Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hiking with John

As planned, we hiked 17 miles with John today from McKenzie Pass to
Santiam Pass. The first couple miles were hiking over lava rocks,
which wasn't so fun, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing - the
trail was pretty flat and easy.

John was impressive - it's not easy to do 17 miles when you haven't
been hiking everyday for the past 4 1/2 months.

After this, Mandy and John made another spectacular meal which was
quite delicious and filling. We are both a little sad to be leaving
such wonderful hospitality tomorrow, but I don't think we can stay
here forever!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just Say No to Hypothermia & Yes to the Knotts Angels

The plan: In order to hike 17 miles with John on Saturday, he was going to drive us forty six miles up trail Thursday to a resort where we would southbound two days back to Sisters. Then on Sunday, he would drive us back up to the same spot where we would start northbound again.

What really happened: The drive took nearly three hours. At 5,000 feet, it was still raining and it was 44 degrees at 1:30 p.m. Then, the last three miles of road to the trail was closed. I said, "John, I know we just spent all day getting up here, but can we go home with you, too?"

The section we were to hike ascended to 6,900 feet in a few miles and skirted the North and Western slopes of Mt. Jefferson; presently the site of the most on-trail snow in all of Oregon. Seeing sunshine in Sisters, I had deliberately ditched the pot and stove for lightweight hiking. Having frozen my hands the previous day, Old Steve chose caution over adventure and keeping to his schedule.

So what did we do instead? Well, we drove back to Sisters with a very patient (and sleepy) Luke and Travis (l-r, respectively), John and I rode mountain bikes through the backyard to the national forest and over to the brewery where we met the ladies and kids for dinner, and then Jane and I took another day off here today. This morning to 37 degrees in Sisters at 3,000 feet where we would have camped last night. We made the right choice. This morning we explored the town, and in the afternoon we came home to babysit so John and Mandy could go for a run.

For all you girls going into tenth grade on Monday, first of all I remember when you were going into third grade and that's terrifying. Secondly, I am a master of fun with three year-olds. Babies don't talk and we all know I can't hold 'em right. But three year-olds, I don't make cry.

John fed the kiddies, Mandy made an amazing dinner, and of course, I ate a lot. I should mention that John is similarly crazy to the LandShark in that he has lots of crazy ideas. The difference is he manages to make even more of his ideas into reality. He's presently building a 16 foot tall drop-in ramp for snowboards in winter and bikes in summer. The snowboard run will basically be a jump and a rail, but the bike run will be a third of a mile loop around their new five acre property. And he's building all this while he's a stay-at-home dad for two energetic boys! You could say he's my hero.

Tomorrow we will do the 17 miles with John and then start north on Sunday. If we can bust out 25 miles a day for six days straight, we'll get into Washington just one day behind. And then we'll get rained on more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wilamette Pass to Rainy Rainy Sisters

There's a lot to cover here, but let's start with Willamette Pass.

Shortly after leaving, we ran into Pintsize, another southbounder.
Bushwack, who told us he was the last, and therefore we told you we
had met them all, was wrong. Sorry.

The clouds were ominous, so our goal was to find a ski hut that was in
one of our books. Around 6:30 the thunder and lightening began and we
were officially rained on... big time. A little after 8 we still
hadn't found the shelter, so we set up camp. We were pretty wet but
were happy to crawl into a nice dry tent. The thunderstorms continued
throughout the night, which didn't make for the most restful of
evenings.

At 5:45 am there was a flash of lightening and at the same time
thunder, very very loud thunder - Steve thinks it was less than half a
mile from us, so we figured that was as good of a wake up call as we
were going to get. Earlier, Steve had mentioned he wanted to do a 30
on this day, so we set out with that as our goal.

Luckily the rain cleared up and the sun poked through, so we had a
fairly dry day of hiking. However, when there isn't rain, you can
count on mosquitos, and they were out in force. We couldn't stop
without having them swarm our head - which I guess in the end was a
good thing since we had 30 miles to hike.

We stopped for a few small snack breaks in the morning and then a
quick lunch/dry out our stuff/get water break. At about 4:30 the
thunder and lightening returned and by 5:30 we were being rained on
again. Around 7:30 we pulled into Cliff Lake and claimed victory to
the only person there - a section hiker named Steve.

