Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Land of Lava Rock, Lakes and Majestic Mountains

Day 112-116:

Back on the trail after being given a ride yesterday from a very kind man named Trung. 

I got back on at MacKenzie Pass where I had left off and as darkness fell, the lava fields gave way to a short, sandy path and camp area.

 It was here that I ran into Pippen which was a delight and Cloud Trousers who I had met on day 2 of my adventure which was astounding as it seemed so long ago! When I awoke the trail went back onto the lava rock which was slow going and brutal on the feet. 

Mnt Washington loomed up above the blackened lava rock terrain which eventually entered a burned forest section, passing the 2000 mile mark and continued on to meet with an intersection to Big Lake Youth Camp. 

As a last minute decision and due to the fact that I was low on water, I decided to venture to the camp. 

This turned out to be an excellent detour as I received so much more than a full bottle of water. On arrival, the staff were extremely welcoming and friendly and offered a free shower and laundry service. They also offered a free vegetarian supper to all PCT hikers and have a hiker lounge were we could charge up our electronics and relax. I received some great backpacking food from other hikers who had resupplied there and was able to use the wifi. Some of the other hikers there were Hustler, Any Minute Now, Sinbad, Snaps, Shiny, Hard Double and Danger Spoon. This is definitely a wonderful, friendly, hospitable place and I left at 7pm to get an hour of hiking in before setting up camp for the night.

Day 113:
I was awoken by the sound of ducks. My camp was on the bank of a small pond and the light from the sun rising made the hill across the pond glow red. 

The only problem camping so close to the water is the condensation on my tent, making it rather wet. I enjoyed a breakfast of Trader Joe's premixed with cream and sugar instant coffee and flatbread with peanut butter.
Within two miles I reached Santiam Pass and then climbed the rest of the day with rewarding scenery,noticing many animal tracks on the path including raccoon tracks. 

 I traversed along the flanks of the magical Three Finger Jack mountain which has spectacular jaggered peaks with banks of snow and glaciers on it's north face. 

Great vistas followed from this altitude, giving views of valleys and lakes, Wasco Lake being most notable. 

It was at this vantage point that I met up with Kelsey, a wonderful section hiker and she joined me for the remainder of the day proving to be awesome company. 

We stopped and filled our water bottles at the gorgeous Rockpile Lake and then made our way to my desired destination of the day, covering 25 miles/40km to Shale Lake at the foot of the majestic Mnt Jefferson.


 A prettier setting for a campsite would be hard to come by and we shared the campsite with Irish and Bella who had previously sailed a boat from Cape Town to the USA. It was fun to 'talk story' as we ate our supper. Life is good!

Day 114:

What a great day of hiking, although there was also a lot of climbing. Upon leaving Shale Lake I met up with Switch whom I had first met in Agua Dulce and then again at Lake Isabella. I hiked with her for about 4-5 miles until we reached the first fast flowing creek we had to ford. I fell off the log I was trying to balance on into the creek while trying to cross it, 
leaving me wearing soaking wet shoes. 

Soon I had to cross the very swift flowing Whitewater Creek and could not find a safe place to cross. What I didn't know at the time is that it's recommended to do this crossing before noon as after that the water volume increases dramatically due to the snow melt on Mnt Jefferson. I decided to wait it out until another hiker appeared as I didn't want to fall into the raging rapids and be drowned by my heavy backpack unnoticed. I had lunch on the banks to kill time and no-one arrived, so I had to pluck up the courage to make the crossing all alone and as it turned out, it was successful.   

The hike then took me through Jefferson Park which is stunningly beautiful and the ever present Mnt Jefferson was breathtaking. 

Once over a pass into the Mnt Hood Wilderness I had to walk across snow banks and could see Mnt Hood in the distance. 

Following that, I passed many lakes, ending my 25mile/40km day at Olalie Lake, a primitive fishing destination without electricity nor phone service.

 I camped on the banks of the lake with Mary Poppins, Apache, Wisdom and Sam I Am.

Day 115:

A long, long day in the woods. 30 miles/50km of undulating forest with occasional peeks of Mnt Hood and the surrounding hills. 

The PCT went through Warm Springs Indian Reservation and I met a lovely Indian woman gathering huckleberries in the woods. We had a conversation about wild berries and she wished me a safe journey. 

I really wanted to get good mileage done and passed a crossing with Headwaters Trail which was very misleading as I couldn't find the campsite described on my Guthooks App, so I continued onwards, crossing a highway as evening fell. Eventually, as it was almost dark, I saw a tent on the side of the trail and heard someone exclaim "Two Feathers"! I was overjoyed to discover Dimples, whom I had last seen at Kennedy Meadows South. I set up camp here on the waters edge and we camped together, very relieved to have each other's company.

