Fun with time-lapses

Knowing I might undergo some radical physical changes while on the PCT, I sought to document this transformation. You see, in the “real world," I love fashion and like being "that weird looking guy." To find me in colored skinny jeans, with makeup and oddly colored hair is not uncommon. On the trail, however, I put all my pampering and primping aside. I wanted to do this without the costume and style of my regular life. And so I left my eyeliner and hair dye at home. For the first time in my entire life I even let my facial hair grow, which turned out to be the saddest of sights. It should be noted that I didn't trim my facial hair at all, I simply don't grow any. Definitely not going to be winning a moustache growing contest anytime soon.

At one point I met some section hikers completely in awe of the thru-hikers they passed, who told me that we all looked either homeless or sporty. I kind of hoped I was some mix of the two, to be honest. While most men on trail looked more and more like Paul-freakin’-Bunyan each day, my hiking companion among them, I maintained this odd sort of boy band / homeless look.

The guy who left as Jonathan was not the same person who returned as Pedi. The transformation goes far beyond the visual, but even still, the visual changes are staggering. I photographed these changes with a selfie-a-day project, which I present to you now. From newbie to seasoned hiker, from scrub to full-on hiker-trash, here is my transformation as I hiked that 2,663 mile trail.

Hitchiking

Hitchhiking is one of those aspects of trail life that non-hikers tend to find shocking. The first question people ask when they hear about the trail ("You walked how far?!") is often followed by "How did you get food and supplies?" My explanation to is that we hitch into the small towns near the trail to buy food. This invariably elicits interestings reactions.

"What do you mean hitching? Like hitchhiking?" they say, wide eyed.

The logistics of getting a hitch are pretty much the same as they've always been. Stand on the side of a road with your thumb out and hope that some kind soul will stop to pick you up. This is the most common form of soliciting a hitch, at least. Getting a hitch can be about much more than simply sticking your thumb out. When I talk about hitchhiking I am referring to the general act of getting a ride from a stranger. This can happen in so many more ways than my pre-trail self could have imagined: sometimes you find yourself in a parking lot, and you just have to approach a stranger or two and ask for a ride. Other times you have to divide and conquer; there are too many hikers to fit in one normal-sized vehicle. There are even times where you have to do, well, nothing. On these rare occasions rides were solicited to us, which is an incredible experience.

From the day we landed in Southern California until we returned to our hometown of St. Louis, I hitched 43 rides. They varied greatly in quality and novelty, but every one of them was a blessing. Of those 43 times, only once did I ever feel remotely unsafe, and it was due to the driver's carelessness, not because I ever felt I would be harmed.

Before the PCT I had never hitched a ride. I had never ridden in the back of a pickup truck. I had never done a lot of things that I have now done. Sure, I was a little nervous. Mostly, I think the nerves were caused by fear of continual rejection by passing cars. I never really worried about my personal safety or uncomfortable situations. Or at least I accepted it as an inherent risk. Then again, I'm a 6' tall white male who tends to be a bit callous with things like safety, so that might have something to do with it. As for my nerves, they were immediately put to rest after our very first hitch came completely without solicitation. A nice couple saw us walking through San Diego and stopped to see if we needed a ride. HOW CRAZY IS THAT? I would soon find out that this was only the tip of the iceberg.

In case you are still worried, let's see if perspective and clarity don’t put you more at ease. When you go through towns on or near the trail, most people know about the Pacific Crest Trail. When those people see us with our dirty clothes and backpacks, they usually know we're hikers. There really is a community around this trail that looks out for hikers. We are all strangers, but we are strangers within a hiking community.

Beyond that, you have to be willing to let the unexpected happen. You have to let go of absolute control, go with the flow and leave some things up to chance. You are always going to hear stories on the news that someone was found dead in a ditch because some evil monster picked them up. But what about all the times where humans rise to the occasion and help each other out in little ways? These aren't news stories, they are random acts of human kindness. I bet if you look around you will find lots more of those acts than you do big scary stuff. I saw it happen day in and day out on trail; it was a beautiful thing.

Here are a few examples of what hitching on the PCT was like.

Best hitch: We got a hitch out of Bishop, CA from a 70 year old woman in her RV. She came into the cafe where we were sitting and offered my crew a ride. She even offered us some cold Bud Light Limes for the ride back to trail. This woman embodied the spirit of adventure.

We sometimes joked about the most epic hitches imaginable. Firetruck hitch was always at the top of our list. We never got one, but a few hiker trash friends of ours did get a hitch in the bucket of a front loading tractor. We were jealous, to say the least.

Worst hitch: Being shoved three-deep in the back of a car with all our gear and a dog on our laps, winding down mountain roads with a driver who was less than concerned about staying on the right side of the road. The guys that gave us a ride were quite kind, but their driving was less than stellar. As noted earlier, this was the one and only time I ever felt the least bit uncomfortable in a stranger's car.

Weirdest character who gave us a hitch: This super right-wing guy who told us the national economy was on the brink of collapse explained that precious metals were the only thing that were going to be worth a damn. He then preceded to show us a minted silver coin that he happened to carry around in his pocket.

A word of politeness to those who choose solicit their own hitches: if possible, it's best to offer a few dollars in gas money to those that give you a hitch. Ya know, because paying it forward, being a good person and all that jazz. Screw karma, it's just the right thing to do.

