Location- Top of ridge
Elevation- 5,000 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 30.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2055.7 miles
Weather/Temp- overcast, clear, 60s 70s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 3
Another day, another 30 miles closer to the finish line. I was hiking by 7am, and for the first time since reaching Oregon, I couldn’t see the sky. It was totally overcast and chilly, with the promise of rain in the air. Broken promises today, because it never did… thankfully.
I hiked about a mile out of camp before stopping for breakfast; three old fashion donuts; I’ve been on a donut kick lately. To preserve the integrity of my donuts, I’ve been using Tupperware once again to store them. A little awkward in the pack, but it’s working AND totally worth it. Everyone wants to laugh at a hiker who carries Tupperware, until they see the pristine condition of their snacks.
It was 8.5 miles of uphill from the moment I woke up. Not terribly hard, but monotonous. At the top of the climb I found a young red headed man sitting on a rock having an early lunch. “Is this the top?” I asked, trying to make conversation even though I knew it was the top. The young man held a finger up to me, as if to say “just a moment.” He reached into his pack and pulled out a notepad, then held it up for me to read. It said “I don’t mean to be rude. I don’t speak, but I can hear you.” I smiled at him and nodded as I said understandingly, “No problem, what’s your name?” “Justin, yours?” He scribbled. “Mayor,” I replied, “nice to meet you,” as I shook his hand. “Cooly” He scribbled and smiled. “Southbound thru hiker?” I asked. He nodded. “Awesome, you got lots of great stuff ahead of you!”
Not wanting to take up his break/lunch time with him scribbling to make small talk, I decided I’d let him be. “Safe steps and happy trails Justin,” I said before a final parting fist bump.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. I was feeling really good, moving quick, and only took two real breaks all day. The longest one was over an hour at a small, simple, lakeside resort called “Olalle Lake.” I bought a few soft drinks and Gatorades, chugged them, relaxed, then began burning miles again.
At the top of my final climb, when I was debating whether to push another 4 miles, I came across a young woman who’d just set up camp. “Good evening,” I said as I walked by, prepared to keep going. She hadn’t been looking at me when I spoke, but she jumped when she heard my voice. “I’m sorry,” I chuckled. “Oh, I’m just a little spooked” she replied. “I just saw a bear two miles back.” “Ooh don’t worry about them, they never do anything.” I assured her.
Long story short, we talked a while about bears and hiking before she hinted that she would feel more comfortable not camping alone. I had my 30 miles for the day, so I was happy to oblige since I enjoy camping around others as well; especially since it’s such an uncertainty for me these days. Turns out she’s a southbound section hiker from Canada doing all of the PCT in Oregon.
My plan tomorrow is to bust out another 38ish miles to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, then stage a final sprint into Cascade Locks. The weather forecast is looking dubious at best.