At Cliff Lake there is what one might call a "shelter" of sorts. It's
not safe for camping in anymore, and we thought it much more resembled
a manger. As if we knew what Martha was thinking, we took a picture of
Steve portraying Jesus returning to his birthplace. We figured this
was much more believable than Steve as baby Jesus.

As you may remember, we didn't get our last food supply, so the
LandShark was kinda hungry. The next day, feeling victorious from our
30 miler, and because we are now halfway through Oregon, we decided to
reward ourselves with one of the three things thru-hikers care about -
FOOD! Steve had found that just one mile off trail was the Elk Lake
Resort, so we headed there for lunch. We ordered two cheeseburgers and
french fries, and when we were done, Steve ordered another hamburger
with fries. After this we topped it off with two scoops of ice cream.
I'm going to have to start washing dishes to help subsidize our food
bill! We also got to watch more women's volleyball as they beat Italy
to advance to the semi-finals. USA! USA!

We got back to the trail and hiked 24 miles total to end at a small
lake with lots of campsites and a few other campers... and this is
where it gets ugly.

Shortly after getting in our tent, the rains starts. No thunder and
lightening, just steady rain. At some point in the night we realize
the condensation is making our sleeping bags wet, so we put Steve's
poncho over them to try to keep them dry. When we wake up in the
morning, there are puddles at both ends of the tent, everything is wet
and there is no end in sight for the rain - the whole sky is grey. We
both think, thank God we're going into Sisters today.

It takes a while to pack up since all of our stuff is wet, and when we
finally get going, we are already cold and wet, with little use of our
hands. The terrain is nothing exciting, and while we imagine this is
one if the prettier sections of Oregon, with views of the Three
Sisters mountains, we can't see a thing because of the clouds. We do
climb up a steep mountain at one point and the wind whips us and blows
us up the switchbacks. I think the rain may have turned to hail as
well. Basically, it sucked. It was cold, wet and miserable. It was one
of the few times I considered using our friend Chris' advice and
taking up the web site JaneHatesSteve.com.

At 3 pm we got to the road and tried to call our friend John who was
picking us up and letting us stay with him in Sisters, but no service.
Just when I thought we were going to have to try to hitch (who wants
to pick up two wet hikers?!), who should pull up but John! He
anticipated we might be there. We were very relieved to climb into the
warm car and head away from the rainy mountains, although it took us
quite a while to defrost our hands.

This evening we had a lovely dinner with John and Mandy, and then they
were kind enough to take us to our favorite store, REI, where we
purchased a new water filter, better gloves (aka waterproof), and got
Steve new hiking poles. Yes, again - this last pair broke as well. In
case you're not keeping track, this is number four.

Tonight we sleep in a real bed for the first night in 12 nights... yay!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Crater Lake to Willamette Pass

We just stopped off at Shelter Cove Resort for showers and laundry,
then hiked three miles to Willamette Pass, a ski resort that is only
open Friday to Sunday, where we are filling up on pizza and onion
rings and watching the Olympics, something we have both been sad to
miss out on. Go women's volleyball!!

Steve had read about this place last week and was very strategic in
getting us here on a day they are open. He's very serious when it
comes to food consumption. And good thing he is, since our box of food
didn't arrive! Luckily with the combination of our leftover food,
some of Fireman's extra food and the small store at Shelter Cove, we
should survive. However if you don't hear from us for a week, you know
where to look for our starving bodies :)

A few updates from the last few days...

- We hiked through a butterfly migration. It was the oddest thing to
watch. We were hiking up Mt. Thiesen and hundreds of butterflies were
flying up and over the trail toward the top of the mountain. When we
hiked around to the other side, they were doing the same thing - they
all appeared to be going the same place. Steve thinks they were
migrating to their death, but I prefer more positive thoughts...
perhaps a butterfly and fairy convention?

- Apparently Oregon is like Southern California - it's relatively
flat, there are long stretches without water and it is wicked hot.
Except the heat is actually humid and during the heat the grey clouds
move in, it thunders, and then it rains on you. It wasn't actually
enough rain to do any damage, but did give us the practice of putting
our rain gear on.

- We have met all four south-bound hikers. Seven started but three had
to quit. The good news is that it sounds like snow shouldn't be a
problem for us.

- Afficionados of the classic educational game "Oregon Trail" will be
interested to know we literally hiked the Oregon Trail - a section of
trail that was originally cleared by a wagon train in the 1850's.
Steve tried to ford a river and lost two oxen; I caught Cholera.