Tag Archives: Waterfalls

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

Lessons in Letting Go

Lake Louise

October 9th

It’s been a long week and we were never able to get back on the trail. We waited too long and the snow set in in the mountains. We began making backup plans to keep the adventure going, but differences in opinion tore us apart. For the first time in 4 months, I am truly alone. I’m trying to be excited about it as I set off on my own adventure. But I feel like I lost my best friend. Some of my most significant days were with him.

The snow when we were supposed to start hiking

Fully in Autumn

Astoria

This trip hasn’t been at all what I expected it to be. I’ve done less than half of the trail and yet it’s more than I’ve done my entire life. It changed my outlook on life. I’m afraid I’ll never be satisfied after this. The trail feels like home and I’m homesick. Now I’m driving a rental car north in hopes of reaching Alaska before the snow. I hope it will clear my head and heal my heart. After that, it’s back to the Oregon coast to start walking home.

Aspens in Prince George, BC

Snow and aspens on the way to Alberta

October 14th

I didn’t reach Alaska, but instead spent a few days in the Canadian Rockies, snow and all. My rental car is a trooper and made it through the snow like a champ. Jasper and Banff were amazing.

 From waterfalls to ice fields to glaciers, it was gorgeous. I saw a lot of wildlife: 3 eagles, 7 deer, a snow bunny, 15+ elk (with 2 males sparring), and at least 30 big horn sheep that were hanging out in the road. 

Beautiful evening in Jasper

Yesterday, I sat in some hot springs in Banff as tiny snowflakes fell on my face. I think the rest of my life needs to be filled with moments like that. I drove through 5 National Parks in total and might go through another today as I make my way west.

Cold little rental after being scraped off in the morning

My mind is clear now, but my heart is still sad. I’m making my way down to Astoria in the next couple of days. I’m ready to start walking.

Canyon at Athabasca Falls

So cold that I needed a babushka

Athabasca Falls

On the road to Banff

Parking lot at the icefields -4℃

Columbia Icefield and glaciers

The closest I’ve ever been to a big horn sheep

Big horn sheep licking minerals off the road and knowing this is their territory

A perfect blue glacier

Made it to Banff, the first national park in Canada

Cave and Basin. The spot that inspired the national park system.

One more shot of Lake Louise because it was that beautiful

Fall

DSC04825

Crossing Bridge of the Gods into Washington

The weather is changing and the cold is settling in. The air has a new crispness and the leaves are turning. Nature’s gentle reminder that Fall is near.

DSC04903

Lush, hot rainforest

Other parts of our journey are fighting the change in weather. The ever-present snow is still melting and the rivers from the glaciers are still flowing in the summer sun. The birds are still aflutter while feasting on sun-kissed huckleberries. But I feel the change. Where I once avoided the sun, I now finding myself drawn to patches of light peeking through the trees, thawing out my chilled skin.

DSC04947

Labyrinth at the Buddhist Abbey

This section has been both exhausting and miraculous. Beginning at Cascade Locks, the heat of summer was upon us. With 100°+ days and daunting climbs, the days were rough.

DSC04957

Pretty flowers at Buddhist Abbey

Smoke from fires in Cascade Locks crept in, making breathing difficult. After only 35 miles, we were chased from the trail again as another fire broke out and the trail was closed ahead. It was an exhausting time, emotionally and mentally, jumping around fires, only to find solace at a Buddhist Abbey.

DSC05025

Huckleberries!

DSC04998

More huckleberries!

DSC04997

Did I mention huckleberries?

DSC05007

Huckleberries, melted white chocolate, and toasted tortilla!

When I started this trail, I would never have thought I would be picked up from the trail by a Buddhist nun or taken back to the trail by a monk. They were such wonderful people and they treated us as equals, whereas everyone else on the trail treated us like hiker trash. It was a perfect place to clear your mind and partake in meditation lead by a monk. One of my top five meals on the trail was the vegan Vietnamese spring rolls that a monk made us for dinner. One experience I won’t soon forget.

DSC05043

Posing in front of Mt. Adams after hitting 1,000 miles. 

I watched a hiker video before I started this and they interviewed a girl who said that you can’t be so bent on making miles that you end up passing by the huckleberries. She reiterated, “you have to stop and pick the huckleberries!” I have since been applying the metaphor to life.

DSC05063

Our first river crossing in many moons

But alas, back on the trail, I was able to actually stop and pick the huckleberries…not just metaphorically. And let me tell you about huckleberries! They look like blueberries but taste like a cherry…although better. They just may be my favorite berry. To top it off, we were drinking water straight from a glacier. You could see the snow melting, flowing down the mountain and into your cup.

DSC05100

Glaciers on Mt. Adams 

The smoke finally cleared and we had breathtaking views of Mt. Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier. We made our way through glaciers, rivers, sparkling meadows, and moss-covered trees. The most interesting day involved climbing and climbing up mountains, seeing views of glacier lakes and stunning peaks, maneuvering across fields of snow, navigating over volcanic rocks while walking along cliffsides, balancing in the wind while crossing the “Knife’s Edge,” saying hello to mountain goats grazing below the cliffs, and ending the day drinking the best water on the trail.

DSC05106

Waterfall from Mt. Adams 

At one point, on the skinniest part of the trail, next to a 250′ cliff, I slipped and fell hard on my butt. I let out of stream of curses, having landed just inches from the edge. I was very awake after that.

DSC05141

Sparkling morning dew 

It was an amazing week leading up to White Pass where we knew we had to get off the trail again because of yet another fire.

DSC05205

Yakima Indian Reservation

An amazing couple, their daughter, and her friend drove us down the mountain and we all spent the afternoon together. They even treated us to our first hot meal in a week (we ran out of fuel for our stoves). We are constantly reminded of the generosity and kindness of strangers out here. It’s humbling. I wish everyone would attempt this hike.

DSC05195

Stunning views on Yakima reservation 

DSC05223

Western anemones in Yakima 

DSC05220

This tribe knows how to pick land!

DSC05281

Walking through snow on the best day

DSC05348

The tiniest switchbacks on the Knife’s Edge 

DSC05342

Still a bit of snow at 7,000 feet. Knife’s Edge 

DSC05350

Cliffside on the Knife’s Edge 

DSC05353

Knife’s Edge, Mt. Rainier, and fires in the distance