Out of Shelter Cove we hiked to an on-trail ski shelter to stay the night. A cool place! Solar lights plus a table and chairs.
After dinner, Mr. Green set up his hammock (hooks on beams) and the rest of us cozied for a slumber party style loft sleep (with a ladder). Morning time struck and I packed again for a long hiking day. Forest trails weaved along padded with pine needles, a gentle grade. Cold dew settled upon vegetation; skinny rays of sunlight sliced the tree canopy. Walking, then break, walking, then break. As trail days go: this is the normal. Lately, with bigger miles, I have felt the need to stop every hour or ninety minutes. I attempt to control the length of resting times, yet it can (if Mr. G and Starfox and I break together) turn to a 40 minute affair. Several of these a day= night hiking, a costly notion I hope to avoid. Dawn till dusk is my current preference: daylight. Evening falls quickly, a change from desert’s lasting twilight and exposed moonlit ridges. There was a time when I loved night hiking. There was.
Our bodies are eating muscle from “non-needed” areas and regenerating it to legs. Mostly, we all exist on sugar. Ups and downs. Food fantasy has gone from decadent descriptions of fried/ sweet cravings to the simple desire for steamed vegetables and a piece of grilled chicken. Please! I have had enough cheeseburgers, the fries, the pizza, the ice-cream, the beer, the pancakes. Actually, I have had enough trail mix, enough cereal bars, enough top ramen. I wonder what it is like to prepare a meal in a kitchen with fresh food. Like a feral cat in a domestic zone? Not sure.
The goal following Shelter Cove resupply stop was Sisters, Oregon. Walking to Sisters, the terrain combined volcanic rock and shady pines. Scenery offered pleasing views:
Second night out on the path to Sisters, we did 28.5 miles and slept lakeside. Mr. Green, Starfox, and I arrived shortly after dark. Peter Pan and Hoop Dreams were set up. Chore time: make bed, make food, tend to feet.
Since Crater Lake I had been nursing my first ever blood blister (medallion sized & located on taut skin beneath the inside ankle bone on my left foot). I have a graphic photo to forever remember this gore, but I’ll spare you. Ok, so by this point, things had gotten better, I only had to check dressings and healing progress. At Shelter Cove I drained, cleaned and covered the wound, tenderly adjusting my gait to ease acute flesh pain. The source of revived blisters began in Ashland when I switched to a hiking shoe after hundreds and hundreds of miles in trail-runners. Tis alright, though. I loved the runners (Brooks Cascadia) and now I am adjusting to a pair of Merrills to take me to Canada over wet rocks, rubble, and possible snow. My feet are brutally enduring hiking demands, erupting in a variety of unpleasant sensations. Chronic pain management. The toes and pads of my left and right foot are of a numbness akin to being repeatedly struck with a mallet. Despite this specific discomfort, blister healing takes place at a slow rate. Full recovery is not near, but I’ve found tricks to supplement the remaining miles (coating feet in Vaseline daily, packing toes with lambs wool).
Lakeside mornings in central Oregon are chilly. I awoke reluctantly at 5:47am to a cell phone alarm and left camp piled in pajama layers. I hiked solo, Pan and Hoop passed me in morning time. We talked briefly about trying for a 30 miler. When sun warmed the landscape, I changed to my hiking clothes then went another 2miles. By 11:30 I had done 10. At the base of a climb I ingested caffeine, sugar and ibuprofen. Ok girl, another 20 to go. Eight hours of walking, get psyched. I still had not seen Starfox or Mr. Green for the day, when I did it was half past seven pm. I was ready to stop. Not a 30 miler today, guys. More like a 25. We found a campsite 15 miles from highway 242 near Sisters. As we had dinner, fog rolled into camp in low waves. We stayed warm through the damp night and I awoke for an early start. All morning, I hiked through clouds. Views and terrain blended into a spectacular setting. Mysterious weather! Mars-like rock!
The guys caught me at mid day, we walked then took a break per usual. Through the duration of snacking, a rumbling ominous threat called from dark skies. Stacks of grey clouds layered above as we made a move for the road. 4 miles from highway and the storm burst: first, an isolated hail shower, then a pure down pour. An unabridged full length raging rain show pissed upon us. Pack covers, rainproofs, and we hurried. Exposed trail bits were torrential soaking conditions across wet rocks. Forest sections offered no shelter as the power of rainfall blasted between branches and treetops. The trail became a creek (with rapids). Standing water grew to the size of small lakes – secret puddles! (Surface level pine needles giving the illusion of solid ground). Haha! Funny! That’s not trail, it’s water! Charge on through, strobe lightening, cracking thunder. Boom! Right above. Finally the highway, and I find Starfox waiting. Mr. Green had caught a lift already, but as soon as I turned up we found a ride. Two photographers crammed us plus our muddy shoes and packs into a VW Golf, blasting the heater 15 miles to Sisters. A town day!
I purchased hot chocolate at a gas station immediately in an attempt to salvage my core temperature. It was a whirlwind slamming chore day in Sisters. We stayed over night and bought groceries to mail ahead to Washington. We met a trail angel named Blanche who gave us warm chocolate chip cookies and a ride to the post office. She then insisted we call her to take us to laundromat after the PO. So nice and helpful! While at the PO, many other residents offered us rides or asked questions about the trail. After laundry, as Starfox and I were scheming to eat a meal and get back to the woods we strolled toward Main Street. A truck pulled up with an old dog in the passenger seat (Australian Blue Heeler/ my favorite) and a guy with a cowboy hat at the wheel. “You guys need a ride?” He called out. We said we were headed to the Mexican grill for an hour or so. “We will see what happens,” he said as he drove away. We ate dinner. Just as we were paying the bill, said guy-in-a-cowboy-hat (introduced himself as TW) approached our table. It had been one hour. “You guys needed a ride to the trail, right?” he said. Turns out, we did. Magic at the dins table!
