Our PCT video + some final thoughts…

So here’s our video/ slideshow from our hike. We’ve been really happy to share it with friends and family the last couple months and I’m happy to say it’s now on youtube. Enjoy!

In other news, I’ve been putting off writing a “final” blog post. On one hand I believe the trail experience is not just the the trail, but the lead up, the hike and post trail integration.  I wanted to be sure I’d come down off of my trail “high” and in some ways I have.  And on the other hand I think there’s a part of me that is somewhat sad to wrap up what now has been an 18 month experience with “the trail” crossing my mind everyday.  But there are things I want to share so here it goes.

This morning I went for a short hike by myself in the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park  near where I currently live in Antioch, Ca with my roommates (cough, parents).  When I got to the park  I grabbed a map from the kiosk opened it up to pick out a route and realized it wasn’t necessary. I knew the park pretty darn well and knew for certain I wouldn’t get lost. So I stuck the map in my pocket and just walked following animal runs, turning at trails, open spaces and fire roads. Over the course of an hour and a half of wandering I more or less made a loop back to where I started. It was nice just kind of wandering about going whichever direction my curiosity led me.  It made me think how I’d like to do this kind of hiking more often and also how it was NOTHING like the Pacific Crest Trail! ha.

Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just a completely different way of exploring than following “the yellow brick road to Canada” that is the PCT. On the PCT, while I had this overwhelming sense of freedom, the trail gave me more direction and regiment than I realized. Everyday you wake up, get back on the trail where you left off and walk north. When it gets dark, you set up camp, go to sleep, wake up, etc.

While many things change: the temperature, the scenery, the people you’re hiking with, the kind of bugs that are trying to bite you, the one constant is the two foot wide trail guiding you north. It’s kind of nice. People often say you can just zone out and walk for hours on the PCT compared to say the Continental Divide Trail which requires more attention and focus (from what I’ve read). Its true, the PCT allows you to soak in your surroundings, have amazing and often weird conversations and of course gives you plenty of time to think. This isn’t to say its a complete walk in the park. We got lost a few times, and I checked the maps regularly to make sure we were on track.  You gain an intuition after a while and if you get off trail your gut will likely tell you before your maps do.

Speaking of staying on track… when I got home today I picked up my trail journal and read the last entry I made on Oct 7th in an attempt to sum up my two weeks of being back from the trail.  (we finished on Sept 24th)

It read…

“Well, just like that I’m back. Following the A’s & Giants in the playoffs, checking facebook on a regular basis and watching the back and forth between Barack and Mitt….Oh well, so is life, but some things are different. It’s taken me a while, but there’s things I’ve learned about me, Megs, our relationship and people. I’m gonna write these things down in no particular order over the next week or so… I think it can be summed up with Community, Vision, Partnership and Planet.

So here I am over two months later, nearly 20 lbs heavier trying to sum up what I’ve learned. Here it goes!

Community: Its hard to explain the “trail community”, but its a community like none I’ve ever been a part of. I guess the crux of the trail community is how much it is based on the concept of strangers helping strangers. Typically in the communities I’ve been a part of it takes hours if not years of building trust and relationships before that community feeling hits me. While there were literally dozens of stories of “trail magic” (which if you followed our blog you know what that is by now) there was one event that always comes to mind and when it really clicked for me. One rainy wet day in Washington we stumbled across a dirt Forest Service road in the middle of nowhere to the smell of chili dogs and hot coffee. This was incredible and just what we needed. (and especially for megs after wearing her dirty sleep socks on her hands all morning to keep them warm) The gentleman went by the name of “Not Phil’s Dad.” His son’s trail name from a few years ago was “Not Phil” and logically his trail name became “Not Phil’s Dad”. Anyhow, after stuffing our faces for a little while with warm food I got talking to Not Phil’s Dad about how and why he did it. He said it was his way of giving back as part of his faith (not in a preachy way) and he intended to do it every year as long as he could. I asked if I could give him a donation (polite hiker etiquette) and he said no. He has a system of funding this activity by taking the change he gets from his coffee and bagel everyday and putting it in a jar. Not Phil’s Dad was there for two weeks helping soaking stinky hikers like us all in the name of “giving back” or “paying it forward” depending on which trail angel  you talked to. The awesome thing is that there are countless stories and not just of angels helping hikers, but also the other way around. When trail angels need help hikers have responded be it fundraising to buy a new washing machine for an angel’s house or volunteering professional legal services.

