Monday, December 13, 2021

Day 19 & 20: Trout Lake

 Day 19: 5 miles

    This morning's hike to the shuttle was short and sweet. There were 3 other people waiting for it and we quickly became chatty with a couple named Epic and Buckwheat. Turns out they had also section hiked the PCT in 2014. Dennis, the shuttle volunteer, arrived promptly at 8:30am and dropped off a truck full of hikers ready to continue on their journey. Dennis was an awesome guy and told us all about how he landed in Trout Lake. He also told us about the town and how to get to the church which is where you can camp for free. Everyone on the shuttle gave a cash donation to Dennis as we parted ways. 

    Immediately upon getting dropped off we walked to the cafe/gas station/car repair shop. The owner of this multi-business establishment was serving up some amazing breakfast. It was a beautiful warm day and we chose to sit outside on a picnic table in the grassy area. I had the huckleberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage and endless amounts of coffee. We recognized some of the other hikers who had arrived here the day prior and it was fun to continuously see familiar faces. 


    Afterwards we walked to the Presbyterian Church and set up our tent for the day. There was a building there that hikers could use that was fully equipped with a kitchen and washrooms. There was also an outdoor covered seating area, which is where most people hung out because it was over 100 degrees with no A/C inside. It was pretty amazing that this church so kindly allowed us to use their property. There was a creek that ran beside the church and Peter started soaking his shin in it. We then decided that we should spend a couple of days here and try and let Peter's shin heal a bit while we had access to amenities. 

General Store

    This town was small but it was Tuesday and the Taco truck was open on Tuesday's. This felt like a pretty big win and we delighted in Taco's for lunch. 

Taco Truck

    Surprisingly, the general store was very well stocked and we realized we could've carried way less food leaving Cascade Locks if we had planned on coming here. In the afternoon I took a few dips in the creek to cool off. I think it got up to 104 degrees in the sun and all the hikers looked very content sitting in the shade and drinking beer. That evening we went back to the cafe and had some burgers for dinner. 

Day 20: 4 miles

    This morning we took our time getting out of the tent. In the middle of the night I was woken up by water sprinkling into our tent. It happened a few times in a row and then I realized the sprinkler from the neighbouring property was hitting us. I quickly woke Peter up and we moved our tent outside the line of fire. That was quite exhilarating! 

    We eventually got ourselves up and made our way back to the cafe for breakfast. If I'm in a town its near impossible for me not to eat out. It's also really fun to explore the food options in these small towns. However, these town stops were getting somewhat pricy considering all our meals were in US dollars but in the words of Jermaine Dupri "Money ain't a thang". 

    I asked the guy working in the repair shop where the locals go to hang out on these hot summer days and he told me about a sweet spot on the creek. It was really beautiful and was a nice swim spot. A few locals even dropped by to jump in and cool off. 

    After some discussion, Peter and I decided we should catch the 5pm shuttle and get back on trail, otherwise we wouldn't be able to start hiking until 9am the next morning. His shin was doing much better after a full 30 hours of rest. We walked over and waited with the other hikers outside the general store. I impulsively bought some wild smoked Alaskan Salmon for the road. Yummmmm!!

    At 5pm our volunteer shuttle driver came and everyone piled into/onto the truck. There must have been 6 people squished inside and 6 people outside. With the weight of the people and the packs this truck wasn't moving very fast. I will note that this is this man's personal truck. He was awesome and even stopped at this beautiful view point of Mount Adams. I was really sad to see that Peter and I were the only one's who gave this man a donation for driving us (which was recommended). I was listening to a podcast recently of a thru hiker and he stated that a lot of hikers nowadays are quite entitled and expect these services to just exist for them. However, if people abuse these services, the volunteers won't continue to do them. They use their own vehicles and spend their own gas money picking up and dropping off hikers and I felt sad that they weren't being compensated for their generous efforts. 

    We hiked 4 miles until dark this night. It was all uphill and Peter's shin felt good. A successful town stop for the win! 

Next up: Goat Rocks Wilderness! 

Marathon and Pole Vault

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Day 18: Shin Splints!

 Day 18: 31 miles

    It was evident that Peter’s sore shin was morphing into full blown shin splints. This was made evident by the wincing and limping after a long morning descent. He laid down on a picnic table and I attempted to do some release to his calf and shin. Other hikers walked by and asked how they could get in on the action. We both have suffered from shin splints on thru-hikes before and taping it always seems to provide a bit of relief. We only had so much food with us and we had to make it to our next re-supply so hanging out and letting it heal where we were wasn't exactly an option. I watched Joanna Ford work through shin splints while still hiking 50-60km a day on the GDT last year so I knew it could be done! 

    It was a beautiful day and we just tried to enjoy it as best we could. Hiking uphill felt good for Peter and we just took it a bit slower on the descents. We stopped and ate lunch on this beautiful bluff, albeit a little windy! 

    Later in the afternoon we came across this beautiful lake, appropriately named ‘Blue Lake’, and I couldn’t resist a swim! The blueberry bushes were plentiful today and we made sure to take advantage of natures anti-oxidants! 

