We Can Do It! -On What I Learned Form Hiking With Women

IMG_8535The first night of the girl crew wasn’t planned. Dimples and I had agreed to hike together at White Pass, our most recent town stop. Agreeing to hike with anyone was hard for me, I had just hiked Oregon solo and the freedom to come and go from town on my own schedule and camp where ever I want was worth cost of camping alone sometimes and the annoyance that most pictures of me hiking were ‘selfies’. Or so I thought. Soon enough though on my zeroes I noticed how enjoyable it was just to have company and be reassured by conversation that I wasn’t the only one who felt the same way about the challenges and the rewards that the trail dishes out so generously. When I hiked into White Pass after camping two out of three nights alone, I was starving for company.

I had recently come off a five-day delay due to a shin splint. At this point in the game that meant the shiny October 1st finish date everyone was striving for was probably not going happen for me. It took time and frustration, but I was beginning to be ok with that. I stumbled into White Pass frustrated and lonely, but I was met with excellent company. A much-needed three days of giggling and shenanigans later we realized we should hike to a stop with more than a tiny store, deep fryer, and single hotel. Dimples and I had been friends, but become closer friends at White Pass and we decided to hike together.We_Can_Do_It!

No more camping alone, and someone to share conversation with over jet boil dinners was the change that I needed. Coming off of the shin splint my hiking pace was slow and I often showed up to camp after Dimples. The third night was the hardest, it was about sunset and I still had two miles to go at least. That’s about 45 minutes in the dark. I’m not sure how they plan this, but the best camping spots are always within the first 0.5 miles after you’ve made the decision to night hike. I fought and fought the longing to get out my tent and curl up in my warm sleeping bag, rather than walk alone through the dark. But I stuck with it, and I stuck with the decision I made about having a hiking partner.

I survived the 45 minutes, and was so happy to find a little note on the trail that read “Blueberry!” with an arrow. I followed the side trail and came up to Dimples and Handstand who welcomed me to a campfire. Not just any campfire but one with wine, chocolate, and endless giggles. What a night, and the start of a week that had more in store for us than we ever could have asked for. We stayed up late, relaxed and enjoyed coffee in the morning while waiting out the rain and eventually packed all our stuff and hiked out. The following days were nothing but detour-adventures and giggling. Who wants to hike in the rain anyways? We finagled a ride to town, filled up on pizza, and camped in a place that most definitely wasn’t a campground.

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The guy-girl ratio on trial is much heavier on the guy side. The guys are awesome, but being with girls was such a fun change. Nothing was a race, everything was a conversation, and of course they have been craving a pumpkin spice latte too, duh. I could write for hours about nothing but reasons behind the conclusion everyone shared after meeting Madison, Meghan, and Makenna: three girls who just hiked to Washington all the way from Mexico. The unanimous “you girls are crazy” followed by a slow headshake. Maybe sometime I will, but this isn’t about what I learned about adventure, it’s about what I learned about friendship.

The intensity of friendship on the trail is high. You’re with your hiking partner all day, and even though you sleep in your own tent at night if anyone snores you’ll know exactly who. You get to know people in a way that means you know what their grandma is like and the name of their childhood dog long before you know their last name. This is true for guys and girls, and any hiker could tell you why the friendships that they made on the trail are meaningful. But especially in the time I spent with Handstand and Dimples, I feel like I was afforded the privilege of growing a lot. We are all likeminded, smart, driven women. We all worked hard in the years leading up to the PCT to be able to be there, and we all have the tendency to be a little too hard on ourselves sometimes. I felt so confident encouraging them. It was easy to say things like “Of course you should text him and see where he is! It’s cute, and I’m sure that any guy in his right mind would be pumped that you asked- you’re awesome”

Pushing myself, however, was way less easy. Surely the guy receiving the same text form me would think I was a total weirdo. But the more I shared my insecurities with them, the more they knocked them down. Slowly I started to see myself the way that they see me. So much differently- and actually almost identical to the way I look at them. It began to occur to me that if I wouldn’t say something to Handstand or Dimples I shouldn’t be saying it to myself either. I would never tell them that they were idiots, that they really should have had it together in town and shaved their legs. I wouldn’t say that they need to hike at least 20 miles today and that dark, cold, being hungry, and rain are not excuses. I would never mention that the waist belt on their pack made them look kind of fat. But that’s stuff I said to myself all the time.

