PCT Day 100 and 101: A reevaluation

Miles Hiked: ZERO

After the events of the last 24 hours and hiking out in the middle of the night, I spent two days thinking about my plans moving forward with the trail.

The 60 mile section between Hwy 138 and Shelter Cove have been closed. Another fire near the California and Oregon border broke out called the McKinney Fire closing over 100 miles of trail between Etna and Ashland. North of Shelter Cove another 20 miles are closed for the Lions Head fire closure. A closure that has been in place for at least three years now. Most people opt to skip more than 20 miles there because the hitching and shuttling can be logistically complicated and expensive. My goal for the year is to hike every single mile of open trail. Having my continuous footpath disrupted at mile 1872 was such a bummer. After getting through California without any issues, being in Oregon felt like a false sense of security. Especially after the small fires popping up all over the last few days with triple digit temperatures and lighting storms all over.

After all of these closures, a lot of PCT hikers have had to make hard decisions on how to beat complete their hikes. I for one, totally expected this moment coming into this hike. I just thought it would happen to me in California and I’m glad it didn’t. From the beginning I felt a sense of urgency to complete the trail before fire season started. When I decided to thru hike the Tahoe Rim Trail I knew I was taking a risk of this happening. I told myself that if a single wildfire appeared somewhere north of me on the trail while I was hiking it, I would quit and go back to making forward progress on the PCT. Had I not done all those extra miles, my continuous footpath would not be in jeopardy. Same with taking two days off for Mount Shasta. I definitely needed at least two of the 8 extra PCT zeros I took but all those extra zeros also exhausted me because I was hiking during all of them. Especially Shasta.

After reading accounts of fellow hikers who had fire much closer on their heels than I did, I realized pretty much everyone was going to have to skip massive chunks of trail. The longest section of open trail left to continuously hike between Etna, CA and Cascade Locks is now 125 miles. And I already completed those 125 miles. If I continued North from Shelter Cover I could hike 120 miles before having to shuttle around the Lions Head Closure. Many hikers who were far behind the fires are opting to skip up to Ashland or Bend Oregon. Basically every hiker south of the California border and Around Crater Lake is relocating. I’m not sure what the decision making behind relocating to Bend is because I know most people are choosing to shuttle north from there to miss over 60 miles of the Lions Head section.

I thought about what to do, and at this point I have decided to head up to the Washington border with Midnight and Trail Diva. From there we will hike North as long as we can before trail days. Then we will hitch back to Cascade Locks at the border to celebrate for two days and see all of our friends again. I had to miss AT trail days in 2019 because my best friends got married that weekend. I haven’t been able to make it to a trail days event ever since. I don’t want to finish my Triple Crown without getting to go to one of these events while I am on trail. It is a big priority for me to not miss this event. After trail days I will either first complete all the miles I have left in Oregon with hopes of the Lions head closure opening, and then do the remaining week to the Canadian border, OR do those two things in reverse direction. Either way, I will be celebrating the completion of my Triple Crown sr the Canadian border AND finishing all remaining open miles of the PCT this year. Then I will hopefully go to Leadore Idaho to finish a 150 mile fire closure I had last year on the CDT.

The idea of going to Washington is mostly in hopes that I can hike through the whole state before something else catches on fire up North. And to hopefully be able to hike the remainder of Oregon as one giant section rather than broken up.

To be honest, I’m not thrilled about possibly having more miles to finish before I hit the Canadian border. I always dreamed of finishing my Triple Crown by walking all the way North on the PCT without any gaps or flip flopping sections. Regardless I knew that this journey would not be straight forward and I’ve experienced a wild turn of events at the end of both of my other thru hikes. I can’t say I didn’t expect something like this to happen. I am stoked to be going to Cascade Locks 2-3 times instead of just once, stoked to be choosing to hike with two awesome ladies on the same page as me, and stoked to be out here on this journey regardless of things not going according to plan. I’m thankful to hear that all my other hiker friends are safe from fires and for the people on the front lines doing the dangerous work to contain these fires. Mother Nature is someone who must be obeyed.

Midnight’s friend Rigo was a huge help in driving us up to Cascade Locks and to REI where I was able to replace my shoe insoles. Tomorrow I will hike in Washington!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 99: A Wild Turn of Events

Miles Hiked: 42

PCT Mileage: 1872.1 (mileage north)

This morning I was motivated to get moving at 5am. I groggily packed up all my things and started walking down the trail at 5:15am. The trail was totally flat this morning and went through a forest of young trees. It was 10 miles to a water cache after Highway 138. There was a cache where we were camping as well but since I didn’t drink too much on my night hike last night I didn’t need to access it. Without these two caches it would have been a 28 mile water carry from the start of the rim trail to Thielsen Creek. I drank two liters of water over the ten miles to make sure I was hydrated for the day. I also used one of the Electrolyte tabs that Midnight gave me at Crater Lake. The Cache was a big one with about twenty 5 gallon jugs of water. I was so thankful for whoever did this! Here I ate some protein banana nut oatmeal for breakfast. It was delicious.

I hiked another 7.7 miles to Thielsen Creek. My feet were hurting and the second I got there I took off my shoes and started rolling them with my cork ball. It was a scenic spot with a great view of Thielsen Peak. The water was ice cold. I soaked my feet in the creek for a few moments but it was so cold it was painful and I had to take them out quickly but it totally helped! I filtered water and ate some snacks. Six miles later Diva and I took an hour long break at a great view in the shade. I rolled out my feet, stretched, ate, and just laid down trying to close my eyes. Break time goes by so fast!