    At some point this day we were made aware of an upcoming town called Trout Lake. It seemed to be the talk of the trail and everyone kept asking us what shuttle we were getting on. I’m assuming that it wasn’t on our radar because its 13 miles off trail. We typically didn’t plan to go into towns that weren’t within a few km of the trail. We took some time to research this shuttle that everyone kept mentioning. A group of local volunteers rotates through a pick up and drop off schedule that runs 4 times a day, everyday. There is no cost to hikers but donations are encouraged. Once we found out there was real food to be had we were sold! Also, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give Peter’s shin a rest. We put in a pretty long day this day so as to put ourselves as close to the pick up location as possible as the first shuttle arrived at 830am. 

    We arrived at camp quite late. There was just enough daylight to wash ourselves off in the creek before settling into the tent for the night. We were still on a nighttime routine of watching one Netflix episode per night. I think we were on criminal minds at this point in the trip. I looked forward to that 45 minutes at the end of each day. We had earbuds (not wireless) that we shared so as not to disturb the other campers. One in Peter’s left ear and one in my right ear. Sometimes one of us would fall asleep but typically we were pretty engaged with the show. We both found it a great way to unwind at the end of each day. 

Next up: Trout Lake! 

Marathon and Pole Vault 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Day 16 & 17: Washington!

 Day 16: 19 miles

    I woke up early all comfy cozy in our hotel room but managed to stay in bed until 7am. The day prior I noticed a little coffee shop on the Main Street so I put on my clothes and went outside to check it out. It was very cute and I got an Americano and went back to the hotel to get ready for the day. I still had to do my food shop for the next 4.5 days. We did the shop and then had breakfast at the hotel with the voucher they gave us. Four and a half days worth of food was on the heavier side of what we had to carry but it all managed to fit in my 30L pack. 

    We decided to eat one last real meal before leaving town. The day prior I noticed a brewery just down from the hotel called Thunder Island Brewing and we were excited to check it out. It was definitely the hot spot as well as swimming with PCT hikers. The brewery even had a little blurb on their menu about ‘Trail Magic’ which encouraged guests to give the gift of a pint to a hiker! Highly recommend stopping here if you find yourself in Cascade Locks. After lunch we went back to the hotel to grab our packs and get back on our way. 

Bridge of the Gods

    I was very excited to be back walking because we were about to walk over “The Bridge of the Gods”. This bridge is pretty amazing as you leave Oregon at one end and enter Washington on the other. I was surprised to notice that there was no sidewalk to walk on and we had to share the lane with the cars. Luckily we made it to the other side unscathed! The trail picks back up on the other side and we were delighted by the sea of blackberry bushes. Our bellies were pretty full but we managed to take in a few berries. Blackberry picking in August is always one of my favourite activities back home and I am incapable of ever passing them up. 

Getting back on trail in Washington

We proceeded to walk 19 miles that afternoon to Rock Creek and got there just as it was getting dark. The last 2 miles getting there was the perfect grade for running and so we barrelled down the hill, full packs and all. Probably wasn’t the smartest idea but it felt so good in the moment. Plus, it was getting dark and I knew this would get us to the tent site a bit faster. Luckily, there was one tiny spot available and we quickly set up the tent via headlamp. 

Day 17: 27 miles

    We didn’t start walking until 7am which was about an hour later than we typically start walking. I noted that Peter was hurting. This may have been from all the running I made him do the evening prior. I believe his shins were starting to bother him. It’s interesting because I got shin splints the first time we did the PCT after he made me run downhill for 5 miles on what would have been a 35 mile day. 

PSA: running downhill with a weighted pack although fun in the moment may be harmful! 

    Around lunchtime we came across a guy, known as Spamual Adams, sitting down on the trail eating biscuits and gravy. He said a womandropped off some beers and gave him the meal. The beers were trail magic so we sat down with him and enjoyed a nice cold one! Another fellow named Purell joined us as well. We would go on to leap frog with these two for weeks. The trail angel came back and told us that she hiked the trail last year and was in town for a wedding. She knew the trail was close by and decided to drop off some beers. We chatted to her for a while about her experience the year prior and what it was like hiking during the pandemic! 

    We managed to pull ourselves away from having all the beers as it’s good to save some for the other hikers 😜 and started a long 10 mile climb. About a third of the way up the climb we noticed a brown bag sitting slightly off the trail on a stump. Was it trail magic? At this point, any unmarked coolers or bags of food seem like fair game in the woods. There were fresh tomatoes and avocados in this bag so Peter helped himself to an Avocado. The weird part was that sitting on the stump was a can of Pepsi and on top of the can was a hit of acid. Peter put the acid in the brown bag and we carried on our way. At this point I was pretty convinced that this wasn’t trail magic and we just helped ourselves to someone’s avocado. Days later we met other hikers who had also come across this mystery brown bag and they had helped themselves too so that made me feel better. 