I’m so happy that I’m not the only one who caught on here. If Dimples caught me zooming in on myself in pictures she kindly took my phone or camera from my hand and shut the screen off. When I came to her with a problem or a concern that was rooted in the fact that “I’m such an idiot” she was never late to stop me and say, “Blueberry, you are not an idiot” followed with a reason why that made a lot more logical sense than the reason I originally had. Her persistence to correct all of my negative comments turned out to be even stronger than my persistence to keep making them. I know that not hearing “I’m such an idiot” was a nice break for her, but the difference it made for me to learn not to say it is immeasurable.

With their encouragement I started to see that what I look like in pictures is just fine, and I quit hesitating about posting them. I stopped myself before saying I was an idiot. When I saw myself in the mirror, my body smaller than its been since high school, rather than thinking of all the places I still saw room left for improvement I thought “My body has hiked over 1,000 miles, that’s incredible” and I continued with my day, refusing to spend any more time on that.

What I learned from hiking with women is all about friendship, it’s all about encouragement, and it’s all about real beauty and where that comes from. The way that women, that friends, talk to each other is so important. Dimples, Handstand and I all could have critiqued each other, we could have raced everywhere and been defensive about all the challenges from the summer. But we weren’t. We were kind, respectful, and understanding. Instead of seeing each other as competition we saw each other as allies, and we stood in each other’s corner. I know that the time we were together was special because we all still talk, but I feel so especially lucky to have experienced friendship like that. To realize the difference that it makes in friendship when you build a person up despite their efforts to tear themselves down, and to see firsthand how it can change the way that person looks at themselves.

This isn’t what I expected to learn on the PCT. Three months post-hike though, it’s something that has stuck with me the most. The way I choose to look at myself is something that I truly have control of. So seriously, think about the way that you talk to yourself. Think about how you would sound saying things like that to your friends. You probably wouldn’t have many friends left. Remember that all of those things that aren’t true about your friends aren’t true about you either.

When I finished the trail I was on the phone with a friend who asked if I was skinnier. I responded “I don’t know” and I honestly didn’t, having not been on a scale in four months, so I finished with “but I’m happier, and I respect my body a lot more”. Hearing myself say that and knowing that it was true was a bigger relief to me than any number flashing on a scale could be. So I’m happier and I respect my body. I have incredible friends and lessons in friendship to thank for that. Like everything else I experienced on the trial, this left me with overflowing gratitude. Rather than letting it well up inside me though, I’m trying to be the kind of friend to others that Dimples and Handstand are to me.

I hope that you think about it too, and see that time spent tearing yourself down is time wasted. Realizing how untrue all of those horrible things are is liberating. I’d even say its as liberating as standing somewhere on a trail with five days of food and nothing to do but keep walking and discovering the breathtaking places just ahead of you. Plus it doesn’t require that you quit your job or buy any one-way tickets. So give it a shot.

And if you need any help, just ask Taylor. She knows all about it

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How Wild is it?