After our break it was 11 more miles to Six Horse Spring where I wanted to camp. It was also the next water source. I new I would take a break between then and the water. I called my parents and got to talk to them for about 30 minutes before my service dropped. They are sending me one of my resupply boxes to Timberline Lodge in Northern Oregon. Eventually my feet hurt so bad I had to sit down and take a break to roll them out. Using my cork ball was relieving. I hiked on through the dense forest but had to stop and eat some food because I got so hungry on my way. A fast hiker named Flamingo passed me and I tried to keep up with him. We talked for two miles and the time flew by. I spotted a plume of smoke not too far from the trail. I wasn’t too alarmed because I knew that the tolo mountain fire had been burning nearby for a few days at this point and was relatively small. At camp it was starting to thunder storm but not too bad. Diva and I debated hiking farther but my feet hurt so bad I just wanted to set up camp. Hiking a few extra miles would help us with tomorrow though. It was 6pm and I was happy to be done hiking because I had hiked until 11pm the last two nights and was feeling really tired. After setting up our tents and getting everything ready, Diva and I went down to the water source together. It was a steep 0.2 miles down to six horse spring. I usually don’t like to go down to water sources that require too much effort. I did have one liter left and could have kept going but figured Diva was out of water.

Back at camp, we learned that people were getting evacuated off the trail from both sides of us. Gushers said he was pulled off trail by a Sheriff at Windigo Pass, six trail miles north of us and the next water place I planned to stop at. Another hiker let us know her tramily was evacuated off of highway 138 just south of us …

Despite hearing about other hikers getting evacuated from roads on either side of us I was still adamant about camping where I was. I had hiked until 11pm the previous two nights. The early bird schedule was all out of whack. My feet have been killing me and I was feeling like absolute garbage glow general fatigue for the past week. Just two days ago I felt on the verge of heat injury despite being a person who thrives in the heat. I wanted to stop hiking the long miles but felt motivated to get through Oregon because they were at least very easy long miles. At six horse springs I was STOKED to end a 33 mile day at 6pm. Thank god for being at camp early for once.

I smoked some weed to put myself to sleep. Hoping to wake up early and start hiking before five am the next day. I was optimistic that the Windigo Fire would be put out immediately or at least small enough to not affect the trail. At 9:45pm Trail Diva woke everyone at our camp up. “We need to leave right now. I don’t care if I am wrong. There is an uncontained 100 acre fire by us and here is the evacuation plan.” I was high, sleepy, and annoyed about hiking more. I was already so wrecked and just happy to have had a chill day for the first time in a week. Begrudgingly I packed up my tent and threw everything into my pack in a chaotic manner. I wasn’t letting the Trail Diva hike out alone in a panic. Also I admired her willingness to make the safe choice despite the odds of being wrong. Our whole camp left right behind us. The 33 mile day turned into a 42 mile day ending at 1am. I shed a few tears hiking southbound because I was so frustrated that a good day couldn’t just be a good day. We had to have a whole nighttime adventure as well. It didn’t hit me until I finally got to Miller Lake that I had actually had to hike away from a fire situation. In the past, fire closures have been put in place before I reached a location.

The next morning we hitch hiked down some forest service roads into the nearest town. The first text I received was from a mutual friend from college saying she heard about the fire and was willing to come pick me up because she knew I was in the area. Luke and Abby drove me to Shelter Cove to pick up my resupply box and Trail Diva and I headed to the nearest hotel to get some sleep. At 2pm that day we were literally yelling in excitement that we could finally go to bed.

After much thought and being able to read all of my fellow hikers fire experiences along with more information about the fires, I have decided to turn this hike into a flip flop. Fires are popping up all over the trail in Oregon and Northern California. Two days ago I sent my dad a satellite message because I was surrounded by fire helicopters scooping water out of the lake next to me. Thankfully he has been on top of any fire updates and able to stay in contact with me about them. I read about experiences of those who had hiked out of the McKinney Fire in California with fire much closer on their heels. An originally small fire that blew up unfathomably quickly overnight. One of my companions who unknowingly camped through the night and started the 24 hour challenge in that section hiked through flames directly on the trail. The choice to go to Washington hasn’t been easy but feels like the right thing to do. Not that we are any safer from fire in Washington than we were in Oregon but it seems like we can at least hike a whole state at once that feels more likely to not be in a blaze.

I am thankful just to be able to cross the California border without any issues. Going into this hike I fully expected to have to end my continuous footpath in California due to fire season. To be honest I have told myself I never felt ready to hike the PCT so soon but it feels like time is ticking on the forest fires way too fast out here. I think about how much more burn the hikers next year will have to see. Getting to Oregon was a false sense of security. It felt crazy to not have had any smoky days up until then. We all thought that maybe we picked the luckiest year to hike. Anyways, I am happy to hear that everyone made it out of the multiple fire situations safely and is seriously reevaluating their hiking plans. To me, this is what thru hiking is about. All the decisions you have to make that lead you down the craziest paths with the coolest people you never thought you’d meet. I am thankful to all of those who are on the front lines putting their lives at risk in exchange for low wages. I am grateful I am not being faced with evacuating my home as many who live in the area are. Nothing truly matters more than being safe. I am stoked for this flip flop and to experience the trail in a wildly different way than I had pictured.

Happy Trails

-Early Bird

PCT Day 98: Crater Lake

Miles Hiked: 13.6

PCT Mileage: 1839.2

Despite my intentions of sleeping in, I woke up around 6:30am at campsite C24 in Crater Lake National Park. Sherpa and Jay Bird were up and getting ready to hike out. Sherpa is doing a section with Jay Bird. They met outside of Sierra City and I actually met Sherpa there as well. It was a total coincidence that I was going to see him again. Sherpa cooked blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast on a small skillet over a camp stove. I was impressed. He gave me some pancakes and bacon before I even got out of my sleeping bag. It was amazing. I was feeling so sore that I didn’t want to move at all. Eventually I packed up my things and went to go get my charger from the bathroom. Someone stole it and I was so angry and stressed out. I can’t believe someone would take it. Luckily they left behind my cord otherwise I would have had to hitch into town to get a new one. Not being able to charge my phone on the trail would be a big problem. I wished that person would get awful karma. I walked all over the campground asking any hikers I saw about it and let them know to keep a close eye on their stuff. I went to take a shower over at the hiker campground. It was freezing cold but I took it anyway. Afterwards I stopped by the hiker box to see what food was there because I heard the general store would be an expensive place to resupply. I lucked out and got some great bars and snacks. Yay for spending less money than I need to.

