76 days, to be exact. But hey! I'm alive. I'm still hiking; I didn't quit, skip, or have anything bad befall me. Instead at the end of the day I simply just felt too tired or inclined to socialize. So I stopped writing. I might start again. Maybe.
I am after all in Oregon now (finally!) and perhaps that deserves documentation. It certainly feels important enough to me. I've stalled out in Ashland, taking a whopping 4 days off and not accomplishing very much. I suppose I am ok with that. It felt better than walking, that's for damn sure! I'll try and quickly detail some of the highs and lows of the past few months for you now.
I had a friend save me and offer me a pair of gently used ultra-light ti goat poles. It's been wonderful using them and I feel so lucky to have repeatedly encountered the generosity of the hiking community.
I managed to convince Tom at Kennedy Meadows to slackpack the last 24 or 26 miles into there (or did he convince me?). Upon starting at almost noon, on an incredibly hot day, I then promptly sat down on a cactus and got tiny little spines embedded in my thigh, hand, and ass. Not very fun. Karma for ditching the pack for 6 hours? Perhaps.
I fell in platonic love with Not A Chance as we hung out at Kennedy Meadows and bonded over an 80's and 90's music dance party. We were later informed that we were obnoxious. I will concede, just this one time. I have a terrible habit of losing Not A Chance and her boyfriend Croation; the last time I saw them was as they were leaving Vermilion Valley Ranch. I had decided that I deserved pie and was determined to do a work-for-stay and gorge. They were leaving just as I came in. I regret not sticking with them, as they are now over a week ahead of me!
I received the best care package ever from the lovely Persistent. And also from Rocket, who sent me a poem more timely than you can possibly imagine!
The Sierras were magical, beautiful, challenging, epic, and rewarding. Every day there were multiple pay-offs... which certainly led to disappointment when we headed back into more mundane wooded areas past the Sierras. The northern descent off of Forrester and Muir pass were my two favorite areas. Truly magical landscapes. The most beautiful hiking I have ever seen. (And yes, there was hardly any snow to traverse. We had it easy!)
Andrew and I encountered a man dealing with anaphylactic shock (passed out, due to a bee sting). Andrew helped find the epi-pen, we monitered vital signs, and a helicopter was called.
Sonora Pass was beautiful and also marked the beginning of the end in terms of my positive attitude towards long distance hiking. I struggled for weeks, hiked some shorter days (15 miles), felt exhausted constantly and on the verge of tears, was bored, and in general went through a very blue phase that lasted weeks/hundreds of miles. Certain things brightened my day at these moments: receiving a postcard from Hungary (thank you!) from a stranger who read my blog was wonderful! (I'm so sorry I stopped posting!). The trail angels at Bucks Lake were lovely and made me feel like family.
Mt. Lassen's national park was scenic, short, and contained a resort with a hot spring pool and lots of left-over food for hikers. Yes, please. I encountered a baby chipmunk shivering and abandoned in the road and warmed it in my pocket before placing it in a sunny bale of hay.
I stared at Mt. Shasta looming in the distance for days and days as we traversed in a loop around it. Mt. Shasta is a great town, very hiker friendly although you are likely to be mistaken for a homeless bum, since there are a lot f those too! I had great luck asking for rides in front of the health food store. I also forgot my piece of carrot cake and felt disproportionately sad. The hike into the town of Mt. Shasta was not that appealing to me. Dry dirt and prickly needles and hot weather and excessive uphills. I was in a funk. I have seen a total of 7 bears now, though!
I had a friend visit me in Etna, where we frequented the brewery, I binged on farmer's market produce, and we slept in the park like sneaky hobos. My mood slowly began to lift and the Marble Mountains were beautiful.
I have been hiking with Grit, Last Minute, Rem, and Rubylocks - I am very averse to groups but somehow keep winding up in theirs! They seem fond of me. They have also helped enable this ridiculously long stay in Ashland. I may push a bit harder now - I feel better mentally (although physically I am oh so tired) and I am getting ready to be done. I look forward to exploring Washington and Oregon, and I also look forward to perhaps taking some fall classes and pushing myself academically. And also being healthy again. That would be nice.
So big miles lay ahead of me. I'll try and update again by the end of Oregon. Thanks for your patience, support, and love!