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Adventure Types Footnote

Fancy mushrooms

I’m writing this as a kind of footnote to my next blog which is already very long. This helps to describe people you’ll meet during a thru-hike, compartmentalized into very absurdly generalized categories.

Rewarding view after a long climb


Adventure Types:
In talking to people over the past 7 months, it’s funny the types of people you meet. I’m talking about strangers here, where it’s easy to lump them together. Hikers. Non-hikers. And dreamers. Or possibly adventurers/non-adventures would be more appropriate? It’s probably terrible to lump people into these categories, but for the sake of this story, just go with it.

Estuary with bald eagles

A hiker/adventurer, you can spot instantly. When you’ve been on a journey, long or short, that has significance to you, it changes you. I don’t know how and it’s difficult to explain, but you can see it in people. In a simple “hello,” there is a difference in the way people interact. When you say hello to a hiker/adventurer, it’s an instant spark of recognition, like talking to a favorite cousin. You’ll immediately fill each other in on the past few months of your lives. And offer any food or beverage you have in your possession.

Estuary again


When saying hello to a non-hiker/adventurer, it’s a curt acknowledgement. Enough to be polite, but not enough to get to know one another on any level. This kind of person will ask about your hike because it scares them on some level. They want to share in your experiences for the main purpose of confirming that they never want to try it. This isn’t to say they don’t get out and do things, they just prefer to enjoy fun in a responsible fashion. Responsible doesn’t include vanishing from your life and job, then running out into the wilderness and doing everything your parents taught you not to do. For example, hiking alone, eating mounds of junk food, hitchhiking, talking to strangers, accepting food and candy from strangers, getting into windowless vans. It goes on like this. But you’ll never what this person does for fun because you are a stranger and they don’t want to talk to you.

Deer on the beach as we were watching whales

The dreamer often finds themselves right in the middle. They’re a little scared and a little too set in their life to make the journey. But they often become adventurers because it all sounds too good to pass up. Or they live in comfort while finding excitement in the adventures of others. Dreamers are often caring, generous, and encouraging. They may even talk others into adventures but still not go on any themselves. It’s a fine balance, but the scale is easily tipped because they’re just waiting for the right inspiration.

Sandstone cliffs at Pacific Beach


Pacific Beach Haystack Rock


Searching for glass floats in Lincoln City. There wasn’t a treasure at the end of the rainbow.


Tide coming in at Lincoln City


Colorful Tidepools

 

Rain and Concrete

The shipwreck at Fort Stevens that has no historical significance

Here I am. Still walking through Oregon. I got my hiking partner back and we only want to kill each other every other day.  Oregon tried to make a nice trail, but fell short when they made most of the trail follow hwy 101. Walking along the highway is one of the most unpleasant things. Give me snow, give me a 4000 ft climb, anything but road-walking. Walking along the road raises your anxiety, is harder on your body, and harder on your spirit. Then it starts raining.

The beginning of the trail

I spend most of my time these days coming up with reasons not to quit. There are too many temptations here. Food, hotels, that convenient bus that keeps driving by. On the PCT, you’re forced to be in the wilderness and just accept it because you have no other choice but to walk to the next town.

Thousands of tiny jellyfish

 There is no cell service out there, no internet, no cars, and less distractions. Here, just one phone call and you could be home…dry…next to a fire.

Hiker huts to dry off in

The coast does have its pleasant aspects. It has showers. I never have to go more than a day or two without a shower. All the state parks that allow camping have hot showers. I also don’t have to carry a lot of food. This is why I’m constantly perplexed by why my pack is still heavy.

Thrilled for sun after a very wet day

I get rained on, at least to some degree, nearly every day. I wore so much rain gear yesterday that I ended up sweating through all my clothes and was drenched at the end of the day anyway. The other day I had to walk around with wet, salty feet because the waves wouldn’t go out long enough to let me run by the cliffs.

The Haystack at Cannon Beach

Today, the weather will be much worse and the day will be spent hiding in the tent to let my stuff dry. This is what I get for refusing to let go of summer.

Where my pathway should be

The towns are neat little beach cities with gorgeous art and sometimes really good food. Cannon Beach has been the best for both of those. But in Pacific City, while having lunch at the Pelican Brewery, we had the pleasure of watching two humpback whales play less than 100 feet from shore. Then two deer ran across the sand.

Watching tidepools as I figure out how to get off that rock

The forecast for the foreseeable future calls for more rain. I hope there are more whales to keep my spirit up.