So that’s the angel/ hiker community dynamic, strangers helping strangers. But equally as awesome  is the community that gets built on the trail between hikers. Its incredible how close and trusting hikers get so quickly. Megan and I made some amazing lifelong friends on the trail. Everyone’s in the same boat, on the same level, on the same journey which builds comradery nearly overnight. No one is going home to watch TV at night or to go to the gym. Everyone is on the trail and carries very little to distract them from that except the occasional mp3 player or journal. Its amazing.

The trail community has left me thinking, how can I build community through random acts of kindness to strangers?

Vision: Let me start by saying the fact that the trail even exists is a miracle in and of itself.  The fact that a wilderness corridor can span the length of the USA, the most developed of developed countries through 3 states with a combined population of nearly 50 million people is incredible. Then think that it happens twice more along the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian trail…WOW. Someone(s) was thinking way back when to make this happen. If you want to read a little more about the history of the PCT and the National Scenic Trails click here, but I’m no going to go into that history. (this post is getting too long as it is).

The bottom line is that there were certain people who had a vision nearly a century ago that one day people like Megs and I would like to walk from Mexico to Canada. Talk about paying it forward! The story of how the PCT came together is still not entirely well documented from what I can tell. (Ken Burns I hope you’re reading this) But what is clear from the thousands of volunteers who built the trail, to President Johnson who signed the National Scenic Trail Act, to the advocacy groups who fight to protect the trail everyday, they all had a vision to share the best America has to offer with trails.  Thank you.

This has left me thinking about taking the long view. What do I want to contribute to and build over the next 50 years? What mark will I leave?

Partnership: Ok, so here’s the mushy part of the  post. I still can’t believe I got to do this whole journey with Megs. I’m such a lucky guy. Prior to the trip Megan and I had been dating for roughly 2 and a half years which were great. And the question I found myself asking the day we left the Mexican border was “Chad, things are going pretty well, are you sure you want to roll the dice here?”  Well, we rolled the dice and Jackpot! We are better because of it.

Did we fight? You better believe it. Did we sometimes hike separately? Oh yea. Did we push each other off a cliff? Almost. We joke that it took us a couple thousand miles to work the kinks out, which is probably right. (Washington was a great state all around.)

With a partner on the trail you learn (or at least are constantly trying) to compromise, share decision making and communicate clearly. Some of our biggest fights were over some of the silliest things. Simple situations such as where to eat lunch or when to stop for dinner could turn into trail armageddon 2K12. While this certainly drove each of us crazy, we were both committed to working through it and trying new things, new ways of communicating or as Megs loved to joke new ways to “express our needs.”

There were lots of couples on the trail that we met and each of them had their own ways of doing things to make it work (or not). In terms of sharing things, Megs and I started out sharing nearly everything from eating from the same pot, to having one set of maps, to sharing toothpaste. All these things seemed logical from a weight standpoint and plus we were a couple right? They didn’t always prove to be the best solution. I learned that  some things are best shared and some are best had on the individual level. Finding that balance of the individual/ shared experience in a variety of aspects of relationship was important insight for me.

Hiking with a partner is a completely different experience than hiking alone. Both have their advantages, but this last summer there’s no one I would have rather hiked with. Love you Megs!

Planet: So if the last section was the mushy section, then this is the hippy section. For those of you who know me, you know that my passion/ line of work has been to do my part to heal this planet we all share. Hell, its the only one we have right? After 5 years of working on a variety of fronts I was ready for a recharge and the PCT sure gave it to me. I gained a deeper appreciation for the conservation battles of the past and those ongoing. Finding that balance of responsible development and protecting pristine/ historic landscapes is hard, really hard, but in my mind there’s nothing worth protecting  more than the PCT. The idea that my great, great, great grandchild could hike the PCT and have the same wilderness experience with the same amazing views is incredible. With how quickly our world changes these days, cities could be virtually unrecognizable in a 150 years from how we know them today, but the PCT will the same. How cool is that? We live in an amazingly beautiful country and I want to work to keep it that way.