It was dark, and chilly. Starfox and I slept at the trailhead off Highway 20 (next to a suspiciously full parking lot). I awoke to headlights and car noise at 3:30am. Then distant gunshots at 5:40am. Rounds and rounds. It was a late 10am and when we finally emerged from tent, my first morning scene was a camo-clad orange-hat hunter wearing a dead doe like a back pack. On the other side of the tent (behind me, minutes later) two teens and dads used the trail as a chute for dragging a buck they’d claimed.
We met alot of hunters that day. And a few dead deer.
Opening day for rifle and archery as it happens. We hiked with our brightest clothes tied to the top of our packs. Then we on-trail neroed, setting up camp after five miles. Mr. Green caught up. Then some more trail pals were vortexed into hours and hours of breaks: Birdhaus, Tapper and Sunshine. It was a glorious Saturday afternoon of not hiking, but just being on trail with trail peoples.
The following morning we were back on a mission to get to Timberline Lodge. It was another later start (worth the hot oatmeal and coffee) as we headed toward Three Finger Jack.
Place looks good:
Between Sisters and Timberline, the trail was gentle and beautiful. Some climbing, some rocks. Plenty of hiker trash around our group! Last weeks’ storm stacked up pals and we camped with other PCTers every night. Lakes lakes lakes! We hiked by Mt. Jefferson and into Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Admittedly, I continued to endure near excruciating foot pain. Tapper gave me some insoles when we camped at Warm Springs River. Around the fire we chatted and played memory games. Lots of people together that night!
The next day, foot pain remained noticeable but lessened thanks to the additional foot cushion. I left camp at seven am as most everyone else continued to sleep. Except Whitney Shoeston, who had hiked out at 6:30am. Trail grade was so easy! By the time I arrived at Timothy Lake, it was break time…maybe 14 miles from camp. Hoop and Pan were ahead, the rest of the crew behind. As I sat, taking more ibuprofen, friends 30-Pack and Outburst rocked up.
30-Pack has a broken foot, but manages to keep on walking! He said: my foot is killing me today. I said: yeah, mine hurt, but they aren’t broken I don’t think. He said: I’m getting out at Little Crater Lake and taking a ride to Timberline. I said: hmmm, really. He said: you should come too. I said: I’ll think about it for the next mile.
By the exit for Little Crater Lake I decided to go with 30-Pack. I gave Outburst a note for Starfox and Green, then she hiked on.
30 and I checked out Little Crater Lake:
We found a ride in the day picnic area from two older people with a huge pickup truck and trailer. The woman seemed delighted to offer a lift as she bustled to the kitchenette in said trailer to grab snacks and cold cokes. Magic magic magic. Best line from a hitch: “now why did you children decide to do this?” We regaled the couple with trail stories and shockers.
Arriving at Timberline, 30 and I walked into the historic hotel, surrounded immediately by patrons snapping photos, firing questions and referencing the best seller WILD. It was the most display of public attention I have received. We poised for small talk then told people we were brother and sister then settled onto comfy furniture with drinks. As it got dark, we walked behind the lodge (crisp air, clear skies, wind) to a gravely slope/flattish spot to sleep for the night. Our peoples due for morning arrival: brunch at the Timberline breakfast buffet, so goodnight wind, goodnight mountain. Night, moon.
Mr. Green and Starfox arrived at 8am and we damaged the fanciest breakfast buffet ever. Putting “the hurt” on some Denver frittata as Green says. Fresh fruit, pastries, protein, waffles, coffee. White cloth napkins! A fine dining room stankified by hiker trash. Whitney Shoeston joined and later Tapper, Sunshine, Birdhaus and Outburst ate then mingled about. We opened resupply packages dug through the hiker box and reminisced about breakfast.
Mr. Green had a bottle of white wine from trail magic at Highway 26, so Starfox and me and him went to the trail head behind the lodge, taking a wine break after .5mi.
We slept at the Sandy River crossing, a rushing, loud cloudy waterway. Whitney Shoeston camped with us, plus Papa Bear and his son Chris set up nearby. Morning brought little relief to the volume of such a loud river, yet I avoided the ford. With much concentration, I kept socks dry by way of a slender slippery log bridge via upstream. Much concentration.
Not long after I took a pleasant loop trail detour called Ramona Falls
Shortly after, the guys caught up to me and the three of us shimmied across a double log bridge, then climbed for hours.
We camped at Indian Springs. Hot cocoa!? Yes!
In the morning we took the alternate route: Portland’s popular Eagle Creek Trail. Hey Tunnel Falls! Hey my day-hiking home turf!
Such a satisfying 15 miles.
Cascade Locks, Oregon
The Washington border.
We made it.
Everyone is getting tired. IS tired. Now.
Near exhaustion levels.
Daydreaming of beds.
Talking about / feeling like: invalids.
And now I’m in a wool sweater, leaves have fluttered, the breeze has shifted.
I’m drinking tea again.
Hello Washington, I’m talking myself into hiking until we reach Canada.