After watching Robin leave us to our own demise, we hiked on north, next big stop would be Bend, Oregon and we had a ways to go. Psyched on the thoughts of possibly hiking dry trail, we were quickly bummed to realize every north face was still endless snow fields. Oh boy! We had planned to finally start pushing some decent miles to make up for the Sierras, but still were unable to break more than 25 mile days fully wiped out. Not sure where exactly the last bit of snow was, but just north of Belden was my last memory of huge patches. Once we started getting more trail than snow, we got excited to see dirt again and our miles went up. Just outside Sierra City (which we skipped because we just resupplied in Truckee), we ran into a couple, Data Muffin and Topsy Turvy, who we began hiking on and off with and sharing lots of good trial miles with in Northern California and again through Washington.
There was a good climb out of Sierra City and then the terrain was pretty mellow with mesa views and not quite as much water. As we were walking along and in “the zone” we heard a crashing noise and looked up to see a small black bear running across the hill right in front of us. It was amazing to see it just demolish the bushes in it’s path and I realized there would be no way to out run a bear. Even with the lightest shoes and Jackie Jointer finger nails. Next stop, Belden. And for the record, yes, Belden IS creepy. We heard great gossip of a rave, lots of drugs, glowsticks, and even breast milk pina coladas! But, we rolled in in the middle of the week and the place was pretty empty. We dropped down hoards of switchbacks and made it to the “resort/haunted house” which was still open and were able to get some burgers. I wish I were joking, but seriously, this place is wacky. There are odd knick-knacks everywhere, the waitress spilled the entire tray of drinks while bringing them to us twice, the post office is a one room house with skulls, and the locals were interesting. Very interesting. But no breast milk pina coladas, so on we trekked after staying with local trail angels in their spare house.
The climb out of Belden was my least favorite climb of the trail. All the other climbs are just hype. The trial was burned-over with no trees, underbrush way over-grown, over 14 miles of climbing on the surface of the sun. Water went in the mouth and just came right out. Once we got to the top, we were back in snow and heading on through Lassen National Park. The trail went right around a boiling lake of acid, that Ville took a swim in (not), and camped a night at Drakesbad Guest Ranch. This place is run by a couple from Germany who are the coolest. They set a table and loaded it with great food for us hikers. And good beer. There was a hot spring swimming pool which made for a great soak and they even washed our dirty clothes! Rockstar treatment. We left our little hiker buddy, Slate, and headed on.
Hiking through Hat Creek Rim was a scenic part of trail that reminded me so much of Bend with the sage brush and lava rock. Ville and I hiked to a cave to get water and camp and lost each other in the dark when he went to get water and I pitched the tent. I tried really hard not to panic, but we spend so much time together out here relying on each other that these moments you feel so very alone and lost. After back-tracking, we finally found each other and were very relieved. Alarms set for 3:30 a.m. because the next stretch was 30 miles in heat with no water. It was a beautiful sunrise where Mt. Shasta finally came into view, and would be in our view for a couple weeks. We had a siesta under a tree and finished hiking to a fish hatchery into the night. A walk by Old Station, food stop, and onto the next town, Burney Falls, where we had a quick meal, a lecture from the local market clerk for making it this far on the hike without cash!, resupplied, and headed northwest on the trail in very thick brush with not many views. Now that we were on solid trail, this is when we realized that we needed to start hiking at least 30 miles per day to get to Canada in our weather window. Bummer. Feet were not use to the open trail and that many miles and pain killers were used to push on. This was definitely a low point on the trail for all of us, even other hikers we leapfrogged. Periodic swims in rivers were the highlights of this section. And down into Shasta City was really exciting, cell phone reception, new shoes, new Super Feet, the hopes of a new backpack (at this point my crappy Osprey pack has fallen apart enough to rub sores into my back from the metal frame), a shower, laundry, real food, and connecting with my family who were sure we were dead. With so many tiny towns, there was no cell reception or computers to call or write home. My fantastic parents followed our whole journey with maps and sat by the phone just waiting to hear we were all right, so this last section almost got the search party out looking for us. Oh boy. Thank you mom and dad for keeping track of us and always worrying about us. We love you for being parents.