    Peter’s shin started to hurt by the end of the day but it didn't seem to bad yet. It would start to be a problem in the days to come…stay tuned!

Marathon and Pole Vault

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Day 15: Cascade Locks and Tunnel Falls!!!

 Day 15: 28 miles

    This morning was wet!!! Not only was it the wettest day so far it was also the most adventurous as we climbed up and over a hundred plus downed trees. Luckily, my Arc’teryx rain gear that I used on the GDT kept me warm and dry and the Forclaz gortex overmitts Peter got me for Christmas worked like a hot damn. 

    These overmitts deserve a paragraph of their own. One of the biggest pitfalls of my GDT experience in 2020 was how cold and wet my gloves were from the dewy brush and eventual rain. Had I had something like a gortex overmitt I would have faired much better. Having warm hands is essential when its cold and if your gloves get wet you’re pretty screwed. I knew Washington was typically a wet state and I was excited to finally get to test out the combo of glove and overmitt and see how dry my gloves stayed. I guess the only con to the mitt is that it’s hard to use your hands if say you need to re-tie your shoe or get things in and out of your bag. I guess it’s worth mentioning Peter’s latest find: Showa Temres 282-02 which is a waterproof breathable thermal insulated glove. This glove eliminates the hardship of having a mitt for dexterity. I will play around with it and see which system I like better. 

Peter’s make-shift trail skirt didn’t survive the day!

    After a hard morning of hiking we realized there was an alternate trail into Cascade Locks. We saw that it cut off some miles and would get us there sooner so we didn't hesitate to choose that route. People had made comments that it is the best alternate on the trail so I was excited to check it out. Now, what I didn’t know is that I would be witness to one of the most spectacular things I had ever seen: Tunnel Falls. I guess if you have ever done Rainshadow Running’s Gorge Waterfalls race you have seen something equally as spectacular but I hadn’t ever done it and I was floored. You quite literally go into a tunnel behind the falls. I can’t believe the PCT doesn't follow this route! The trail you follow down by the falls is quite narrow with big drop off’s which made it quite exciting and exhilarating. 

    After the heaven that was this waterfall, we had roughly 5 miles to hike to the trail head/parking area where we had planned to hitch into Cascade Locks. It was very clear by the shear number of people that this was a popular trail. We would later learn that this trail has been closed for 5 years due to a forest fire and had just re-opened 2 weeks prior. Once we got to the parking lot I almost immediately hit the porta potty because duty was calling! As soon as I got out there was a car leaving the parking area. Peter told me to throw out a thumb and so I did and they pulled over! That couldn’t have gone any smoother. The couple made room for us and drove us the 3km to Cascade Locks and dropped us off outside the Best Western. The town of Cascade Locks is beautiful and situated on the Columbia River. It’s a small town and there weren’t many options for accommodation. We walked into the Best Western and asked if they had any vacancy’s. The concierge told us that there was only one room left in the hotel and it had a king size bed and would be $269US for the night. Now, it was a Friday night in August and the likelihood of us finding anything elsewhere would be slim. Sometimes you just have to splurge and splurge we did! Best decision we ever made ☺. 

    Unfortunately, we didnt have a ton of time to relax because we had to mail ourselves some packages as the re-supply options in Washington (we thought) were slim. The post office was closing in one hour and so we had to quickly shower and then walk to the block down to the grocery store and shop for the next 3 weeks! Luckily, the town was so small everything was within a block of each other. Ideally we would’ve saved this for the next day but the post office was closed on Saturdays. Because there was only one grocery store and everyone else was also shipping items ahead, it was slim pickings! We did our best to gather enough calories and went to the post office and packed up 4 large pre-paid boxes. This just means you pay a certain price for a certain size box. I think it was $15-20US per box. We got that done just in the Nick of time and proceeded to walk across the street to the Ale House to relax and have some beer! Peter’s sister Kathleen had also mailed us a package to the Ale House with new shoes and other items we needed from home (socks, chafe lube, insoles, shorts, nuun etc). Oddly the package was not there and it turns out it got wrongly delivered to the grocery store and was just sitting on the floor by the entrance way! Luckily, no one nabbed it. 


    The Ale House was super rustic inside and the beer was so good! They also had fantastic pizza. We went back to our hotel afterwards and did laundry and chilled out. The next day we walk across the famous Bridge of the Gods into Washington!! Stay tuned…

Marathon and Pole Vault 

Day 14: Timberline Lodge!

 Day 14: 32 miles

    This morning we woke up around 430am with a goal and one goal only:  GET THAT BRUNCH! We had more than a half marathon to hike to get there and most of it was uphill. While I was still in the tent Peter saw 3 headlamps go past us and said it was the Thrupple. They must have woken up around 3am because the closest tentsite was 5 miles away. 

Mt. Hood 

    We started hiking and for the first time in a long time I lead out the front. I don’t know what came over me, maybe it was the imaginary smell of pancakes and coffee or potentially the cold ramen from last night was kicking in but I started hiking like a crazy person. Within an hour we had caught up and overtaken the Thrupple. Was it a competition? Absolutely not but there was no way the Thrupple was making it to brunch before me.