I walked back over to our campsite and Gushers was there. I got so lucky because he was carrying an extra charger he found on the trail a week ago. I was so thankful it was the same exact one I lost because it was a nice one I spent money to upgrade on this trail. I hung around camp all morning just relaxing. Diva and I planned to get pizza at 11am. It was pretty great but the ice cold drink was the best part. We ended up sitting around the park all day because it was blazing hot. I watched a movie about Crater Lake at the visitor center just so I could be in the air conditioning. We hung out with Midnight and Sunny J who walked in around noon. Diva and I didn’t hike out until 5:30pm. She was nervous about the heat and I just needed a long rest off of my feet so I wasn’t motivated to leave.

At 5:30 Diva and I walked back to the trail. It was a pretty steep uphill and I felt like all the easy terrain lately has made our climbing muscles get out of shape. I was glad when we finally made it up to the rim with a view of Crater Lake. The lake was deep blue and stunning. It used to be a volcano but it erupted and collapsed into itself creating a giant caldera that gets filled with snow melt. We filled up water bottles at a bathroom before continuing on the rim trail. Views of the lake were incredible as the sun set. I think it is one of the coolest things I’ve seen on the PCT. It reminds me of the Grand Canyon except filled with water. It was a steep drop off and a long ways down from the rim to the water. I had so much fun hiking into the evening with Diva. It felt like a once in a lifetime view. Since we weren’t allowed to camp on the rim we had to keep hiking into the night. I rolled my ankle really bad for the first time since Quincy. I screamed and took a few minutes to get back up. It felt awful but I walked it out to camp. I’m glad I haven’t rolled it in so long but I’m not ready to start worrying about it again. We set up camp at the junction with the actual PCT. The stars were absolutely incredible. It was 11:30pm when I finally was all settled in.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 97: Hitting the Wall

Miles Hiked: 36.5

PCT Mileage: 1820.9

This morning I decided to sleep in since I had such a rough day yesterday. I decided I would take the day to hike alone and go my own pace and I was happy about it. I would just meet Diva in the next town because I didn’t feel good enough to keep up. Despite trying to sleep, I still left camp at 6am. An hour can make all the difference in a day. Gushers and I left camp at the same time. I took time to stretch and roll my feet before leaving. After five miles I already wanted to sit down and take a break because my feet felt so bad and I felt exhausted. The trail was flat but it still felt like it took me so much effort to move. When I went to sit down at mile five the bugs were so bad that I couldn’t relax and I had to keep moving. Luckily I only had to walk less than a half a mile before the bugs calmed down and I could sit down to eat and roll out my feet.

After my break I continued on. I had 13 miles to go from camp to my first water source but I was quickly running out of water faster than I thought. I had the option to go 0.2 miles off trail to a lake. Despite the fact that I hate going off the trail for water, I decided to take care of myself and drink all the water I needed and suck it up and do the extra miles. I was feeling absolutely terrible in every sense of the word. My upper body felt exhausted, I was super hot, and my legs felt like lead and tender to touch. I barely made it to the small lake. I decided I would sit there for at least an hour no matter what. It didn’t matter that it was late in the morning and I had hardly hiked at all. I needed to prioritize myself over the miles today. Luckily I had cell service here and I got to talk to my best friend Teresa on the phone for over an hour. I gravity filtered my water while I was talking to her. I also took some vitamins.

Eventually I continued on. It was noon and I had only hiked 11 miles. 3 more to the next water source. They went by quicker. I somehow found a sort of energy burst to get through it. Once I got to the next water I skipped it because I still had a liter. I kept walking downhill to the water at the bottom of it in Honeymoon Creek. During this time helicopters were flying all around. I originally thought maybe someone had to be rescued but the more helicopters I saw and the longer it lasted the more I realized something else was going on. Fire. They were fighting a fire. I didn’t see any smoke in the air. Eventually I could see the helicopters picking up water out of a lake about 1-0.5 miles from the trail. I got nervous and sent my dad a message on my satellite phone to see if he could check for updates about a fire by me. At honeymoon creek I realized I was going to have to do a very long water carry. The longest carry of the whole trail. 20 miles all the way to Crater Lake. I wasn’t mentally prepared. I also knew that the trail was going through an exposed burn zone directly after the water as well. It was 2pm and very hot outside.

I sat in the shade for about another hour here. I didn’t want to move. I felt like falling asleep but I didn’t have enough food to stay there and I didn’t want to hike far tomorrow. Eventually I left because I thought I should at least make it 25 miles today. Once I started walking I was drink water like crazy. Before honey moon creek I had already drank four liters. I was dehydrated and I knew it. My pee was dark yellow and I couldn’t quench my thirst. I carried 4.5 liters of water, a first since the desert. Thankfully I had the capacity to carry that at all. Eventually the trees I was under ended and I walked into a previous burn area that was completely exposed to the sun. No shade anywhere and I realized I made a mistake of starting my day so late. I am someone who thrives in the heat compared to most and I was absolutely suffering today. I got through the section five miles at a time stopping to take many breaks. I decided to keep going all the way to Crater lake. I felt like something wasn’t right with how bad I was feeling and I just wanted to get to town. I ended up drinking 3/4.5 liters I carried for a total of 7 liters for the day and my headache wouldn’t go away. I got service and found out from my dad that the fire I was concerned about was only a few miles from me at the time. It was 7:30 pm and I still had eight miles to hike. I pushed on into the night picking up my speed as it got darker. I hiked until 9:20 pm before I had to turn on my phone flash light. I stopped to grab some peanuts out of my pack for dinner.

