Tipsoo Peak, the mosquito population grew to unbearable levels. We put our head nets on (which we always carry in our hands lately), and sprayed our arms with DEET, a nasty pesticide which works wonders (who knows what it's doing to us). A few more miles, and we arrived at camp.

We dove into our tent to escape the mosquitoes. Then we made sandwiches, an atypical meal for us. Perhaps it was the nice day, perhaps the sandwiches, or maybe the Deet on our skin, whatever it was we had a laughing party. It was hard to say anything without our sides cramping with laughter, or our eyes watering with joyous tears. Pleasant, it was.

Hiking for Cherryville Heartsongs
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rim Walk

Day 110-August 1st
Destination: Highway 138
Miles: 11 (plus 2 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 1527.5

We awoke early and caught a glimpse of the sunrise over Crater Lake. Stepping out of the tent, Psycho took a few pictures before returning to the comfort of his warm down sleeping bag and catching two more hours of sleep. We would have stayed up, but we were in no rush today, as we knew our resupply package still hadn't arrived at Mazama Village.

After a breakfast with a postcard perfect view, we packed up and began hiking. Most of today's walk took us along the rim of Crater Lake. First we climbed around Hillman Peak (which we mistook for "The Watchman" yesterday). Passing around its red rock crags, we saw the towering hill that was actually "The Watchman."

When we approached the towering hill on the rim, one of the highest points along the rim, we chose to take a half-mile detour to the lookout tower at the top. Alone at the top, we took in a fantastic panorama which showed peaks as close as Mt. McLoughlin and Mt. Thielsen, as well as peaks as far as Mt. Shasta and Diamond Peak. Shortly after we began the half mile descent back to the trail, we started passing a large collective of day hikers making their way to the top. If we were ten minutes later, we would have had to share the view with ten plus heavily perfumed and cologned people. It's nice to find an ounce of solitude in an otherwise overrun natural landmark.

We continued our hike around the rim, constantly stopping to stare in wonder at the blue depths; a blue so rich one could get lost in it's crystal depth transfixed on thoughts of infinite complexity.

Before long, yet no long enough, we arrived at Crater Lake Lodge, and with it the plentiful hordes of visitors. Years before the discovery of Crater Lake by settlers, the Native Americans would intentionally steer settlers along paths that avoided the lake, in an attempt to preserve it's majestic, if not spiritual, beauty. It was eventually discovered by "white folk" and we have preserved it as best we could in this world... Sort of.

Hiking a quick 5 miles down to Mazama Village, we bought supplies for the next leg, as our resupply box hadn't arrived, and we wanted to keep moving. The worker at the Lodge was kind enough to print maps for us, so that we were not going blind, and the workers at Mazama Village store let us return some food when we realized the hiker box was bountiful.

Four hitches later we arrived back at Highway 138, where we started Sobo yesterday afternoon. We walked a quarter mile in from the road and set up camp just after sunset in the midst of a devilish symphony of whining mosquitoes.

---we would like to say thank you to all those who have helped us along the way with kind emails and care packages. Andrea, thanks for your regular motivational emails. Kristine thank you for the care package that we will eventually get to. Adrienne and Barbara, you rocked our world. Cody and DK, you help make our days easier. And of course thank you family, our most ardent supporters...packages, emails, liquor, and visits.

Trail Angels...You are our magical guardians.

Hiking for Cherryville Heartsongs
Visit our blog to find out how to donate

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