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With pouring rain last night and the weatherman’s forecast of days of rain ahead, we are feeling pretty good about our final decision to end our journey at 1500 miles. Yay! 1500 miles! Two days ago, Portland friend Betty whisked us away from Cascade Locks to the comforts of civilization: beds, full refrigerators, restaurants, easy chairs, and glorious showers.

I do miss the trail: the people, the daily exercise, being able to eat whatever/whenever I want, and most especially, the fresh, cool air on my face while sleeping (really). So, we are already thinking about when we will come back to hike Washington’s 500 miles (Aug 2015, anyone want to join us?).

Here are some stats for your reading pleasure:

1500 – PCT miles walked
40 (ish) – non-PCT miles walked
13,200 – highest point on the PCT in feet
14,494 – highest elevation we hiked to, Mt. Whitney (highest point in lower 48, too!)
4,000 – estimated calories I shoveled into my mouth every day
0 – pounds lost on hike, due to great shoveling efforts
3 – pairs of trail running shoes beaten to death
6 – pairs of running socks beaten to death, 2 pairs at a time
17 – base weight of my pack without food and water (in pounds)
38 – heaviest my pack was with 9 days of food (in pounds)
2 – feet that feel like wood blocks that are rounded on the bottom like a weeble wobble so I lurch strangely until I am warmed up
6 – luxury items I allowed myself on the trail (a “town dress” to wear whenever washing everything else, 2 flip flops, 2 scrubby gloves for bathing, pumice stone for d’ feet)
1 – awesome hiking partner
Countless – friends, family and strangers who supported us in this adventure, from picking us up on roadsides to sending us care packages, to meeting us on the trail to buoy our spirits, to giving us food on the trail, to making free downloadable maps, to writing good guidebooks, to building one heck of an amazing trail.

We are now visiting friends and family in Seattle and Vancouver, and then will head back to the Bay Area. The job search is beginning, Rog already has had some interviews and I have a lead on a contract. Our house will be ready for move-in Oct 1, we plan to attend two weddings….so we are well on our way to not being itinerant vagabonds.

Many thanks and big hugs,
Jen

p.s. Oh, and here are some photos of the last two days on the trail. We went an alternate route that boasted tremendous basalt canyon waterfalls.

Saying goodbye to Timberline Lodge

Ramona Falls with Trail friend, “Porsche”

Likely weather we could expect in Washington

Walking behind Tunnel Falls

The end in sight

Next day in Portland, best celebratory ice cream cone EVER (check out those flavors!). I had olive oil and salted almond brittle. Yum!


I had no idea I would enjoy hiking in Oregon so much. The terrain is so varied. We’ve hiked over desolate black lava flows without a smidge of life anywhere, drippy lush forests full of rhododendrons and huckleberries (yum!), glacial valleys complete with milky rushing creeks, and wide expanses of burned forests where new life is bursting around charred and dead trees.

We’ve really enjoyed the towns we’ve seen so far, including Corvallis where we visited my uncle and his family for a much needed rest of several days. But what’s actually been nice is that many resupply locations have been little resorts or parks right on the trail.

Usually OR daily hiking elevation profile has some ascents and descents of 1000 feet or so, nothing too crazy in the relative world of the PCT! In fact, we even managed to hike a 30-mile day (our record, which we don’t plan to break–that was plenty!) and still arrive into camp with daylight.

We have never stopped mulling the new plan to end at the Oregon-Washington border, calculating how many more days it would take to get to Canada at different daily mileages, when we would arrive where. It feels like a compulsion to keep going. There are also the thoughts of northern WA beauty and plain old stick-to-it-ness that might just steamroll this new plan. And there are the sore feet and tired spirits that make us want to come back some other time to hike the WA section. But we know we will never be in the walking shape we are in now ever again. Decisions, decisions.

Regardless, we are enjoying our last days in Oregon! Timberline Lodge is amazing!!! Visit it someday. It is grand, but not opulent. A remarkable WPA success. Totally approachable luxury. Wonderful food. Great staff. And the surroundings are gorgeous.

Here are some photos of the last stretch:

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Hey all,

Remember those tired feet we talked about? Remember the aches and pains we’ve belly ached about? Remember the cookies that many of you sent?

The wicked cocktail of ibuprofen, sugar buzz high and lumbering slowly for miles without the mental stimulus of a cubicle desk job has turned us into zombies. Yep, we’re certified post apocalyptic, ghastly moaning, brain eaters now and I’ve got photo evidence to prove it.

Here are my feet, zombiefied:

Since we’re zombies now, or at least it sometimes feels like it, we figured we can take a break from all this lumbering, prop our feet up and have a Mai Tai.

