Day 124 – Highway 26 to Zigzag Creek, 23kms

To finish our quest we woke at 4.30 to make it to Timberline in time for the best breakfast ever. But after only a little sleep and a really raging thunderstorm during the night our alarms rang far to soon for my liking. The power of endless breakfast potential got us up and walking in the cold dark, thankfully the rain had abaited and the track was wide, well groomed and easy to follow in torchlight.

Foggy highway

Our path climbed steeply over a ridge, dropped to another road and then climbed steeply again all the way to the lodge. The forest and roads we passed were hidden in fog, adding to the mystery of Mt Hood above. It wasn’t till we hit sandy open meadows 2 miles from the top that we got views of the spectacular mountain. It was a steep climb and our legs were tired from yesterday, I was pushing myself and when we hit the sand I slowed down so dramatically I wondered if I would make it to the buffet in time. It was torturous but with much huffing and complaining from my legs we made it by 9.30, a whole hour of buffet-ing ahead. I could smell the bacon 10m from the front door! We also got bloody Mary’s to celebrate – 43miles in 27 hours.

Mission accomplished

What a cutie!

We hadn’t really though much past this moment and spent the next hour in a food coma stinking up the beautiful and historic lobby of Timberline lodge, charging our biz. The staff here are really friendly to PCT hikers and unexpectedly we did not feel unwelcome loitering by the power points. We eventually decided to go and have a look around, the Lodge was used for all the outside scenes in the Shining, but full of tourists (it’s a Saturday) was not creepy at all. We went outside to get more views of Mt Hood and were offered a ride on the chairlift halfway up the mountain! The guy operating it was so impressed that we had walked from Mexico, he said he was sure we could walk up no problem but he though our legs could do with a break. An unexpected bonus we both had no jumpers or hats and got freezing and burnt, but the views and the Luna landscape were excellent (still hazy though) and we spent quite a while watching skiers wiz by on the few remaining open runs.

I was pretty nerd-ily excited to be here

Speed demons, compared to hiking

The crowds were staring to get to us so we decided to hike out 3.5 miles to the first water and spend the afternoon reading and relaxing. The PCT was packed with day hikers and families out overnight and the going was slow but the scenery was awesome. The lupin and Indian paintbrush and other wild flowers were having a party with Mt Hood and steep ravines in the background. The sun was shining and unlike yesterday’s push I could take my sweet time walking.

Only a bit hazy

Getting so close

Zigzag Creek was in a steep grey sandy gully with a waterfall at one end. The floor of the gully was full of stones but we found sandy patches to pitch our tents. My book finally got good (200 pages in) and I read for ages. Mushy set up just his tent fly and opened all the doors becoming the hiking version of a Persian prince lying in the shade. We cooked dinner at 6 still not really hungry from breakfast and went to bed early. I slept long and hard and it was great.

Home sweet home, at the button of that valley

Day 117 – 48 kms

Today was a good day, one filled with good cheer and triumph for Pinecone and Quiz, Mushy, Achey J and Waterdog completed their first 30 miles day. Woo hoo, and well done. 