So if you’re still reading, thanks for listening.  Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was amazing and it continues to teach me things about myself.  As for this being my “final” post, that may have been a lie. There’s lots of trails out there…

Happy Trails,

Chad (Nips)

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Here’s our trail stats…

Ok, so I couldn’t help myself. I blame the engineer in me, but when you have data, how can you not crunch it? In addition to keeping the blog I kept a small nightly journal and recorded our daily mileage according to the “Data-book”. Here’s some data, graphs and a histogram of our 2012 thru-hike. The histogram is a shout out to my good hiking buddy “Histo” short for histogram. Check out his blog at http://karlapie.weebly.com/.

Enjoy!
-Nips

p.s.  A “Zero” stands for zero miles, or essentially a day off for a hiker.

(click images to enlarge)

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Canada!!!!

 

After 152 days and 2,668 miles we arrived in Canada! It was one of the most crazy, awesome, exciting and unreal experiences of our lives. Like most things of this magnitude it is hard to put the feeling into words. What we do know is that we could not have asked for a better group of people or a nicer day to finish our epic journey on. The skies were blue, the sun was up and the party train cruised into the border with style. We finished with about 10 people, 8 of whom we have been hiking with for over a month. Not only was this day fabulous, the last couple weeks were some of the best. Other than a few rainy nights around Snoqualmie Pass, we saw nothing but sunshine.

We hiked through the epic northern Cascades including the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Glacier Peaks Wilderness. The glacial covered peaks, pristine blue lakes and diverse flora and fauna rivaled the infamous Sierra Nevadas. Not to mention seeing mountain goats, black bears, a wolverine and a moose. We worked hard for our good views though. Many days we trekked up multiple climbs over 2,000 feet while covering 25+ miles.  It was tough and beautiful. Before heading into our final stop in Stehieken, WA we pushed a big day so we could make it in time for Chad’s birthday. Stehieken is a very cool small town that cannot be accessed by car. You either have to take a ferry across Lake Chelan or you have to hike into High Bridge and take a bus. We hiked in and we made it in time to celebrate Chad’s 28th year of life! This town was so gorgeous and had the most infamous bakery on the trail so we decided we better take a zero day. We spent 4 hours eating pastries and drinking coffee and then in the evening did a big BBQ with friends. For Chad’s birthday I bought him breakfast pastries for our final 4 days on the trail. He said it was a perfect birthday present because he had grown to hate eating granola and oatmeal (which is understandable because we have eaten A LOT of granola and oatmeal).

The next morning we got back on the bus and headed to the trail. We were ready to complete our final section.  One of the greatest highlights of this section was seeing fall settle in. The huckelberry bushes, larch trees and maple leaves turned gorgeous shades of red, yellow and orange. We walked with our friends, we gauked at the views and we had a little extra pep in our step. A little motivation that only comes when you start to feel how close you are to Canada.

On September 23rd., we hiked into Hopkins Lake, it was 6.5 miles from the Canadian border and it would be our last night on the Pacific Crest Trail. We built a fire, cooked dinner and ate our final candy bars for dessert. By now it was 9pm (hiker midnight), normally we would be heading to our tents at this point, but instead we all just kept sitting by the fire. We knew we should head to bed to rest up for our final day on the PCT. As excited as we were to finish, we were a bit sad to say good bye to our friends and our new found lifestlye, once we went to bed the final night would be over. Eventually tiredness got the best of us and crawled in our 2.5 pound tent. I told Chad, “I am going to miss our little home”. The next morning we got up at 6:30am, excited and ready to go! I ate my final bowl of Oatmeal (thank goodness) and made Hot Chocolate as a finishing day treat. Before heading out of camp we made a last minute impulse decision and had our final plunge into an Alpine Lake, it was our first plunge at 7:30am. It was frigid, but at least we would look presentable for Canada! We put on our party hats (provided by Tourist’s mom) and the party train headed north.

