Updated: Aug 11, 2020
As much as I needed to rest my knees, time is starting to really press now. Oregon is great, although not flat, it is definitely much less demanding on one’s legs so more miles can be covered. I’m hoping this will help a bit - but it’s still going to be long, long, long hiking days from now on in order to get to the end.
New shoes, new tips on my hiking poles and a new state to explore are all helping keeping me motivated. The mosquitoes, the humidity and the dense forest not so much.
26 miles today - I’d hoped for further but the red carpet of volcanic pebbles that cut through blacker, chunkier rock, whilst striking, was a tad painful on the feet! They are called the Lava Fields - and they are really quite jaw-dropping. Hot too.
Getting back into the hideousness that is carrying larger volumes of water - today I am maxed out with 4 litres of the stuff, plus having to ‘down’ a litre before I leave the water source. It’s horribly hot and not helped by walking through burn areas - forests that perished a few years ago in wildfires, leaving exposed, charred areas and no water to be found anywhere. So although Oregon is flatter than other parts of the PCT, it still has its challenges. That, and the mosquitoes - which are supposed to be water borne...
Still managed another 25 miles today. I’d hoped to do 27 but…
I was wondering where all the water in Oregon had vanished to, and having detoured to see Crater Lake, I now know! Treated myself to the worst pizza I have ever eaten in America for lunch. Idiocy compelled me to then walk up the side of the bloody crater, which was extremely hot, and horribly hideous, so I then determined I deserved to stop in the cafe too.
I bought myself a full fat coke (for the calories), a cup of mixed tropical fruit (for an indescribable amount of money), and a large Cornetto (cooling effect). Then, because they have no seating - Covid etc, I walked outside to enjoy my ice-cream on the wall whilst admiring Crater Lake. One big lick of the Cornetto saw the ball of ice-cream swiped off its cone, and barrel down the inside of the crater. Leaving me with just the cone, some fruit and one coke to down.
Then abruptly lunch decided to make its presence felt - thankfully out the back end, so I dashed across the parking lot (as I have taken to saying) with my cup of mixed fruit, and reduced my body weight further by several pounds.
Didn’t dare eat the fruit after that.
“Oregon is flat,” they lied. Still I plopped in another 27 miles today because it was easy going terrain, or rather “a long, green tunnel” as another man described it.
Mosquito hell - that sums up the day. I mostly hiked with my headnet on, which just adds to the hot claustrophobic feeling. Things are quiet: the trail is long and although there’s some up and down, it was not raggedy at all today. It was quite boring for some of the day - but 13 hours of repetitive motion does numb the mind. I am still enjoying it for the most part, but I do wish my days were a little shorter! Alas, what can I do - I really want to finish this.
And yes, bizarrely I did encounter snow...
Another day, another walk - today passing 1,900 miles.
I opted to sit out the rest of the afternoon at Shelter Cove resort because, well, I could stuff my face full of food, recharge my batteries (quite literally), have a shower and then put on the same smelly, sweaty, dirt-infested clothes I’ve worn all week. Happy days.
Up early, marched one and a half miles back to the PCT, plodded on for a further 26 miles. Camped tonight by a lake - great for avoiding carrying water on top of my heavy food resupply but not so good because: mosquitoes. I will no doubt lose a further pint of blood when I go out for a pre-bedtime pee.
Saw a few deer today and a pine martin - big like an oversized ferret. It ran across the trail, then stuck its head around a tree and glared at me for ages. Very cute. Also some kind of rodent played hide and seek as I sat atop the biggest hill of the day - a four-miler, rising 1,500 feet.
Another 26 miles done today. Another 1,000 mosquitoes used me for lunch.
An utterly stunning morning as I swept through vast lupin-filled meadows, passed waterfalls, and dainty creeks. And then came hell: traversing volcanic field after field with giant lava turds that turned my ankles over and over and over. As I began the long descent into camp, surrounded by dead and dying trees, the trail nothing more than large rubble, I was followed throughout by the rumbling of thunder overhead. Couldn’t help but think “Ye Gods, what have I done to upset thee now?”
Passed 2,000 miles and completed a monster 30 mile day. Didn’t mean to but a storm whipped up and there was absolutely nowhere safe to tent as I’m currently hiking through another ‘burn area’ - places which have been ravaged by wildfire, leaving perished trees - half still standing, just waiting to topple over.
Managed to find a lovely, but tiny, secluded spot out of the wind and the rain. It’s bloody cold though - but that’s probably why I’ve managed my furthest daily distance yet!
You’ll all be pleased to know I didn’t die of hypothermia in the night, although it was bloody cold. Today was back to all sunny and warm, especially so when I began an eight-mile, and horribly steep, ascent. I ended up traversing snow again. It’s bloody August and we’re not in Northern Canada! Still, another 26 miles done and dusted.
Aaaaand another 25 miles in the pot. Aided by three full-strength coffees bought at a campsite just off the PCT, they left me a gibbering wreck for much of the morning, but boy did they help me reach the heady hikes of Plod Mode Mach 2 - which is the fastest pace my body has. It might only be second gear, but I didn’t realise I had one until today.
The trail today is the most gentle and flat in the whole of the PCT, but my body (and mind) have hit a wall. It’s been a really tough day psychologically. After 22 miles, pathetic all things considered, I staggered into a private campground, one which requires booking it seems. As I hobbled in I saw an older couple coming to the water pump so asked them where the communal campsite might be. Turns out they had booked two private ones, and only needed the one - so gave me the spare. Unbelievable kindness - although I spooked their children when I pitched up at the wrong site! As I headed off to get water and use the facilities, they delivered a load of sweets and cakes. That has cheered the soul no end. The trail always surprises, and I am humbled.
I’ve made the executive decision (it wasn’t a big fight!) to skip forward forty miles so that I might have a day off. Lately it’s been more about the miles than the smiles, and I need to get that balance back.
Today, I've walked, I've hitch-hiked and I've hobbled.
I have been reunited with my padded, warmer clothes ready for Washington, which I'd sent on once I was done with the Sierra. I am about to devour a huge pizza. I've showered. I've washed my clothes at the launderette. I've supped lattes. My batteries are re-charging as I type.
And my biggest gripe about American hotels: their pathetic bathtubs which are so shallow that only one's ankles are at risk of getting wet.
And yet, here I am at the Bridge of the Gods, and the motel has a deep bath!
A heaven-sent bath is to be had!
Life's back to being all good again.