Oregon Leftovers -
When I got back on the trail after a 3 hour hitch from Roseburg, OR. I began hiking alone and found being on the trail strangly hard. I'd been off of trail life for 6-7 days...an eternity for any hiker, but on top of that I ate an average of 5 meals a day and gained 10 pounds back. Slightly overweight and mentally unconditioned for the return to hiking.
I managed the 8 or so miles to the closest water source and found a single thru-hiker camped far away from the weekenders. I had run into Bump! We camped together and caught up on all the goings on! We spent the following day hiking together and ran into a fast section hiker, Grateful. He is fairly unique and caught us off guard by hiking in a loincloth.(He didn't wear it the whole time) I must admit that whatever my initial thoughts were he become a terrific trail companion. And for the next few days we hiked at the same pace, grabbed pizza and beer, snuck into a ski resort's lighting shed, and had good conversation while we walked. When his section ended and he headed out for hitchhiking I was definitely sad to be on my own again. Over the course of this trip I would say he is the only person I've met where I didn't feel compelled to finish my sentences because he already understood. The last bit of trail that Grateful and I walked through was right next to a forest fire. When Grateful and I parted ways my eye began to bother me...
I hiked to the next trail head and was stopped by an Oregon State Trooper. He pulled out a map and told me I would need to hike somewhere else. I humorously explained, I had already hiked everything South of here and only planned on hiking North. After comparing maps and trail locations he determined it was acceptable for me to continue, but only on the condition that I give him my blog address and I carry Police Grade Pepper Spray. It made me laugh seeing how his face twitched with concern. I really felt bad for making him worry, I tried to explain how safe I was when I hitch hike... and how I try to avoid bad situations... but he was still concerned. I was touched that he gave me Pepper Spray and told me how to use it. It made me feel special and cared about. He also asked me what was wrong with my eye. It turns out that I got ash from the forest fire between my eye and the contact. I discovered this two days later, after hiking with one contact to the Big Lake Youth Camp, having my eye washed out by the nurse, and then hitching into Sisters, OR to see a doctor. I scratched the eye and needed to take antibiotic eye drops for 5-7 days. As there was another forest fire North of where I got off the trail I decided I didn't want to hike with one contact(no glasses) through another forest fire area. I spent the night in Sisters and in the morning I found Bump sitting on a picnic table in the County Campground when I returned after going to the local coffee shop. We got a hold of the local Trail Angel, Loyld, and headed into Bend so we could catch a bus up to Gov't Camp, so we could hitch to Cascade Locks, so we could attend Trail Days(a PCT event for current and previous thru-hikers and trail angels). In the end I skipped 150 miles of Oregon due to the scratch. I hope to return and hike it with Grateful as it is his last section as well.
Be-Puddled in Washington -
At Cascade Locks I ran into Slimjim, Psycho and Apricots, Boat, Little Engine and Plain Slice, Auxille, Duff, Shades, Sunshine and Balls, Zero Zero, Just Dave, Redhead, and tons of other hikers I've met along the way! It was a great time seeing everyone again all in the same place at the same time. Everyone had stories to share and questions to ask. It was quite the reunion.
I left Cascade Locks with Slimjim and Boat and off into Washington we walked! We passed a few other hikers: Otter, Wyhoming, Passant and Darko, and were passed by Drugstore. Unfortunately it rained quite steadily the entire three days. The last night out my sleeping bag was soaked and I wrapped myself in trashbags so the heat of my body wouldn't escape. I woke up to puddles of water in my tent and knew it was going to be a long cold and wet day. As we trudged through Goat Rocks National Park, I took the lead of the group and managed to take the wrong trail... I missed a turn off(still hiking with one contact) and had to hike back to the last trail intersection. This took place right before Knife's Edge - one of the most scenic and dangerous parts of the trail on the PCT. As I had gotten lost, both Slimjim and Boat had gotten ahead of me. I climbed the steep mountain, got to the beginning of the Knife's Edge and became really concerned. The trail is 16 inches wide with steep cliffs dropping down from the end of the 16 inch trail. I was so high and the clouds were so low I could only see 100 feet of the drop offs, but I tried not to look because the wind was gusting stubborn 20 mph speeds. Slimjim got my scary descent on video. I was so glad to find Slimjim and Boat waiting for me at the bottom. We continued on, knowing that we had to get into White Pass and get a hotel room. With soaking wet gear we wouldn't make it through the night. We got to the trail head to find one of Slimjim's friends waiting for us with chocolate cake, raspberries from the garden, and fresh peaches. He had no idea she would be there!! We were all so thankful for her kindness, she drove us to her house(60 miles away), fed us, gave us showers, blankets, warm food, and arranged for her neighbor to drive us back to the trail. It was a perfect ending for walking in 3 days of steady rain!
From White Pass Slimjim, Boat, Drugstore, and I continued forward. I was finally able to put the other contact in my other eye, so I led our group to a very spacious campground not too far from the trail. We relaxed and made a fire that evening. The following day we did 34 miles. The next day, Slimjim pulled ahead of the group toward the afternoon. By dinner it was Boat, Drugstore, and I at a creek. I piped up and said, "Hey, so this is a crazy idea by why not hike through the night and go all the way to Snoqualmie?" They thought about it, Drugstore had tons of caffeine pills, and we decide to go for it. We hiked through the night and completed 57.5 miles in a matter of 24 hours and 47 minutes. We passed tons of tents during our night hike and when we found Slimjim he turned our crazyness down and decided to sleep instead. When we got into Snoqualmie we headed straight to the Breakfast Buffet and ate 4 plates each. I was cold, wet, and exhausted but so proud. Yea, it's crazy to walk such a distance and to hike for so long a time, but there are only so many days left to be a crazy thru-hiker and it was a perfect adventure. After breakfast Boat and I snuck down to the Ski Resort's storage area and fell asleep while we waited for Slimjim to arrive.
Slimjim once again had the Trail Angel connections and we were soon picked up by Thanksgiving Mom. She was so kind and fed us SO much good food. We were dropped off at the trail head, fully rested, jacuzzied out, and saturated in starbuck's coffee. I've got 250ish miles to the Canadian Border and I am really looking forward to being done.
Damien - He is back on the trail and I saw him yesterday at the hotel in Snoqualmie. I should be catching up to him tomorrow or the following day. He is hiking with my favourite Swedish woman, Smiles!
Shroomer, Missing Link, and Johnny Law - are all ahead by two days.
I'm not sure what else to share, except to say: I am happy. I am warm and clean with my hair in a braid sitting in a carpeted hotel lobby. I've got all my fingers and all my toes and I miss everyone so much.