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Archive for August 25th, 2006

Hubris

Destination: Below Woody Pass
Starting Location: Below Alpine Garden Pass
Today’s Miles: 24.40
Trip Miles: 2580.30
Alpine Garden (2618.6, 6600) to Below Woody Pass (2643.0, 6135) ascent (4080) descent (4475)

I am struggling to capture the thoughts of the last night on the trail. I have been focused on this goal for so long that to realize tomorrow is the end point is, well, unbelievable. And the goal has been rapidly fading in importance over these last days & nights. “Making it” does not seem particularly important now. Sure I am excited but it truly was about the journey. And while I am goal driven and pleased with my achievement the achievement is simply a culmination of 5 months (today) of hiking north.
At the register at Harts Pass I wrote: “Hubris is dangerous, you are not there yet”, as a reminder and to avoid ticking off the hiking gods again. But not apparently good enough as another friendly wasp stung me on my achilles tendon. I used every word of profanity I could think of and then I made a few more up. Why the hell does the guy who is allergic keep getting stung? Dr Jones 0 times, Andy 1 time, Rolling Thunder 3 times and yours truly 11 times – damn it.
One of the most scenic days of the entire trip. The miles melted away behind panoramic views as we stayed high on the crest. The colors are changing quickly now and the reds & golds lit up the landscape far into the distance.
Some best of the trails – best buffet: Timberline Lodge. I limped in and my leg began to improve after their buffet. Related? Who knows but the food was great and my hike turned back towards the positive. Best & only (but it wouldn’t matter anyway) hitch hike: Dick shit into Etna, California. It was a first for both of us & it was a great ride. Best cookies: Ryan’s (my nephew) chocolate chip with walnuts that were sent to Stehikin. Best wildlife sighting: elk in the wild during the early days of the rut. Weary animals & totally awesome in the wild. Best trail magic: Gottago & Ray who saved us from the desert heat and provided outstanding hospitality, Steve & Peggy who opened their home to me & 10 of my hiker friends, Barney & Sandy who exhibited amazing generosity & provided much needed moral support when I was injured. Best day on the trail: the traverse across the top of the world before Sonora Pass. 12 fellow hikers, views to live for, perfect weather & a sense of great achievement after the Sierra crossing.
Best restaurant: Jen’s Garden in Sisters, Oregon. 5 course meal of incredible quality. Also most expensive. Best town: Etna, California. Wonderful friendly people, more trucks than cars, and great milk shakes at the drug store. Best BBQ: Sierra City with Chris (my nephew) doing the grilling along with my whole family in attendance. Best support: my dad who drove all over 3 states to lend support to me and any other hiker in need. Best private nurses: Sheri & Cathy who cared for me in Old Station as I threw up outside their motor home, and then followed us for 5 days with food, drink, & good humor. Best inspiration: my mom who was diagnosed with breast cancer & yet still visited frequently & told me I could not quit regardless of her well being. Best wife: Lucky Liz – I am truly blessed & I know that more now than at any other point in our relationship. Best poet: the Old Goat who sent numerous pieces of supportive poetry as well as teaching me about expectation management. Best sport: Sugar Daddy who suffered through my barrage of criticism regarding the hypocrisies of Christianity or more specifically the churches & its members.
Best hiking pals: Pang, Swiss Miss, Sugar Daddy, Sunny the Puppy Grabber, Tadpole the Hippo, Rolling Thunder, 3 Gallon, Mike Unger, Andy, Dr Jones, Cadence, Weed, & Lucky Liz. Best stop: The Ranch at Stehikin. Perfect place to reflect & regroup after the snow. Best Bakery in the world: Stehikin Bakery. Best in the world describes it well enough. Best section of the trail: the Sierra Nevada & all those snow covered miles,followed by the North Cascades and the feel of true Wilderness. Best home cooked meal: Jim & Jackie Manning from Running Springs. Great vegetable soup. Best doctors: Keri & Delphine – can’t say more but their help was paramount to success. Best medicine: benadryl for obvious by now reasons. Best lake: Crater Lake, Oregon – just mind blowing beautiful. Best pizza: Happy Camp & Home of Big Foot. Best trail drama: Rolling Thunder’s personal life. Best guy on the trail: tie between Sunny & Mike Unger. Truly the nicest guys I am privileged to know.
Best attitude: Swiss Miss with a constant smile and a glass always completely full. Best vocabulary: tie between Rolling Thunder & Andy – words I truly have never heard in my life let alone know their meanings. Best fruit: trail huckleberries wet with morning dew. Best guidebook: there isn’t one. Best information regarding fires: the Klamath National Forest rocks & the Okanogan is a very close second. The Deschutes still sucks. Best motel: Sisters Motor Lodge in Sisters, Oregon. Small, clean, & hiker friendly.