I hit the road at 10:30pm and stopped immediately to roll out my feet. I was in so much pain but glad to be done with most of my miles for the day. All I had to do was walk down the road to Mazama Village. The stars were incredible as I walked down the road in my own silence. I thought this would be one of my fav PCT memories. Once I got into the park, I started to look for Diva. I had no idea how I was going to find her camp spot in the dark. Luckily she saw my headlamp and came to get me and bring me to a campsite with Jay Bird and a section hiker named Sherpa who I met in Nor Cal. I was wrecked but glad to be done and get to sleep. I am sleeping in tomorrow!

Happy Trails,

-Early Bird

PCT Day 96: Christi Spring

Miles Hiked: 34.5

PCT Mileage: 1785

This morning I woke up in the dark at Klum Landing motivated for a big day of hiking. We were aiming for 39 miles today. I left camp right after Trail Diva but passed her shortly on the uphill. We hike very close to the same speed all the time but I am faster on the uphills and she can out hike me on anything flat or downhill. The day started out with what looked like a big climb but it was so gradual that it didn’t feel bad at all. Five miles into the day I went off the trail to get water at a spring. I made some cold oatmeal for breakfast while my water gravity filtered and I rolled out my feet with a ball. Because I was so motivated to do the big day, I hiked super fast downhill to the next break spot at a shelter. A rare occurrence on the PCT. I was running some of it because I wanted to get a long break there. The woods were lush and green. I saw a little bear up ahead of me and scared it away by clacking my trekking poles. At the shelter I was so glad to sit down but I felt so frazzled by all the miles. It was 10am and we still had so much more to go. For some reason all these miles have felt so much harder than the same miles I was hiking before. I know for a fact that the trail has been much easier lately though regardless of how I feel.

At the shelter we saw Jay Bird again who I haven’t seen since Old Station. He hiked with Diva and myself for the next ten miles to a road crossing with a stream. I only packed out a liter of water and I was so thirsty by the time we got to the next water. On the way we went through a volcanic rock field with a view of Mount McLaughlin in the distance. I used my peak finder app gifted to me by Hikingtales.com to identify it. At the water I lounged around and took a really long break. We busted out the Hula Hoop and played with it some. Diva is trying to teach me how to get out of the hoop while keeping it spinning. At four PM we hiked on. It was super hot and another longer water carry 11 more miles. I dunked my shirt in the stream at the last chance before hiking uphill. Diva caught up to me as the sky became overcast again but I never rained. My feet were hurting so bad and I couldn’t wait to be at camp. We decided to set up camp early at Christi Spring. I was so glad. The bugs there were terrible and attacking me constantly. I set up my tent on trail for the first time in a long time. I wanted to sleep without my sleep bag on tonight because I keep waking up soaking wet with sweat. Gushers showed up and we all chatted from inside our tents at camp until 9pm.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 95: Klum Landing

Miles Hiked: 30.4

PCT Mileage: 1750.4

Today I woke up at 5am after sleeping only two hours. I ended up going outside to the porch last night because the cat was bothering me so much. It kept trying to swat my head while I was drifting off to sleep and scarring me. I was so tired and didn’t want to go back to the trail. I took a shower in hopes of feeling better and then hitched on the road with Diva at 6am. Midnight was on her way back to the trail with a friend and stopped to pick us up. In ten minutes we were getting dropped off at the I 5 exit where I hitched from two days ago. The day started with a mile road walk to get back to the trail. Then we busted out ten miles through the woods to the first water source passing Pilot Rock on the way. Today I am carrying a collapsible hula hoop. Diva knows a lot.of Hula Hoops tricks and I thought it would be a fun light thing to carry. Plus I want to try and have as much fun in Oregon as possible. I have really questioned my energy levels in terms of having the ability to Hula Hoop in the middle of a 30 mile hiking day. The hoop weighs about one pound.

At the water source, I used my gravity water system for the first time. I am so grateful. All I have to do is fill up my bag, connect the filter and water bottle, and then hang it up and it automatically filters while I relax or do other camp chores. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to do that method of filtering but I’m so stoked about it. I’ll share a picture of it on another post. I ate my rosemary break with cherry tomatoes and hummus for my morning snack. The sole of my right foot was feeling raw from my shoes and I was nervous about my feet hurting this section.

I left the lunch spot last because I was so tired. I was taking my time listening to music and walking down the trail real slow. I took several breaks despite knowing I was far behind Diva. It was hot and I wanted to catch up on my blog writing some. I met up with Diva at a water source called little Hyatt reservoir outlet. I drank an orange soda I packed out and we played with the hula hoop for the second time today. It was nice and shady after an exposed short road walk. I was glad to be resting. We stayed there for about an hour. The water was smelly so I wanted to wait until the next source in a mile to fill up more. Right before we were about to leave the sky suddenly became overcast and it started to rain lightly. A man dropped off a cooler of cold beverages and offered us a Gatorade. I was so excited about it! Diva and I hiked together while it was a little rainy and overcast. I loved it. We caught up to Gushers who I was happy to see again and we all camped at Klum Landing together.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 94: Ashland

