Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 125: Day Off In Cascade Locks

Kicked off our zero day with giant ice cream cones and spent the rest of it just lounging around.

Now off we go into Washington. Oh so sweet!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Days 118 - 124: Keep It Comin'

Oh Pacific Northwest...

What a lush and special place you are. This past week you  have wooed us with waterfalls, sunshine, wild forests, rolling trail, and great town stops. We have only one simple request... keep it comin'.

After leaving the high of our tree house adventure in Eugene we were rolled right into some magnificent wilderness in Northern Oregon.  Our first few nights out, there was an unmistakable chill in the air, a crispness that means just one thing: fall.  We woke up multiple mornings with lots of dew on our tents and walked with gloved hands and fleece-hatted heads for a number of hours. We had a day of picturesque views of Mt. Jefferson before being rerouted on (yet another) fire detour. But our spirits were not muddled. Sure, we missed a 20+ mile section of the actual PCT and had to road walk for far too long, but we were sent through a sweet forest that looked like something from a children's book.  Big trees covered in moss and surrounded by prehistoric looking giant ferns.  Not only that but a big hearted, local law enforcement officer was kind enough to shuttle ten hikers in his truck through part of the road walk.

We spent two days back on the PCT putting miles under our feet and crossed 2100 in the meantime.

On Sunday we woke up at 4:45 and were on trail by 5:45, the motivation of food getting us moving. We excitedly walked 5 miles to reach the much anticipated Timberline Lodge All You Can Eat Breakfast Buffet (I feel like the whole thing deserves to be capitalized, it was that good).  The hike to the lodge was just lovely, with cool morning air and up close and personal views of Mt. Hood. 

We arrived just as the buffet was opening at 7:30 and sat and ate, plate after plate, until the buffet closed at 10.  There were over a dozen of happy, face-filling, hikers there to keep us company.  The front of the classy and classic lodge looked like a backpack parking lot.

After spending the remainder of the afternoon at Timberline, enjoying more of their food delights, we hiked 10 miles out to Ramona Falls to camp for the night.  The falls were awesome and got us pumped up for the Eagle Creek Trail.

The Eagle Creek Trail is a PCT alternate into the town of Cascade Locks, OR.  The trail, mile after mile, delivers views of grandiose waterfalls and leads you along the walls of the gorge. The first waterfall of the day was Tunnel Falls, which you literally get to walk behind!


The Love Train pulled into Cascade Locks, our very last Oregon town, to take a rest.  Cascade Locks sits on the Columbia River and the PCT takes us right over the Bridge Of The Gods into WASHINGTON.  It's been a pretty weird sensation to take a day off, sitting around for a day and a half, staring across the river at our last and final state of this trail. It's so close. Like. Right there.

I've never been to Washington and I can't wait to get there. And I can't believe I'm arriving there on foot.  Trav has done some epic trips in Washington and has been excitedly pumping it up since we were in the desert. We know that the terrain will be difficult. With fall in the air, the days are already getting shorter. There will be rain. Probably lots. And it will be cold. But Washington is the ninth inning. The home stretch. But we're fueled up and ready to take on the last 513 miles... so again I say, keep it comin'.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Days 116 & 177: AArrggh! Hiker Pirate Fun Times

After a long and crazy stretch, we were giddy with excitement to pull into Santiem Pass (Highway 20) to meet my Uncle John and Aunt Laura and head to Eugene for a few days to relax and play.  These two are hugely generous and extended the invitation to a whole boat load of our hiker friends.  Monday morning we loaded up, all 11 of us, and ventured to Eugene. 

The last two days have been FULL of fun and eating insane amounts of food.  John and Laura's house is the ultimate play land complete with pool, guest house, trampoline, and yes, the most STUNNING treehouse you've ever seen.  We had 4 more hikers join us, and the 15 of us basically went bonkers for two days, romping and playing.  To make matters more fun, Wampus Cat's dad sent us a care package of his handmade Rum Balls and pirate eye patches, hats and tattoos.  It was insane and amazing. Thanks Dave!

I can't thank my dear Aunt and Uncle enough. Your love and generosity through Oregon has been so special.  Thanks for hosting us and our friends, taking care of us and helping us get to Canada.  Love you!!

*Photos curtsy of Doc and Blue Jay.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Days 104 - 115: Alright Oregon, What Else You Got?

We were having such a good time in Ashland, that we decided to stay another day. How could we resist this crew?  

The next day we took off and headed into a long stretch of Southern Oregon. Over the course of these eleven days, we saw it all. At times it felt like we would just put our hands out and say 'Alright Oregon, what else?".  Every day was different, adventurous and left us guessing what else this state had in store.  

The first days were hot and the climate was dry.  Histo started hiking with us and was a wonderful addition. We did another 30 mile day and the terrain was flat and cruise-able, the way we expected Oregon to be. There was a good amount of water around and some of the forest was just totally awesome.  As we made our way toward Crater Lake National Park, we had a day that was very smoky as a wild fire burned far West of the PCT and carried over to us. 

