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

Friday, September 24, 2021

PCT Day 6: White Fish Horse Camp

 Day 6: 26 miles

    Last night we went to sleep without being able to see the view from our tentsite but this morning the clouds had parted and we could see all the beautiful surrounding mountain peaks! What a way to wake up :) I wish I took a picture...

    We had 10 miles to walk to get to the next water source. Luckily, the early morning miles were  in cool temps and I didn't need to drink much water. When we reached the side trail down to the spring I realized we were in for a bit of a detour and sadly it was all downhill. Because we usually have so many miles to complete on any given day, detouring off trail for water isn't my favourite. The trail down to the spring went on and on and I had a bit of a tantrum realizing I had to hike all the way back up. I probably just needed a snack. When we got back up to our packs there were a couple of other hikers there that we had never met before. Turns out The Boston Mule and Rotisserie were also LASH's (long ass section hikers) and had hiked long sections of the trail in years past just like us. We also saw Happy and Lucky (who had travelled all the way from the Czech Republic to do the PCT). We had been leap frogging with them for a couple days now. 

    The day was really heating up and we were pretty excited to see a full water cache 6 miles later. All of our new trail friends were stopping for lunch here too. As Peter and I packed up to leave, Happy and Lucky asked us if we were going to the White Fish horse camp. We said we had never heard of it and then they told us there was trail magic there. The words "trail magic" really piqued our interest and we quickly got the beta on this camp. Turns out the camp hosts Jim and Gerri are amazing and offer PCT hikers soda, sometimes food, a charging station, and a free place to camp. I think it also cut off 2 miles of trail which would get us into Shelter Cove a bit earlier the next day! Needless to say, we were sold! 

Happy, Lucky, Rotisserie, & The Boston Mule

    The 11 mile hike to camp was pretty hot and exposed and the trail was very sandy. We had to stop every hour to dump the sand out of our shoes. But, let me tell you, every sandy step was worth this detour! As we walked into the camp Jim and Gerri greeted us from their golf cart. They asked if we were PCT hikers and got us settled at the picnic table by their RV. They offered us a soda and an apple and gave us the run down on the camp ground. They also informed us of a lake that was a short 7 minute walk from camp. They said they were making burgers for dinner and asked if we wanted to join. We of course didn't hesitate and said YES!! It was so nice to sit down and get to know everyone a little bit better. Jim and Gerri have been the hosts at this camp for many years now and had so many PCT hiker stories. This truly was a magical day and one of the most memorable of the trip. After dinner, Peter and I went down to the lake for a swim. Can't think of a better way to cap off an amazing day. 

Marathon and Pole Vault

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Day 5: Highest point in OR/WA!

 Day 5: 26.5 miles

    It rained on and off all night but luckily took a pause while we packed up our packs for the morning. The skies were moody over Crater Lake and it was an amazing sight to behold. 

    I think the lack of water sources has become a bit of a theme in Oregon. The picture below shows one of the 2 water caches we came across this day. The caches are maintained by trail angels who so generously volunteer their time and energy and make hiking the PCT possible or at least more comfortable. 

    Just before we reached the water cache Peter was feeling a bit off and so we sat down on a log. He then proceeded to vomit. Now, if I were vomiting, I would be keeled over with tears streaming down my eyes, unable to focus on much else other than my current state. Peter, on the other hand, was able to casually engage me in conversation, while intermittently barfing, and continuing the conversation as if nothing had happened at all. 

    After barf gate, we saw two groups of all female Forest Service workers who were doing trail maintenance. Trail maintenance looks a lot different in the US than in Canada. For starters, I don't believe they're allowed to run chainsaws in National Forests. Instead, they carry massive 2 person cross cut saws. Secondly, there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the trail and each person we saw was carrying very heavy tools. I couldn't help but think about how much easier it would be to load up an ATV and motor on in there. One person was even carrying a 20L jug of water in her hands. The amount of effort that goes into clearing these trails is insane and we made sure to thank them for all their hard work as we passed by. 

    The trail had been quite flat all morning but this afternoon we began to climb up and up and up. It also began to rain and we put on our rain gear. 

    After having walked most of the day in the forest it was a nice change to hike to the shoulder of Mt. Theilsen. Here we were rewarded with exquisite views as the clouds parted exposing the summit of Mt. Theilsen. 