If you zoom in you can see a dozen nuns!

    You know that feeling when you’re in a race and your pushing hard and it feels so damn good and the only thing that might stop you in your tracks is a bunch of sand…well we hit sand. We went from the hiking pace of our lives to feeling like we were moving backwards while walking forwards. This happened roughly 3 miles before the lodge. The last hour to the lodge was the biggest slog of my life. It was almost like some sort of sick joke. At this point the euphoria was lost, along with my mojo, and I did what I could to not fall too far behind Peter. 

    Timberline lodge is a thing of beauty and is where the movie ‘The Shining’ was filmed. If you've seen the movie you can imagine it’s a bit eerie. I was here in 2016 with a few of my friends when we ran around Mt. Hood. It was so cool to be back. 

    We got to the lodge at 10am and promptly made our way to the restaurant. Luckily, they didn’t seem to be too busy and we got a seat right away. I went straight for the banana and pecan pancakes, eggs, potatoes, sausage, fruit and coffee. I think the cost of the brunch was $35US which I don't think I would typically splurge on but there was no price I wouldn't pay for a buffet brunch at that point. There were a bunch PCT hikers that had been dropped off there that morning as a drop off point to get around the closure. Our friend Rotisserie was in this group and he joined us for breakfast. The one nice thing about getting a seating around 10am is that they switch from breakfast to lunch at 11am. If you’re there then you can also enjoy the buffet lunch. I’ve learned not to gorge myself when there is still an entire half day of hiking left to do so I enjoyed some salad and veggies that were part of the lunch menu and it was nice to get some actual greens in me. Greens are few and far between on this trail. 

    After brunch, Peter had to take care of something that required the internet for about an hour and half so I sat down and digested and checked in with family and friends. Once back on trail I immediately felt ill. I liken it to being a kid at a soccer tournament and you have a bit of time between games and you go to McDonald’s and eat a burger and fries 30 minutes before you have to be back running and sprinting around on the field. Anyone else know that feeling? It was almost hard to enjoy the beauty of what was in front of me and in the moment I was a bit regretful of brunch. Luckily, that feeling only lasted 3 hours and then I felt wonderful and had reconciled my feelings towards brunch. 

    After a long and hard afternoon of hiking we set up our camp just before dark. Looking ahead, we got excited because we were going to reach Cascade Locks the following day which is right on the Oregon/Washington border. This also meant a potential hotel stay as well as Peter’s sister had sent us a package with new shoes! Stay tuned…

Marathon and Pole Vault

Day 13: Peter got stung by wasps!

 Day 13: 35 miles

    Today involved a lot of forest walking. It wasn't overly eventful to be honest. The highlight for me was this pretty silly moment when I got really hangry. Peter was hiking ahead of me and I decided that I wanted to eat a payday. If you don't know what a payday is it’s like a delicious nougat/caramel bar covered in salted peanuts. It’s a dream that sadly isn’t available in Canada. Due to my hangryness I spontaneously decided that I didn’t want to just shove this in my mouth while furiously hiking and rather that it deserved to be treated with respect and could only be eaten while seated. This way it could be thoroughly enjoyed and that is the only way I was going to eat this bar. So out of nowhere in my most whiniest voice I yelled up trail to Peter that I was going to stop and eat. He looked perplexed and exclaimed he was confused why he had to backtrack to me. I had already decided that where I stopped was where I had to eat this bar and no moving would be happening on my part. He begrudgingly walked back towards me and sat opposite me on the trail. As I sat, eating my pay day, seemingly living my best life, Peter yelped in surprise and terror. The yelping continued some more until he realized he must have disturbed a wasps nest! We both quickly got up, albeit Peter more swiftly than I, and he flew on up trail, holding his poor bum cheek that got the brunt of the stings. I followed suit, unscathed, wondering how I avoided the terrorist stings. The resentment was real. 

    Timothy Lake was a thing of beauty! We got there late afternoon and took some time to stop and swim. I was happy to have some flip flops as it was quite rocky off the beach. Flip slops were a luxury item for me this go around. I didn't bring any last time but I really enjoyed having them. 

    We hiked for as long as we could this night because we wanted to make it to brunch the next morning at Timberline Lodge. I was growing increasingly anxious because I now HAD to have this brunch. The comments on the app said it required a reservation and if you didn't have one you had to arrive really early to get a table. We had no way of calling to book a reso so we knew we would have to hustle the next morning. We had 15 miles to hike to get there…stay tuned

Marathon and Pole Vault

Day 12: Getting around the Closure!