Day 116:

Rain splattered on my tent as I woke up. During a break in the downpour, we broke camp and I set off in the drizzle, once again very happy to have my Golite umbrella. The sky was grey and the views obscured by the rain. 

I passed by numerous lakes and eventually came to a road that I could hitch to Government Camp from. I received a ride from two angels Yana and Ira who were on a road trip and they drove me right where I needed to be. 

Unfortunately it turns out to be the Labor Day weekend, the postoffice was closed and would only reopen in 3 days and I can't wait around for that long, so will have to forfeit it. As everything turned out, I was snug in a motel room during a cold, wet night. I have have consistently been fortunate enough to be safe and warm during the worst weather conditions so far.
I am eternally grateful to all the angels in my life and those I have met on my journey. Thank you!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lava fields and Portland.

Day 104-111:

This has to be one of the most wonderful cards I've received, on it says:
"She was never meant to be a common creature - extraordinary takes time. The question is not " will you find your wings?" It's "what are you going to wear with your magnificent feathers?" "

I am most certainly feeling the love and aloha from family, friends and supporters. My biggest take home lesson from this journey is not about the wilderness but about people. My faith in humanity has sky rocketed due to the fact that I have received so much love, support, random acts of kindness and generosity non-stop since embarking upon this walkabout. I am truly amazed and humbled by it all.

I hitched back to Elk Lake to resume the trail where I left off, getting there via four different rides from wonderful people. 

The trail meandered through forests and meadows and gave me beautiful views of the mountains South and Middle Sister, both snow speckled and have glaciers. 

I eventually camped on the banks of a creek beneath the Sisters in my wonderful new tent which I can actually zip closed again. 

Day 105:
A day of lava flow hiking in the Obsidian Basin of central Oregon in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

 I woke up to the view of South and Middle Sister mountains and soon came across Obsidian Falls, 

beautiful meadows filled with wild flowers, creeks and ponds. 

Black Obsidian rock is a volcanic glass formed when lava cools rapidly was evident in abundance.

 The Three Sisters themselves are three volcanic peaks, each higher than 10,000 ft. The North Sister, Faith, is extinct. Hope, the Middle Sister is dormant and Charity, the South Sister last erupted 2000 years ago and could erupt again.

 It was awesome to see the glaciers on the slopes and in the distance I could see Mnt Washington, Mnt Jefferson and the mountain called Three Finger Jack. I spent a bit of time with day hikers Michael and Barbara who had got a little lost.

 The trail cut through lava fields and it reminded me of walking through a lava trail in Maui called The Kings Highway and it really brutalized my feet.

  I reached the highway that the trail crosses over in the evening and was met with trail magic in the form of Pop Up Trail Angels. 

Here. I got a bean burrito and decided to make my way to Portland for a long weekend off trail, as Josh was meeting me there for a four day mini trail vacation. He is flying in on Thursday night and I'm so excited ad Portland is a fun city and I'm sure we'll have a great weekend. On monday I'll return to the trail where I left off. 

Day 106-111:
Portland is amazing, I love it! I started my long weekend away from the trail by catching a bus called "The Breeze" to Union Station where I was picked up by my dear friend Sabine and her friends, Alyssa and Jay, and was driven to my motel. Sabine just happened to be in Portland on this day! It is another demonstration of the wonderful way the universe lines up.

At midnight on Thursday, Josh arrived and it was so fabulous seeing him again. We stayed downtown, in the heart of everything at the Embassy Suites and had a completely magical vacation. 

Some of the Portlandia experiences we had included exploring Old Town and Chinatown, browsing in Powell's Books, a bookstore that takes up an entire block and drinks on the 30th floor of the pink granite and glass building (Bancorp Tower) with stunning views of the city, surrounding countryside and Willamette River. 

Then we went on the "Beyond Bizarre" ghost walking tour of downtown at 11pm at night, which was fun and interesting in terms of learning some of the history of Portland and part of the tour included eating Voodoo doughnuts at midnight. 

The saturday market was interesting and entertaining to stroll through and we even found a wine tasting booth and bought a bottle of very tasty Blackberry wine from a winery in Salem Oregon which we'll add to our collection. 

 We enjoyed a variety of ethnic cuisines including Lebanese, Japanese Sushi and Thai and also listened to a Bagpipe band at Kells Irish Pub. We strolled along the banks of the Willamette, saw a unique indie movie at Cinema 21 entitled "Boyhood", a coming of age movie which was filmed over a period of 12 years with the same actors which created a very believable story of a boy growing up. 

What a wonderful break from the trail and it was awesome to reunite with Josh. I am so grateful that he flew all the way from Hawaii to visit me. 

Now it's back to the trail where I left off, so I'm catching the bus back to Bend and hitching back to the lava fields I left off at. I am so happy!