Everyone headed out of camp at various times this morning. I left around 6 and passed the girls and mushy breakfasting around 3 miles in. We were walking through forest, much of the same stuff that’s been with us for the last while. I had organised to meet Ollie at Sisters Mirror Lake for breakfast and for 11 miles u climbed up toward the Sisters Wilderness sometimes getting glimpses of a beautiful mountain range in the distance. I met Amethyst atop the climb and we walked quickly down toward the lake and toward the swarms of mozzies waiting our arrival. As the ground became wet they attacked, all over my legs and face, my hands and in my hair. It was an onslaught. I whipped out my mozzie spray, eucalyptus and lemon oil, sprayed myself and found a breakfast spot beside the lake. Guthooks talks this lake up, but it wasn’t very interesting. Soon after Ollie arrived and we sat beside one another eating and killing mozzies. While we breakfasted the rest of the crew turned up in dribs and drabs, all overwhelmed by the mozzie infestation. I packed up and walked on, round the lake and up through forest. After 2 miles the forest opened up and the most wonderful sight laid itself out in front of me. Mountains! Snow! Open meadows! Views and scenery I had been sorely missing these last few sections. I was captivated by the scenery and walked across the plain enjoying every step. The miles rolled by like it was nothing. I passed a group of 5 cowboys on horseback, then they passed me and we all lunched at the same spot. It was 1.15 pm and I had walked 21 miles (34 kms). I ate my oats, drank my water and waited for Ollie. He never showed up. The cowboys left, and people passed me. Eventually after 1.5 hours I left and walked to the Obsydian Falls. Amethyst and Queso where already there, and we stripped down and stood, shrieking under the freezing water. Everyone else arrived, apart from Ollie and had a dip. They had all decided to walk a 30 and so I joined them. The last 5 miles where some of the best on trail so far. Above the falls a lovely stream flows around the volcanic and ancient ranges, quirky pines grow out of the black stone that glistens in the sun. We gained elevation up a valley completely covered in volcanic rock. The sheer scope of how far the lava must have flowed when the volcano erupted was almost incomprehensible. For miles and miles into the horizon volcanic lava flow spewed out leaving the landscape dark, hostile and daunting. The trail snakes it’s way up the guts of the valley and we came out into a narrow ridge line which we then decended to grab some water before the final .9 miles. They went quickly, and we walked through a meadow of wildflowers. It was magic. Snowy mountains in the back ground, wildflowers out front and 30 miles under our belt. There was still no sign of Ollie and I was slightly worried. I left him a note on the trail where we had agreed to camp and hoped he would find it before night fall. We ate dinner, and I looked out across the meadow waiting for the tell tales signs of a preying mantis walking through the field. He didn’t show up as the sky turned bright pink, and purple clouds filled the horizon. Just as I was about to turn my back on the sunset and get ready for bed I heard a Kooie. Ollie was walking across the meadow, finishing off a 36 mile day. He had taken a wrong turn, ended up on a road and followed unmaintained trails back to the PCT. No one had seen him since breakfast. I was very happy, as we all are feeling. 

Day 107 – Fish Lake to Christie’s Spring, 19kms

Today was ace! We did everything perfectly, timing was crucial and we nailed it. A thunder storm roll in at 3 am waking us all up with heaps of really loud thunder and lightening. Thankfully we had been warned the night before by the friendly resort staff and put the fly on our tent. The show lasted so long that I (Quiz) fell back asleep and was woken up a few times. After the last peals there was a few minutes of silence before the rain started, and it continued till 10 in the morning. Luckily for us we had decided the day before to have a half day and not leave the resort till midday. Unluckily for my washing it was sodden after I left it out to dry overnight (crisis averted, there is a dryer at the resort too).

Rainy lake views

We go to spend a luxurious morning in bed feeling cozy listening to the rain fall of the tent. I finished a book, at least my 10th for the hike and ate some chips, as I said you gotta get the deluxe when you can. Just as the rain finished up we decided to get up and move on over to the cafe for brunch. Our new pal Amethyst was already there chatting up a storm with the locals. We drank copious amounts of coffee, binged off the walls and PC/Turkey D brought some wacky green fishing buoy earring. The cafe had a pet chipmunk and if I ever move here I am getting one as a pet too as I have fallen for then cuteness anew at this resort (they are everywhere)!

Mushy is cute, and so is the tablecloth

Amethyst’s networking and lovely personality scored us a ride to the trailhead with one of the resort staff, Shawnee (thank you sooooo much). I give the resort 5 stars as the lake is pretty, PCT camping is free, the cafe is reasonably priced and the staff are really friendly and don’t treat us like delinquents (cough cough Drakesbad Ranch).

Weird fungus

We started hiking at 1pm through open pine forest full off wildflowers including a new one which I named Pom Purps, they are purple pompom shaped. After crossing a creek on a small bridge we began our climb which turned out to be bigger in our heads than in real life which is a nice change. The forest morphed into a small patch of old tall trees and absolutely no undergrowth, it was eerie, you could see for far into the distance and there was no movement.

The eerie forest

We must have hiked up that non existent mental hill like maniacs as when we stopped at 3pm for a break we had gone 7 miles! This is a new PB for me, 3.5mph. Having worked so hard we rested even harder, breaking on a ridge in the breeze for 1hr, we had great chats and the breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay. The huge volcano Mt McLoughlin peeked its snowy peak through the trees but we never got the great uninterrupted views of yesterday. The final 5 miles to camp were dominated by mosquitoes, they had been increasing in intensity throughout the day by later in the afternoon seemed to be able to latch on even when we were walking quickly.
But mosquitoes could not ruin this day because camp came equipped with a fire pit and plenty of wood. Medic, a friendly Swiss guy joined us in our mosquito free zone for dinner. Mushy lent us his Deet as we seemed to have lost ours and we comfortably stayed up till 8.30 chatting. 

