GOOD NEWS, we're not dead!!!
I know, I know.... this is bad news to some of you who were betting against us (Andrew) 😋.
It's been too long and I probably lost some of y'alls attention over the past four months...
This is hard work...
CASCADE LOCKS - MOUNT HOOD
(Smoke fills the Columbia River Gourge)
The climb out of Cascade Locks was steep and smoky. Not that I know, but, the next morning I felt like I had chainsmoked a pack of Marlboro Reds... There are only two good things to hiking in an area so smoky, sunrise and sunset.
We knew that there were several fires going on in Oregon and California, no surprise there. Several hikers had been evacuated from the Mount Jefferson Wilderness and nearly fifty miles of trail had been closed. Now, if we're were really adventurous we'd have gone running into one of these closures and got a free helicopter ride out!
"Get in the choppa"
Anywho... A large fire was also burning towards the west rim of Crater Lake. Fire crews had closed the PCT in that section but the rim trail remained open. This came as an extreme bummer because both of these spots, along with Sisters wilderness, were supposed to be the highlights of Oregon.
The PCTA had designed a road walking route around the Jefferson fire. Well, we decided against that, we had our share of road walking on the Oregon Coast. There is nothing fun about being stuck on a thin shoulder while being passed by logging trucks rolling high rate of speed, I promise you...
We knew we'd bypass the Jefferson fire, but crossed our fingers for the Crater Lake fire to be contained and headed south.
(Chinook pulling water for Eagle Creek fire)
The walk to Mt. Hood was not that far, so we decided to book-it in an attempt to get clear of the smoke. A couple days into it the sky's cleared a bit and we had some beautiful views.
(Katie lookin' all super hiker)
(Some kinda cool flower)
(Signs, signs, everywhere a sign)
The Mount Hood Wilderness welcomed us with stunning views, lots of blowdown, and a sulfuric scent (I blame Katie).
(Sun cutting through the clouds)
(Katie climbing over some blow down)
Our packs were as light as ever, so we jogged the 10 miles to Timberline lodge. Funny thing is, before this trip I could hardly bring myself to "jog" to The Pour House for a beer... The closer we got to the lodge the more people we saw; we must have passed at least 50 day hikers. I'm all about seeing people out on the trail, enjoying nature... However, it always seems as you get closer to highly accessible trail heads, the litter and noise increase...
When we arrived at the base of Mount Hood we noticed folks were still skiing and snowboarding on the mountain. If you're a Stanley Kubrick fan, this lodge may look familiar. Kubrick used the lodge for all of the external shots in his film The Shining.
We hitched a ride to the Mount Washington Wilderness, just outside of Sisters, OR. In 2009 an 80,000 acre fire destroyed this area, leaving much of the trail exposed. Lucky for us, the first two days were overcast.
We arrived at the Big Lake Youth Camp just in time for dinner. This place is extremely hiker friendly, providing hikers with water, showers, resupply and and three meals a day for free... We were there for pizza night, and it was hamazing! I was reminded of a job I had as a camp counselor at Camp Oakhurst. It was really neat to see this group of a hundred something kids enjoying the outdoors. After dinner, we rinsed off in the lake, set up our tent and crashed out.
The next day we wandered through ancient lava fields, into Three Sisters Wilderness. This section is highly talked about amongst PCT hikers, and for a good reason. It's stunning, hot, but stunning.
(Edge of the lava flow)
Within the Three Sisters Wilderness there is a two mile section called the Obsidian Limited Entry Area. For nearly two miles the trail turned a deep glassy black. You didn't need to consult google to know that this was a very special site for Native Americans. You could feel it.
(Folded Gneiss - Pretty damn cool)
A crystal clear spring flowed from the base of the mountain. We drank directly from the spring; the water was cool and had an amazing taste, could have been giardia.
It was hard not to imagine that for thousands of years Native Americans had drank from that spring the same way we had.
52 MILE DAY
Surprisingly, we met two other hikers enjoying the full moon that night, creeps... By 4am we had gone nearly 16 miles. We decided that we would take an hourlong nap and get going again. One hour turned into two, and though Katie denied it, I know she turned the ringer off on purpose. Can you blame her?!
We awoke, sipped a little coffee and were on our way. The miles flew by. We hit 30 miles around noon and we're feeling good! We knew if we could make it to Shelter Cove by 6:45pm we had a chance at a burger.