At 10:35 am we came around our final switchback and saw the clearcut line in the trees, it was the Canadian Border! We had made it. It was unreal, everyone burst out screaming and yelling, and yes a few tears were shed. We laughed, hugged and opened champagne to celebrate. We couldn’t believe it! We walked a continuous line from Mexico to Canada and we still love each other! When we started this trail we weren’t sure if we would make it 2 weeks, let alone the entire way. I am sure the odds were against us (especially because I hadn’t backpacked more than 3 days in a row before), but it just goes to show you that with a little determination and a whole lot of walking it’s possible. Now we are making our way back to California, via buses, cars and airplanes (no walking). It is time we train ourselves to live like civilized people, not hiker trash. A big thanks to our family, friends and all the complete strangers who supported and helped us out along the way! You helped make our dream a reality. Pretty crazy how a 14 year old boy scout dreamed of one day hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and 14 years later (5 days after he turned 28) him and his girlfriend would walk into Canada.

-Wildflower & Nips

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A big thanks to clif bar from stevens pass, washington

Hello!!!

I write to you from baring, wa at the dinsmore hiker haven, some amazing trail angels that welcome hikers to their home to clean up and organize for the last 190 miles of the pct.

Since snoqualamie pass we have enjoyed 3 and a half days of some of the most beautiful and tough days washington has thrown at us through the alpine lakes wilderness. Lots of up and down!

Our next few days will bring us through the glacier peak wilderness and to stehekin, our last resupply and then a few days after that we should reach the border! (That is if all goes as planned)

Lastly as this may very well be our last post until canada I wanted to give one last shout out to Matt Barry of Clif Bar. Matt is an old antioch friend and an employee of Clif Bar. Prior to heading out on the trail I bumped into him. One thing led to another and matt hooked up a box of all kinds of clif bar goodies. From gels, to bars, to our favorite margarita flavored “shot blocks” we’ve been enjoying a variety of tasty clif bar products along the way. A big thanks to Matt and Clif Bar! You guys rock!

Ok, time to hit the dusty trail, canada’s a waitin!

-Nips and wildflower

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Let the countdown begin and…the rain!

There comes a point in every hiker’s thru-hike when you stop counting the miles up and they start counting down! I think we have hit that point (veteran thru hikers say it comes about the time you have 300 miles remaining). We now have 254 miles remaining (not that I am counting). So rather than saying we have hiked 2,401 miles we will say that we have 254 miles remaining before we get to Canada! Now that is motivation!