This was such a cute cozy campsite

Day 106 – Klum Creek to Fish Lake – 36km

Another state another volcano. We are getting excited for the lands that lie ahead although this morning I left camp in a bit of a solitary mood. We have been hiking in time with Strawberry Pop, Queso, Splint and Amethyst. We shared last nights fire and chats and were both thinking of hiking 22 miles to Fish Lake Resort today. 
After breakfast we head out of camp. I find a ballpoint pen on the trail and am totally amused because I lost the one Quiz uses to write letters. The trail provides. The profile for today looks easy, however we are all having muscular foot pain from our 5 day break. It’s 4 miles to water where we have our first break. On the way I see a coyote. It was running down the path toward me and then we both saw each other at the same time and kinda double took and then the coyote made for the forest. I wasn’t listening to music today and hiking really quietly and saw more wildlife than previous days. 
After our break we finish the last two miles of the gradual climb. And 6 miles to lunch I was out in front and caught up to Amethyst. We chatted about the music we make and time flew till lunch time. We had mentioned going to the South Brown Mtn Shelter for lunch, 100m off trail. I ate lunch there but Mushy and Quiz never showed up. Turns out we had said meet at the water for lunch. Where I soon found the other two, lunching. 

We all agreed it was a sore foot day and hit the afternoon trail tenderly. After 5 miles the landscape had changed drastically. We had been walking in lush, thick pine forest for nearly two days and now we realised we must be walking round the side of an volcano. The landscape was portioned into meadows full of solid lava flows. The magma had flown down and frozen in the most mesmerising patterns like an ocean with waves and swells. It had it all. We all feel pretty great physically apart from our feet which are in agony. The paths through the old lava flows are rocky and full of pumice stone, which you can feel straight through to the souls of your feet. This made the last 7 miles of the day a little gruelling but full of great views of up coming volcanos and interesting rock formations. 

We made it to Highway 140 by 6:15pm. It’s two miles road walk to Fish Lake. But none of us have two miles in us. We stick our thumbs out and 5 minutes later get a ride. He said we didn’t look like regular hitch hikers. Which made sense as I was wearing real tree camo. He then professed that he loved hunting and i though maybe it was the real tree that had won him over. 

We have quick dinner at the cafe and then head over to the PCT camping spot. The crew are there from this morning and we all chat and laugh around the fire. Exhausting day! 

NOBO Day 104 m 1684.7 to m 1707.3 – 36 kms

Token boarder crossing shot

Wildflowers, wildflowers, wildflowers rule my world. Today has been really great! Firstly we crossed the border into Oregon! Secondly, there was an abundance of wildflowers like never before (details to come). Thirdly, I experienced hardly any foot pain. Ollie on the other hand is hurting quite a lot and we cut our day a few miles short and will Nero in Ashland tomorrow to try and help him recover. 

Morning meadow

Today was beautiful. Truly for the first time I felt in love with this landscape. In the morning we walked out of a pine forest and into a small valley. Long grass filled the meadow, morning light reflected off the the yellow stalks and the sun hid like a shy child behind the pines. Two deer crossed further up the hill and small wildflowers spread out among the grass. We walked for another 4.5 miles after the boarder crossing and did a total of 9 miles before breakfast. 

Crossing into Oregon celebrations

At breakfast we met Rocky, he is doing a section of trail SOBO and had freight train hopped his way across the country. On the journey he burnt his back sitting in the sun for hours and was taking a zero to allow it to heal. I have him some aloe vera I had, he made me an aero press coffee and we chatted trail with him while we ate. It was a long break and we took off mid morning. 

Bear Paws!

As we followed the ridge around these incredible flowers, maybe called bear something’s lined the trail. They look as if they belong under water, on another planet, or as lighting in a fancy restaurant. They make me happy. Fields of them grew along the trail, at one point they were so high they reached over our waists and hundreds of large drangon flys circled above us. It was very cool. 