Miles Hiked: 0

Today I took a zero in the town of Ashland. I woke up early after barely sleeping at all last night. I looked over the map of Oregon and made a plan to get around the fire closure north of Bend. It’s called “lions head” and it was been closed for the last three years. Most people are skippin more miles than is necessary to get around it but I’m not about missing miles. I’m so sad I’m going to have to miss any at all but I don’t think sneaking thru it is the right thing to do. After Diva and I woke up and got ready for the day we met Gushers for breakfast at Ruby’s. Then wr had to go to REI so I could get a new pair of shoes. Diva and Gushers both needed gear as well. REI didn’t have the shoes or insoles I have been wearing for the past 6,000 miles. One of the employees was very helpful in getting me a new shoe to try out. I am nervous to change anything!I don’t want to have foot problems again like I did on the AT. After REI we went to Trader Joe’s next door. I was so excited. They always have the best snacks I get so excited to pack out for a resupply! I wish they had Trader Joe’s along the trail more often. After that we went to the post office and then Safeway. Today felt so stressful for me. I didn’t feel like I got to relax at all. I just wanted to go to the house and lay down but I didn’t feel like I had any time for that. At Safeway I got myself food to mail to Shelter Cove where I will be in a few days. I heard the resupply there is limited and expensive. I’d rather pay to mail a box than pay double the price for food I’m not excited about. For dinner we had Indian food. I went to bed around 8pm but hardly slept because the cat was bothering me all night long. I ended up going outside to sleep and my air mattress completely deflated in under an hour probably because the cat stabbed it. That means I’ll be sleeping on the ground for the foreseeable future.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 93: Type 1 Fun

Miles Hiked: 26.4

PCT Mileage: 1717.7

Today I packed up camp in the dark. I was on the trail within 15 minutes of opening my eyes. I love being able to wake up and start hiking immediately. I left camp right behind Homebrew. I kept forgetting that we were in Oregon this morning. I had to keep reminding myself that. The vegetation was lush and a stark contrast to California. I’m surprised how quickly the trail changed. The sunrise was gorgeous as I walked down the easiest section of trail yet. I passed all the water sources until I got a to small stream that crossed the trail around mile eight. I was excited to get to Ashland today! Here I took a break and rolled out my feet and waited as everyone else showed up. I love being ahead of the group just so I can get somewhere and take a longer break before anyone else shows up.

After the break, it was uphill for a while. I hiked so fast without even thinking about it. I was on my phone as I hiked because it was the first time I had cell service in a while and I was telling my family I made it to Oregon! At the top of the climb was a cooler stocked full of sodas. Could Oregon be any more perfect? I sat on the cooler for a while taking another long break and watching as my friends climbed the hill in the distance. I had a lemon lime “Shasta” soda. I was so stoked about it because I had views of Mount Shasta this morning and I’ve been wondering where all the Shasta soda is sold!

I was behind everyone else as we descended from near the top of Mount Ashland. The trail went through an exposed field and I saw so many local people walking their dogs and hiking up the mountain. They all would stop to get off the trail for us and tell us congratulations for making it to Oregon! Near the bottom of the hill was a picnic table with a water faucet next to a house. The trail went right over this person’s driveway. The person who owned the house came out and gave us some fresh Arugula from his greenhouse. It was so good and tasted way different than the store bought kind. Then he gave us a tour of his greenhouse and I absolutely loved it. I was so jealous of all the fresh vegetables he was growing himself. Something I haven’t had access to in a long time. After the tour I stayed in the shade by the picnic table taking a long break. Everyone else left because they were in a rush to get to town and escape the heat. I didn’t care! Miraculously there was a little sign advertising free wifi. I took advantage of it and it was amazing.

I finally left my brake spot around 1:30pm so I could show up at Callahan’s just in time for happy hour. It’s a lodge at the bottom of the hill where hikers hitch into the town of Ashland from. I got there at 3:30. Homebrews parents were visiting and they let me take a shower in their hotel room before going to dinner. The lodge was probably one of the nicer places I have eaten on the trail. We found out that happy hour wasn’t on the weekends and I was annoyed I waited around for it. I could have been in Ashland hours ago if I wanted to. I had two beers, a salad, and some appetizers I split with Trail Diva before we went to the road to hitchhike to Ashland. We stood on the interstate 5 on ramp. We had to hitch on Interstate 5 before near Shasta if you remember. It wasn’t long before a local stopped to pick us up and take us exactly where we needed to go. Diva and I were staying at Midnight’s friends house. I was grateful for a free place to stay and sleep on the floor.

Once we got set up.at Emily’s house, Diva and I met up with Gushers at a Thai place for dinner. I bought ice cream and kombucha to have at the house tonight. Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 92: OREGON BABY!

Miles Hiked: 29.5

PCT Mileage: 1692

This morning I woke up surprisingly late but I was so happy I slept in for once. The sunrise was amazing as I packed up my camp and hit the trail just behind Homebrew. I continued climbing along the ridge we ascended last night. Luckily there was more vegetation and the mountainside didn’t slope off as steeply so I felt more comfortable. It was sunny and there was a constant glare on my sunglasses so it was hard to see. I caught up to Homebrew about six miles in and we sat at a small stream eating our breakfast. Here we also ran into Junior Ranger who we hiked with for a little bit afterwards. Homebrew and I stopped for another break at mile 12. Perfect break periods for me! My feet hurt so bad I need to stop about every six miles these days. I usually roll out my feet with my cork ball and stretch my calves at every single break. It honestly kind of sucks to not be able to sit down and just relax. After our early lunch or second breakfast break, I hiked alone listening to music. Water was somewhat sparse today so I made sure to fill up at every spot I passed. I was getting excited to get to the border.

At Lunch I caught up to everyone who passed me during another one of my breaks to take care of my feet. Alex Hole spring was a steep descent to off the side of the trail but it was cold and refreshing. I sat here for almost an hour hanging out with everyone and resting. It was only eight more miles to the border! This spot is also where I met Gushers who we hiked with for the rest of the day. Gushers and I were walking and talking very fast so the miles flew by. I planned to stop earlier for a break but my feet didn’t hurt too bad. There was a gushing spring coming from a pipe on the side of the trail so I stuck my head in to wet my hair. It was amazing! Before the border I stopped at a rickety old cabin on the side of the trail that is getting restored. The picnic table in front of it was so nice! Then we all stopped at the last water source of the day. It was a creek and I put my root beer can I got at Seiad Valley in it so it could get cold. I packed it out as a celebration drink to have at the border! Homebrew and I were playing a bunch of music that we thought was fitting for California.