  We reached the last water source today around 3pm and it was roughly 25km to the next one. We knew we weren't about to hike all the way there this night so we had to carry a shit ton of water to make it to camp and then have some left over for the next morning. I remember my pack feeling very heavy as we hiked uphill for the next 5 miles to camp. 

    Not long after we reached the highest point of the PCT in both Oregon and Washington at 7560 feet. 

    The tentsite we chose for the night we had all to ourselves! We could tell there was a stunning view waiting to happen but it was covered by clouds. It would be a different story in the morning :) We hung our stuff to dry, filled our bellies with cold ramen noodles and tucked ourselves in our sleeping bags and enjoyed an episode of criminal minds. 

Marathon and Pole Vault


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Day 4: Crater Lake!

    Day 4: 22.5 miles

    We woke up to the sound of rain around 3:30am! This came as quite a surprise to us since it was super clear the night before. So clear in fact, we slept without the fly on our tent! Peter had hung our food/packs high up a tree and there was no quick way to solve our issue so we decided to pack up and start our 12 mile walk to Crater Lake.

Morning light!

    The rain led to a short lived thunder storm and we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise. Peter was having a hard time eating this morning and I think we were both excited to get to the amenities that existed at Crater Lake. I had read the comments in the Guthook PCT app about the amazing breakfast at the Crater Lake Lodge and so I hiked and fantasized. 

    We reached the road to Crater Lake and had about 3km to walk to get to the visitor Center. My right knee began to bother me as we walked down the road, right about where my ITBand inserts on my tibia. That was a bit worrisome. I stopped and stretched and focused on firing my glutes and luckily it didn't bother me again. At 9am we reached our destination and dropped our bags behind the general store. We were able to poach some wifi and were able to FaceTime our family for the first time! 


I was sad to learn that the lodge with the breakfast I was fantasizing about was a couple hour hike up the trail. The restaurant where we were had mixed reviews but it would have to do. The restaurant wouldn't open for another hour or so which was fine because we had some re-supply shopping to do! 

    We had planned to re-supply out of the general store and this would be our first winging it re-supply of the trip. I walked into the store and quickly realized that this would be an interesting shop. The store didn't really have the things that I was expecting to find and so I bought a drumstick ice cream cone and walked back outside and contemplated my food choices. Upon further review there was actually some pretty good stuff in there. One of the best things we bought were bagels and cream cheese. It was the only time we had that on trail but we talked about it often later in the trip. I also picked up a bunch of chocolate/granola bars, nuts, gummies, and chips. Trail food isn't glamorous but it sure is tasty! We re-packed our bags with all our new goodies and walked over for lunch at Annie's restaurant. I had a buffalo chicken wrap and Peter had a beyond meat burger and we both really enjoyed it! 

    We walked out of there with full bellies and began our hike up to the Rim of Crater Lake. This trail was steep and it was probably the hardest climb we had done in our 4 days of hiking. This just made it all that much sweeter once we got our first view of the lake! It is a thing of beauty! 

    Peter had mentioned that he thought the Rim trail would be pretty flat but it turned out to be quite the opposite. We were again in a stretch with very few water sources. We were starting to get tired and knew we would have to dry camp tonight. We didn't have enough water to make it all the way to the water cache tomorrow but luckily we came across a parking lot and found a nice couple who so generously gave us some water! 

Our dinner spot. A PCT hiker had made that and hung it in the tree. 

    Not long after we found an amazing flat spot just outside the park boundary and set up camp for the night. The clouds were starting to roll in and we got the tent up just as it started to rain. I love listening to the pitter patter of rain on the fly once I'm all cozy in my sleeping bag. This was a day to remember. 

Marathon and Pole Vault

Monday, September 20, 2021

Day 3: The Lilly pond

 Day 3: 24 miles

    We woke up to another beautiful day on the PCT. It was going to be another scorcher without many water sources so getting up early was really advantageous. The terrain was really varied today. We weaved through lava fields and burnt out forests. It was a bit smoky today. Not the kind of smoke that you can taste but the type of smoke that prevents you from seeing all the layers of mountains in the distance. Peter was continuously impressed by how smoothed out the trail was in rocky/lava sections. The amount of work that has been put into this trail is quite something. 

    Peter's chafing was still very much a problem for him and after realizing that the liner of his shorts was a major source of discomfort I made a recommendation. I suggested he go commando in his wind pants. By doing this he would get some air flow and hopefully his wounds would start to heal. This technique seemed to work pretty good and he was able to hike without too much pain. His wind pants are a very pale blue and thankfully are tinted enough that they aren't see-through...until he started to sweat. This was a bit of a source of amusement for me since I often walked behind him. If you see him, ask him to sing you the "Swass" song that he so cleverly made up. 