When we last checked in we were in White Pass, WA. We had just spent a gorgeous day walking through the epic scenery of the Goat Rocks (where we actually saw goats…Chad had been waiting all day to see a goat) and we were going on our 7th day without a shower. Well we stretched our streak to 12 days, but don’t worry I am now sitting here clean and refreshed in Snoqualmie Pass, WA. It was an exciting 4.5 days from White Pass to here. When we left we hiked to the first swimable lake we could find and took a dip to try to get at least some of the grime off. We then followed the gorgeous Bumping River for a while and set up camp next to it. The following day started like most days in Washington, sunny weather, uphill climbing and beautiful views of epic volcanoes. This day was especially amazing because our views were of Mt. Rainier, one of the most amazing mountains I have ever laid eyes on. After a nice lunch break with another lake dip the skies started to turn a bit gray. As we hiked into the evening we saw lightening crashing on the ridges across from us and heard thunder follow in the distance. We counted the seconds and felt relief when it was 20-30 miles away. We hiked into the night and got a great light show before arriving to meet friends in a great camp site around 8:45pm. We had a fire and then went to bed just in time. About 10 minutes after getting in our tent it started to pour, and then the lightening and thunder came our way. The flashes lit up the tent and the thunder roared. We counted a few seconds between flash and thunder and we were happy when it was at least a couple miles away, still a bit close for my comfort. We made it through the night and awoke to foggy skies, relieved the rain had stopped. Everything was wet but we were in luck because there was a hut built by a local ski club about 12 miles away. We stopped there for lunch and made a fire in the wood burning stove so we could dry our stuff out. There was about 10 of us there so tents and sleeping bags were hanging everywhere, it was awesome. That night we set up camp around 8:30 pm and once again, the rain came. We were getting a taste of Washington, but we still felt lucky that the rain kept coming when we were in our tents and cozy.
The next morning everything was wet and it was 34 degrees out, I was freezing. My gloves had gotten wet packing up camp so they were just making my hands colder, so I got creative and put my wool socks on my arms and hands. My hands finally started to thaw and work again. Although it was a rough morning, luck was on our side again, 5 miles into our day of hiking a southbound section hiker informed us there was trail magic ahead. We couldn’t believe that someone would come out in the rain and freezing cold to help hikers. But sure enough 20 minutes later we were sitting under awnings drinking hot cocoa and eating chili, all provided by a father whose son had hiked the trail 3 years prior. He comes and camps out for at least a week every year to help hikers get through the cold wet Washington. Now that was pure magic right when we really needed it. We felt so much gratitude for his kindness. Although I really didn’t want to leave, we needed to continue on so we could get to Snoqualmie Pass! We hiked feeling very recharged for a few hours. There were not as many amazing views in this section (or if there was we couldn’t see them through the Washington mist), but the trail provided for easy hiking so we couldn’t complain. Around 6pm our luck ran out and the rain came back when we weren’t in our tents. It didn’t stop for 3 hours. We wanted to make it to Twilight Lake so we put on our rain jackets, pushed open our umbrellas and hiked on. The sun when down, the night got dark but we still hiked on, it was pretty miserable. When it rains all the green foliage (in the Evergreen state) lining the sides of the trail gets wet and then when you walk through it gets all of you wet. We came to our final decent to Twilight Lake and cautiously made our way down through the rain and fog. Every time I took a breath it clouded up in front of my headlamp, making it even trickier to see the trail. Finally we made it to Twilight Lake, but it was so dark with so much foliage we couldn’t find any camping, so we pushed on. Just a short distance after we crossed a dirt road and decided this will do (at that point anything would do). It was 9pm and we were soaked! We set up our tent as fast as we could and hoped in. We put on dry clothes and got in our new warm double wide sleeping bag (I think this sleeping bag has saved my life). I looked at Chad and said, “That was one of the most miserable nights of my life, but we made and I think we are going to be okay. Come hell or high water, I think we are going to make it to Canada”.

The next morning we awoke to blue skies and sunshine, a California Girl’s dream come true. The only slightly unfortunate thing was that we had ice on the inside of our ten and our sleeping bag. The sun quickly got rid of that. We got on the trail and hiked an easy 9 miles into Snoqualmie Pass. I think I was more excited than ever before to be in town! We were welcome by our Friend, The Tourist’s Mom, Gayle! She had come from Seattle and brought pizza, Thomas Kempler root beer and fresh fruit. We had a tailgate in the parking lot while we dried out our tents and sleeping bag. Although we have had a few rough nights, we have always been gifted with something amazing the next day. This world is a fabulous place and this hike is a wonderful adventure! We are so thankful for all the support that has gotten us through. Both from the ones we love and from those we have never met! 250 miles and just about 12 days to go! Let the count down begin! Muchos Besos! – Nips and Wildflower

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White Pass, WA 350 miles to go!

Hey everyone,

Wanted to give a short update on where we are at and where we have been. When megs last wrote we were at the base of mt. Hood at timberline lodge. A couple days after that we hiked through the amazing waterfalls of eagle creek and into the small river town of cascade locks, oregon. Our final town stop before we crossed the bridge of the gods over the columbia river and into the evergreen state, our final state. Never having been to the columbia river gorge it was quite a treat. Our first 150 miles of washington have been wonderful with amazing views of mt. Adams, mt. Rainier and the popular Goat Rocks Wilderness.

Pictures describe these places much better than my words, but unfortunately I don’t have the ability to share pictures right now. Hopefully by snoqualamie pass in a few days ill have that opportunity.