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In the summer of 2012 I laid in a tent on the Middle Fork Trail in Chugach State Park Anchorage, Alaska. After a 10 hour day of trail building I found the energy to turn on my headlamp and start the new book I bought to read during this camping trip, Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail. As I read the introduction of the book and her description of the Pacific Crest Trail: three states, nine mountain ranges, “A world that measured two feet wide and 2,663 miles long”. I thought to myself Maybe someday I could do that trail then more seriously and after looking around my tent who am I kidding? I hate camping, I’m never doing this again. I finished the camping trip (after only one threat to hike 3 miles back to sleep in the van for the night after finding a spider in my tent) and I kept my resolve, I hated camping. When the summer finished I loved hiking so much I used some of the money I earned to buy myself my very first pack –but only 30L, so if anyone invited me camping I could kindly say “I’m sorry, my pack is too small I can only go for the day”
My enthusiasm for camping was much like my enthusiasm for the book. I read 40 pages and put it down. One of my best friends had recently experienced the loss of a child and almost lost her own life in the process. There were times when I couldn’t pass a new baby in the store without crying. As Cheryl discussed her decision to abort a pregnancy, I closed the book.
Still, I never forgot about the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m not sure exactly where my drive to do it came from. I wanted an adventure and to see the world. Also I had just graduated after four years of college while working full-time as well as seven years of consistently being in a relationship. Just reading that now is exhausting. I felt that I had no idea how to be alone and if I was alone I felt no confidence in that I would know what I wanted vs what I was supposed to want. So the Pacific Crest Trail was about ‘taking the bull by the horns’ and taking the time to figure all of this out for myself.
I hiked 1400 miles, and last night I saw the movie Wild with my family. I wouldn’t let my dad go until he promised he wouldn’t take back all my Christmas presents after.
kideyesSo we all piled in the car to the movie theater. If you live in Alaska Wild just came out on Christmas Day, not December 5th like in the United States. You know, that place where they qualify for free shipping and get to stay home for the day after a snowstorm. I hear they have newer music than ours too.

So I watched the movie, and every time she passed that triangle that says Pacific Crest Trail my heart ached to go back. The signs were among the only rendition of the trail that made me want to hike though. Many of her hiking scenes were of her out of breath, cursing, removing whole toenails, or crying inconsolably. It’s not always glamorous, and there were a few curse words and even tears, but most of my memories of hiking are listening to Taylor Swift while scaring the deer with my off-key singing, walking up on elk, taking pictures, and thinking of all the things I could cook if only I had a kitchen or the places I want to drive someday in my dream classic Mini Cooper.

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The part of the movie that was the most different from my summer was her interactions with people along her journey. There are many more hikers today than there were in 1995 and I didn’t spend nearly the amount of time alone that she did. That was a difference I expected, but when she did meet people, especially in town, they were all creepy. I didn’t meet a single person in town who made me feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The support from people who I didn’t even know was overwhelming, and it was my favorite part of the trip.
A volunteer at the San Diego Airport wanted to drive us to the trail head and when we said no because we still had to go to the store and post office he took us to the store, the post office and the trail head.
Later in California I went to a gear shop to look at trekking poles and after I learned that they cost $100- $150 I walked out of the store without any, trying to figure what else I could do. The man working followed me out of the store onto the deck with a pair of Lekis (extremely nice poles) that had a very minor problem with a spring and said “just mail them back whenever your done”
In Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes I had bad sunburn and people who I didn’t know came up and offered me their sunscreen.
I hitch hiked and people were never scary, they were always kind and shared stories about either their own adventures something like the PCT, or the adventures of someone they know or are related to who is ‘crazy’. One lady who gave Josh and I a ride ran into me at the grocery store and stopped me to say thanks for us sharing stories with her husband because he was having an especially bad day and she could tell that talking with us made him feel better.
In Oregon a friend of a friend from Alaska (who is now a friend of mine) met me at the trail with beer, ice cream and fresh fruit.
In Washington a hiker out for the day who I just met asked me about my gear, and when I said in passing that I wish I had a down sleeping bag he gave me his.
Again in Washington I hitchhiked with Dimples and Handstand, someone bought us breakfast after hearing what we were doing and everyone we met offered their phone number to let them know when we make it to Canada safely.
I met a little boy in Washington who was probably 5-years-old like the boy she met in the movie and instead of telling me his family issues he introduced me to his dog named Buttons and asked if I know what P-O-O-P spells.
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This list could be so much longer.
I understand that danger is present in the world, especially for a woman traveling alone, but I was saddened to see people along the trail portrayed as creepy and scary and not as beautiful, helpful, and kind as they are so many times.
As much as the people and the back story were differed from mine, the conclusion of the movie was beautiful. The book says “Thank you I thought over and over again Thank you” and that is exactly the feeling I had for the last thirty miles of the PCT. I was thankful, for every time that I was scared because it was an opportunity for me to face what I was afraid of and to come out stronger on the other side. For every time that I had to eat oatmeal or ramen again, because it made me appreciate food in town more than I would have ever known you could appreciate food. For every time that I wasn’t sure how to get to where I needed to go and I had to ask for help, because it gave me a chance to meet wonderful people and learn that you can’t control your whole life. For every time that I cared about someone or someplace but knew that I had to choose to continue hiking, because being saddened by leaving means that I found something wonderful and was strong enough to see that. And because I knew that continuing to hike was my choice, and truly what I wanted. When I saw the highway in Manning Park that marks the end of the trail I closed my eyes and thought “no no no this isn’t over”
Cheryl said it: “To know that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life- like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.
How wild it was, to let it be.”
On the trail there is a famous saying “hike your own hike” and it sort of translates to “namastae”. It means that your hike is yours, you know when you need a day off, when you need to camp, when it is finished. It means that I don’t have to make the same choice as you, but your hike is still something that I respect and I also respect you. I feel that Cheryl’s famous line “How wild it was, to let it be” is a reiteration of this and as a fellow hiker, I respect Cheryl and her hike. Even more though I respect the Pacific Crest Trail for its ability to ignite this perspective in so many different people with so many different stories.
Maybe watching the movie Wild won’t make you want to go hike, but I hope that this will. I promise that it’s not all creepers and bloody toenails. Don’t hike Cheryl’s hike or Reese Witherspoon’s hike or my hike, but hike your own hike and see for yourself just how wild the world is. Like a wise past thru-hiker once told me “You will never regret it.”
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Started from the bottom now I’m here