Proof of Swass

    We ended up stopping a bit earlier today because of the lack of water sources and unfortunately the best water source that we would hit for the evening was in a lilly pond. Now, the picture below doesn't make it look all that bad but it was badder than bad. We had to walk out on this log to get to water that was deep enough to scoop out of. There were snakes swimming in the water and tadpoles. The water looked black and it really clogged up our filters. I think the worst part about it was that the water filtered yellow. We made sure to also pristine this water too. 

I cold soaked some ramen noodles this night but there was a weird tang to them, which I'm assuming came from the water so I skipped dinner. Peter wasn't feeling so good and it seemed like he was coming down with heat stroke. The lack of water sources was starting to take it's toll on him. Let's just say that we weren't drinking to our hearts content this night. I believe he may have had his first puke here. 

The infamous "Lilly Pond"

On day 4 we get to one of the biggest highlights of the trip - Crater Lake :) 

Marathon and Pole Vault

Sunday, September 19, 2021

PCT Day 2 + coccyx injury

    I forgot to mention an interesting fun fact that happened before we left for the trip. About 10 days out from our hike we decided to go scrambling in Rogers Pass. Our objective for the day was a rocky peak called Uto. We only made it 1/4 of the way up the actual scramble before I decided I wasn't feeling it and we turned back. 

Climbing up Uto 

    On our way back down we had to cross a rather steep snow slope. Peter said he might butt slide down. I took one look at it and couldn't think of anything more terrifying. Upon a closer look he too had changed his mind. 

The slope I fell down on the way to Uto. It got steeper below!

    The slope descended steeply roughly 300ft and there were rocks on either side of it and at the bottom. Falling didn't look ideal! I have never practiced self arresting and Peter gave me a very brief description of what to do if I were to slip. He recommended I take off my micro spikes because the snow was soft but I decided to leave them on. I was using a new skookum ice axe that was very lightweight and had a shorter shaft than the one I'm used to. I was finding it awkward to plunge into the snow because I had to lean over so much to plunge it deep enough. Needless to say, I wasn't doing the best job because of this. I have never slipped on a snow slope like this and probably wasn't giving it the respect that it deserved. When I was half way across it I slipped and started to slide pretty fast. I did what Peter told me to do but my attempt failed miserably. I kept desperately trying to self arrest but the pick was just cutting through the soft snow. My heart began to race as I descended down the slope on my belly. Because there were rocks on either side I was looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't veering in either direction. This caused me to do a few 360 degree rotations. Eventually, I decided to just stay on my butt because I wanted to see the rocks below me and brace for landing! At some point I hit my tail bone really hard. I mental noted that. I had way too much adrenaline rushing through me to care about it in the moment however. Luckily, the slope finished on an uphill ramp before the rocks and that slowed me enough so that I didn't crash into them. Once I came to a stop I took some time to control my breathing. It was completely out of control and it took a few minutes to regulate all the adrenaline that was pumping through my body. That might have been the most intense moment of my life. I've been in worse accidents but I've been knocked out for those and didn't really feel like I was a witness to my own undoing. 

It sure was a beauty day though!

    Once I gathered my wits about me, and after a release of emotion, I went to assess my coccyx (tailbone). It was very sore to touch and I was unable to clench my glutes. The muscles had completely spasmed around it. The couple hour walk out was uncomfortable and I sat in a creek near the car park in an attempt to ice it. The 10 days before the trip were agonizing. Sitting was awful. I couldn't hike or run. Getting in and out of my car was so painful. I started to wonder if I would even be able to hike the PCT at all. Hilariously, when we booked our last minute flights to Oregon just days before, I opted against the travel/cancellation insurance. What possibly would stop us from going, I thought. I went for a walk along the flat rail trail after about a week and I was experiencing shooting pain and spasms in my glute muscles. I decided to get an x-ray to make sure it wasn't broken. Luckily, the x-ray came back clear and it was just a really bad bruise. This at least gave me the confidence that moving wouldn't be making it any worse and I just had to work through the discomfort. I managed a couple of short walks in the forest before we flew out. I was hopeful that my body would enjoy hiking all day and that it would just have to heal as we walked. Sitting is what aggravated it the most and I knew we wouldn't be doing much sitting out there. The flight was pretty uncomfortable but as long as I just sat on an angle and switched sides often I was ok. 