We have been blessed with amazing weather so far in wa and we aren’t taking it for granted. We have about two weeks left, and we makin the best of it.

Cheers!
Nips and wildflower

Till next time, on

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Oregon Part 2: Crater Lake to Timberline Lodge

I was finalizing the last blog post on my phone and didn’t realize that I accidentally cut off the entire second half. Hope you enjoy the rest. Apologies for the confusion.

Camping at Crater Lake was pure luxury. Mom and CIndy brought plenty of food and tasty drinks not only for Chad and I but also for four good friends we have been hiking with (The Tourist from Logan, Utah; Beef Nugget from Wilsonville, Oregon; and Itchy and Scratchy from Blacksburg, Virginia). The six of us ate huge plates of Shrimp Pasta and Kale Pineapple Salad, The Tourist is still talking about how much he enjoyed the Kale Salad. The dinner was a huge hit, and the thing that topped it all off was a pan of chocolate chip brownies my Grandma made. Thanks Bama! They were the perfect texture and consistency for a brownie and the six of us almost ate the entire pan that night. There were only 3 small squares remaining and they were gone before breakfast was served the next morning. We did some slack packing (this is where we walked the trail with only water and some snacks and then mom and cindy picked us up. It is slack packing becuase you don’t bring the whole pack, so we are being slackers) around Crater Lake the next day and enjoyed the great views. My mom even got to hike a couple miles of the PCT with us, it made my day. The views faded away later in the day as the smoke from fires ahead was filling the sky, it made us a bit nervous about what was to come. The lake was a magnificient sight. Teh size and depth was mind blowing. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good camping/hiking trip or winter cross country ski trip! We were sad to leave Crater Lake, but as always, Canada was waiting. The next morning we set out after breakfast, and 10 miles down the trail ran into a fellow hiker’s friends that were doing trail magic. It was a miracle, magic twice in three days. We stayed for some BBQ and even a foot peticure. It was amazing that people were willing to not only touch hikers feet but actually clean and scrub them. There wasn’t nail polish, but when the feet are in shoes all day it isn’t really necessary.

After all this magic it was time for us to bust through some miles. The next day we did a long day. We got to pass Mt. Tielson, a prominent very pointy peak and then headed into the first of 3 fire detours ahead of us, Oregon was on fire. We met some people along the detour who gave us some tips and were able to do some bush-wacking to avoid going too many extra miles out of our way. When we made it back to the PCT we were welcomed with an amazing view of Mt. Bachelor and the 3 sisters. We were about to get into some of the best wilderness views oregon had to offer. We got up close and personal with the 3 sisters volcanoes. The three peaks are beautiful and very different. Our Oregonian friend explained to us that the South sisters is the big sister, the middle sister is the beautiful sister, and the north sister is the tough sister (she was quite jagged at the top, I wouldn’t mess with that). In one day we started out with a view of Mt. Tielson in the background (near the Oregon/California border) and then hiked 30 miles through the sisters and some of the best scenery yet, and by the end of the day we could see Mt. Hood in the distance (near the Oregon/Washington border). It is amazing just how much smaller Oregon is than California. That night we camped by a spring and it was cold, I turned to Chad and said I think it is official, we are in the Northwest. I decided to start counting down how many cold nights we were going to have to get through before we were done. Fortunately there haven’t been too many super cold nights yet.

