Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ashland, OR to Crater Lake National Park

Ashland treated us very well. Chris already mentioned how amazing our Bed & Breakfast was with our plush king sized bed, jacuzzi bath tub and a separate shower, even two elegant chairs that we lazed in while we sipped wine. We are deeply grateful to my sister, Adrienne, and brother-in-law, Jeff, for such a treat! The Winchester Inn was so nice that we decided to stay another night!

So, after a heavenly breakfast at the Inn, and a leisurely morning in our room, we set out on the usual town errands. First stop, an outfitter. I replaced my spork (an implement that's a fork/spoon combination) since I'd been using a nub for a week or so after snapping mine. I also got socks to use with my sneakers that will carry me through Oregon, the newly resoled boots will be back for Washington. Chris got a pack cover for rain protection, some socks, water purification tablets and fuel for our stove. The awesome staff even gave Chris replacement nose pads for his sunglasses-free! Next stop: grocery store where we didn't need much thanks to the outstanding care packages from George and Susie and Carla. Lastly: Internet at the Library. Our productive day in town inspired us to treat ourselves to dinner (Indian food) and a movie (Julie and Julia) with Neil and Andrea. They joined us in our room for some wine afterwards, capping off a spectacular day.

We'd already decided to spend the next day in town and hop on the trail before dark. We wrote postcards, did some more Internet chores and even watched part of a Red Sox game over a couple of beers. At the bar, we met the author of "Soul, Sweat and Survival", a book Chris read about the author's experience running the PCT in the 8o's. Bob Holtel was charming, even if he is crazy. He's planning to run it again next year at 80 years old!

Neil and Andrea dropped us off back at the trail around 7 pm and we made it a whopping 1.9 miles before camping within earshot of I-5. The next couple of days blended into each other, a steady stream of eating, water filtering, walking and camping. We were feeling a little slow after own town stop so we haven't been putting in long days. Instead, we've been walking only 20-25 miles per day, enjoying longer meal breaks and camping early. One evening we camped by a small reservoir and actually had some daylight to watch some sort of aquatic mammal trolling the waters and splashing its tail. a family of Canada geese beach themselves for the evening, a long necked blue bird roost in a tree and a pair of osprey making their rounds looking for food. The next evening we found a cosy hut where Chris and I rolled our sleeping bags out on a wooden counter for a warm, dry night's sleep. Out trusty tent treated us well for the rest of this stretch, per usual, as we cruised into Crater Lake National Park in time for an AYCE (all you can eat) buffet lunch at the campground. Our bellies thoroughly stuffed, we loitered around the camp store for a couple of hours digesting and chatting with other hikers until it was too late to get back to the trail. We convinced the group to join us at a flat spot just a half-mile down the trail where we drank some beers and laughed around a campfire until late into the evening...that's only about 10:30pm on the trail.

While sitting around the fire lamenting on the miles we didn't walk, we all reminded ourselves that it's important to do fun things on the trail-not just churn out the miles. Such moments of reflection got Chris and I thinking about why we are out here. A lot of people must be wondering the same thing! -Beetle

So, in our own words, here's why we are hiking the PCT:


"On the suggestion of a fellow thru-hiker, I came up with the top three reasons I'm hiking the to remind myself during blue moments. 1) I want the physical and mental challenge-will I have the stamina and the mental grit to walk 2,650 miles, sleep outside for 5 months, and push through the down times? 2) I am excited to explore new aspects of my relationship with Chris, to hone our communication skills, practise patience and teamwork, and to experience this adventure together. 3) I want to see this beautiful and varied country up close and personal, from desert to the rugged High Sierra to the lush forests and all the interesting people in between. So far, this crazy adventure has been everything I've hoped for."


"First and foremost for me, it's the athletic challenge of walking the entire trail that inspires me to be out here. I like testing my body's limits, which is part of the reason why I run marathons, I suppose, (the other part is my addiction to running). Secondly, I love camping. In fact, we both agree that the best part of the day is arriving at camp every evening, even if it's only to pitch the tent, eat dinner and climb into our sleeping bags with our books. Thirdly, there is something very primitive about carrying all of your belongings right there on your back, and that can be quite appealing. Also, I am always eager to see new things and visit new places, and hiking across three large states feeds this wanderlust. I'm not just talking about the trail here either, but the towns along the way. Town time I enjoy a lot. And lastly, the best part is that I get to share all these things with my wife."

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