    The first couple weeks of hiking the PCT were entertaining. I couldn't sit normally on the ground. I either had sit on a log with my butt hanging off the back or lay on my side. Ok enough about that...

Day 2: 20 miles

    We woke up at 6am with full hearts and sore legs! The night before Clint told us he saw a bear on trail just before reaching camp. Because it was so hot we slept without a fly over the tent, which meant I could look out and examine if we had any visitors anytime I heard a noise. Luckily, there were none but it made for a restless night. I noted that we were one of the last one's to break camp, which is rare for us. I recognize that now as an odd source of pride and my ego felt a little bit bruised. I quickly realized how ridiculous that was and moved on. 

    Just before lunch we had the option to take a 2 mile detour to a place called Fish Lake Resort. Here you can get real food and drinks. We weren't at the stage where we were craving new and exciting meals as well as we didn't want to add any extra miles to our day, so we skipped it. We got an update later from Clint that it wasn't all that exciting. Today was super hot! Like really really hot. We stopped for lunch beside a creek so we could eat and drink endless amounts of water. Peter was really struggling with his chafing and appeared to be in a lot of pain. He was having to reapply his anti-chafe stick many times an hour. This isn't Peter's first rodeo with chafing. He suffered pretty bad the first time we did the PCT. I think it's a combo of heat, sweat, salt, and the liner of his shorts. We ended up stopping early today to put him out of his misery as well as give our legs a bit of a break because of the previous days mileage. My apologies in advance for the photograph below but I swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth! Hiking is all fun and games until you come face to face with chafing like this. The next few days were spent problem solving this issue...stay tuned for Peter's creative solutions :)

    The plus side to stopping early is you get to pick the best tentsite before all the other hikers get there. We were about to hit a 14 mile section without water so this spot by the creek was going to be a popular camp spot tonight. It was this night that we met a couple named Happy and Lucky. They came all the way from the Czech Republic. We would continue to leap frog with them for weeks to come. 

One thing we looked forward to each night was an episode of something on Netflix. I think at this point we were watching Heist. There was a pocket at the top of the tent that fit Peter's phone perfectly. It became something I looked forward to each night. 

Marathon and Pole Vault

Friday, September 17, 2021

Pacific Crest Trail: Lead up and day 1

I'm just going to get to it...

    Peter and I carved out a couple months this summer to go on a hiking adventure. We had a few options in mind and we took our time letting those ideas evolve before landing on a particular one. There were many factors that went into this decision and the ever evolving state of the world was definitely one of them. 

Here were the said options:

1) Vancouver Island Trail: Roughly 800km of trail, connecting Victoria in the South to Cape Scott at the Northern tip of Vancouver Island. 

2) Bagger Challenge: 80+ North Shore peaks that need to be done in a calendar year (various rules involved). This is a local bragging rights challenge essentially. 

3) Great Divide Trail: Roughly 1100km that traverses the continental divide between Alberta and BC. 

4) Oregon & Washington sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. 

    The Vancouver Island Trail is something Peter and I would really love to do. The downside to it at this point is that it's not fully complete. I wouldn't mind waiting a few more years until it has been a bit more developed. 

    We really contemplated the GDT. Peter attempted it a few years ago but had to exit the trail due to forest fires. I completed 950km of it last year and although I would like to go back someday, I was more excited to do something new. 

    The Bagger Challenge was what we had initially planned but it got vetoed once we brought the PCT into the mix. Peter and I had hiked 1200 miles through California on the PCT 7 years ago and have always wanted to go back. We spent a lot of time planning our 2014 hike since it was our first ever thru-hike. We (mostly Peter) put months into researching lightweight hiking gear. We bought fancy lightweight backpacks, made a stove out of a cat food can, and figured out what was essential. I spent weeks preparing and dehydrating 2 months worth of dinners. It's shocking how long it actually takes to dehydrate your own food. Not to mention the time it takes to figure out how many calories are in the recipe and how many portions it makes to ensure we were feeding ourselves enough. We put everything into boxes and drove them across the border to our friends warehouse where he shipped them at specific intervals for us. Shipping from Canada to the US is very expensive and we are forever grateful for Mike's help with this logistic. It probably took us 7 years to rap our heads around the thought of putting this much planning into anything ever again. 