I finally have a computer again (and even electricity to plug it in!) so I’ve put some of my picutres and videos to music to remember my trip. It’s a bit long but so is walking across the country I suppose. Hope that you check it out and enjoy it!
Thanks so much to my family and friends on trial and off who made this summer one to remember. I already can’t wait for the next adventure.

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Wander a whole summer if you can -JM

Now that I’ve finished the trail it occurred to me that my latest blog update was from being hurt in Trout Lake. Whoops. I got better, and hiked over the beautiful goat rocks to White Pass.

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As far as resources go, White Pass is one of the less exciting stops on the trail. I planned to be in and out of there, but it turned out to be so full of hikers that everyone stayed a while and had an awesome time.

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That’s a bit of the shennagains.

Leaving Trout Lake Dimples and I decided to hike together for a while. It turned out to be one of the funnest decisions I’ve made all summer.

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Cooking up trouble

So we hiked for a couple days and then camped with Handstand. A campfire, wine from a Gatorade bottle, chocolate and girl talk. It was what we all needed. After that we went on a short hitch hiking adventure around the central Washington area.

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We met hunters who refused to believe we were anything but ‘granola bar eaters’, a guy from corporate Starbucks, semi truck drivers and a lot of other all around fantastic people who live in Washington. All of them gave us their information to let them know when we got back to the trail safely.
When we weren’t hanging out with new people we were scoping out some camping spots- of the stealth camping variety.

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We were lucky enough to have packed up with in minutes of when the sprinklers came on. Before too long it was time to get back to the trail, and we met more hikers in Snoqualmie Pass and made our way down the Goldmeyer Alternate Trail which is the only way to get to Goldmeyer Hot Springs during the week. Lucky for us we were the only ones who hiked in and we had the place to ourselves.
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Sadly for Dimples and I, Handstand got off trail at the hotsprings. On the bright side though it was ‘see you soon’ and not ‘goodbye’ and we all have plans to travel together again, the party has truly just begun.
Dimples and I kept on hiking to the Dinsmores and on to Northern Washington. Most of the hype of the beauty of the trail is focused on the Sierras, and for good reason, but Northern Washington continually took my breath away. It was beautiful with long steady climbs that carry you to views that definetly compensate your efforts. Despite the warning of every local since Trout Lake we didn’t see hardly any snow. October 18th was our finish date- quite late for an average thru hike, but I’m glad I took the time to make the most of the last of the trail. Hiking through the changing leaves was stunning, and the towns like Sthekin and Mazama were to charming to hurry away from.