Making friends with newts

Beautiful cliffside overlooking Manzanita

A log that refused to die

A midnight shot of the moon

Interesting wood with Twin Rocks in the background

Beautiful glowing, misty morning

Even the rocks in the bay are pretty

Taking the tracks to avoid the roads

Keeping balance while walking on the railroad bridges

Best grilled cheese sandwich ever

Somebody’s Got A Case of the “Monday’s”

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Remaining patches of snow in the Marble Wilderness

“Office Space,” a movie from the 90’s that is dear to my heart, depicts an office scene where the guy is having a crappy day. A woman coworker approaches him, recognizing his foul disposition. Instead of steering clear, she says to him in an obnoxiously chipper voice, “Somebody’s got a case of the Monday’s.” Anyone who has ever worked around anyone knows someone like this. Mine happens to be my diabetic hiking partner when his blood sugar is low. Let me tell you about MY Monday.


I woke up cranky because he woke me at 2 a.m. because he was low. He was cranky because… who really knows. I didn’t ask because I was tired. He left me in his dust as he flew down the trail. We were intending to walk 21 miles that day which was reasonable because it was mostly downhill.

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View in the morning once the smoke cleared

Everyone we met was angry that we were dropping from 6,500 in elevation to 1,700, knowing full well that we would have to climb right back up to 6,000 after town. It was a long day. Even though the terrain was fine, it was hot and muggy.

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Fire Belly Newt

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Newt holding onto my fingers

I caught up to Scott some time around 2 p.m. and we broke for lunch. We had our normal tuna and tortillas (with some delicious seasoning salt we found in a hiker box), then followed it with some blackberries and thimbleberries we picked from a hillside.

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Awesome triple tree

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Watching smoke from one of the fires

Immediately after the berries, he plows by me, saying he needed TO GO. Ten minutes later, he returned and felt the need to describe, explicitly, the details of each moment of his projectile diarrhea.

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Walking through a mountain paradise

We walked together after that but he wasn’t feeling well because his blood sugar was high…and the aforementioned bowel movement. The day was getting hotter and I was getting tired because we’d already done 9 miles. He told me to go ahead while he dealt with it. I was more than happy…I can handle low, but high is scary.

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The bluest alpine lake yet, fed by waterfalls of snow melt

My feet and knees were hurting, so I stopped to filter water and rest. Scott came up and wasn’t looking good. He had gone low again. I gave him half of my remaining Mike & Ikes (since he already had half of my bag the night before). It wasn’t enough. We made a meal. It wasn’t enough. He finished off the Gatorade and it got his number up just high enough to hike. 45 minutes later, we had to do it all again.

The funny thing about diabetics when they’re low, is it’s kind of like dealing with a drunk person. They say silly things and aren’t much help. So, as I’m making dinner, he’s commenting on how I am preparing things (in a chipper coworker fashion). Eventually, I asked him not to speak anymore.

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Giant wall of marble

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A marble cave

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Hillside of berries 

When I was at the end of my rope, the sky opened up and it started pouring rain. There I was, covering all our stuff with the rain fly of my tent. Then we got under it and ate our meal. When the rain subsided, I wrapped my rainfly around my pack, and hiked on. The evening was hot and humid.

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Rainfly-covered pack

I was having flashbacks of hiking in the rainforest in southern China. To top it off, the trail was covered in poison oak. You can only unsuccessfully avoid it so many times before giving up. I just walked straight through it. We only made it 14 miles. The only highlights were setting up camp before dark and scrubbing thoroughly with soap specifically for poison oak.

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Grider Creek during the descent

Aside from that long day, it was a lovely week. There are fires raging all around and I haven’t had to change plans yet. The smoke was pretty bad a few days but nothing terrible. The walk through the Marble Wilderness has been amazing. Absolutely breathtaking. Passing one alpine lake after another. At perfect swimming lake, I made friends with some curious little newts that held onto my fingers in the water. Those tiny creatures were the highlight of my week.

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The Klamath River during a 7-mile road walk to town

Upon finally making it to town, I had a hardy breakfast and spent the day doing chores until a thunder storm blew through. Lightning struck all around in the mountains. A woman from the forest service ran up to all of us hikers and was frantic. The lightning caused a fire 6 miles north of here and she was afraid one of us would start hiking and get caught in it. Now, we all wait to hear what the status of the fire is in the morning. There are more fire closures in Oregon, which is my next stop on the trail. This time next week, I’ll be out of California.

