To my family, my friends, and those friends I have yet to meet:
I am not a thru-hiker. I am a long distance section hiker that has been enjoying the Pacific Crest Trail since leaving the Mexican border on April 3rd. I have crossed the Mojave desert, climbed 13,200 foot passes, forded streams of raging water, and otherwise seen the most spectacular scenery that California and Oregon can offer. I have battled bugs, heat, cold and sun. I have met some of the finest human beings on this good earth. We have shared camp, meals, motel rooms and spirited conversation. There has been no judgement of others following the trail, just kindred souls on a long adventure together. Everyone has their own reasons for being out here. The days are long and generally end in exhaustion. But, after a meal, usually enjoyed sitting on a rock or log, we feel energized again. We crawl into our sleeping bags and send good wishes to those we love as we stare at a sky unpolluted with lights. This nearly four month adventure has given me new found confidence and a renewed appreciation for the life I have led. I have a family full of love and friends that will walk through fire for one another. What else matters? When I feel the love from those I care about I feel limitless. And, now, after pushing myself past 2150 miles I feel the strength of knowing my body has unknown limits as well. How do we ever learn our limits unless we push? I feel powerful.
Having been given this opportunity to be on the trail for this extended time is something I accept with extreme gratitude to my family. Their support has made me successful. I have decided to end my adventure. I am not “quitting”. Nothing about my hike has been a failure just because I don’t touch Canada. I am sorry if some feel disappointed by my decision. I have no regrets–except I didn’t see one single bear! Many people have said, “But, you are so close to Canada!”. Only if 500 miles is considered close. i just don’t want to hike for three or four more weeks. I will return home and resume my life as Darlene. But, Poco Loco had an amazing adventure that has changed Darlene. I learned that I am better with others than solo. I learned that food really can be just fuel for the body. I also learned to appreciate myself as I am.
Thank you all for supporting me and for the comments as I told my story of the Trail. This experience was profound and will stay with me always. The overwhelming kindness of others made simple things bring tears to my eyes on a daily basis. What will I do now? Probably plan my next adventure! Who wants to come along? This is a wonderful world we share. Trail magic is everywhere. Happy trails:
Tunnel Falls that we walked behind
Trail through the forest today
It was a lovely 20 miles from camp to the town of Cascade Locks on the Columbia River. This is the border of Oregon and Washington. Arrived here and found free camping and showers at a great campground on the river! Now sitting on the water waiting for a band to start playing! Lots of cold pitchers of IPA beer flowing between a dozen hikers.
Mt Hood this am
The crew at Ramona Falls: Reboot, Guac, Milestone, Tiny, me, Brainstorm
After gorging at the breakfast buffet we all wasted time all morning. Finally left the comforts of Timberline Lodge around 11am and hiked 24 miles to where we are all camped at mile 2132. It was the finest tread below my feet all day so the hiking was pretty smooth. Very few views though and I was in the forest most of the day. There was one steep climb and one mellow one. Overall, a good day. I had chicken fajitas for dinner and now I’m in my sleeping bag. It’s 50 degrees and dropping but I like the brisk feeling on my face. We will have to see if my fingers feel the same in the morning! Good night. Poco Loco
Big Lake Youth Camp just might be the happiest place on earth! It is a Seventh Day Adventist run residential camp and a pure delight. They accept hiker packages and offer showers, laundry and fabulous food. All for whatever monetary donation one feels like offering. I can’t say enough about the kindness of the staff there. We were allowed to camp on a beach nearby. It rained most of the night but since I hadn’t made definite plans yet for the fire reroute I stayed in my tent until the rain stopped midmorning. The official reroute includes a 37 mile road walk to bypass the Mt Jefferson fire. Some purists are going to take this option. Some, including me, will skip this section and pick up the trail at Timberline Lodge. I got a ride yesterday afternoon to Portland with Chinese Rocks and her boyfriend who had flown in from Texas. Two section hikers, Dorothy and Alec, rode with us for the two and a half hour ride to Portland. I spent the night here with Ray’s sister, Terri, and her family. It has been raining all day and Terri will take me to Timberline Lodge
tomorrow where I will meet up with Reboot and Guac. Hopefully, Spirit will be there too.
I’m now at Timberline Lodge and it is Friday at 12:30. It feels like a blustery winter day outside with freezing rain. I’m on Mt Hood but the mountain is shrouded in clouds. I’m waiting for Reboot and Guac to arrive and we will hit the buffet! This is a beautiful historic lodge built in the 30’s. I’m looking forward to an afternoon of relaxing in front of the big fireplace watching the weather outside! All is well! Poco Loco
Shoes have been replaced!