It was exciting to finally walk into Oregon! Today is exactly three months on trail for me. Great timing to make it out of California especially with all the extra hiking on the Tahoe Rim Trail, Mount Shasta, and days off I took for injury. Time on this trail has flown by! The four of us, Homebrew, Diva, Gushers, and I all sat there for well over an hour reveling in the achievement. We all had our celebration drinks of choice and signed into the log book. We also talked about the best and worst parts of California and what we were looking forward to in Oregon. I said the worst part was taking time off for injury and when I highly considered quitting in the desert after that. I also hated saying goodbye to so many different people along the way because their miles didn’t line up with mine. My favorite parts of California were the time I spent alone in the Sierra and doing big miles catching up to Trail Diva. I had such a blast being on my own schedule and crushing it on my own. My favorite part of California was Northern California where all the flowers were.

After hanging out for so long, we walked 0.4 more miles to set up camp next to a dirt road. I was so happy to be in Oregon!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 91: Seiad Valley

Miles Hiked: 27.9

PCT Mileage: 1662.6

Last night I didn’t sleep well because there were deer walking all over our campsite. I heard other people yelling like the deer were messing with their things. I woke up at 4:30am to Trail Diva packing up her things. By 5am I was on the trail walking in the dark with my broken headlamp on the red light because the white light hasn’t worked this whole trail. Luckily it was all downhill 22 miles to town. The trail was steep and there were lots of blown down trees I had to step over. There were tons of bushes I had to push away to get through and the trail was super eroded so it was slow going for a bit. I had to straddle a big log sloping downhill over the trail at one point. When I did this my pack weight overtook me and started to pull me forwards. I tweaked my back trying to correct the movement and land on my feet instead of falling down the hill. It hurt but there was nothing I could do besides keep hiking. Eventually I caught up to Trail Diva and Homebrew. We all took a quick break to filter water at a shady stream before pushing on and hiking together. It was a lot of fun to cruise down the hill on a super easy trail after all the bush whacking was done. I can’t get over how easy a lot of the PCT is. People keep commenting about my high mileage out here but if they saw this trail vs the Appalachians or the CDT they wouldn’t be surprised at all. 90% of the time the trail is perfectly groomed and graded with an amazing view you didn’t have to do any hard work for. It has its moments of toughness for sure but they seem to be few and far between. The trail is a red carpet. I think if I had hiked this perfect trail first maybe I wouldn’t have developed a genuine love for hiking and gone on to hike anything else. It probably would have been a one and done thing for me. Luckily the Appalachians taught me to love hiking for the sake of hiking regardless of how difficult it can be at times.

Anyways, we took one more break under a bridge at a stream before doing the six mile road walk into town. Here the trail was actually on a paved road and it really hurt my feet to walk on it. I was glad we took a break beforehand because I knew this would happen. On the road walk we passed a sign that said 1,000 miles left! It hit me hard that this journey is about to be over very fast and that I should make it to Canada by September. The road was hot in the sun and I tried to stay on the edges where there was occasional shade. We passed a few signs that said “Slow Down!” And I thought it was a message from the trail to enjoy these last few weeks to the fullest extent. Because the trail is so easy I’ll still be keeping my mileage about the same to avoid boredom. And I just have a ton of fun hiking all day long. It’s why I’m out here. There were black berries just begging to ripen on the roadside. Homebrew and I would make dives into the bushes to get the few sweet juicy fruits that were available. I was happy when the road walk was finally over and we made it to the Cafe at Seiad Valley. Like a few other places on this trail, I opted to skip the cafe and eat from the general store because it appeared that I wouldn’t be served for over an hour. I was happy to get an ice cold slushy immediately and also bought some Oreos and a burrito for resupply. I still had a lot of food left from Etna. I carried way too much. Another hiker told us about a shady spot under the bridge with some cold beer in the stream. We all went down there to take a very long break and wait out the heat of the day. I ended up taking a short nap and it was great.

After hours long of resting, we packed up to hike out at 6pm. We heard the climb out of Seiad Valley was steep and exposed. We wanted to do it in the cool of the evening. Other hikers showed up at the general store and cafe while we were napping. Road Soda handed me a beer to go. I intended to save to celebrate at the Oregon border. The hike up was hot but shaded and not as bad as I had thought it would be. It is definitely one of the steepest parts of the PCT according to the miles and elevation gain I could see on the map. Honestly I think the Appalachian Trail is that steep most of the time. Halfway up the climb, I took a break to talk to Sticky. I set my pack on a log but it fell off and the beer inside the mesh of my pack busted open and started squirting everywhere. I shotgunned it all at once and then continued to hike. I just drank a beer in the middle of the hottest and steepest climb yet! Oops. Too bad I couldn’t save it for the border. This part was a little adventure because I missed the trail pretty easily by following foot prints. I ended up bushwhacking straight up a hill. It was fun for a bit. I was glad to finally get to camp in the cool of the evening with a nice sunset and a great view of Shasta in the distance. Spots were few and far between because the hillside was so steep but we made it work. What a great last day in California! Tomorrow I will cross the Oregon border. I’m so excited.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 90: Back in the Game

Miles Hiked: 32.7

PCT Mileage: 1634.6

Today I woke up at 5am to Trail Diva packing up. I was up until midnight last night and felt so sleepy still. I was paranoid about bears and had to keep getting up to go to the bathroom. Since I was already awake and had no chance of falling back asleep, I packed up my things and started hiking around 5:20. Homebrew got on the trail at the same time as me and I was happy to have someone to share the morning with. We chatted and the first eight miles flew by. It was nice and cool in the morning. The trail went through a mountainside with lots of dead burned trees. It was sad to see but there was still a lot of green since most of the underbrush had already grown back. We stopped for breakfast at a stream. I ate a banana, celery with PB, and some of my loaf of bread. It was filling.