The pines were all Dr Seaus like, hairy and fluffy, animated in their formation. We wove around the ridge in and out of pines and through fields of flowers. Sometimes all the one species, sometimes the landscape awash with all kinds of species blanketing the ground. Sometimes they are very low lying almost scraping themselves along he soil and other times we walked through corridors of lushness. I’ve been talking about this for days, but it never seems to grow old. We could see Mt Shasta still, not clearly, there is lots of haze. Toward the end of the day we came across some trail magic. Warm, diet sodas and some plastic chairs to enjoy the view. There was quite a bit of water and lots of camp sites to choose from. I am relieved to be once again feeling happy on trail and that my feet are sorting themselves out. 

Trail magic rest spot

There are lots of tiny streams crossing the trail, we filtered water and walked another 1.3 miles to a make shift tent site in the pines. Ollie made a fire and we are now in bed. The wind has picked up and there is lightening in the distance.

Enjoying the vista, note the phallic cloud

Filtering water among wildflowers

NOBO Day 99 Etna to Shasta – 0 kms

Today I woke thinking we would spend the day in Etna, however the day has panned out differently, and Ollie and I find ourselves in a dingy motel room, eating vegan lasagne and a salad I’ve composed out of a plastic bag on the bed. We are here to swap out our gear. Ollie needs new walking poles, one of his broke, and i am onto my 6th pair of shoes. To be fair 5th excluding the shoes I used (and loved) for the Sierra. Needless to say I’ve suffered greatly with feet issues during the PCT. Long toes and slender feet don’t seem to fare well in thru hiking. 

This morning began with breakfast at a cute coffee spot in Etna, then i migrated a few doors up to a double fronted second hand store. Here I spent time trying on all kinds of non hiker clothes and when I left at least an hour later I had not one, but two dresses, and a teal coloured, velvet onsie. It has a diamant√© belt buckle and is a tight squeeze. I knew I had to have it when the shop keeper stopped in her tracks and said “oh my god, look at you”…I was further motivated when she said it cost only $4!!! Ollie has also found a striped, mainly maroon and blue cord shirt he feels reduced his safari look and brings out his city style. I wore my denim shift dress (from the children’s rack) and together we are somewhat quite transformed from our hiker trash attire. We knew we had to get a ride to Shasta somehow and when in the late afternoon one of the hikers friends said he was driving past Shasta we decided to take the ride. The conversation in the car revolved a lot around dating and weird experiences the boys had had with girls. It was hot and we felt car sick. It feels weird heading backwards and on arriving in Shasta again I wasn’t feel particularly excited. Doing this mission means we will be splitting up from many of the friends we have made recently and who knows when we will see them again. We arrived at 6, just as the gear shop was closing and so decided to head back in the morning. I grabbed us some healthy dinner from the organic grocer, and did a quick resupply. Hopefully tonight we will have a good rest at the Travel Inn. 

On the bus back to Etna. Wrong day but don’t have any other photos

NOBO Day 98/ South Fork Scott River to Etna 32 kms

Etna was 20 miles away this morning, now it’s zero and I’m in my new tent. It’s UL (ultra light), a green Nemo Hornet – its compact, spacey at the front and not long enough for Ollie to fit in. His head and toes touch each end. Sleep overs will happen in his tent. Etna is pretty, in the ride down in the tray of a trail angels ute I looked out into green pines and felt a new fondness for the forest. I miss the Aussie bush keenly, comparing it to this new and foreign land like one might a lover. The forest thinned and pastures with lovely, fat, shiny horses flanked the roadside. Fields with freshly cut hay bales and large, American style barns are spaced out between lovely weatherboard houses surrounded by big gardens. The small town has some lovely brick architecture and reminds Ollie of an English village. It is the most picturesque town we have visited so far. 

The hike to the highway went quickly and slowly. By lunch we had done 16 miles, which included a stop for breakfast. Near a stream crossing we dumped our packs under a tree and chatted to some guys doing trail maintenance. One guy was an empath and shaman healer. He began crying when he looked at my feet, and when he was leaving said to me “if you feel rubbing on the balls of your feet later, that’s me. I’ll wait for a quiet and calm atime, probably after dark”. It’s not quite dark yet so I’m hoping the rubs to come.