With 10 left, the miles started taking their toll. Our feet ached, our pace suffered. At 5:30pm we had three miles to go... We decided to run any downhill that came our way. With half a mile to go, it started raining cats and dogs. We ran as fast as we could to the Shelter Cove restaurant. The kitchen was just closing as we arrived, but they took pity on us and served us up two burgers and a free pulled pork sandwich... What an end to epic day. We took a zero the following day, soaking in the sun, sipping beers and eating huckleberries!
CRATER LAKE CLOSURE
Again with the womp womps... While recovering, we read on the PCTA website that the Crater Lake Rim Trail was now closed. This was a huge disappointment to us... We sat in our tent eating junk food, drinking cheap beer and planning our next move.
It was clear that our dreams of a through-hike had been crushed by Mother Nature... We discussed our options and decided that, like the Jefferson fire, we would hitch around Crater Lake. Our hike from now on would only be about enjoying the moment. We agreed that we would keep our mileage low, take our time, and enjoy the rest of our journey.
We were aiming for Ashland, OR. With our thumbs up, standing on the side of the highway, we saw a familiar green Honda Civic drive past us.
We had met Misty and Zoe on the Oregon cost over two months prior, and here they were again. We hopped in the car and made our way to Salt Creek Falls, the second highest water fall in Oregon. Misty was heading East, so we said our goodbyes and hit the highway.
This was a difficult hitch... I won't go into details, but it took us two days and five rides to get down to Ashland... Dealing with these sorts of situations can leave you just as drained as hiking a 30 mile day. We hitched a ride to the Soda Mountain Wilderness, where we planned to hike across the border into California.
Halfway through that day, we decided to say screw it... We were burnt out... We felt as though we were giving up... We had promised ourselves that we would enjoy the rest of our trip, and at that moment we were not doing that. We would save the Trinity Alps section for next year and head to Burney Falls. From there we would hike south to Walker Pass, a little over 800 miles away.
BURNEY FALLS & the crazy random happenstance
Things started going well for us, as soon as we committed to only doing what we enjoy for the remainder of the trip. We had been talking about going to Burney Falls for the last four years so we pointed our compass in that direction. We were fortunate enough to catch a ride all the way from Ashland to Redding with a wonderful couple section hiking the PCT (thank you Lizard and Forever 50!!!).
We crashed at Dani and Matt's super sweet pad, and caught a bus to Burney the following morning.
Burney Falls is a must see. The water that creates the fall surfaces from the earth less than a mile away from the falls. That means that this entire fall is formed from spring water... The water was crystal clear. This was another Native American spiritual/sacred site, when you stand before the falls you'll know why.
The following morning, while making our way down to Lassen National Park, a familiar face pulled up. The world has a funny way... Daniel and his co-pilot Gabe were heading up north to watch the solar eclipse, but were making a pitstop at Burney Falls. We hopped into the van and headed back to Burney with the fellas. I wanted to jump into the Falls so badly the day before, but didn't want to experience it alone. I knew these guys would be up for it!
This water was cold. I mean chill you to the bone, soul awaking cold... By far one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
It took a good hour in the sun, along with some hot tea, to warm us back up. We all piled in the van and headed south to where the PCT met up with some lava tubes. What a great way to meet up with a good friend you haven't seen in a while! Daniel, you're a bad ass, keep living life to its fullest.
LASSEN NATIONAL PARK
The following day we hiked the 20 miles through the park. The first 10 miles were extremely exposed due to a large fire a few years ago, luck for us, this was a the start of our day. The last 10 miles were absolutely beautiful. That night we camped on the Feather River.
Of course, after a few pints You're gonna want to ride a dinosaur
Truly, we were killing time until our friend Amanda got off work. We resupplied at Walmart where she picked us up. I made manicotti, nuff said. Thanks to Amanda and Scott for letting us stink up your home for a while!
We were not prepared for the awesomeness that Mavis and her husband Brad were about to share with us. Mavis picked us up at the grocery in Greenville and drove us to their insanely beautiful home In the woods. This couple seemed to have it figured out! She, a working artist, he, a carpenter. For them, the carousel was a labor of love. Each animal hand carved, each panel painted to commemorate some significant moment or person in their lives. This has to be the single most romantic thing I have ever seen in my life...
We couldn't believe it when they asked us if we'd like to take a spin on their piece of art. Brad flipped a switch and the carousel came to life, music and all. Katie chose a stag, and I the white horse aside. As the carousel circled, our grins grew to smiles. In the end we couldn't help but laugh out loud... Perhaps it was the realization of how wonderful of a trip this had been; maybe it was the feeling of innocence only gliding in circles can provide. Whatever the case, beautiful.
With our souls and bodies revived by the frigid falls, and our hearts softened by a labor of love, we head into Sierra.