1699 down. Can't believe this shirt has made it this far.
Calm before the storm.
Ashland, OR under a haze of ash.
Oregon is shaping up to be pretty exciting. Not 5 miles in and I was treated to my first real rain in over 1000 miles of tinder-dry California countryside. This came by way of a lightning storm. And what do lightning storms bring after a long dry spell? Forest fires! So, as my clothes and body air dried, I wandered up and over ridges with views to adjacent hillsides where pillars of smoke began to rise on all sides. The response was very quick. Helicopters could be seen plying the hillsides with buckets of water, and after a short while the fires seemed pretty well managed.
The next day I safely wandered down to Callahan’s where the trail meets the I-5 and hitched in to Ashland where dozens of other hikers were pouring in via the highways as miles of trails closed down. And more fires are burning further north and rumors of trail closures puts the fear of road-walking in me. Not only is it hell on the joints, but shade is usually minimal, cars are often a nuisance and/or a danger, it’s ugly, and it simply isn’t what I’m out here for. But, if all goes off without a hitch and the trails are open, I have ~425 trail miles left in Oregon (+ a few miles for the Eagle Creek alternate that I hear is amazing), and I’m reorganizing my game plan to do it in two weeks or less.
For a few months now I’ve been thinking of making a little game out of the Oregon section of trail. In order to do it in so little time I had to drop a little weight (from my pack that is, I don’t have much fat left to burn). Gone are my DSLR AND GoPro. It breaks my heart, but 3+ lbs of camera equipment was breaking my back. Gone is my stove and the ability to have hot meals; I’ll cold soak all my ramen, oatmeal, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. Gone are my extra cold weather shirt and running tights, balaclava, and a few other incidentals. And to keep my food weight down I’m going to be banking on 2-3 days between resupplies 90 miles apart, which means I have no choice but to move fast and do big miles.
This doesn’t mean that If I break down and can’t do the miles that I’ll starve in the mountains. There are highways in between, I’ll just have to hitchhike out to a larger town to supplement my food drops that I’m currently boxing up here and mailing to various locations along the trail. I haven’t been without my share of injuries and ailments, and hardly a day goes by that some tendon or muscle doesn’t demand my attention and slow me down. But I’m finding a drive I never realized I had. It’s always been there, I just never appreciated and exploited it before. I want to test my resolve. And what better way to do it than announce my intentions to a lot of people to ensure that I don’t back away from it unless I have no other choice. A lot of people on the trail think I’m crazy for wanting to do such big miles. Well, a lot of people on the trail just think I’m crazy.
A while back a guy named Sea Legs saw me jump into a snow melt lake at about 10,000 ft elevation after I was dared to swim to a tiny island by one of my crew. As I was hyperventilating and second guessing myself in the frigid waters he walked up to the others shaking his head and said “That kid’s got a screw loose.” I couldn’t have been more proud! The truth is I like eliciting that response. I don’t go out of my way to get that reaction, but I’m proud to live in a way that others won't . That said, I’m not running across Oregon because I want anyone to think it’s crazy or amazing. I’m doing it because I want to challenge myself. And to be perfectly honest, after walking 1700 miles through the mountains I’m bored. I’m hoping this will bring a little excitement back into the equation. Wish me luck!