Sthekin is located on the beautiful lake Chelan and can only be accessed by hiking, a ferry, or a plane. It’s got a killer bakery though and is like a little town lost in time, so much fun.

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Dear Santa,
If your reading this I would just like to take a second and remind you how good I have been this year as well as how much I could use a float plane up in Alaska. Something to think about
-Blueberry

Mazama is a bit bigger than Sthekin, but just as charming and there is a wonderful Trail Angel, Ravensong, who is putting up hikers there and helping with planning for the last stretch of the trail and where to go after that. She’s so awesome we did the bit of the trial north of her south-bound so we could stop by and see her again.

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After leaving Mazama the second time we hitched up to Harts pass for the last 40 miles.

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Finishing the trail so late in the season was a gamble with the weather. There were a couple not so fun days of rain but overall we were so lucky. Hiking through fall was beautiful
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Jambo and Apple Butter joined us and I feel so lucky to have finished with such a great crew. As you would imagine, the miles flew by and all the sudden we were at the monument.

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After the border there are 8 miles to Manning Park Lodge. We camped just past the monument and celebrated with a big fire and some salmon Mac and Cheese dinner (so good) then did the eight miles in the morning. I was so sad to see the road that marks the end of the trail I immediately shut my eyes and pretended I could keep walking. I’ve cried twice, once when there was less than 100 miles left and once the first night when it hit me that I have to sleep in a real bed for a while now probably, and I can’t look at the stars as much. I realize that most people would cry if they had to walk so far and sleep outside, but I’ll truly miss it. Well, at least until next summer 😉

So that has been the crazy roller coaster, and I am working on another post that’s more of a reflection instead of about what happened and I hope to have that up soon. Thanks so much for reading this summer and for all of the encouragement. I would never have made it if it wasn’t for the overwhelming support I have received from my family, friends, trail angels, and just all around kick ass people who I shared my summer with.

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No Stops, No Slows

My hike to Cascade Locks went great. Timberline lodge was the perfect place to wait out a storm, and the fifty miles ahead were beautiful and sunny. I took two trail alternates: Ramona Falls and Eagle Creek. Both of which I would recommend, they were stunning.

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Ramona Falls

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Between the two I hiked through a sunset which was so pretty.
The following morning I set out on Eagle Creek. Tunnel Falls is on the Eagle Creek Trail, it’s a waterfall that the trail goes behind. I have seen pictures and looked forward to it since I started planning this trip, it was so exciting to see and worth the anticipation.

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After that it was a quick hike to Cascade Locks and the Bridge of the Gods.

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I gave up a lot of comforts to hike the PCT: Showers, Electricity, sleeping all night. You know, the small stuff. Thanks to Shannon I still get my fix of Kaladi brothers coffee.

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She sent me a most excellent care package, and now I have enough coffee and snacks to conquer all of the climbs in Washington. #shannonrules
I spent the night in Cascade Locks with great friends and then a few of us
decided to get a ride 77 miles north to Trout Lake, WA and hike southbound back to Cascade Locks for a Trail Days event that was planned for the weekend. South bounding was a great idea, except for that we only had about two and a half days to do the 77 miles. That’s quite an undertaking. We had a saying “no stops, no slows” which would have been effective if we actually acted on it.

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That’s me trying on other peoples hats and not hiking. Bad for miles, but it looks cool 🙂
So we did 5 miles the first night, and then decided to camp early with some friends we ran into. So that leaves 72 miles for the next two days. So in the morning, we were off. And by we were off I mean Mary Poppins and Apache were off, hoping for a 35 mile day.

