Pacific Crest Trail Blog Part 6
25th September 2010 – Video Update No. 14
The Beaver Buster
Pockets and I reached Highway 66 yesterday after a swift 22 miler. Oregon is proving good walking. There is minimal elevation loss and gain, the path is well trodden and soft underfoot. We have just come through a cold spell which saw night time temperatures dip down to freezing level, ice crystals decorating our tents in the morning.
We were given a ride to Mazama village to pick up our food parcels and John, who had given us the ride then took us to Benton. A short wait by the Highway intersection and we managed to score another ride to Grants Pass where we arrived at 20.00. A couple of welcome hamburgers and then we had a 6 hour wait for the 3.00am Greyhound bus to Corvalis where Pockets has a mate, Brett, who had kindly agreed to put us up for a couple of days rest and recuperation.
This morning saw Pockets attempt the ‘Beaver Buster’ at a local bar called Tommy’s 4th Street bar & Grill. The Buster is a huge breakfast, and I mean huge. Those who manage to eat the whole lot in under an hour do not have to pay. Failure lands you with a $25.00 bill.
Pockets was pretty confident in his abilities, and I too, after seeing what he has managed to put away in the past few weeks. However, when the meal arrived, we both registered serious doubts. A 20″ plate was crammed with 3 omelette’s, 2 biscuits (scones if you’re English), bacon, sausage, hash browns, home fries, five pancakes and eight slices of bread, all smothered in gravy. The waitress took the ‘before’ photo, set the timer and gave the go ahead. Pockets (sitting on his own as per the strange rule) dove in. We had discussed the attack plan and most of it hinged on the 6 minute rule. The 6 minute rule states that it takes 6 minutes for your brain to register that the stomach is full, so we figured get off to a blinding start before the grey matter knew what had hit it.
He started well, going straight in for the omelet. The odd gulp of water eased the passage and he was looking strong. Even Brett commented that after the initial shock of seeing such a massive portion of food, Pockets may be in with a chance. Then he slowed, like a cyclist speeding down a hill, hitting the bottom and then trying to climb the incline on the other side. Blown out cheeks and raised eyebrows were sure fire indicators that he was struggling. Fair game to him though, he went the whole hour but barely managed to clear half the food and picked up that $25.00 bill.
We have decided to ‘flip flip’ north. The weather is getting colder and we have agreed to skip up to Washington State, get that out of the way before the possibly of snow hits, and then return to Oregon to complete the section we skipped. It’s not something I particularly wanted to do, my desire to complete a pure hike (walking from the beginning to the end with no flip flopping) is not to be. The temperature in Oregon is falling and Washington expects snow as early as October, sometimes September but certainly by November so we have little choice and it makes perfect sense.
It would have been nice to finish in Canada but after we cross the border we will return to Oregon, pick up where we left off and finish at Crater Lake, an inspiring and majestic finale to a great hike.
We are both feeling strong and confident and have no doubts in our abilities to finish.
|Making inroads into the calorie defecit
|One of the famous PCT switchbacks
|Brown Mountain Shelter – a rare treat
Evening camp – time to relax
Current Statistics – 28th September 2010
Current location: Hood River, OR. Trying to get a ride to Cascade Locks to start the Washington section of the PCT.
Miles walked: 1833.6
Miles remaining: 816.4
Next stop and update: Packwood around 4th October.
Trail Magazine article
Trail magazine, the biggest walking magazine in the UK has just published the article I wrote for them with photos by Pockets. It’s out on Wednesday 29th September and even if I do say myself, it looks great!
28th September 2010 – Video Update No. 15
Red foliage and chanterelles
The bears know when its time. So do the mountain lions, the squirrels and the snakes. They sense when the snows are coming and they prepare for the winter. I can see the obvious signs like the leaves displaying reds, oranges and yellows and when the wind catches the trees we walk through thousands of them cascade down, floating from side to side like a mother cradling her baby. The mornings are colder, frost clinging to our tents as we watch a cloud of warm mist rise up as we exhale. Gaggles of Geese fly over us calling out, almost warning us of what to expect.