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Hiker parking outside the cafe and general store in Seiad Valley

 

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Receiving love from home

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The beginning of an evening storm that started several fires. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zeros and Nearos

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Sunset on day 100, at Dead Falls Lake 

I’m finding myself living from zero day to zero day. Looking for any excuse to hike less miles each day. This is fine, but when my body forces me into a zero, it’s not so much fun. It’s been a long couple of weeks and I haven’t written because an entire week was spent recovering.

Shasta was a nice little vacation; staying at a resort with a hot tub in the room and eating hot pear salads. When we got back on the trail, I felt weak and was sweating more than usual when climbing. The next evening, Scott and I were night hiking when I needed to rest. Really, I needed to sit down before I fell down. My body was shutting down. Scott rushed to set up camp as I laid on the ground in the middle of the trail. The next day, I felt nauseated and dizzy all day, so we made our way back down the mountain in the evening. Scott even carried my pack to town.

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Ice cold water on a hot day in Castle Crags

We got a ride back to Shasta, which didn’t welcome us back (please don’t stay at the Evergreen Motel). That being said, we caught a bus to Redding where we stayed for four nights while I saw the doctor and recovered (I won’t go into details). We had a date night and saw a college production of Sweeney Todd at the recommendation of the nice girl at Marriott. This girl was so sweet that she upgraded our room, wrote an entire itinerary for a date, and left us wine and chocolate in our room. We bought her a whole cheesecake.

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Castle Crags

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Curious little grouse hanging out around the tent

Back on the trail, I was still slow, doing only seven miles per day while recovering. We took a nearo (near zero miles) day and on another day, after a hard climb, we took a zero at the most gorgeous lake that we had all to ourselves. We spent all day swimming.

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The most perfect lake on the trail. Upper 7 Lake. 

After that, we continued on with high spirits. We stopped and talked to several locals. One spent the last 40 years searching for a certain aster that was burgundy and he found it this week. He informed me where I would see the best wildflowers…it was conveniently next to the best water.

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Sunrise at Upper 7 Lake 

This has been the most gorgeous part of the trail. Every day we woke up, planning on going 15- to 20-miles, and each day we stopped to talk to too many people or found a place that was so gorgeous that we wanted to wake up to it. On this stretch, there have been more wildflowers, more springs, more lakes, and more wildlife than on any other part of the trail. There were 4 bears, including a mother and her two cubs that we saw twice. A family dog scared one out of our campsite.

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Can’t get away from Shasta 

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Pitcher Plants

We have found so much kindness in this section too. Because we were going so slow, we were running low on food. One of our 10-mile days, we came upon some car campers who invited us over for some beers, then asked us to stay and they would make us breakfast. We were the envy of all other hikers when we told them we had French toast and bacon for breakfast. Then, these wonderful people gave us the bacon grease, potatoes, and carrots to cook for dinner.

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Boiling potatoes and carrots for dinner

They replaced our Sawyer filter bags, filled our salt and pepper shaker, gave us butter and brown sugar. I know these sound like weird things, but we were dying to find calories in this section. And Scott’s blood sugar was dangerously low one day and the brown sugar came in handy.

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With Scott above Upper 7 Lake 

We spent much of the week laughing at silly things. One day I sat down to patch a blister forming on my foot. Scott set his pack down and went to move it so it wouldn’t smash a wildflower. The pack toppled over and rolled 70 feet down a hill, smashing every flower on the way down. We both watched it roll the whole way. Scott chuckled so I started cracking up. He just looked at it then said a drawn out, “Well, shit.” I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Later that week, we got caught on a ridge, in a thunder storm, and set up camp next to the tallest tree. We simply laughed at our own stupidity.

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Two of many tiny lakes in my journey

We did our first 19-mile day and it had the biggest climbs of this section. We were excited exhausted and running low on food. The next day, we were passed by several trail runners who went in and back to the car. When we reached the parking lot, they gave us beer and snacks, then were nice enough to drive us the 11 miles into town. We’ve spent the evening bonding with other hikers.

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Another day of bushwhacking

It’s been a long, difficult stretch, but I’ve been on the trail over 100 days, hiked 831 miles and lost over 26 pounds. After a couple days of rest, it’s back to the trail. In a couple of weeks, I will be saying goodbye to California.
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Evening storm in the mountains

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Evening mountains at Dead Fall Lake 

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Stepping around road blocks on the side of a cliff on the Russian Wilderness. 

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Beautiful lake with our destination in the distance

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Rock steps on the way down the mountain