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I hiked 25 miles before sunset then I got out my headlamp, thinking I’d do the 10 more and meet them in a few hours. It was a good plan until I crossed a spider on the trail almost the size of my fist, and decided to stop at the next campground and put my tent up, where the spiders couldn’t get me. A 26.5 mile day.
I started hiking early the next morning and planned to make it to cascade locks by Saturday around noon instead of Friday night. Some northbounders told me about a road walk though, which was between 16 and 20 miles shorter. That makes the difference between Friday night and Saturday afternoon so I decided to take it. It was an alright road walk, and I made it to Cascade Locks in time to watch a beautiful sunset over the Columbia River.
I had a great time at Trail Days and got some time to hang out with Polar Bear who I ran into for the first time since Mammoth Lakes (before Yosemite) and Vegenaise who I haven’t seen since Ashland.

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Cascade Locks is a really fun town and I didn’t want to leave but had to get back to the trail. Rock Ocean brought us back to Trout Lake and we started the hike north again with hopes of catching our friends who had skipped Trail Days. I made it six miles and got really sharp pain in my shin. Not good. I tried stretching it and walking through it for another five miles before I had to stop. I camped early and had a nice quiet fire. The next morning wasn’t any better so I spent the whole day hiking the eleven miles back to Trout Lake to get better. I think it’s a shin splint that just needs rest and ice, but a major bummer for the time I was making. So I took two days off and I will be able to hit the trail this afternoon, and hopefully catch my friends ahead before too long. This is the first time have been hurt all summer and it’s a bummer, but I’m glad that it’s not serious.

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Here’s to some views that are better than this! Happy Trails

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Cascade Locks and counting

My time in Oregon is coming to an end quickly as I am almost to Cascade Locks, on the the Oregon/Washington border. I am happy to report that I haven’t seen any more lightning, and I have enjoyed Oregon and it’s beautiful weather so much. Crater Lake was stunning, but too foggy for a sunrise. It was a good morning anyways and the hike after was enjoyable.

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I came across Mt.Theilsen shortly after and it looked like about a mile hike to the summit. So I decided I’d give it a shot, hoping I’d be able to see Crater Lake from the top. Turns out you can see Crater Lake from the top, but it also turns out that Theilsen is quite the technical hike once you get up there. After dropping my pack and still not feeling good about the climbing involved I decided to hike back down before the summit. So I don’t have an exciting near-death story, but I did make it back to the PCT in one piece so I’m happy for now to settle for that.

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That’s Thelisen. A fun afternoon trek

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Oh yeah, and some views

After Theilsen I hiked to Shelter Cove and took my first zero day since leaving Ashland. It was a great time with a lot of hikers. I did a lot of swimming in the lake, mostly by myself because everyone else kept saying something about the water being ‘too cold’ Pffft. I guess everyone can’t be from Michigan 😉
So I hiked out of Shelter Cove which is a lot harder than it sounds considering how many people there were there to hang out with, and headed north.

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Coming into Shelter Cove I had hiked all day and passed hardly any people. All of the time alone and the walks through the woods makes for some good listening to music or podcasts. And in some cases, like when it’s flat or downhill I may even get to singing a bit while I walk. As I imagine your probably aware Taylor Swift released a new song recently and it’s quite catchy. So while I was hiking alone and probably singing really loudly (maybe, maybe not) I decided to make sure no one was behind me. Sure enough right behind me was a guy I didn’t know. What other kind of luck could I have. So, uh, shake it off, right Taylor?
I made a recovery that I consider decent considering the situation, and he was very nice, which helped.
I never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet
Or at least I’m, uh, getting there.
I’ve done a little less singing since and a lot of laughing about the whole thing.

