Ashland to Crater Lake

Ashland to Crater Lake

July 15, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1727.0
End: Halfmile 1762.5
Distance: 35.5 – 1.0 = 34.5 Mi
Cumulative: 1,802.0 Mi

Photo: 10k, sporting a fitting motto: Simply Believe.

Took a shortcut today. There was an “Old PCT” and a “New PCT” according to Halfmile’s maps. The “New PCT” split to the left, bending south before turning northwest, and finally back east. The “Old PCT” was a straight shot to the northern junction of the two trails. I’m not sure why they changed the route, and especially why the new (read: official) PCT is so roundabout. We took the “Old PCT.” Like I’ve said before: I’m not a purest. I just wanna walk to Canada from Mexico mostly on official PCT tread. But I don’t mind deviating a bit when it makes sense to do so. This was such a time. HYOH. (Hike your own hike.)

I remember at Trail Angel Mike’s place way back in the desert, Cush offered an interesting idea. He said the “winner” is the last one to complete a thru-hike in a given season, not the first. It’s the person who spends the most time out here, the person who experiences all they can between the two borders. From that, I’d extrapolate and say that the winner also isn’t afraid to leave the PCT in pursuit of something awesome. The winner would know that the path from Mexico to Canada is trivial, that the quality of the experience is what ranks highest. And the winner knows that there is no winner. There are only people…walking north-ish…to Canada.

I’ve really tried to follow that idea. I’ve taken side trips, alternates, and unplanned zeros. No, I haven’t followed PCT tread every step of the way. But who cares? And yeah, I could go sub-4 months. But I don’t want that to be my story if it costs me other great stories. Still, it’s a tempting milestone, something that’s on my radar. But not if I have to skip anything cool. I don’t wanna skip anything cool.

July 16, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1762.5
End: Halfmile 1792.5
Distance: 30.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,832.0 Mi

Oregon has been so good to me. The tread has been smooth, and the grades easy. Trail Magic around every corner, it seems. Today I ran into Coppertone again. He’s famous for setting up a few days at a time at random PCT road crossings and making thru-hikers root beer floats. Got my second one this morning.

Coppertone: “Too early for a root beer float?
Me: “What?! It’s never too early for a root beer float!”

Really, the only challenge so far has been the mosquitoes. We’re all sitting in our tents talking tonight, because they’re too gnarly to even be outside. They were chewing on me as I hiked 3+ mph today. It was like we crossed a highway, then we hit a wall of the little buggers. I even stopped to apply DEET. But hey, if that’s my big challenge out here, I’d say I’m doing just fine. And of course there is Oregon’s infamous rain. Surely I’ll see more of it in the next few weeks as I make my way to Cascade Locks, then more in Washington as I near Canada. But that’s cool. It’s been hot lately, so I wouldn’t mind at least a few clouds.

Lots of section hikers lately. ‘Tis the season, I suppose. And Oregon is a relatively manageable chunk. We’re getting close to Crater Lake, which means hordes of people, especially where the PCT coincides with the Rim Trail. I’m having traumatic flashbacks to Yosemite Valley. Breathtaking views, but at the price of any hint of solitude. Hopefully it won’t be quite that overwhelming.

With only 38 miles to Mazama and another 5 to Rim Village, I’m less than 48 hours from Cassie!

July 17, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1792.5
End: Halfmile 1824.0
Distance: 31.5 Mi
Cumulative: 1,863.5 Mi

So itchy last night. I hardly slept at all. It was awful. I’ve been lethargic and dragging all day long. No energy. I even stopped to take a power nap. Fortunately, the mosquitoes let up significantly today. Overall, it’s been pretty uneventful. I hiked through another old burn, which wasn’t nearly as hot or exposed as I would’ve expected it to be. And now I’m dry camping about 5 miles short of Mazama. It’s so nice to finally be lying down.

I lost 10k today. He left camp this morning about 20 minutes ahead of me. I thought I would catch him by lunch. When I didn’t, it occurred to me that I might have jumped him if he went off trail for water this morning, so I slowed down. We had planned to camp a few miles short of Mazama, but I’m guessing he made great time and decided to cruise in for dinner. Not me. Cassie won’t get to Rim Village until tomorrow around 5p, so I’m really in no hurry to cover the next 10 miles. I just assume camp out here and mosey in tomorrow. Looks like I’m flyin’ solo.

10k got away today, which isn’t normally a big deal, but it’s different this time. I’ll be losing him for the foreseeable future. I’m gonna take some zeros with my lovely lady at Crater Lake, and he’s going to keep on keepin’ on. I might make up the two days, except that I’m also going to take three or four zeros in Portland. (That’s where Cassie lives.) Trying to make up five or six days – the equivalent of about 150 miles – over little more than 800 miles seems outrageous. But let’s operate under the assumption that nothing is impossible and keep it in mind as a possibility, however unlikely. If it looks like I can do it, I’m gonna push to do it. Either way, I hope I get to see him tomorrow before we part ways. It’s been awesome sharing the last 400 miles with him.

July 18, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1824.0
End: Halfmile 1834.0
Distance: 10.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,873.5 Mi


It’s July 18th. Yesterday marked 3 months on the trail. I can’t think of any better way to celebrate such a milestone than with this wicked-awesome, gorgeous gal. She waited so patiently for me to walk here from Mexico. And I waited so patiently for her to drive here from Portland. We’re even, right? Give and take?