Day 2: Are we there yet?

Tuesday 21st June

Start: Bushcamp, mile 1728

End: Hyatt Lake Resort

Total miles: 13.4

Today ended with a frantic power walk along Hyatt Prairie Road road in the blazing sun.  The longest 1.4 miles of my life.  We had to make it to Hyatt Lake Resort before they closed at 5pm.  On the promise of a hot meal from their cafe, but more importantly to collect a resupply box – basically if we hadn’t of made it we would have gone hungry tonight.  Success came at a cost – burning feet and Conrad’s butt chaff issues – but we made it with just 20 minutes to spare!

The reason it had taken us all day to walk 13.4 miles?  We are baffled.  I guess the fact that we still don’t have this camping lark down yet didn’t help.  From our alarm going off at 7am it had taken us nearly 2.5 hours to leave camp!  That’s a poor effort.  We must get better than that.  Even Maya the dog caught us up eventually and Brandon is carrying a 70lb pack and left camp after us!  Why are we so slow?!  We don’t feel like we’re cruising along or even breaking much.  I only hope that trail fitness finds us quick!

Keene Creek Reservoir

The scenery today was much the same as yesterday.  We were in and out of pine forest, climbing up and down at around 5000 feet.  In the sections of older growth forest it feels darker as the thick canopy of tall trees block out the light leaving the lower branches dead and stark.  The floor is coated in pine needles and cones.  A few fallen trees sometimes blocked the trail, that’s one good excuse for being slow at least.

Where is a chainsaw when you need one?
Quick on-trail breather

To our list of hiking buddies we added a new member – Joel from Portland.  He started hiking Oregon last night and hopes to complete it in 20 days! Yikes.  We couldn’t have been going too slow as we kept catching up with him for chats.  Lucky all these nice people keep finding us, as after 6 weeks in the US together what is there left for Conrad and I to say to each other?!

Conrad and I with Joel
11 miles and we finally reach water! Hyatt Lake Reservoir

Despite the difficulties faced today I think we both [secretly] still enjoyed ourselves.  It is invigorating to be out here.  That said, what has made my day is a hot shower and a pizza!  The simple things.  Also it may only be day 2 but we couldn’t resist the opportunity for a real bed and to not have to erect a tent tonight…

Home for the night 🙂

Day 1: Into the Wild

Monday 20th June

Start: Callahan’s, Oregon Interstate 5

End: Bushcamp, mile 1728

Total miles: 12.5

The day finally arrived to be let loose into the wild.  I felt a strange sense of calm – probably denial – in the cab ride to the start point.  That calm was swiftly quashed as the cab driver informed us about 2 packs of wolves now living in the vicinity. Thanks a lot! I now have the addition of wolves on my ‘things to be scared shitless of list’!

We had breakfast on the terrace at Callahan’s, a PCT haunt by interstate 5. It was a good ‘last meal’, but annoyingly we didn’t realise it was over a mile to the trail junction from there so we added a hot road walk with full packs to arrive at our official start.  The packs feel heavy.  Really heavy! In the [limited] training we did we never carried this sort of weight. It makes walking very taxing.

The first few miles took us through damp pine forest, broken occasionally with sunny meadows of long grass and wild flowers.  Whenever we saw open vistas they showed a sea of green as far as we could see.  The only exception standing out like a beacon was Mount Shasta, a pointed colossal volcano coated in show in the distance.  We could still hear the faint sound of the interstate, but it increasingly became muted by the birds.  Giant black and white butterflies hurried their wings.

Finally about 4 miles in we met another soul.  So good to know we are not alone out here!  Checkerboard Red, a solo hiker covered head to toe in this heat due to a skin issue, is flip-flopping his way up and down the PCT in an attempt to defy the weather.  I’m sure he will make it – he is averaging 30-mile days! Maybe we will met again when he turns around at some point, otherwise we are unlikely to catch him.  Shortly after we met a young female solo hiker. She had just started today too and was heading south to Etna before flipping back to Ashland and onto Sisters.  She wore an impressive-sized knife on her chest that signalled not to mess with her.  I wish her a safe trip.  She is very brave.

Mount Shasta standing proud

More people joined us when we finally reached a water source 10 miles in.  Ken came and sat with us, having started at the same point as us today on his hike of Oregon.  Whilst we were airing our feet out he started cooking like a seasoned camping pro.  The amount of food he is carrying is astonishing.  Also joining us was a couple of older local guys who have been hiking 50-100 mile sections of Oregon over the last 10 years.  They complete it tomorrow and promised to be celebrating with beers by this time!  Inspiring.  I was relived when they informed us that bears are not a problem in this mountain range, but I’m not going to take their word for it!

someone please get me a drink
lunch of champions – crisps and Babybell

We made camp 2 miles later at the next water spring hidden in a meadow.  We were greeted by Maya, a very excited retriever dog.  She carries all her own supplies whilst hiking with her owner Brandon from Tennessee.  What a companion.  Hopefully she will deter any bears too.

Maya goes for a swim

We were jealous about some of Brandon’s set up.  Chatting to him we found out he likes the camping aspect more than hiking (the opposite to us), and carries the most ridiculously heavy pack imaginable.  We could probably learn a lot from him as it took us 2 attempts to get the tent up due to an inside out rain sheet.  Ops.

Conrad needs a camp seat

It remained sunny and warm until 20:30, shortly before which another solo hiker joined our meadow campsite.  Micah is on his way up to Cascade Locks and will probably arrive there before we have even left Crater lake!  So our little community complete, we enjoyed a campfire together under a starry sky.

On a side note, I couldn’t help noticing that everyone we met today have bigger packs than us! Maybe that is a good thing – I certainly don’t think I could carry much more weight – but it also makes me question whether we have enough supplies or they all know something that we don’t?  Only time will tell.