There has been a lot of climbing recently which makes singing challenging anyway, but I think the other hikers have been enjoying the beautiful views (and silence) as much as I have. I hiked past the three Sisters, Mt.Jefferson, Mt.Washington, and Mt.Hood. All stunning. Oregon has been a great time, and I’m excited to get to Canada but sad to be leaving.
While I’ve been in Oregon I’ve set three personal records:
1. I hiked 3.5 miles in one hour
2. I hiked 28.5 miles in one day
&&drumroll
3. I hiked 100 miles in four days

Each of those was about as hard as walking out of timberline lodge this afternoon and away from the awesome friends and breakfast buffet going on here will be.

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Some lava that was really fun and exciting to hike though for .5 miles and then it was a total headache

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Big Lake Youth Camp. Best hospitality ever, and some killer sunsets to boot

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Sisters Wilderness

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“Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, 10 miles whopping, 50 miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret.
Life takes on a neat simplicity, too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It’s quite wonderful, really.” ― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods

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Oregon: where everything is perfect until everything is terrible

I had an exciting trip back to the trail last week. I took Amtrak to Dunsmuir, CA which was really nice and relaxing. Until I actually got to Dunsmuir at 3am and I found out that there is no taxi company that services Dunsmuir, meaning no way for me to get to the state park to camp. Not such good news at 3am, so I walked into town to see if I could find an open hotel. No luck. But I did see a police car drive by to the police station so I ran a couple blocks (Dunsmuir is a pretty small place) to meet him before he went in his office. He informed me that there is no cab, but offered to drive me to the state park to camp, because camping in town is not an option. It’s possible that I’m one of the only people who have been in the back of a cop car at 3am and not going to jail. Cool story though, and I was so happy to set up my tent and sleep after a day of traveling.
The next day I decided to go back north to Ashland, Oregon to start my hike because that’s where there are the most hikers and the least fires. I don’t like missing sections of the trial but now I have more to look forward to coming back to sometime soon. So I took a bus to Ashland and had a great day hanging out with Veganease who hiked Yosemite with me. After being at home there’s nothing more relaxing than hanging out with hiker friends, and Ashland is a great town.

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I started my hike that night, just hiked in far enough to camp with some other hikers from Ashland. Oregon is a beautiful state, and the hiking here is fantastic. The PCT wasn’t so forgiving of my long trip off trail but I managed to make twenty miles on my first day and stay consistent after that.

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There are a lot of lakes which are actually warm enough to swim in, a nice change from the Sierras, and running across them makes my mileage go down but nothing feels better than a good swim in the lake, so it’s a compromise I don’t mind at all.

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We decided to take the sky lakes side trail, which was stunning. It started to thunder the first night though so being the badass outdoors woman that I am I set up my tent early to stay out of the rain. The next morning was beautiful though and after taking a long swim in one of the lakes we hiked back to reconnect to the PCT. Everything was great until we got there and started the hike over Devils Peak. Another thunderstorm seemed to be rolling in, but since the one the night before had been short we decided to keep going. Unfortunetley for us the storm only got worse. First the thunder moved to over our heads, and then lightning. Lightning struck much too close to us for comfort. So close that my hand got shocked through my trekking pole, which was not very painful thankfully but really loud and still terrifying. So after that I was in a rush to get though the storm only to come around the corner to a fire that had been started by lightning about 50ft or less from the trail.

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I was completely freaked out. My hiking partner, Ambassader, and I decided to hike around the fire, and quickly, before it got bigger. Luckily for us it didn’t grow much and it was raining pretty hard. We rushed out and found some more hikers waiting out the storm, so we all decided to hike away together and we called in the fire. I haven’t been that stressed in as long as I can remember but everyone was ok and the trail is still open.

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That’s the sky as we hiked away from the storm and another fire that was started farther away from us by the lightning. I made the hike into Crater Lake National Park the next day and was happy to dry my stuff out and run into a lot of hikers that I haven’t seen since the beginning of summer. The lightning storm was scary, but everything since then has been great again and the forecast says sunny for the next five days. Tonight I’m enjoying Crater Lake and hoping to catch a sweet sunrise tomorrow morning before I hike out.

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Dear Oregon,
We were off to a great start, please lighten up with the weather and bring me some sunshine.
-Blueberry

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