However, the feeling of Autumn encroaching and the signals run deeper to something that is hard to explain. Its more than just visual signals, as mesmerising as they are. This is my favourite time of year, the temperature is perfect for hiking, the sunsets magical and sitting in camp with a blazing fire is comforting. Something in my body makes me aware that Summer has ended, it’s more than the smell of musty leaves, goes deeper than the mist banks swirling around me with beams of sunlight splicing through.
Pockets and I have been joined by Uncle Gary. Hailing from Petaluma, north of San Fransisco, he sports an impressive beard. 26 years old and studying outdoor education and research, he is an interesting guy to walk with. A powerful hiker with thighs like tree trunks, he walks a good, but not quick pace and reels of a series of jokes. Many times he has stopped to study fungi poking through the soil and we have feasted on the forests bountiful supply. His knowledge in this area is impressive and has supplemented my meagre memory banks of edible shrooms. Our food stocks have been well supplemented by the likes of Cauliflower Fungus, Boletes, Chanterelles and White Matsutake. Throw in some leftover bacon, fresh garlic and possibly some ‘past its best parsley’ and the finest restaurants would struggle to come up with anything that tastes this good.
Washington is proving great walking. Heavily forested, we meander through pine trees towering above us so high that we struggle to see the tops. The trail has been dampened with occasional rain which cushions our steps and has put a stop to the clouds of dust we normally kick up. Occasionally we glimpse valleys below us, lakes peek through the gaps and peaks such as Mt Adams and Mt Hood tower impressively above us, capped with fresh snow. Tough going after our brief Oregon entree, this state is back to the dips and crests we had become used to in California. Climbs of 3000 feet plus and four hour ascents make our thighs and calves scream. This 500 odd mile section will see us reach the Canadian border and trek a further 12 miles to the official finishing point in Manning Park before Pockets and I return to Cascade Locks on the Washington / Oregon border to walk south to our finish at Crater lake where we skipped up a few days ago. Having stopped a few miles short of Crater Lake, we never saw the magnificence that so many PCT’s had been raving about. It should prove an amazing finale.
Current Statistics – 2nd October 2010
As of 2nd October:
Current location: Trout Lake.
Next stop and update: Not sure!
|Uncle Gary with locals Mike & Murray at Trout Lake Store
|Knifes Edge Ridge – Goat Rocks Wilderness
The approach to Cispus Pass (6450 feet elevation)
Latest Statistics – 6th October 2010
Current Location: Packwood, WA.
Miles walked: I am at mile 2304.2 here with 345.8 miles left in Washington. However, I still have a 400 mile section to go back and complete in Oregon.
Cold nights and staying warm
It was 8pm just before the ascent to Goat Rocks Wilderness and a knife edge ridge walk. There was no way I was going to attempt this in the dark, especially with some ominous clouds rolling in. A little light from the moon bounced around my camp, not enough to see so I switched on my head torch and carried on supping on some hot chocolate.
My torch began to pick out something falling around me, its beam reflecting thousands of particles. I assumed it was some light rain but then noticed that they weren’t ‘falling’, more ‘floating’. It was the first snowfall and whilst not heavy, it only deposited a light dusting, it was a sure fire sign that the Washington winter was beginning.
The mornings and nights are cold, the days chilly. I wake to ice on the tent and on the trail, my boots crunching on the frozen dirt as they break through the crust. Ice protrudes horizontally from bushes where the wind has forced it sideways. I unscrewed my water bottle to take a drink but instead of water flowing out, I was met with a clunk as a block of ice slid down and hit the bottle neck. Time to start sleeping with it in my sleeping bag – that will be cozy.
My feet are in bad shape. Not blisters but areas that are red and tender, painful to walk on and I don’t understand what is causing them. Possibly grit from the trail working it’s way into my boots and rubbing those areas, I have been forced to stop in Packwood for a day to try and start some sort of healing process.