From here we wrapped around Mt. Jefferson and went through the Jefferson Park. It is a Wilderness area but it was so awesome we felt it was deserving of being a National Park. One of the highlights of the day came when we found out that the long fire detour we were approaching was lifte. We thought we were going to have to walk 35 miles of detour to get around 20 miles of PCT closed trail. But they had stopped the fire near the trail and it was headed away from us. We jumped and screamed like children, this was exciting. We were really happy that we got to walk this section of trail because it was beautiful and we crossed our first large snow field. We got to slide around and glisade a little bit. It was quite fun! That night we ate dinner at a beautiful Alpine Lake, Lake Ollalie and then headed for Jude Lake to get a good night of sleep. Ollalie is actually the word that the Native people of the area used for Huckelberries. It is very fitting because there are tons of Huckelberry bushes all along the trail. They are super tasty treats as your hiking along. The next morning we awoke at early and were on trail at 5am to test our hiking skills. We hiked all day only stopping to fill up on water and fuel up on food and FLUID. In the end we hiked 41 miles, ending at 9:15pm and got in bed totally exhausted shortly after. It felt great to push ourselves and realize what we are capable of. The next day we had 9 miles into the amazing and historic Timberline Lodge. The lodge was built after the depression by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) implemented by FDR to get people back to work. The craftsman ship from each pillar of wood to every welded hand rail is magnificent. It is all topped off with gorgeous paintings and well built furniture. I highly recommend a visit here! We have gotten to pamper ourselves a bit (which I love) and now we are full from the all you can eat breakfast buffet! Now it is time to get back on the trail and get ourselves to Canada! As much as I love hiking on the PCT and hanging with our fabulous community of friends, I am getting ready to sit on the couch and spend some time hanging with Grandma! As well as all of our other amazing family and friends. We love and miss everyone lots!

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Miles Miles and more Miles, Making our way through Oregon

Current Location: Timberline Lodge, Oregon
Miles Walked from Mexico: 2,106
Miles Left to Walk to Canada: 559

As we noted in our last blog post, we are just two days away from the Washington Border and we hiked our biggest day yet of the trip 41 miles. I wanted to take a little time and catch you up on all the excitement we saw in Oregon! Last we checked in was from Ashland. Ashland was a very short but sweet town stop. We refueled with tasty beer from the local brewery and huge scoops of carmely fudgey goodness from the best ice cream shop I have ever been too. Chad stopped by the hardware store to pick up some denatured alcohol for our cook stove and while he was there a really nice gentlemen asked about his flashy yellow gaiters. One thing led to the next and he offered to drive us back to the trail. It turned out he was a local city council member so we got to learn a bit more about Ashland. Plus Chad got to talk some local politics which you know he loves and misses on the trail.

Getting back to hiking was a bit tough. It was in the 90s and we were faced with a hot exposed climb. Luckily after a few miles we were back in the mostly flat, tree covered dirt/pine needle trail that Oregon is famous for. This section was not the most exciting we crossed large chunks of private land (which usually have very visible and sometimes frightening no trespassing signs). We did pass through an area that was turned into a Wilderness in 2009…Good Job Obama! Admist being in one off the less scenic sections we were very excited because we were headed to Crater Lake. Here we would visit one of the most beautiful and awesome landmarks on the pct and even better, we would get to see my Mom and Aunt Cindy.I couldn’t wait to get there. The day after leaving Ashland, Chad and I had a monumental day on the trail, we hiked our first 30 mile day! It was tough but it was our time. Most people had already hit that milestone so it felt good to join the club. The day started at 6am and finished at 9:15pm. As the day ended we were watching the sun go down as we cruised through glowing lava fields (glowing from the sun hitting them, not because they were hot). It was a bit bit rough on the feet but the views were awesome after a day and a half in the trees. As the darkness was approaching, Chad pointed out a camp spot on the side of the trail, I looked at my map and trail info and we had only gone 29.5 miles, I was determined to hit 30. We hiked for 10 more minutes, hit 30 miles and as luck would have we were on a ridge and there was no campsites. We were tired and it was dark so we not only did we walk 30 miles for the first time we camped in the trail for the first time. We even set up our tarptent in the trail after being attacked by ants at 11pm and not being able to sleep. Luckily we were in late and up early so we didn’t get in anyone’s way! The next morning we walked across a few more lava rocks and trees and then we got a magnificent view of Mt. Mcloughlin. It was the third major Cascade Volcanoe we passed (Lassen and Shasta were first), it was huge and impressive. We spent most of the day winding around and past it. The evening we hiked another long day and crossed across a long shale ridge before settling into bed on a saddle after another 29 mile day. We got up the next morning with extra pep in our step as we headed the 27 miles to Crater Lake. We starteed with a gorgeous ridge walk with impressive Cascade views and then dropped down into the trees were we picked up our hiking speed! At 6:30pm we made it to the Highway where Mom and CIndy were waiting and Roscoe ran down the trail to greet us. I was so impressed, they had gone to the Manzama Village store at Crater Lake and talked to other hikers to figure out what time we were arriving. They were so resourceful, no cell phone service necessary!