The hike out of Shasta City was beautiful and one of our favorite sections of trail. Into Castle Crags Wilderness were views of the crags, Shasta, and a full moon. We ran into our hiking buddy JBro and camped. This whole section of trail was really gentle meandering along the hills with views of lakes and mountains the whole way. Many trail heads, day hikers, and swims in lakes to be had. I was then bandaged all day to try and make it to Ashland where I was hoping to ditch the Osprey pack for good. Next town stop was Etna, where my childhood friend, Anna, picked us up on trail and took us to the brewery in Etna and took us back to the trail the next day. Thanks so much Anna for the ride, catching up, and making time for us. I hope all is well with your new baby and can’t wait to see the yert on the next trip down. Pencil us in.
Next stretch was through the Marble Mountains and Russian Wilderness. Stark contrasts between black and white rock and the trail finally heading north. In a few days we dropped down into Seiad Valley and the State of Jefferson. No we did not partake in the pancake challenge (5 giant pancakes in an hour), and opted for omelets and milkshakes instead. The climb out was a 7,000 ft climb in 6 miles, but easier than everyone talked it up to. As we walked on the crest the sun was setting and the full moon was rising directly across from it. Can’t describe how beautiful and pictures can’t capture it. This is why you hike it. To experience it. Only a short stretch and we hit the Oregon/California border! Hooray! FINALLY, a new state and heading home!
In Ashland we had beers with my friend Chris (thanks a million for the ride and hanging with us, sorry it was a quick visit, we will make it down again very soon) and stayed with my Aunt Sharon, Uncle John, and my Dad surprised us! It was so awesome to get to see Dad after so many miles. And we pushed out 42 miles in 24 hours to get to our friend’s cabin at Lake of the Woods to have some fun in the sun and relaxation on trail. Thanks so much Maestro, Diane, and your family for having us at the lake. It was REALLY needed! And Maestro, you need to be on Top Chef :) Next stop, Crater Lake, where my Aunt Red, Kel, Kim, and Rudy met us to eat at the buffet, bring us resupply boxes, and give us much needed hugs. Thanks a million all of you, especially Redster and Kel for all the hard work on shipping all our resupply boxes to us!!
So great to be back in my home state, we hiked around the rim of Crater Lake and watched an incredible lightning storm over the water where 3 rainbows appeared. After camping on the rim, we pushed a 37 mile day towards Mt Thielsen. Hit up some very unexpected trail magic that was from a former hiker and stocked up on real food. Around Diamond Peak and down to Odell Lake we got more family love on the trail from my Dad and Maestro again who brought us a big picnic lunch and drove us up to some hot springs to hang for the day before dropping us back at the trail. Best sandwiches on trail and fruit is always gold, thanks Dad!
Leaving Odell Lake, we were on a mission. We have been averaging 34 miles a day through all of Oregon, easy trail, beautiful mountain views, lakes galore, vulture-sized mosquitoes (worst on the trail was through Oregon by far), and thoughts of getting into Bend and taking a whole whopping 3 days off trail to see the fam, resupply, and replace gear. The wilderness was pretty heading north to Willamette Pass, lots of lakes, chatty day hikers, and even a run-in with trail heart-throb, Billy Goat. When we dropped out of the thick forest with views of South Sister looming in front of us, we finally felt like we have made miles and are so close to home! Totally biased, we both agreed that the Sisters Wilderness part of the trail is one of our favorites. So close to the 3 mountains, meandering through beautiful meadows of flowers, easy trail, volcanic rock fields, and views of the Cascade Mountain Range in the distance. The trail between Willamette Pass and Santiam Pass was the fastest trail Ville and I hiked. Through our hike we maintained, once in shape, about 3 miles an hour up or down, but this section was at about 4.6 miles an hour. We couldn’t wait to see my family and eat some good food. It had also been over 1,150 miles since our last day off! And boy did we need a day off our feet!
Once we hit Santiam, now at 2,007 miles on the PCT, we got some great trail magic from Cat Dog (thanks!) and hitched a ride to Bend. There, my Dad and Maestro had a “welcome home” bar-b-que for us, which my sister and brother made the trip to Bend to be there. Thanks so much you both for all your love and support! The next three days were jam packed with my Mom’s famous crepe fest, REI runs, packing more yucky granola baggies, catching up, trying to relax and drinking of some good Bend beers. We were so sad we had such little time to spend with everyone, but our big PCT 2011 ending party is coming up, so stay tuned cause we plan to see you all there and spend some quality time catching up! Thanks everyone for all the love and support on the trail, you all made it possible to do this hike this year, we just walked. :)