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Destination: Before Tadpole Lake
Starting Location: Saddle north of Bobby Lake
Today’s Miles: 19.90
Trip Miles: 1945.20
North of Bobby Lake (1924.2, 6106) to Before Tadpole Lake (1944.1, 5604) ascent (1962) descent (2454)

I was cruising real slow but steady and was even doing some calculations in my head regarding . . . at this speed I would reach Manning Park on . . . when I turned around and saw a familiar face. Actually familiar dread locks – yes, a friend from the early days of the hike – Crazy Horse. We got all caught up on the trail news and walked together for a bit. I found myself pushing too fast and called out that I was stopping for breakfast. This was also a polite way to let Crazy Horse move on at a more comfortable pace. Seeing an old friend broke the all alone feeling and boosted my confidence. Apparently, a lot of hikers passed me while I was in Sisters and it seems like I am probably in the middle of the pack now. I anticipate being passed a lot in the coming week or so.
Terrain was easy & leg held up. It feels about like last night & did not deteriorate significantly over the miles. Maybe!
Picked up all my cold weather gear in Sisters. The nights are showing signs that fall is approaching and I was happy to be back in my 15 degree sleeping bag. I also picked up rain pants, rain hat, rain mittens, a fleece top, beanie hat, and tights. That added about 2 lbs to my pack but because water is plentiful for now I have not noticed as I am not carrying any water.
Regarding Giardia. It is funny but it seems Giardia is some sort of badge of honor on the trail. And I am quite certain that many, if not most people, who claim to have had it actually had a simple case of Diarrhea. Giardia is nasty and the symptoms are quite specific with strong sulfur gas and belching. Along with well – you know, but it is described as explosive. And you do not have Giardia one day and get over it the next. Regardless, it does sound better and the badge is cooler than simply having the trots.
I ordered one of Ultralight Adventure’s (ULA) new packs & I am now carrying the Circuit model. I did not think I would find a pack better than the ULA P-2 but the Circuit is. I love this pack. Given that it does not have a frame sheet means you have to pack it a little more carefully to ensure a comfortable ride but it is well worth the extra 30 seconds. At 2 lbs, it carries 25 – 30 lbs very well & most of the weight is easily transferred to the hips via a comfortable & functional hip belt.
After 1900 miles my Railriders shirt deteriorated under the constant UV rays. It got a small hole that opened up into a shredded mess. It was well used before the trip & thus I am happy with the performance. I am now wearing a Royal Robbins Go Anywhere. I really like that the sleeves are long enough for my lanky arms. It does not breathe like the eco mesh from Railriders, but the days are cooler now so it should be fine.
I also replaced my Sea to Summit dry bags. The first bags are still fine but they are showing a lot of wear, & are likely not fully waterproof any longer. Going into Washington in September is no time to test the waterproofness. When I get home, I can likely reseal the old bags & have a good pair of dry bags for my motorcycle where it is less critical because they are in weather resistant boxes.
I am in a pretty good place mentally & I am focused on doing what I need to in an attempt to go the distance.
Have seen some elk tracks on the trail. They do not seem to use the trail like deer that will walk down the trail for miles. Rather the elk seem to cross the trail & maybe follow it for a few meters or so. I am glad Crater Lake had a print display in the concrete as it really helped in the identification. Crazy Horse said he saw a big bull elk for a few seconds before it disappeared into the thick forest – cool.

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