After that, homebrew took off and I didn’t even try to keep up. I decided I was going to hike my pace today and take all the breaks I needed. It would be nice to make thirty miles but I wasn’t going to try too hard today since I was feeling so rough yesterday. Luckily today, it seemed like I felt all better again. My feet didn’t hurt as bad and I had energy for once. The trail went through Marble Mountain Wilderness Area today. I thought it was one of the prettiest parts of the whole trail. Everything was green and there were so many flowers everywhere. The purple asters were particularly plentiful today. They are some of my favorite flowers. I hardly saw anyone on the trail at all today. I was hoping Midnight might catch up or that I would run into Trail Diva but it seemed as though Midnight was far behind and Trail Diva was far ahead. I did enjoy some of the alone time to recharge my social battery. Despite appearing as an outgoing social person, I think I’m an introvert at heart. I really need to get some alone time to feel like I have energy to socialize. Sometimes I get so tired of being around people all the time I just crave some moments to myself. I got some today! I’ve been happy to be hiking with other people for so long lately but I really needed a day to be alone and do my own thing on the trail. Once thing I’ve been noticing lately is that it seems like everyone else is in a rush to get to Canada. I am feeling depressed that the trail is ending so soon. I want to slow down a bit. Every day is too good to be true and I just can’t believe how happy I’ve been out here this summer. I don’t want it to end. I also feel super emotional about almost accomplishing something that seemed like an impossible goal at one point. Getting my triple crown. There is still a lot that can happen between here and Canada though. This is the first time I feel like slowing down at the end of a trail.

Ten miles into the day I ran into Trail Diva and Homebrew as they were leaving Fisher Lake. I stayed there to dip my feet in the water and watch some of the newts swimming around. I wanted to get in the water but I was feeling too anxious today. Water is one of my biggest fears. I left shortly and picked up water at a cold stream. It was hot and exposed. I kept dipping my hat in small water sources and dumping water on my head to cool off. I wished the streams were bigger so I could dunk my whole head in one.

For lunch, I took an hour long break at a nice flat campsite. I ate my loaf of bread and some chocolate. Then I did some stretches and straight up layed in the sun and closed my eyes. It felt so nice and not a single person passed by in the whole hour. A rare thing on the PCT it feels like. After my break I had a lot of energy so I hiked the next few miles through bright green over growth really fast before taking a break at the base of marble mountain. I considered climbing it but decided it was too hot. Instead layed down for 30 minutes. It was awesome.

After my break I had more energy once again. I cruised six miles very quickly to a lake. The lake was super pretty and I wanted to get in but it was muddy and shallow. I took an hour long break to eat dinner and still didn’t see any of my friends. I decided to stay another half an hour. Trail Diva and Homebrew came. I was surprised to see them. I thought they were ahead but I walked by while they were napping out of sight. I was glad to see them because I had discovered that my Spotify account was logged out today so I had nothing to listen to. I wanted their company for the last six miles to camp. It was nice.

Today was one of my favorite days on trail so far. Just a genuinely good day of hiking. I should be crossing the Oregon border in three days and I’m so excited!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 89: Etna

Miles Hiked: 2.3

PCT Mileage: 1601.9

Today I slept in until after 8am. A sign I am super exhausted because it’s usually really hard for me to sleep in. My feet were still swollen and everything hurt. I didn’t want to get out of bed. So I didn’t. Not until around 10am. Then I went to the Barkery in town to pick up breakfast for everyone and I bought a giant loaf of day old country french bread to take on the trail. I’ve always wanted to do a loaf from a bakery! It will be a lot to eat on my own. I also got us all smoothies. I was so thankful to Midnight for the surprise hotel room! We were planning on camping in the park where hikers are allowed to stay. I think it’s awesome this town even has charging, a shower, and a hiker box for the hikers at the park along with the $5 camping.

After breakfast I took a bath in the giant tub with Epson salt. It’s the biggest bathtub I’ve ever been in. We had to check out by noon so I got all my things together and went to the store to resupply. The grocery store was so expensive. $5 for a jar of peanut butter. I decided to get peanut butter and most of my other snacks from the hiker box in the park. Since it was only a two day food carry, I bought some fresh food including celery and bananas. After that I hung out with the other hikers in town at the library. The town allows free swimming at the public pool between 1 and 5pm so we all went. I took a quick dip but I’m not the biggest swimmer. It was fun to hang out with everyone else including Chewy and Road Soda.

Before getting back on the trail, we got dinner at Dotty’s with Juliana who gave us a ride. Juliana’s husband “Walter White” is thru hiking this year and she follows him around in their RV. She drives hikers to the trail in her spare time. I got a jumbo banana milkshake with chocolate syrup. I honestly felt sick after it because it was so big. It was 6:30pm by the time we got dropped off. I was happy to be back on trail but I didn’t want to hike far. I was still hurting so bad and knew I needed rest. We only hiked 2 miles and I was so happy we did. I didn’t want to night hike or do much at all. It was the perfect amount to hike. I knew that after once more night of rest I would feel better tomorrow. We set up camp in a flat area with lots of dead tree branches. Chewy, Road Soda, Galleleio, and Homebrew all camped nearby.. it was fun to see them! I talked to chewy and Home Brew a lot before falling asleep. It was nice to be on trail with Midnight again too.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 88: Payne Lake

Miles Hiked: 30.9

PCT Mileage: 1599.7

This morning I woke up feeling well rested for the first time since before climbing Mount Shasta. Getting to camp by 8:30 last night really helped me get a full night of recovery. One thing I have been doing before I go to bed to help with recovery is drinking a protein shake. I think it makes a huge difference in how I feel the next day. Anyways, I was hiking by 5am this morning. The first time I’ve been on trail early in a long time. Trail Diva woke me up and we headed out together. I hiked the first ten miles alone to a nicely flowing water source. The trail went mostly downhill through a burn area but this looked like maybe it burned several years ago. It was a really easy ten miles. I listened to music and I was happy.