A quick gear sorting as well as I send back my summer sleeping bag (a down bag on loan from Gary Peterson at Western Mountaineering – thanks Gary). I have also picked up my down jacket, got new socks and my beloved neck buff. My Terra Nova tent is also past it’s best so I now have a Tarptent Contrail model which is 33% lighter and offers me a lot more internal space.
Low temperatures are the name of the game now and I have to be prepared for it to get a lot colder.
Western Mountaineering – Thanks!
Thanks to Gary Peterson at Western Mountaineering for the loan of their Summerlite sleeping bag that has given me some cosy nights over the past couple of months. I have now switched to their Ultralite model (good to -7c / 25f) as the nights are much colder.
One Pan Wonders – Thanks!
Many thanks to Teresa Dicentra Black at One Pan Wonders. I met her during my first week on trail in California where she extolled her idea of being able to cook nourishing, original and bloody tasty grub on the trail.
I have just recieved a parcel from Dicentra stocked full of her own home cooked and dehydrated food, plus a few goodies. Dicentra has a simple idea in that it is possible to eat well on the trail and her book ‘One Pan Wonders’ shows how easy this can be. Alternatively, you can do what I did and exchange a yummy food parcel for a little blog advertising space!
I’m eating well on the trail for the week or so!
Latest shots from Pockets – Trekking Photography
Apologies for the lack of communication of late. I am walking with Trooper, we are on the final 190 mile stretch to the official finish point in Canada, about 10 days walking. After that I have to flip back down to Cascade Locks and walk a final 330 mile section to finish at Crater Lake some point mid November.
We have been walking through remote wilderness and will be for the next 10 days. Hence no blog updates (I am sitting outside a closed library picking up wifi on my iPhone to write this). Next update in Canada where I should plenty of video, photos and text.
Weather freezing but I am holding it together and looking forward to getting home. Thanks everyone for the messages and keep tuned in for an update from Canada and then subsequent news from the final stretch in Oregon.
Stehekin, snow and Canada
I’m writing this from a cabin overlooking the lake at Stehekin, the last chance to get of trail and re-supply before Canada.
Supping on a cup of Earl Grey (an Englishman must have his tea), I look at what lies above me. There is a clear snow line down to 4000 feet, the tops of the mountains dusted with a fine layer before the clouds obscure the upper elevations. Spectres of fine mist float across the lake and geese call to me to move. The hill flanks are coated in the greens of pine trees, the uniformity broken by the occasional gold of a maple. It is eerily quiet save for the occasional rustle of leaves as a weak breeze plays with them.
I think about how far I have come, and how far I have still to go. The last two weeks with Trooper have been amazing, he’s a fine walking companion. Tommorow he leaves at 7am for the final 89 mile stretch where he finishes his 2010 Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. I will wait for Pockets who is in Chelan, a 3 hour ferry trip down the lake. Pockets has confirmed ecoli and has been told by the doctor to get off trail. He is ignoring this advice saying to me ‘You can’t keep Pockets down’. We will leave around mid-day and hopefully catch Trooper up by evening camp.
We stumbled in here on Saturday 23rd October. Trooper had fallen four times today, a habit that is earning him the nickname Tripper, not Trooper. I, also, have picked up an injury. We are increasing our speed because of news that snow is on the way and we have one last section to get Washington done, but it’s a tough section through the North Cascades. It’s not a case of ‘if’ it snows, more ‘when’. So, we have been walking noticably quicker. A few miles from Stehekin my ankle was aching but I just put it down to over exertion and thought a couple of days rest and a re-supply would sort it out.
Seeing a couple of houses to our left we went in search of food as our supplied had dwindled dangerously low. Before long a couple of locals had taken us under their wing, provided us with a loft room to sleep in, lit the fire for us, turned on the showers and asked us to come in the house when we were ready for food. They could not have been more welcoming and out of all the places I stayed on the PCT and the families I met, my heart went out to these people who fed us, kept us warm and ran us into Stehekin and back that day. We moved into the cabin on Sunday and snow threatening or not, I had to rest my ankle. Many, many heartfelt thanks to Mark, Monica and Mistaya for your wecome.
Me, Monica, Mark, Mistaya and Trooper