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41 Miles: Our Biggest Day and Drinking FLUID the Whole Way

Today was mine and Chad’s biggest day of hiking on the PCT. We hiked 41 miles! It was awesome and our legs are sore. We want to send a big shout out to FLUID sports drinks for helping fuel us on this big day and throughout our entire journey from Mexico! For those of you who are not familiar with FLUID they make electrolyte drinks to help athletes to fuel them during exercise and to help them recover after. The company is based out of SLO and was started by a Cal Poly alum. Today we indulged in FLUID. On our long voyage we had the Passion Fruit Tea electrolyte drink at lunch which is my favorite flavor and it even has a bit of caffeine which helped after a 4am start to the day. Now that we have made it to camp we are enjoying Chocolate Rave to help our muscles recover. We added dehydrated milk to make it like chocolate milk…mmmm. FLUID recovery drinks were also very helpful in the beginning of the hike. Our pre-hike training consisted mostly of skiing so walking 17-20 miles a day was a bit of a shocker to the legs. FLUID helped keep us feeling good the next morning. The only thing it didn’t really help with was blisters. I guess it can’t do it all! One of the best things about FLUID is it comes in powder form (so it is light to carry on the trail) and it has calories. Many powdered drink mixes have little to no calories and when you hike 40 miles a day you need all the calories you can get. In closing I have a fun quick story. When We left on this trip, Richard, the owner of FLUID offered to give us FLUID water bottles. Chad didn’t take one because he felt they were too heavy. I on the other hand, loved the pink one and was okay with carrying a bit extra weight. Chad tried to convince me not to take but I insisted. I used the bottle for the first 740 miles of the trip. Then Chad decided he wanted to get rid of his Camelback water bladder (because it was too heavy). Instead he was trying to put plastic Gatorade and Powerade bottles in bungie straps connected to the shoulder straps of his pack. This way he could drink while he was walking. Not only did the plastic water bottles fall out of the bungie and onto the ground every 5 miles, he had a tough time unscrewing them and trying to drink out of them on the go. It was comical but eventually I felt bad for him and offered him my FLUID water bottle. Since it is a bike bottle it had a nice groove where the bungie went in and therefore the water bottle did not fall to the ground. Plus it has an easy squirt top to drink out of. He retracted his comment about the water bottle being to heavy and has been sporting the pink bottle on his pack for the last 1350 miles. You can check out some sweet pics below. Thanks FLUID for making such sweet backpacker friendly water bottles! Overall we are extremely happy with the FLUID products and would highly recommend the to all types of athletes, including hikers of course. To learn more about FLUID you can go to: http://livefluid.com THANK YOU FLUID!! Service is spotty, so the pictures won’t be up until we get to Timberline Lodge tomorrow. Apologies. 20120828-092444.jpg

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Categories: Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Finally in the Beaver State!

Hey Everybody,

I know we’ve posted a few times in the last couple of days, but I wanted to take advantage of a computer so I could upload some more photos. It might be the last one for a while. Enjoy!

We are currently at a Hostel in Ashland, OR. California = DONE! Finally! We’ve spent the last few days hiking through Seiad Valley where we dined at their famous cafe and a few friends of ours attempted and brutally failed at the Pancake challenge. (If you see the pics below, you’ll learn why). Megs and I were smart enough to know we wouldn’t even make a dent.

Out of Seiad, we took a forest service recommended detour due to some lighting caused fires that were fast approaching the trail. Nor-cal and southern Oregon are pretty socked in with smoke right now and their are fires everywhere. The PCT is even closed in 3 different spots. Its crazy, but I’m glad we made it through safely.

Tomorrow we head out on a 4 day stretch to Crater Lake where we are excited to meet Connie (Meg’s mom) and their good family friends Patty and Alan for a day or two! Gonna be a blast.

Till next time…
Chad & Megs

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Categories: Trail Updates, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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