As I write this, I’m laying in my tent at Mile 2096.9, Timberline Lodge. If you’ve been following me along my journey on my blog and/or Instagram, you might be wondering how I got here so fast. Didn’t I just make it to Mile 1500? Didn’t I just have breakfast at Black Bear Diner in Mount Shasta? Wasn’t Grit and I at Crater Lake yesterday?
The answer to all three of these questions is “yes.” I was in all of these places, but how did Grit and I get ahead in Oregon so fast?
Grit and I decided to skip most of Oregon. Why? Three Reasons:
1 – I had to be in Cascade Locks on August 18th to speak on the Osprey panel at Trail Days.
2 – We were starting to run out of time to make it to Canada by the last week of September.
3 – The smoke was getting really bad in Northern California.
Last week, I spent almost six days alone, hiking from the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch at Mile 1409.7 to Mount Shasta at Mile 1501.2. Grit had to stay behind in Burney for a few days because he needed to see a dentist – two of his fillings had fallen out. While he waited in town to see a dentist, I hiked what would be my last section of Northern California, by myself. By the end of the fifth day in this section, I was looking forward to getting off trail and skipping ahead. The smoke from the nearby fires had gotten really bad, effecting both visibility and how the air smelled. I never got to see Mount Shasta the entire time I was in this area and everywhere smelled like one big campfire.
The morning of my sixth day in this section, I made it to Mile 1500 and crushed 7.6 miles in two hours. I also ended up getting to the bus stop that takes hikers into town, almost two hours earlier than when the bus was scheduled to be there. Thankfully, a really nice guy in a big, black SUV pulled over and offered us hikers waiting at the bus stop a ride into town. Since I was well ahead of my schedule, I asked the nice man to drop me off at Black Bear Diner in Mount Shasta. PS: Mount Shasta is the original Black Bear Diner.
After breakfast, I had a couple hours to kill before catching my next bus. I went to the post office to pick up a package from the ladies at the Seattle, University Village Athleta store. I LOVE my new outfit! Thank you!! The shorts I had been wearing all through California no longer fit. They were too big! I’ve lost some weight over the last three months.
Then I walked across the street to the laundromat to wash all my dirty clothes. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take a shower in Shasta so I did the next best thing – put on my new Athleta outfit, gave myself a baby wipe bath and washed all my clothes. It was in this moment I knew I had officially achieved Hiker Trash status. To be honest, I was quite proud.
After doing my laundry, I walked to the gas station to get a root beer and then waited for my bus. From Shasta, I rode the local bus to Weed. In Weed, I hopped on a Greyhound bus with Grit already on it from Redding. Then together, we rode the bus to Medford, Oregon where we picked up a rental car for three days.
Being reunited with Grit on the Greyhound bus was the best thing ever. We hadn’t seen each other in a week so we got caught up on what each of us had been doing – me hiking solo and Grit getting his teeth fixed.
The one thing I didn’t like about our bus ride was that our driver was really rude. He told another PCT hiker getting on the bus that she had to change her clothes before coming onboard. It’s Greyhound for crying out loud! We were all shocked. Being out on trail for days on end really makes you sensitive to aggressive and rude behavior. You’re more aware of it than ever before.
Once we got to Medford, we picked up our rental car and started our three day road trip. To justify skipping most of Oregon, we came up with three rules for the road trip: pick up every PCT hiker we saw and give them a ride, provide Trail Magic along the way AND listen to the music loud. Grit was the DJ and I was the chauffeur. We managed to complete these tasks with no problems whatsoever.
Our first stop was dinner at In-N-Out Burger. Then we resupplied our own food and got sodas, beers and snacks for Trail Magic. We headed out of town that night and spent the evening camping at the Klum Landing Campground by Mile 1750 on the PCT. We had a campsite with a lake view and free, warm showers in the morning.
Our first experience with being Trail Angels and providing Trail Magic for our fellow hikers was the next day, along the side of the road where the PCT crosses a paved road at Mile 1761. We made sure every hiker who came by was offered something cold to drink and snacks. We also offered to take their trash for them so they wouldn’t have to carry it through the next section.
Most hikers stopped to hang out with us for a bit. We unintentionally vortexed a few hikers into staying with us for a few hours. We met new faces and saw a lot of familiar faces we hadn’t seen in miles. I even got to see a hiker I met last year who was coming back from Australia to complete her hike this year!
Being a Trail Angel is so much fun. For one, it was nice to sit down, hang out and chat with all of the hikers who stopped by instead of worrying about getting the miles in for the day or having to hike to the next water source. Also, I realized that it’s much more fun to give than it is to receive. As a hiker, I know how amazing it feels to hike a hard, hot day on trail and then be given a cold soda. As a Trail Angel, you get to see hikers faces when they receive a cold soda. Those expressions of pure joy were priceless!
One of my favorite parts of the day was seeing the confused look on some of the hikers faces. They’d see the car, see the magic and see all the other hikers and would then ask who the Trail Angels were. Grit and I would laugh and raise our hands. It was hikers providing magic for other hikers!
After providing Trail Magic all day, Grit and I set up our tents in the nearby parking lot. In the morning, we broke down camp, went back to the previous campground for another free shower, went into town to resupply for more trail magic and got back on the road for our next stop: Crater Lake National Park, Mile 1820.9.
Just like the day before, we drove out to Crater Lake with a trunk full of cold soda and beer and snacks. Originally, we were going to set up the Trail Magic at the hiker/backpacker campsite in the park. As we got into the park though, we saw the sign for the PCT trailhead and decided to pull over and check it out.
As soon as we pulled over, we met hikers coming off the trail. We offered them cold drinks, which they were super happy to receive. We quickly found out what they really needed were rides into the village, about two miles up the road. Apparently hitchhiking isn’t allowed in the park. We happily turned the rental car into a Hiker Trash clown car and started shuttling hikers from the trailhead to the village. It quickly became a game of “How many hikers can you fit in a rental car?”
For a couple hours, Grit handed out drinks and snacks to hikers as they came off the trail and I shuttled them into the village whenever they were ready. Again, we met a lot of new faces and saw some familiar ones. I saw one hiker whom I hadn’t seen since my second day out here on trail. What an awesome reunion that was!
As a reward for providing another round of fantastic Trail Magic, Grit and I drove to the lake and saw it at sunset. When we came back, we set up our tents at our car camping site and then walked the remaining Trail Magic goodies over to the hiker/backpacker campsite. We even got to hang out with a few hikers around the campfire before heading off to bed.
In the morning, we packed up camp, took another free, warm shower at the campground, said goodbye to the remaining hikers and got on the road towards Portland. Our time as Trail Angels had come to an end. It was time to get back to being Hiker Trash.
After returning the rental car in Portland, Grit and I hopped on two different light rail trains and two buses, eventually making our way to Timberline Lodge at PCT Mile 2096.9 where we proceeded to get back into our old Hiker Trash ways. We camped at a nearby tentsite on trail and planned on visiting the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet in the morning at the lodge. Then it would be back on trail we go, hiking 49.7 miles to Cascade Locks, over the next three days.
Even though Grit and I skipped most of Oregon, we will be able to say we hiked at least 47 miles of it. We also justified the missed miles by providing epic trail magic along the way. We both feel really good about it. For us, being out here isn’t about the numbers. It’s about creating special memories that we’ll remember forever. After the last three days, I’d proudly say, “Mission Accomplished!”
There’s still time to be an active part of my PCT hike! Click here for details.