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Begins: May 28, 2008
Date: Wed, Aug 6th, 2008
Start: Near Oregon Border
End: North Sister
Daily Distance: 25
Trip Distance: 88.0
Entry Visits: 314
Journal Visits: 3,122
Guestbook Views: 140
Guestbook Entrys: 19
Oregon Border to North Sister
With my California hike cut short by forest fires, I decided to jump to Oregon and hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) there. After a pleasant drive and lunch with my nephew, Andrew dropped me off at a trailhead near the California Oregon border close to I-5. I hoisted my pack and started walking.
Those first few steps into wilderness always seem eventful. Inevitably, I always ask myself if leaving the comforts and security of civilization is what I really want to do. As doubts enter my mind they are quickly erased by the beauty of the trail and the rhythm of my walking. Before long I am focused only on the surrounding terrain and the joy of striding with authority.
On the first day of this section I met the only thru hiker I would meet the entire trip. He was also the dirtiest hiker I have ever seen. His pace was about 30+ miles per day while mine was about 25 miles so we parted company by noon the next day but not before I persuaded him to try bathing in one of the creeks we passed.
My hiking in this early part of Oregon was over some of the best trail I have hiked in along time. Flat dirt with no dust and almost always shaded. Unfortunately, there were few vistas and plenty of mosquitoes.
After a few days, I arrived in Crater Lake National Park where I was able to resupply and eat two big as I could make them restaurant meals. I met a couple there who were touring the Western United Sates on their motor bikes. They towed a small trailer that expanded to a full size tent with a king size bed. Until I saw it, I would have never believed something so large could fit into something so small. We spent several hours in their camp sharing stories and discussing world affairs. I really enjoy meeting new people while traveling and leaning about their history and points of view.
The next day I walked up to and around part of the rim of Crater Lake. This trail is absolutely spectacular as you are often only a few feet from the edge of the rim. The view down to the water is nothing short of breathtaking.
After leaving Crater Lake, I walked quickly north until reaching Shelter Cove Resort by Lake Odell. After picking up my resupply box, I was hoping to hitch down to Eugene to purchase a tent or something like it to gain shelter from the ever increasing and always annoying mosquitoes. While relaxing near the general store there, I met a couple who were pulling there boat from the lake and planning to return to their home. The next thing I new they had offered me a ride to a highway intersection near Eugene and off we went. The conversation along the way was animated and quite interesting. We decided to stop for a hot breakfast which I hosted. More talking and driving during which I realized they had deviated from their planned route in order to take me to the REI store located in a narrow street section of downtown Eugene. This was quite a sacrifice as they were driving a full size RV and towing a boat. Despite some anxiety with each turn, we found the store and I said goodbye to my new friends.
From Eugene, I was able to take city bus halfway to the trailhead and then quickly got a hitch from there. Again, my new driver and I enjoyed a full hour of active conversation. At the trailhead I felt the usual few steps of self-doubt and then strode forward. The walking was uneventful and relatively easy. Mostly flat shaded trail. The big difference was that with the “bug bivy” I purchased in Eugene, I was able to get a good night’s sleep for the first time in two weeks. After a few days of walking, I detoured about a mile from the trail to walk down to Elk Lake Resort. There I was able to get a hot meal and listen to live music outdoors by the lake. Compared to the primitive basics of trail camping and cooking, my time at Elk Creek was surreal. Too strange to be comfortable with and so I left that same night to camp a few miles away.
The next morning, I entered the Sisters Wilderness Area in Northern Oregon. The terrain changed dramatically. Volcanic geology dominates this area with three volcanoes (The Sisters) of about 10,000 feet towering over all of the surrounding landscape. Finally, after walking 275+ miles, peaks and vistas were all around.
So was the snowpack. To my surprise, I was having to deal with heavy snow as low as 5700 feet in this section. All day long I struggled to stay on trail. With no tracks to follow, I had to use all of my skills in navigation and trail scouting to manage. As I walked north, the snow pack kept increasing until finally near the end of the day, there was not even a faint trail to follow. It was covered in snow for miles. After falling hard several times (I didn’t have trekking poles or my yak traks with me), and faced with the prospect of having to walk alone cross country on just a compass bearing, I decided to play it safe and turnaround.
I backtracked for a day and returned to Elk Lake. There I got a hitch from a couple who were supporting their daughter while she hiked part of the trail and whom I had met two weeks earlier when I spent an hour with them in easy conversation beside the trail. How they came along in their car within a few moments of when I started hitchhiking was surely trail magic. After exchanging excited greetings, they started rearranging all the gear in their car to provide space for me to ride with them to Bend. After reaching Bend, they helped me find a hotel and figure out where the Amtrak station was located. As we parted company, I was struck again by how blessed I was all along my Oregon hike to meet such nice people all of whom went out of their way to help me with nothing in return except a simple thank you. Their blessings were the very best part of my hike.
I am back in Sacramento now excitedly preparing for Fall Semester at Sacramento City College. All told, I walked 606 miles this season over three different hikes. That’s plenty. Next season, I plan to focus my hiking on trips with friends wherever that may take me.
Thanks for your interest and support along the way. I couldn't have done it without you. May all your trails be happy ones.
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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