I am doing very well and am still out here living in the forest! My home is the woods and I am in love with the trail. I have been so many different things in my life, always searching for what is right for me but never quite meshing completely with any one thing, but on the trail I feel at home. Life is raw and true out here. I have the freedom to be myself and go with the flow of what feels right while being 100% responsible for my actions and dealing with consequences. I have many daily tasks and chores but they are simple: eat, make shelter, sleep, filter water, rest, watch my maps, care for myself as needed, and simply WALK. I used to think this was the hardest thing I’d ever do, but in fact – it is the easiest I have ever lived. Life IS the moment and the challenges, with few options, forcing me to accept each moment and take each day one step at a time. Don’t be mistaken, hiking 25 miles a day is not easy, but don’t we all understand how rewarding it is to suffer? Not only am I in the best physical shape of my life, but mentally I feel powerful and independent. I feel at peace and in control of my life. I have made a complete turn around since the beginning of the trip. At first I could barely stand the thought of being away from home, and now I can’t stand the thought of the trail… ending. I just want to walk in the woods forever….
After a lovely stay at the Hiker Hut in Etna I hit the trail again and got the best of surprises! As I was walking I noticed three beautiful Rosy Boa snakes lying sleepily along the side of the trail. I thought they wouldn’t be safe from flying trekking poles and curious hikers that close to the trail so I gladly scooped them up and made friends with them before relocating them to a safer place. That was such a happy day! Soon after, the landscape transformed from brown and green to white, brown and green. Raw marble all over the ground and making up entire mountains! It was a beautiful sight and made me happy to see such a valuable mineral being left in it’s natural state, protected by the national forest, untouched by the hand of man.
After descending into Seiad Valley, we were picked up by an old local couple in a pickup to avoid the dangerous road walk and were greeted by many hikers relaxing on the grass as we arrived. I had lunch at the cafe but did NOT take on the pancake challenge. I don’t really like pancakes – I’m more of a waffle kind of girl! 🙂
With a full belly I took on the 8 mile ascent up a huge steep mountain overlooking the smoke settling from recent fires in the area, it was eerily beautiful with a red crescent moon as I fell asleep in my shelter. I love sleeping on ridges because I can see the sun rise and set.
Soon, I made it to the Oregon border and the trail was a whole new ball game! I was ready for a change and excited to see what a new state had to offer, I walked on with big smiles and wide eyes… 😀 What I found the next day was Santa Claus! He lives in Oregon!! I met Santa at the Callahans Lodge where I was treated so kindly by fancy, clean people. One woman who worked at the front desk offered us a ride into Ashland and I asked her “how many can you fit?” she replied, “up to 7, I have a pickup truck.” When I walked outside I laughed to myself when I saw her tiny 2 seater truck, we all jumped in the back and we drove on the 5 freeway for about 15 minutes and it was terrifying. At least I can say I’ve ridden in the back of a truck on the freeway! That is not something that most people can say they’ve experienced. Now I don’t ever have to do that again!! But thank goodness for the ride to Ashland, and to be alive. Wow.
In Ashland, I shared a hostel room with several other hikers. It was more like a large apartment and felt very luxurious, although it was difficult to get enough sleep with everyone making breakfast and talking at 6 in the morning. I was a grumpy girl that day. Ashland was a nice town stop, I stayed an extra night to get the rest I needed and got more chores done before hitting the trail again with the excitement of my next stop – Crater Lake! This is a section of the trail that I have looked forward to since the very beginning. Arriving here was emotional and beautiful. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and my feet! The lake was huge and glorious. I camped for a couple nights here and watched both the sun and the moon rise and set shining it’s beautiful colors on the crystal blue waters of the ancient caldera of what was once Mount Mazama, standing above 12,000 feet before it exploded.
I went real slow through this section because of its sereneness. I was caught in a vortex of beauty and bliss, walking through the forests of Oregon has been a dream. People warn you of how boring it is to hike through the forest for days on end, but for me it wasn’t like that. Each day I’d make it to a ridge where I could see snow-covered mountains, craggy peaks, volcanic lava fields, and beautiful sunsets. When I was under the shade of the forest, it was a whole new world of green ground cover, butterflies, lakes, wet mushrooms, and happy pine trees. I could never get bored with the sweet smells of the forest and the soft duff to sleep on. I made it to Sisters and began heading back out on the trail when I was hit with a big cold, scary, wet storm. I was hiking through exposed areas in a lightening storm and I was terrified. I finally found a safe place to set up shelter where I stayed for 24 hours hoping the storm would pass. It did not, so with all my wet stuff, I hiked back to Sisters and Brian picked me up there instead of the planned pick up spot at Timberline Lodge. He is going to hike with me from Timberline Lodge to Cascade Locks which I am looking forward to. However, I am currently stationary at his Grandma’s house in Washington but will be back on trail tomorrow.
I reached mile 2000 last week and have less than 550 more miles to Canada. This hike is a dream and I couldn’t be more content and happy. I want to just keep hiking.