Forest Service Ski. Cabin. Mile 1920.5
Obsidian Falls. Mile 1978
Campsite last night at dusk.
View from my tent last night
My shoes arrived at Shelter Cove at 5:30 on Friday and after gluing Velcro to the backs to attach my gaiters I was ready to hit the trail. Monsoon and Beershake hiked out with me and we went 8 miles to the Forest Service ski cabin where we planned to spend the night. What a cool place! It was octagonal shaped with a common area downstairs and a sleeping loft upstairs. There were two PCT southbounders that were full of knowledge about the snow ahead. I left at dawn and hiked my biggest day to date–33.5 miles! It was a day where I couldn’t stop for breaks because the mosquitoes were so bad. I camped alone at Dumbell Lake. I only had 6 miles on Sunday to get to Elk Lake to pick up a resupply box. I didn’t hang out long but did get a free shower! I hiked until dark and camped alone. The elevation was high enough where the bugs weren’t too bad. There was plenty of snow to cross and even got to glissade about 75 yards. I was scared even at such a short distance! I made it to Big Lake Youth Camp in the early afternoon. There are lots of hikers here trying to decide how to deal with all the fire closures ahead.
If you think I’m a competitive person, I’m really not. I’ve never been strong enough at anything to be competitive! I’m a good hiker, not one who competes to get there first. I do get up early to get a head start but I would rather be chased than have the feeling like I had to catch up. If that makes sense.
To be honest, I’m getting tired of being by myself. Too much time to let my brain get distorted! Poco Loco
I left Crater Lake and hiked 27 miles, then another 27 miles then 16 into Shelter Cove which is where I’m relaxing on the deck of a cabin I rented. There were seven of us that rented a pontoon boat and cruised around the lake this afternoon. A superb shift in the day! My new shores won’t arrive until tomorrow so I’ m happy to chill here.
I will sort through my food, pack my pack and walk north tomorrow. Attitude adjustment worked wonders and I realized I’m not done. I have a Magnum 357 to deal with mosquitoes. 🙂
I shared a cab with Chinese Rocks, Carlos, and Colonel and we watched the sunrise as we were taken to the trailhead at mile 1727. The forecast for 20% chance of thunder showers materialized into light rain for the next five hours. It wasn’t a big deal and my clothes dried out in the afternoon. I have not had to set up or break down camp in the rain the entire trip! I have now been out here for nearly three and a half months! Carlos, Chinese Rocks and I saw each other throughout the day and had good laughs. Carlos was born in Mexico but has worked in Silicon Valley the past few years. Good guy. His trail name is Guac as in guacamole. Chinese Rocks has it in her mind to get through Oregon in fourteen days so she wants to do thirty miles a day. I’m not on board with her plan but I did the thirty miles yesterday and thirty again today! She and I camped together last night but I left before she opened her eyes. It was 5:20. Very few hikers like that hour other than Reboot and I. I haven’t seen another northbound hiker all day and I’m camped at mile 1787 by myself. I did see two ladies out for a day hike and they gave me half a sandwich and a bag of cherries! I ran into them during the six mile stretch of lava rock courtesy of Mt McLaughlin. Oregon is all about volcanoes. I will pass many of them. My campsite is not far from the trail so i will see or hear anyone that might come by. There was a breeze earlier so the bugs were tolerable but now it is dead calm and the mosquitoes are fierce. Im in the pine trees. all kinds–Noble Fir, Cedars and lots of Douglas Fir. My plan is another early start and close to thirty miles again tomorrow . That would leave only twelve into Crater Lake for Monday. I’m anxious to see it as I’ve heard it is spectacular. I will have time to do laundry, shower, eat mass amounts of town food, and get back on the trail the same day. I can’t send this because of no cell reception. I may add to it tomorrow.
It is now 11:30 on Sunday. I’ve had a miserable morning dealing with mosquitoes. They bite through my clothes. I had to stop at 10:00 and set up my tent just to escape them and have breakfast. These buggers could do me in and cause me to bail on the hike. Maybe they bother me more than they do other people but definitely bothered! I have never seen them like this my entire life.
Later on Sunday. I was resting and Homeless Guy and Jolly came by. Homeless and I hiked together the rest of the afternoon and camped just after a burn area. It was thirty miles for me and that was enough!
This morning I was in the trail at 5:00 am for the final twelve into Crater Lake. But…I jumped off a four foot diameter downed tree and landed badly on my weak ankle. I’m sitting at The store assessing my next move. More later