    When I did the GDT last year I was introduced to cold soaking. Essentially this just means that you don't cook anything. Everything you eat is cold or can be rehydrated with cold water. No stove necessary. Once you learn to cold soak its hard to imagine ever going back to cooking. It reduces the weight and volume of your pack both of which make the hike more enjoyable. Having learnt this skill, it made going back and doing the PCT logistically way easier. We wouldn't have to cook and dehydrate food ahead of time. There would be no packing and shipping of boxes, mainly due to how unreliable shipping across the border would be and the cost. We simply would just pick supplies up along the way. Essentially, we would wing it. How fun! 

    I googled the closest airport to Ashland Oregon and was surprised to see that it was in Medford. When we got off the trail in Oregon in 2014 we hitched to Medford and took a bus back to Vancouver from there. I had no idea there was an airport but this would be the perfect spot to get us back to where we left off all those years ago. Peter went onto the PCT Southern Oregon Trail Angels Facebook page and asked if anyone could help us get from the Airport to the trail and luckily a wonderful angel named Beth answered our call. Not only would she pick us up at the airport, but she would let us stay the night and take us to the trail the next morning. It was all coming together quite nicely. 

    Looking ahead it seemed that we wouldn't have to pack more than 4 days worth of food at any given time (50km/day) and there were great re-supply options on trail. An issue I have been having on thru hikes is pain in my left shoulder/neck. It's due to carrying a "heavy" pack and clearly something (a nerve) is being impinged. Most likely between my clavicle and 1st rib. Although there are other factors I'm sure. I was in a bike accident in 2007 where I flew over a car and landed on that shoulder. It's never really bothered me until I started thru-hiking. I basically get referral pain from my neck to my scapula and then down my arm. I am usually able to deal with it by stretching but it only helps for short periods of time. The lighter my pack gets the better it is and the more enjoyment I have. I have a wicked Physio who pretty much made it disappear for my GDT hike but I also only carried 1-3 days worth of food since it was a crewed/supported effort. I only managed to get into my Physio once before the hike but hoped it would be enough to keep it at bay. 

Free beer and wine on this flight!

    We flew into Medford the evening of July 22nd. YVR was eerily quiet. Most of the restaurants/venders were closed and there were like 4 flights on the board. Luckily, there was one place open where we could get food and a beer. Our flight was on time and we landed in Medford an hour and a half later. Beth greeted us and took us back to her place. Her and her husband have converted their garage into a huge bedroom essentially and that is where we slept soundly for the night. In the morning she made us dutch style pancakes which was such a fantastic send off. We then drove 45 min to the trail head and looked out at some of the previous years forest fire devastation.  I should mention that there were some active fires in Oregon when we started but none of them were impacting the trail at the time. 

Where we started off HWY 66

Day 1: 27 miles    

    Our first day back on trail was quite nostalgic. I was incredibly happy to be back and excited for the adventure ahead.  We crossed paths with a few hikers right away and it was nice talking to them about how their hike was going so far. It was a hot day in Oregon but these hikers had to hike through California during a heat wave. I can only imagine how intense that would've been. 

    A couple hours after stopping for lunch we came across some hikers sitting outside of a Dodge Sprinter Van. A previous years hiker named Trouble was offering trail magic to hikers. Because it was so hot it was nice to be offered a soda although I didn't feel like we had really earned the magic. Nonetheless, I'm not one down to turn it down and sat my butt on the ground and took it as an opportunity to meet other hikers. There we met a man in his 70's who was hiking a section of the trail. We mentioned that we were ultra runners and he asked us what ultras we have done. Since I was in the US I said we had done Western States and he just lit up and told us he had done it 27 times! What a small world and a big feat! Here we also met Siren and Mulligan who we would cross paths with for many weeks to come. We still had 12 miles to hike before the next water source and were already low on water. So we did what we had to do and filtered water out of the melted ice from Troubles cooler and were on our way. 

    Because of the lack of water we couldn't just camp anywhere. This made our first day much longer than I think may have been ideal. Don't get me wrong, I love big miles out on trail but 27 is quite a big first day. We got into camp around 7:30pm along with Siren, Mulligan, Clint, and Galaxy girl. It was so clear the bonds that had already formed between these hikers having been on trail for 3-4 months at this point. I felt a bit jealous but I also know how fast you get embraced into the community of hikers no matter where you start. 

Other things I noted in my phone: 

- I put a huge rip in my shorts

- Peter had some chafing in his nether regions  :(

37 more days to go....

Marathon and Pole Vault