All downhill from here

“I was fair as the summer day
Now the summer days are through
You pass through places
And places pass through you
But you carry ’em with you
On the souls of your travellin’ shoes”
(The BeGood Tanyas, “The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs”)
(in my music collection thanks to Jen Wright).

The miles are going by so fast now. I was in Ashland, complaining that the library there wasn’t allowing me enough time to write a story to share with you, just a minute ago it seems. Half of Oregon is already gobbled, now nothing more than memories, photos and wear on my shoes – oh, and smoke in my lungs. We have been blocked by fire closure after fire closure since we entered Oregon. To mix it up a bit, I avoided the forest service’s recommended road walks by bushwhacking and linking up non-PCT trails. As long as it takes us north, no rule* is violated.

I have been hiking mostly alone, except for those fire detours. The first fire detour I navigated with Weathercarrot, my friend of 1200 miles or so now – a miracle given the size of both our need for space; the second with the handsome Maddog. Maddog and I have been playing catch up without ever catching each other since we last hung out on the tallest point in the lower 48, a good place for a meeting. This is one of the greatest gift this trail offers its thru-hikers: the temporal space to get to know amazing human beings. In the off-trail world, friendships have to be build piece-meal over the course of months or years of short interactions, but out here, we have the opportunity to hang out all day and all night, for however long we chose to (or can keep up with) . We sleep under the same mountain shadow, fire up our fuel stoves at the same time and test each other’s ramen noodle enhanced dish of the day. We can talk or walk in silence with each other for hours, and laugh and cry and share, or not, like we do in the outside wold with only our closest of friends. I have loved everyone I have met on this trail so far. I had a nemesis, but now we are friends again – that’s unfortunate, now I have to find another nemesis. The trail attracts the kind of people I would like anyway, but also, I have been very happy since Campo and have some serious love-goggles on for the whole world. That is fine by me. May we all have love-goggles on more often. Reality is whatever we chose to see it as anyway.

I did go through a day or two of “funk” back in the northern California forest – that “Virginia blues” of which I wrote whenever I wrote last. That didn’t last too long for me. Oregon has provided mind-boggling beautiful views every day. The vegetation changes constantly, more and more volcanoes are silhouetted in the orange light filtered through the smoke in the air, and because we are all hiking more miles than we ever did, towns are coming by faster, which means less food to carry, so lighter packs, so less foot pain, so more fun. It all works out, perfectly and in the proper time-frame.

My experience isn’t a universal hiker’s experience, however. Most of us are getting stronger, faster and more motivated by the impeding finish line (still 650 miles away), but I also have friends forced to get off-trail temporarily due to giardia, stress fractures, or the need to recover from trail burnout; a few have quit, some are thinking about it. I do not take my good health, high spirits or happy feet for granted, not by a long shot.

This library computer is cutting me off.
I will be in Washington before I have a chance to write again. I will also be turning 42. 41 was friggin’ amazing and I can’t imagine 42 will be any less wonderful. Yay for the forties!

Thank you for visiting, whoever you are, my 70+ readers!

Love to you! and happy trails.

XOX – TheBobcat

2 thoughts on “All downhill from here

    • Hi Joe … I’m pretty addicted to this trail, you might just see me again in 2014 🙂
      It’s only rained twice so far. The first time I was at Kickoff so we just drove to Julian and had free pies while the rain passed. The second time was three days out of Ashland, a middle of the night thunderstorm that was done by the morning. Your question was “what do I carry”. Right now I carry an ultra ultra light poncho I found in the Kennedy Meadows hiker box. I have no idea if it would be sufficient, however, because it’s only rained twice and I wasn’t really in the rain either times. Here in Cascade Locks, I am picking up a Mountain hardware rain-jacket and a pair of warmer gloves along with a Wallgreen special $5 and 5 ounces umbrella for Washington. Time will tell if the system is sufficient.


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