At the water source, I made a butterscotch pudding and drenched all my clothes to make them cool because it was already getting hot. Trail Diva caught up to me here but I hiked on. From the water source it was mostly uphill and exposed on the side of a mountain. It just kept getting hotter and I was glad I had music to distract me. I stopped and chatted to a SOBO for a few minutes. The SOBOS had a rough start this year. There is still a significant amount of snow in Washington so anyone who started early ended up skipping Washington or doing a flip flop hike. Complicated logistics from day one. I was thankful we are hiking North and hope the snow melts off by the time I get there! They had a higher than average snow year in Washington this year.

I was excited to get to town but I didn’t want to rush it because my feet were hurting so bad. I still took all the breaks I needed to. At Payne Lake I walked straight into the lake to cool off. I didn’t bother to take off my socks, shoes or any items of clothing. I figured it was so hot it would dry within an hour or two. I also don’t like touching things on the bottom of a lake with my feet. It cooled me off but the lake water wasn’t that cold. Diva and I walked the last six miles to town together. We were both struggling today with the heat. This has been a tough section. Midnight is slack packing 40 miles today. She went into town yesterday because she didn’t feel well. I’m not surprised because I was feeling so tired too. I think Shasta kicked everyone’s butt. Midnight surprised us with a hotel room tonight so we were really looking forward to town.

Once we got to the road, we got a hitch within 10 minutes despite the odds not looking good. A hiker couple on vacation for a week drove us down the long windy road into Etna in their pick up truck with our packs in the back. I’m looking forward to the next time I get to ride in the back of the truck.

Etna was even hotter than the trail because it was lower in elevation. We went to the only food place open. Paystreak. I got a Ruben sandwich and a Porter beer. I’m not a big meat eater or dark beer drinker but they both sounded good. I listened to a band play at open mic and just stared into nothingness because I was so tired I could barely function. Midnight made it into town just after us. Record timing for doing 40 miles today. She ran some of it. I was so impressed she did all that while she wasn’t feeling good. We met up with her at the hotel which was amazing. We had a giant room in a historic looking house. I did most of my chores including washing my cold soak jar, sorting through my food and garbage, and cleaning my water filter in the massive kitchen downstairs. I got a roll out bed to myself. After a shower I fell asleep really early. I was so tired and my feet were swollen.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 87: Trinity Alps Wilderness

Miles Hiked: 37.2

PCT Mileage: 1568.8

This morning I got on trail around 6am. I was hurting before the day even got started. The morning was pretty with a sunrise over Mount Shasta. I hiked the first eight miles alone. It was pretty easy but my feet were hurting. I took a break at a trailhead to eat some snacks because my stomach was already growling despite eating breakfast two hours earlier. The forest was super pretty and I listened to music to entertain myself. Trail Diva passed me while I was taking a break. I caught back up at the next water source. I took a short break before pushing on. I really struggled today because we were trying to hike 37 miles without night hiking and I was feeling really tired. It was super hot and I hiked with Trail Diva a lot to distract myself.

My feet were killing me by the end of the day. I stopped to roll them out using my ball very frequently. The last part of the day was the prettiest part of the trail. It went through Trinity Alps Wilderness. The rock was red and looked awesome in the evening sunlight. The flowers were amazing at sunset as well. We arrived at our Beautiful campsite in perfect timing. I never had to pull out my headlamp or anything. Midnight never ended up catching up to us. The past two days have been two of the hardest days I’ve hiked on the PCT this year. I think Shasta took a lot more out of me than I realized. Then the next day I did 30 miles and over 7k of vert coming out of town late into the evening. Then followed with a 37 mile day today. I can’t wait to get some rest in the next town.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 86: Castle Crag State Park

Miles Hiked: 30.4

PCT Mileage: 1531.6

This morning I woke up at 5am at the KOA campground. I didn’t sleep much last night because a bear was in the campground and I could hear another site yelling at it. I could also hear it getting in the dumpster. The campground host let me know a bear got into a PCT hikers backpack four days ago. They had no food storage options available at all. I can’t believe how casual they were about bear problems. I took a shower to rinse off and left the campground with Diva and Midnight. We saw the dumpster trash everywhere from the bear last night on the way out. Before hitting the trail we went to a coffee shop where I got a latte, a smoothie, and a burrito for the trail later. We hitched on the side of the road for about 15 minutes before getting picked up. On the way to the trail we saw a dead bear on the side of the Highway. It was sad.

We got dropped off at the trail at 9:30am. It was already hot. There were about ten other hikers also getting dropped off too. Today the hike was almost entirely uphill. It felt never ending at times but luckily the grade wasn’t too bad. The trail went through castle crags State Park so it was signed very nicely. The first part of the day was mostly shaded and then it was exposed for a long time. I was happy I packed out a burrito. It tasted better on the trail then it would have in town. When it was exposed and hot I could see a good view of the Castle Cragg. I know it was in the 90s. I stopped about every six miles or so at water sources. The goal was to get thirty miles out of town today but it was hard to do with a late start. I knew I would end up having to hike in the dark. Midnight ended up taking a couple hours long break to avoid the heat and falling behind Diva and I. I hiked the last part of the day talking to Diva which was nice, especially when it was dark. The sunset on the way to camp was amazing. I love hiking at that time of day but not much longer after. It was 10pm by the time we got to camp and I was so exhausted. I looked at the elevation and we ended up climbing 7.7k of vert today. After Shasta that was a super hard day. No wonder I was feeling so tired. My muscles were hurting in ways they don’t normally hurt. I think it’s because Shasta was so steep it used different muscles. I set up a cowboy camp close to Diva’s tent and fell asleep looking at the stars.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird