Two days ago I finally walked across the state border into Oregon. I had been walking in California for almost four months so it was a real relief to finally be in a new state.
The Appalachian Trail on the east coast passes through 14 states, while the Pacific Crest Trail includes just three. Some people who have walked both trails say this makes it harder because you don't have many reminders that you are making progress. California certainly has at times seemed endless but it has been an amazing journey and it is very satisfying to have walked the length of America's longest state.
At the border I was met by nine goats with saddle bags and a young guy who is herding them along the trail. It was a totally unexpected sight and certainly made it a memorable border crossing. There was a register there where I was able to see the progress of my friends who are ahead of me. Marcus is flying along and had crossed 10 days earlier.
Oregon has been nice so far - the people seem very friendly and the terrain is meant to be a flatter ahead. This is just as well since I need to start doing some serious miles to get to Canada before the snow!
After finally managing my first 30 mile (48km) day I had no idea I would be attempting a 40 mile (64km) day a week later. I have been walking with 'Imfine' for a couple of weeks and he has the idea of walking a 40 mile day in each of the three states we cross. The gradient looked good the following day so I joked that we should try for his 40 mile day in California. We were a bit behind where we wanted to be anyway and the joking became more serious...
When we walk together we spend a lot of time sitting around talking so we decided we should attempt the big day independently. Also, I wanted to walk the 40 mile in one calendar day, starting early and finishing before midnight, but Imfine likes to sleep in. I set my alarm for 4am and went to bed.
I managed to get up and packed by 4:45am and I headed out into the darkness with my head lamp. The first half of the day was a far better gradient than the second, so I had decided I would need to go all out at the start to give myself a chance of getting there. I raced along, averaging just over 3 miles an hour and allowing myself 5 minute breaks every 2 hours. I kept this up for 8 hours and I had done 24 miles by 1pm. I had just walked at my top speed for the length of a working day and now I had to do it all over again.
The inevitable physical crash came a bit earlier than expected. I could hardly move after my lunch break. I was ahead of schedule so I was able to slow down, first to 2.5 miles an hour and then to 2. I staggered along through the afternoon and into the evening. I had also anticipated some sort of psychological crash, and that arrived around the 30 mile mark as it was getting dark. My mind went to some weird and wonderful places.
The hardest part of the day was the last few hours in the dark. My head lamp was failing and it was pitch dark in the forest. I went along talking to myself and hitting my walking poles together so any wild animals would hear me coming. At one point two pairs of green eyes looked at me from a few metres away, I was seriously spooked and rushed on.
I finally made it to a flat camping spot after 40.5 miles. I was totally exhausted. Imfine doesn't travel with maps or a GPS so I left my walking poles across the trial and made "40" on the trail with sticks so he would know he had made it. I got my tent up and crawled in. Imfine arrived a few hours later (before midnight!). We had done a 40 mile day in California!
I now have an official trail name - "Typo". I have actually had it for about 600 miles but I haven't had a chance to write about it. I was given my trail name by Uhaul and Scallywag around mile 700. I had cell coverage at Walker Pass and took out my keyboard to quickly write some text messages. Scallywag couldn't believe it and decided my trail name should relate to it.
I also use my keyboard it for writing this blog and my diary. It has caused a range of reactions from other hikers - some with sore thumbs from blogging using onscreen keypads think it's great, while some ultra-light hikers look at it in disgust as totally unnecessary weight. I am stuck with it now though since it is the basis for my trail name.
I am sitting in a rest area next to highway 89. There is smoke in the air from the Chips fire and pieces of ash floating past. I am waiting for darkness to arrive so I can put up my tent next to the 'No overnight camping' sign.
I forced myself to sit here and consider my options because I have been experiencing "summit fever". I have been road walking for the past four days to get around the fire and back onto the trail. The question is where to rejoin the trail.
Officially the trail is closed until Highway 36 which is at mile 1335 of the trail. This is beyond the midpoint of the trail at mile 1326. I have spotted Humbolt Road on my map that rejoins the trail before the midpoint at Humbolt Summit (mile 1315). I had be planning to take Humbolt Road and have been making phone calls this afternoon to try and ascertain the scope of the fire and how far north it extends. The fire information phone would only tell me that the Pacific Crest Trail was closed until Chester (Highway 36) and that I should hitch there. Over the past days I have felt an irrational determination to stand at the midpoint developing. I am no stranger to these feelings - there was the time I tried to cycle into the middle of Madrid on a four lane highway with five broken spokes but that's another story...
I have sat and had good look at my map. I think I have come to my senses and will walk directly to Highway 36 tomorrow morning, about 10 miles from here. Four words, "keep away from fire", in a text from my big sister helped. I have decided I need to forget the midpoint of the trail and refocus on getting to the endpoint.
Perhaps I will return one day to walk the section of trail that I couldn't and pose for a photo next to the midpoint monument. For now, I have probably just walked past the midpoint of my journey - some hard piece of tarmac along the highway or perhaps a dusty and forgotten road in the forest.
My last week has been dominated by the Chips wildfire. I first got word of the fire in Seirra City. I heard that it had closed a section of the trail up ahead but should be under control in a few days. I was still four days walk away from the affected town of Belden and it seemed it would be contained by the time I got there.
The next I heard was a couple of days later when I passed a southbounder at a road crossing who told me the fire had gotten out of control in high winds and that Belden was under threat, to be evacuated, and that the road out of Belden was closed. This created quite a dilemma. Spins and Baboon decided to hitch to Quincy and then on to Chester, north of the fire. This was probably the sensible option but I am determined to WALK from Mexico to Canada and I couldn't bear the thought of skipping a section. There was not much traffic but they eventually got a ride. I was suddenly on my own again.
I had no map of the way to Quincy but luckily a woman passed with a good forest service map. I took some photos of the relevant section and lay down in the shade to wait for the heat of the day to pass before the punishing 26 mile road walk into Quincy.
The past four days of road walking to Quincy and then beyond towards Chester have been a real journey within this journey. Parts have been along the busy and narrow highways 70 and 89. When this became too dangerous and exhausting I found a railway track to walk along and then an old quarry road. This led me over a derelict bridge bridge across Indian Creek. I found a group of locals there swimming and jumped in for a quick swim myself!
To avoid as much highway as possible I have been following old forest and gold mining roads. These have been almost totally traffic free but often straight up and down. All of this has been with full capacity of water because I have been unsure where I might find it next - even so I ran out twice but never dangerously. I changed course today when I heard nearby gun shots in the forest - probably my quickest miles of the trail so far!
I have had a lot of friendly interactions with locals, pointing me in the right direction and telling me about smaller roads to avoid the bigger ones. I have even been offered a few rides without sticking my thumb out. I am however very much looking forward to getting back to the trail which has become like a dear old friend in the three months I have known it.
My birthday started a day early when my friend Yvonne visited me in South Lake Tahoe. We went to a great Italian restaurant - Fastapasta - for lunch. The chief was a real character and when he discovered we were celebrating my birthday he gifted me a piece of his Mum's cheesecake. He lit his lighter for a candle and sang happy birthday. Yvonne gave me a real mango which I am still lugging around - waiting for it to ripen.
While it wasn't my birthday it was Spins'! She was turning 24 and her and Baboon ate all you can eat sushi for dinner to celebrate. Baboon gave her a toy marmot. Spins had made me a bracelet with the little metal letters "PCT". The clasp of the bracelet is a bear - very appropriate - although I am yet to see a real one.
We got back on the trail on my actual birthday and hiked 11 miles into the darkness. Baboon got a fire going and I was introduced to the great American tradition of s'mores. These are a combination of gram crackers, Hershey's chocolate and toasted marshmallows. We also had chocolate chip zucchini cake from Baboon's Mum. We reused the "24" shaped candles from the day before even though I was turning 26. I certainly wasn't complaining.
Map (View larger)
Recent Check-ins (View all)
21 I made it.
15 About to catch the last bus for the season out of Stehekin and planning to walk out of America in four days time on the last day of my visa...
09 It looks like some bad weather is finally on the way. My rain gear might actually get some use! Tough climbs ahead but getting closer to Canada each day and with great group of fellow stragglers.
22 Quick stop in Cascade Locks to shower, do laundry, resupply, eat and 'rest'. Across the Bridge of the Gods, over the mighty Columbia river, into Washington today - the first day of autumn.
13 Resupply for Washington all sorted with some help from Mum, who is visiting on her way home from Europe. Now it is time to escape Bend and resume the race to Canada.
Photos (View all)
30 True to the thru (Part 4 of 4)
30 The waiting game (Part 3 of 4)
30 Something was wrong (Part 2 of 4)
30 A story that needs to be told (Part 1 of 4)
21 "I knew Typo would make it" (Part 6 of 6)
19 Throwing the Hail Mary (Part 5 of 6)
10 Up and down, but not out (Part 4 of 6)
06 Crossing Cutthroat Pass (Part 3 of 6)
03 Warming up in Winthrop (Part 2 of 6)
30 We're sleeping in a toilet (Part 1 of 6)
25 Another radio interview (Audio)
21 I made it
04 Nearly there
29 Trail Magic
19 Walking with Mum
28 Cold food
28 Hello Oregon!
20 40 miles in one day
08 Official trail name: Typo
06 (Humbolt) Summit Fever
06 Road walking around a wildfire
30 Two trail birthdays
18 A picture is worth...
10 Pain and gain in the Sierra
28 Hiker hunger
27 The inquisitive marmot
19 Stage one survived
05 Live from the Mojave (Updated)
04 I just walked 500 miles...
31 Current nemesis: Poodle dog bush
23 Mexico to McDonald's
23 Gear review: Sleeping pad
18 Hot and getting even hotter
10 People on the trail: Sunset
05 Eagle Rock
03 Hiker discount: 100%
30 The beginning
25 Final preparation
17 Blogging along the way
16 No publicity is bad publicity
08 Walking before the walk
08 Maps for the trail