I'm currently writing this from the comfort of my hammock. I spent the last 24 hours seeing some of my best friends in Portland, stuffing my face, hugging people, replacing broken gear and stuffing my face some more. My heart is so full and my head is so refreshed after the past twenty four hours. Bring it on washington!
Going back a bit, upon leaving bend we walked through the three sisters wilderness for a few days through fields, mountains, lava fields and forests. We were continuing to push big mile days and when we arrived at big lake youth camp (a small summer camp that's very hiker friendly) we took showers and relaxed for a bit. All day we had been waiting to run into our crew from the sierras "the speed chillers". Rusty and cupcake were there already so we hung out with them for the afternoon. Right around 6pm, Whitney and I started packing up, with the intention of doing 5 or 6 more miles that evening. As we slowly packed up, the crew started rolling in, and it had grown. Once everyone was together, we were a group of 12. That's a lot of guys. The gang all hung out on the shores of the lake for the night and caught up, then in the morning, Whitney and I rolled out before anyone else was up. We hit mile 2000 early in the morning, and by this point I was emotionless. We took a few pictures and continued on. We walked through more burn areas and lunched at a lake with a group of Boy Scouts. Did I mention ever that all burn areas all look the same and I'm over them? The rest of the day was filled with amazing views of Mt. Jefferson, and hammocking on the side of a cliff. After a 34 mile day, we slept for a few hours then woke back up at 4 am. Back at it, and attempting a 40 mile day. The morning was cold, with more views of Jefferson and we walked all day. After the first major climb, we came over the ridge and could see Mt Hood. Hood is special to me. When I lived in Portland it always felt like seeing it would calm me down. We took several breaks and ran into my friend t-Rex (who I haven't seen in a very long time). The day went by pretty slowly, but caffine and a playlist called "crushin 40's" kept me moving, and once I pasted the post lunch wall, the rest of the day cruised by. I felt like I was flying the last few hours, despite it getting darker and darker, and by ten pm we were set up in camp. Whitney was snippy, tired and cranky. My body hurt quite a bit once I stopped but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. It's crazy to look back and think I was so amazed by 26 miles back in the desert. My how things change.
The next morning we we're on trail around 8 - waking up to no alarm was a really nice treat. We hiked 12 familiar miles around the banks of Timothy lake to the junction of little crater lake. For those of you who have never heard of little crater lake, you should google it - it's a small pond type pool of water that is the craziest blue in the world, also it's 34 degrees, always. I went for a dip with another hiker named Van Gough, and we chatted about art and design for a while while having lunch. We relaxed for a bit then headed to a nearby campground to meet a friend of mine. Her name is Jules and she's magical. She brought out food, and beer and cooked for us and relaxed with us and in general picked our brains about this weird thing we're doing. We relaxed, enjoyed little crater lake, invited a fellow hiker to camp with us and had a small fire in the evening. The next morning, I downed 5 plates of food at the Timberline Breakfast buffet, then regrouped there for a bit. In the afternoon I hiked out and followed the trail around Mt. Hood. The air tastes better near home that's for sure. After 15 miles or so we set up our hammocks and hit they hay.
I woke up crying. My body just didn't want to move. After two weeks of doing 30 miles a day (on average), no part of me wanted to hike. I layer in bed for a bit then realized I had no choice. I slowly packed up and organized my things and was back to hiking. The day moved slowly, but after the first 13 miles or so we got onto an alternate. Eagle creek, which is very popular in Portland. I've hiked a good bit of it before so it really felt easy, passing tunnel falls then punch bowl falls, then home! A bunch of hikers and I stuffed out faces at the ale house in cascade locks, then next thing I knew I was in my friend Sam's car, flying down 84 towards Portland!
The motto of smiles not miles is back, and hopefully the last 500 miles will be the most amazing. I've been taking less photos but will try to step that up. The end is in sight!