We crossed mile 1800 just before entering Crater Lake National Park.  We were so jazzed to enter the park and see the lake... we've just heard so many incredible things about it. And let me tell you...

... it delivered.  If you've never seen Crater Lake, it's hard to put into words just how big and awesome it is.  It fills your eyes with color and wonder and you just have to stare at it to take in it's magnitude. 

While the scenery around the rim was incredible, we walked away from the lake into a long 20+ mile stretch without any water.  We had to carry a lot with us and the terrain was hot and exposed.  We were quite exhausted and working hard to remember just how lovely the morning around the Lake had been.  Our day ended up with a major bonus as Blue Jay, who's fiancĂ© Doc is hiking while she supports him with their vehicle, shuttled us into the Diamond Lake Resort for a huge pizza dinner and camping at a nice campground.  

The next day (day 110) our big group got shuttled back to the trailhead and we all took off hiking on another long, waterless stretch.  This was the first day of the entire trail where I hike totally by myself. Trav was full of energy and hiked with other dudes.  They absolutely crushed miles. They're so dang fast.  There were people around me all day to take breaks with but I was totally alone while hiking.  And it was fantastic. I loved feeling small and alone in the big, beautiful forest. It was good thinking, reflecting and appreciating time. That night we made it to Six Horse Spring and camped with White Bear and Mufasa (brothers from Austin) and Cookie.  We've been hiking around these three for quite some time and it was great to finally camp with them.  They are all so full of life. Also camping with us were Chimp and Spork... to incredibly solid dudes that we've had the pleasure of hiking with for a while. 

The next morning we left our campsite and after about an hour of hiking were met by wilderness fire fighters.  There was a forest fire a mile or so ahead and they would be escorting the 8 of us through before closing down and rerouting that section of the PCT.  Mark, our friendly fireman, walked us through actual burning forest... it was a totally WILD experience.  

That evening we made it to the Shelter Cove Resort, enjoyed some cold drinks and got a good night sleep.  The next morning we got organized, resupplied our food and prepared to leave Shelter Cove.  Before taking off we got word that a sections of trail in front of us was closed due to fire as well.  The trail had been rerouted onto a long road walk and there was still a lot of kinks being worked out.  Conveniently, a friend of mine from college, Rachelle, who I studied abroad in Ireland with, works for the US Forest Service in the area and was able to give us a ride to the next section of open trail.   It was great to see her and much appreciated!

It felt good to get walking the next day and it felt like, for the first time since we got to Oregon, that we had reached the Pacific North West.  The lush, green, blooming landscape that we expected finally appeared and we were surrounded by the Three Sisters and other incredible volcanic formations.  I was flipping out for the flowers and Trav was flipping out for the glaciated peaks. 

South Sister

 Now THIS is the North West

You can't really see it here, but there is water just streaming out of the ground. Perfect, ice cold, spring water. Delish.

Our epic campsite below the Middle Sister. Tucked into the trees and out of the rain. Oh yeah! We got our first rain. Welcome to the PNW!

I wish this was a Scratch And Sniff blog, because the fragrance of these Lupine was incredible.

Our two days hiking through the Three Sisters Wilderness was some of our most favorite days of hiking so far. It comes pretty damn close to the Sierra and got us more and more excited about Norther Oregon and getting into Washington!

On Sunday (the 19th) we hit the big one. The 2000 mile mark.  2000 miles is no joke and it puts us at distance to Canada that I can actually wrap my head around for the first time.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

PCT Page Fixed

Quick note that our PCT Info page (over there on the right) is back up and running. Thanks, folks, for letting us know it was down. Hopefully the Care Package page is working, keep us posted if it's not (frontporchanywhere (at) gmail dot com).

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Days 102 & 103: The Best Surprise

Can you handle it!?!!  As we rolled into Ashland on Monday morning we were SHOCKED and THRILLED to be greeted by my 'Oregon family'! My Uncle John and Aunt Laura along with my  cousin Libby, cousin Rachel, her husband Greg and their two boys, Parker and Trey (the artists behind those last three posters!) have been plotting with my mom to come down from Eugene to surprise us and shower us in Oregon love.  Truth be told, we ended up taking a shortcut to Callahan's Lodge and missed these incredible signs, but as we were standing in the lobby of the lodge, I heard a woman gasp (the weren't expecting us quite yet, so the surprise went both ways), looked up and there was my cousin Rachel! I almost fell over. We've spent the last two days hanging out, relaxing, playing and eating. A perfect break from the trail.  Yesterday we went to Emigrant Lake and paddle boarded, kayaked and soaked up some sun. 

Trav's in heaven

Uncle John (with help from Parker and Trey) inflates all of our various water craft toys

Uncle John and Parker paddle out

Taking the kayak for a spin

Maxin' and relaxin'

HUGE thanks to my sweet family for plotting this wonderful surprise. It has been so nice to spend time with family and rest. We cannot wait to see y'all again in a few weeks in Eugene!! Man, family is the best.