    The distance to Pamelia Lake trail head was a bit of a mystery to us because it’s not on the PCT. Our app didn’t really show exactly how far it was off the PCT but we took our best guess. Because of this unknown variable we woke up pretty early to ensure we were there for our 1pm pick up. We ended up doing 15.7 miles by 11am which left us plenty of time to eat and wash up in the creek. In that time we met another PCT hiker who had just been dropped off and was continuing his hike Southbound. He had gotten off trail for a bit to hang out with his family in Portland and we chatted with him and his mother for a short while. Once he left his mother asked if we wanted some peaches, an offer I joyfully accepted. Her son was in his early 20’s and as I sat eating my peach I couldn’t help but think about how cool it would be to follow your child on such an adventure. I imagine it would be both nerve wracking and exciting watching him walk back on trail, solo, into the unknown. I wonder how my experience would be different at 20 versus 37? 

    Devilfish arrived right on time and we started the long drive to Ollallie Lake. The PCT closure itself was only 23 miles but the drive to get to Ollallie Lake takes a bit over 4 hours. We made a few stops along the way and even picked up some SOBO PCT hitcher’s that were heading into Portland. I think all in all with all the stops it was about a 6 hour ride. To say we were beyond grateful was an understatement. 

    The 3 miles North of Ollallie Lake were also closed and so we decided to camp at Triangle Lake so as to avoid travelling on closed trail in the morning. Prior to getting dropped off here however, Devilfish took us up to Ollallie Lake because he said it was worth the view and he was picking up another hiker heading Southbound looking to get around the closure. There was also a store I was pretty keen to get to as I really wanted to grab some beer and snacks before it closed. When we got there I was surprised to see the Thrupple. They had decided to go through the closure and looked like they had a long hard day. They were covered in black soot from all the burnt trees they would have had to climb up and over. We chatted with them briefly and I found out the lone woman is from Saskatchewan. When she found out we were also from Canada she asked if we had ever done the Great Divide Trail. They were interested in doing it next year because they were a bit disappointed with the lack of wildlife sightings. I assured them they would probably see a lot more wildlife on the GDT. The lack of wildlife was something Peter and I noticed as well, although I wasn’t really bothered by that. In 2014, we only saw one bear in 1200 miles and we didn’t see any on this trip and barely any skat at that. 

Ollallie Lake

    We got dropped off at Triangle Lake and before setting up camp we decided to go sip beers by the Lake and watch the sun set. It was a fantastic way to end a big day of travel. Big cheers to Devilfish for being so selfless and helping hikers get from point A to point B! 

Tomorrow we get to Timothy Lake and the following day a race to Timberline Lodge! Stay tuned…

Marathon and Pole Vault 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Day 11: Sisters Oregon!

 Day 11: 16.5 miles

    There was an excitement in the air this morning because for the first time since starting the trip we were going into a town! We could've easily hitched to Bend from Elk Lake a few days back but decided against it since we'd both been there many times before. Instead, we opted to go check out the small town of Sisters! I had never been there before but was excited to scope out a new part of Oregon. The tiny town stops are my favourite! 

    We walked 1.5 miles to highway 20 and prepped for a morning of hitchhiking. This would be our first hitch of the trip! It wasn't but a mere 15 minutes later that we were jumping into a pick up truck with a nice fellow from Redmond. He had to go through Sisters on his way home and was happy to give us a lift. He was a retired correctional facilities counsellor and judging by the raft he was towing behind his truck, was quite the outdoor enthusiast. For some reason knowing he also enjoyed spending his spare time in nature made me feel safer. 

    We got dropped off outside this very trendy coffee shop and found our place on one of the outdoor picnic tables. Peter took advantage of the wifi while I went in and ordered us some breakfast frittatas and coffee. We spent the next couple of hours here, eating pastries, drinking coffee, and charging our devices.  It was obvious that Sisters is an active community and there were lot's of bike commuters dressed up in office attire coming and going from the coffee shop. I was very enamoured with the town and wanted to live here immediately. 

    We had a little issue we had to problem solve while we were in Sisters and that was getting around a 23 mile trail closure. Getting around it was proving to be quite complicated. Our goal was to miss the least amount of trail as possible which meant getting off at Pamelia Lake and getting back on at Ollalie Lake. This option was also the most difficult logistically because neither of these trail heads were off main roads/highways which would make hitching near impossible. Most hikers were opting for easier drop off points but this also meant missing significant sections of trail. Peter put a post up on the Central Oregon Trail Angels Facebook page asking for help to get around the closure. Luckily. a trail angel and avid thru-hiker Devilfish offered to take us to exactly where we wanted to go and he was available to do so the next day at 1pm. This meant we had to hitch back to the trail head this afternoon, hike as many miles as possible (ideally 17 miles) before nightfall and hike another 15 or so the next day before 1pm. Cool cool cool...

    As with every town stop our next goal after eating was to find the laundromat. Luckily the town is quite small and it was only a few blocks away. We quickly discovered they were all out of soap and Peter sent me to get some. However, all the places I went to were either closed or had closed down permanently and I had no choice but to go ask a friendly neighbour. The first door I knocked on went unanswered so I walked down to the next block and found a really nice older man who was in the midst of setting up his home veggie stand. As he went to gather some soap I looked over the veggies and picked out a beautiful field cucumber to buy. I figured that would be a nice trade off for his kindness and a bonus for us considering we hadn't been eating many vegetables!

    While Peter watched over the laundry I went to the local campground to have a shower. One of the funny things about doing laundry is you need something to wear while you're washing your clothes. This typically meant wearing your rain pants and jacket or sometimes I went Survivor styles and wore my buff as a shirt. It was a beautiful sunny hot day and here I was walking through the streets of Sisters, Oregon in a long sleeve merino shirt and rain pants that were rolled up to my knees. I was desperate for some shampoo and conditioner but couldn't find any little bottles to buy anywhere. I almost started asking campers in the campground but that felt like too much. I think I paid $1 for 2 minutes and judging by the way the water pressure nearly knocked me off my feet, it was all I needed. By the time I came back to the Laundromat Peter had made a ton of new friends, including some hard working Forest Fire Fighters. He also managed to tear open the crotch of his rain pants! The pants were now useless so he did some cutting and sewing and magically turned them into a skirt that had quite the slit down the middle (pictures to come on next rainy day).

    We packed up our bags with all our clean clothes and headed to the local outdoor store Hike-N-Peaks. Peter needed a new bandana which he used to clean himself off with at the end of most days. While we were in there we met another couple who were PCT hikers. They said they were about to go do laundry and asked where they could buy soap. The gentleman from earlier had given us enough for 3 loads and we were happy to unload our remaining supply and pay it forward. At the same time, one of the employees said "Well, it's 12 o'clock, who wants a beer?", to which we replied "We do!". I later read in the gut hook app comments that this store was very hiker friendly and often offered free beer to hikers. At this point we had already received three acts of kindness and my heart was bursting with gratitude. 

    The final task of the day before having lunch was to find a grocery store and do our re-supply shopping. The store was quite large but it was lacking in some of the staples that we were looking for (i.e wraps) but we're alive today so it couldn't have been that bad. We went outside with our new goodies and started to pack our food into our backpacks. As we finished packing, the sky opened up and it began to rain. Conveniently, a restaurant called Takoda's was within arms reach and it so happened to be recommended to us by one of the forest firefighters that Peter had made friends with at the Laundromat. From the outside, as well as the inside, Takoda's didn't look all that inspiring. Whenever I go into a town I want to try the local hot spots and this just didn't seem like one of them. I'm a bit embarrassed about the tiny tantrum I had but I was hungry and wanted something boujee! At this point, the rain had turned into thunder showers and I begrudgingly ran into Takoda's. Peter ordered a chicken burger and a beer and I ordered a BL'A'T with fries and a beer. Our server so generously gave us free access to the salad bar because we were PCT hikers. The servers were super friendly and were very interested in hearing about our hike, In the end, they comped our beers, gave us free salad bar, and even gave us a PCT discount. By the end of the visit, I was screaming "Takoda's for the win!". Just another reminder not to judge a book by its' cover.

    By the time we had left the restaurant the sky had cleared and we set off down the street to find a good  hitch spot. Within 20 minutes a blue minivan had pulled over and we eagerly ran over to it hoping it was for us! As we approached we saw she was frantically clearing away items and making space for us in her car. She apologized for the mess and I reassured her it was the last thing on our minds and we were just grateful for the lift. The ride was eventful and I couldn't help but be a little concerned that the speed odometer was just spastically moving back and forth. Luckily, we made it in one piece and thanked her for her generosity. I think in total we had 5 acts of kindness in the short time we were in Sisters. A short visit to remember! 

    It was roughly 3 o'clock by the time we got back on trail. Our full bellies carried us until the darkness of night where we found a place to camp around 9pm. We quickly set up our tent and tried to clean off in the lake before getting all cozy into our sleeping bags. 

    The following day we would be picked up by Devilfish and would start the big adventure around the closure! Stay tuned...

Marathon and Hot Ballz (he just got given a new trail name c/o Mark Grist)

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Day 10: Trail Magic!

 Day 10: 27 miles

    Something that I really valued was getting to wake up with the light of day which typically was around 5am (ish). No alarm required! As the days went on, the light would slowly arrive a bit later and later.  What once was a 6am start time moved to 630am, which was the case today. Typically the process from waking to walking took roughly 45 minutes and we would eat breakfast as we walked. We both just munched on bars (healthy & chocolate varieties) until lunch time. Sounds yum right 😐. Actually a breakfast payday is pretty amazing 😀.

    We bumped into our friends Happy and Lucky at what would be the last water source for the next 14 miles. It was a scorcher of a day and the terrain was very exposed. Conserving my water for the next 5 hours would be a challenge. 

    The terrain today was unlike anything we had hiked thus far. We weaved and meandered our way through rocky lava flows and I couldn't help but think about how much work went into building a trail through this type of rock. 

    Around lunch time we decided to stop in a shady spot just before we crossed a paved road. Happy and lucky hiked passed us about 2 minutes later and decided to push forward. As they reached the road a car pulled up and asked if they were PCT hikers and said they had trail magic! This was music to my ears and I swiftly gathered my things, threw my pack on and b-lined it to the road. These 2 angels had hiked many sections of the trail in years past and were here to help feed and hydrate hikers. They had so many snacks for us as well as fruit, Gatorade, cider/beer and pop. We sat there chatting with them for over an hour. Another hiker named Neo joined us. He came all the way from Isreal to hike the trail! It was really hard to leave the comforts of all the delicious snacks and drinks but we had to press on. 

    The terrain ahead looked exciting and very challenging. It was basically miles and miles of lava rock. The footing was very hard on the feet and slow going but so stunning! It couldn't have been more than 5 minutes after leaving the road that we ran into a SOBO (south bound) hiker and told them of the upcoming trail magic. She laughed and said she just came from trail magic a mile back! After having spent over and hour at the last spot it wasn't ideal to be stopping again but these are the types of opportunities you just don't pass up. A mile later we see an older couple sitting in camp chairs by the trail head. They had a cooler full of water and Corona and little bags of chips. Lucky and I opted for water and Peter and happy guzzled down another refreshing beer. The gentleman must have been in his mid/late 70's and hiked the trail in the 80's! It was so cool to hear about his experience and the challenges he faced hiking the trail before it was even fully developed. It's crazy to think about how we navigate with  an app on our phones while he would have had to rely on paper maps, a compass and figuring things out as they came up. 

    This was a much quicker trail magic stop but one I am happy not to have missed. Meeting people and hearing their stories is one of my favourite things in life. The four of us hiked on and got to know each other a bit better. Although we had been leap frogging with Happy and Lucky for days this was the first time we hiked with them and got to know a little bit about what life is like in the Czech Republic. 

Love the way Mt. Washington was framed by this tree

    Eventually we went ahead and parted ways and made our way to the Youth Camp, which was the next place to get water. In non-covid times the camp was very hiker friendly and you could even purchase a meal here. But, due to covid, they had limited hiker access to just the water spigot. We filled up our bottles and cold soaked some noodles to eat at camp. As I went digging in my food bag I discovered the Trader Joe packaged olives that I found in the hiker box at Elk Lake. These were just what the doctor ordered on a hot day and I ate both packets. Highly recommend for a salty hit of goodness! 

One of the many stops to empty out sand from our shoes!

    We hiked a few more miles eventually reaching the last camp for the evening which happened to be at a lake. The lake wasn't quite big enough for swimming but it was perfect for rinsing off after such a dusty and sweaty day. The best camp spot was taken by the "Thruple", but luckily there were two other spots that would suffice. We had leap frogged a few times with the "Thrupple", who I so named because they always hiked together as a threesome. The Thrupple consisted of two men and a woman and we never did find out their trail names but I did learn that the woman was from Saskatchewan!

    The next day our plan was to hitchhike into the town of Sisters where we could re-supply and potentially organize a ride around the upcoming trail closure. To be continued....

Marathon and Pole Vault

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

PCT day 8 & 9: Elk Lake Resort and Sisters Wilderness

 Day 8: 30 miles

    Up until this point we had been extremely lucky with the mosquitos! The unrelenting heat waves that have affected our planet this year have also caused a bit of a drought which in turn have affected the breeding ground for mosquitos. I typically wrote notes at the end of each day which is how I remember what we did everyday. This day, I didn’t write very much. I was probably in a mosquito fog and blocked out all other things in order to survive. Here is all I got down:

“Mosquitos and lakes! We swam at dumbbell lake. Camped with Boston Mule. We got out before 6am. Took many breaks. Peters achilles flared up a bit.”

Day 9: 26 miles

    Today we walked 6 miles into Elk Lake Resort! We just kept timing our civilization stops at breakfast time which was fine by me! Elk Lake resort was bustling because a huge road running relay race was happening at the same time. The race is called Cascade Lakes Relay and is a 216 mile relay that happens over 2 days. Today was the dress up day and everyone was walking around the resort in costume. The energy was electric but it also meant there was an abnormally long line for breakfast. Luckily, it didn't take too long to get a table - We settled in for a magnificent feast while staring out at Elk Lake. There were many people sleeping in the grass and on blow up mattresses strewn all over the resort. It was hard to tell who were tired relay runners and who were PCT hikers. 

    It was this day that we finally met Little Foot and her parents. Little foot is a 5 year old who is hiking the entire trail with her parents. She dressed like your classic hiker: long sleeve button up shirt,  khaki hiking pants, a bandana wrapped around her neck, hiking hat, and little Altra shoes. She definitely dressed the part. Other than 300 miles (due to snow) through the sierras, she had hiked every step from Mexico. I couldn’t help but be inspired by this family and the incredible bond and memories they were making together. I’m so curious if she even comprehends that what she is doing is different than how most other kids spend their summer. 

    I had my eye on some ice cream they were serving but I was already so full and I knew we had an entire afternoon of hiking ahead of us. As tempting as it is to eat all the things, I have paid the overeating price before and didn't want to feel sick the rest of the day. Ice cream would have to wait for another day! 

I found this tree quite beautiful :)

    Not long after leaving Elk Lake we saw a hiker talking on his phone on the top of this hill and figured there must be service there. Our shoes were beginning to break down and Peter needed some more chafing lube and insoles, amongst other things. We had the idea to call his Sister Kathleen and ask is she would be able to ship us some items. She had zero heads up that this might happen but she snapped into action at the drop of a hat and got us everything we needed. I believe this entailed driving all over town to collect these said items. To say she is a God sent is an understatement. The bond that Peter has with his family is quite admirable. They truly would do anything for each other and often go well out of their way to help each other out. 

    We entered the Sisters Wilderness and hiked another 20 miles that afternoon. Peter and I had attempted a 50 mile hike through the sisters wilderness many years ago but we had to turn back early due to snowfall. Needless to say it was exciting to be back! We had met another hiker who had warned us that there was a forest ranger ahead and he was checking PCT permits. Luckily we had nothing to worry about because we had a permit. We saw him up ahead and we stopped to pull out our permits. He checked them and then gave us a speal about camping in the area and a little history about the park. It was quite educational…at the time. I asked if he had caught anyone hiking without a permit and he said yes. Moral of his story, make sure you have your permit or you will be escorted out of the park! 

    Our camp spot for the night was near this beautiful waterfall and it couldn’t have been more picturesque. There was only one tentsite here and I was quite shocked it hadn’t been scooped up! Having this space all to ourselves felt quite special. 

Until next time, 

Marathon and Pole Vault

Sunday, September 26, 2021

PCT DAY 7: Shelter Cove Resort

Day 7: 21.5 miles

    This morning we were really excited to get to Shelter Cove Resort. Whenever we knew we would get somewhere for breakfast we walked with a little extra pep in our step. We just ate various bars for breakfast everyday so the thought of a real food was very motivating :) 

    We arrived just before 9am and were rewarded with beautiful views of Odell Lake. The resort is a mixture of RV camping and cabins and there's a marina for boats. Its a very popular fishing spot. Of course I b-lined it straight to the food hut (Hook and Talon) which was conveniently attached to the general store where we would be re-supplying from. Because we didn't carry a stove I haven't been drinking coffee which is something I have daily in my regular life. Crater lake didn't have any coffee when we got in there that morning so the coffee I got here was my first cup in 7 days. It was so heavenly! The breakfast options were limited and all the comments on the Guthook App talked about how good the deep dish pizza is here so I held out for that. 

    The entire resort shares 2 washer and dryers and 2 coin operated showers. The coin operated showering is always quite hysterical. The machines typically only take quarters and its like $3 for 2 minutes so if you want a "long" shower you need a sack to carry all the quarters. It's always a frantic mad dash to see how fast you can clean yourself. At this point, the dust was so caked onto our feet that it took the friction of a towel to really clean it off.  Luckily, they provided towels. Unluckily, someone had to handle those towels afterwards. 

    Town stops were always a fun place to be as they were bustling with hikers. You'd chat with people in the laundromat, in line for the showers, and at the cafe. Some of the small resorts had areas for PCT hikers to congregate or camp for free. Here you could often find charging stations and hiker boxes. These boxes were made up of all the re-supply discards and were sometimes a gold mine. One hikers trash is another hikers treasure! One of my favourite finds were these peanut butter filled ritz crackers. I'm salivating thinking about it. If the town is really awesome, it's easy to get stuck in the vortex. Pulling yourself away from the luxury of real food and drinks can be a challenge.  

   But I digress...

    I finally ordered my pizza and it was massive! Peter and I were sharing it and I think I only managed 2 slices which meant I had enough for dinner this night on trail.  It was hard peeling ourselves from the comforts of the resort that afternoon but we managed to get back on trail around 2pm. After about an hour we met a lovely older gentleman named Hipshot. He was so named because he had a recent hip replacement. He had also hiked the AT some years prior and I found his story to be quite inspiring. I don't remember how it came up but we were talking about how some people think a lot while they hike (I fall into this category). He then said, "hipshot doesn't like to thinky thinky, he likes to hikey hikey". The way he said that in the 3rd person just had me in fits! He decided to sit down for a break and we never saw him again. 

    We passed by a lot of lakes this afternoon and settled on camping at one named Bobby Lake. The Boston Mule was there when we arrived and we walked in every which direction trying to find a secluded tentsite so as to give him some privacy. We had no luck so he had to put up with us for another night ;) After setting up our tent we went to find a nice place to swim. We ended up finding the most amazing swim spot off this rock slab which just so happened to be located next to the most immaculate tent site. Our friends Happy and Lucky rolled into camp a bit late and we enthusiastically directed them towards it. 

Hot tip: Make sure you check the expiry dates of the food from the Shelter Cove general store :/  Also, if you have a sensitive stomach, skip the pizza (says Pete). 

Until next time, 

Marathon and Pole Vault