After 1,306 miles we are tired. Pooped. Our gaiters are rusting. Rog’s right foot is numb (How friggin’ zombie is that?!?). We are ready to engage with the non-hiking masses. Plus it’s getting cold and wet. Cold and wet after 25 miles a day gets old. So, we will walk our final 194 miles for another eight days through the beautiful Three Sisters and Mt. Hood, pick up some very exciting care packages (Big hugs to Matt and Toby and George and Claudette). Then we’ll polish off walking past the 1,500 mile mark near Cascade Locks at the OR/WA border, check out the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia Gorge, delight in the last care package we know of (thanks, Renee!), and then drink back a beer float (or at least Jen will, that’s what she’s been craving).

We reserve the right to change our minds and slog our way further north, but until further notice, please save those WA care packages for once we are back in our Oakland home. 😉 Our renters gave us notice they have bought a house, so the timing is great. We probably will touch down there sometime in early-October.

When we set out on this adventure, we didn’t know how far we’d go, and the many care packages, letters and emails have kept us going and going so much further than sometimes we thought we had in us.

Yes, we know we talked about moving somewhere outside the Bay Area and that seemingly idle threat still looms out there. So we’re landing back in the bay for now. In case you lost our address in our city to mountain to rambling itinerant wanderings of the last few years, it’s below. No need for care packages, just come on over after Oct. 1 and let’s hang out on the deck and have a glass of wine, a Mai Tai or a beer float (the latter guaranteed to turn you into a zombie).

419 Vernon Street, Oakland, CA 94610

There will be slide show presentations for any who want to listen to us drone on about our trip either at chez Jen and Rog or a local brew pub (one willing to serve beer floats, of course) and lots more pictures posted on the blog.

Hugs,

Buckwheat and Epic (aka Team Care Package Extortionists)


The trail ebbs and flows. Sometimes I have been in a lot of pain, but lately, it seems more like flowing for me. Jen’s had some foot pain with new shoes, but generally we’re moving quickly, easily and faster than before. We did a 27 mile day, then a 20 mile day with a full laundry, shower, resupply, blog post and a few job applications launched off in the middle. Then woke up to catch the sunrise over Crater Lake and during the day today we’ll polish off 28 more.

There will be more ebbs, but for now we’re coasting (ok, 28 won’t be a coast). It is easy to get stuck in comparing ourselves to others though. Some people (mostly younger by a decade or more) are moving faster than us and we’re cruising along compared to others.

We hiked with one gal down near Mt. Whitney, but she’s now ahead of us by a week. There’s no comparing. Comparing is an all-encompassing, all-losing battle and there are no winners, just losers. Begs the question: When is comparing helpful and when is it not so great? When comparison gives you a leg up and helps me complete a task, that can be powerful. When it is just helping me beat myself up or letting me judge the merits of others, that’s inelegant and makes me not proud of myself. The distinction seems to lie primarily in the realm of judging. When I can compare and note that I can be better still, that is useful. When I’m simply using it as a blunt tool to beat myself or others up, not useful. I’m working on that. The trail provides an interestingly stark metric, but the same can easily be said about dozens of other things: happiness, ease, tranquility, fun, looks, body image, intelligence, whatever. I’m spending time staring at trees and lakes and trying not to compare Oregon to California, the Cascades to the Sierra, the mountains to the city. Everything rocks. Everything is wonderful. Everything is full of blessings and gifts.

Speaking of counting our blessings, we just had the most amazing marionberry cream cheese stuffed marionberry muffin at the Crater Lake lodge overlooking the lake. Life is just so darn rough sometimes.

A little trail mail artwork and message from fellow PCT hiker Starfox:

The mystic beauty of Spanish Moss, which paradoxically is neither Spanish nor moss.

The next generation of Douglass firs coming in after a burn:

Jen and the sunrise over Crater Lake:


Hi! We are in Crater Lake NP. Just showered, ate and laundered. Now we are going to hike a few more miles and then camp. We will try to get up at oh-dark-thirty for sunrise over the lake, but we’ll see if we can roust ourselves out of bed that early. Thru-hiking hasn’t made us morning people (still? yet!). Oregon is easier hiking than CA. We are not going up and down so dramatically and can pull off more miles. My body is feeling worn out, but I am present, grateful and amazed every day.

Yesterday’s amazement was meeting legendary Scott Williamson. Ok, so he’s only legendary if you are thru-hiking because until recently he held the northbound record for hiking the PCT without support. He was on his way southbound for a bid to break the southbound record, which he still holds. Going “sobo” is harder apparently because of the steepness if many north sides of passes. He hikes 4am to 9pm for 64 days straight. Humble, nice and took 15 minutes to chat. No hurry at all.

Here are some recent photos:

Rog becoming a true mountain man?

Fellow hikers “Deepdish,” “Tank Girl,” “Pants on Fire,” and “Bliss”

Sunset over a burn area

Burn area aflame with alpenglow.

Rog and Jen’s travels – some old stuff, some new stuff

This blog has a collection of the travel update emails that Jen and Rog compiled during our 2001-2002 round the world trip. We're off to do a bit more trekking around, and thought it would be nice import those old emails. Enjoy!

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