One last detail that eluded me before the trail: Oftentimes when someone gives you a hitch, they load you up, drive off, start chatting and roll up the windows. Make sure they don't do this last part! This kind, unassuming person obviously doesn't realize you smell TERRIBLE and should be warned before enclosing themselves in a small, mostly airtight capsule with filthy hiker trash. I didn’t even want to be enclosed in a vehicle with my own smell. I can't imagine how bad it must be for 'normal folk' to have to smell us.

Cheers,

Jonathan

Dan (Soapbox) trying to hitch out of Chester, CA.

Dan (Soapbox) trying to hitch out of Chester, CA.

Myself and Half'n'Half trying to walk and hitch a ride in Big Bear City, CA

Myself and Half'n'Half trying to walk and hitch a ride in Big Bear City, CA

Dan hitching in the back of a pickup to Kennedy Meadows Resort in central California. We had to ride with the gate down because the bed was so full.

Dan hitching in the back of a pickup to Kennedy Meadows Resort in central California. We had to ride with the gate down because the bed was so full.

Frizzle riding in the bed of a pickup on our way back to trail from Trout Lake, WA

Frizzle riding in the bed of a pickup on our way back to trail from Trout Lake, WA

Half'n'Half, myself, Quinoa and Choop hitching back up to Tuolomne Meadows from Yosemite Valley.

Half'n'Half, myself, Quinoa and Choop hitching back up to Tuolomne Meadows from Yosemite Valley.

Looking Back: struck down by sickness (pt. 4)

Dan took you through the brunt of his own illness and the toll it took on him as we continued making our way through Washington. Now I'm going to pick up the baton and finish out the saga. Oh how I wished it had ended with some annoying mice that kept us up in the night.

As I awoke on this, the 137th day on trail, I felt my stomach lurch. I ran off into the woods expecting the worst, and that's exactly what I got. Making my way back to my tent, I couldn't bring myself to start eating breakfast or packing up. I tried to go back to sleep. As I turned onto my back I felt immediate discomfort. Dan had described that exact discomfort not two days prior. After a few more trips back into the thicket I knew I had fallen prey to the same condition from which Dan had been ailing. Now I had Giardia too. Horror of horrors. This was not going to be easy.

And it wasn't. Luckily, Dan was incredibly patient and empathetic. After all, he was only now recovering from mostly the same symptoms. Like I had done for Dan, he showed great patience as our situations reversed. We stopped when I needed to stop and kept going as soon as I was able. The nausea came in waves, and I had to make the most of the times of stability before again having to urgently rush off trail. 

Oh yeah, and it was raining all day. Did I mention the rain? For the next 36 hours we would experience almost constant rain and cloud cover. This was supposed to be one of the most beautiful sections of the trail. Not only could we not see anything through the thick fog and cloud cover, but instead of sharing vistas we both had nausea and diarrhea. In case you've never experienced it before, diarrhea in the cold rain sucks. A lot. 

It was at this point that I realized this was only the second time on trail that Dan and I had been hiking completely by ourselves. No crew, no loose group of friends with whom we would leapfrog. Just two friends out in the woods shitting our brains out in the cold rain. What else can you really ask for? Honestly, it's an amazing bonding experience.

After two days of trudging along and trying to keep our spirits up, we made it to Steven's Pass, a skiing/mountain biking resort. We found ourselves a ride to the Dinsmore's Hiker Haven, a trail angel house in Skykomish, WA, where we were reunited with Butters and Frizzle. I may have felt like crap, but the comfort of friends meant the world to me. It was also at this point that Dan noticed a voicemail he had received from the clinic in North Bend. HE DIDN'T HAVE GIARDIA! Huzzah. Which also means that I didn't have Giardia. Again, HUZZAH. We simply had a common stomach bug. Food poisoning, or something like that.  Unfortunately this news did nothing to alleviate the nausea I continued to feel. There wasn't much we could do at this point except ride it out.

Butters too had been experiencing the pangs of sickness, only his manifested in an inability to keep food down. Consistent vomiting does not make for easy hiking. Less because it's had to walk while vomiting and more because it's hard to take in adequate sustenance required to do 25+ miles/day.

One day out of Skykomish and Butters was officially worried. There was no indication that his vomiting would cease. He was going to hike back to Skykomish, get a ride to Seattle and see a doctor. We didn't want to see our friend go, but only he could know what was best for him. We woefully gave him goodbye hugs before seeing him head off the same way we had come. This would be the last time we saw Butters. We missed him dearly in the week it took us to finish out the trail. Thankfully, it did not mean his hike was over. More on that later.

As Butters left us we gained a new crew member in Mongo, a fellow St. Louisan, jokester and all around good guy. So our crew would stay until the very end: Dan, Frizzle, Mongo and I.

Unfortunately, Mongo was not the only thing to see us to the trail's end. The nausea, diarrhea and general feelings of discomfort persisted off and on throughout the rest of the trail too. I guess you could say I learned to manage it well enough, but it put a damper on my mood to be sure. For 95% of the trail I felt up-beat and excited for what was to come. During dark moments in that stretch I could only hope that the trail would simply come to an end. We had walked 2500 miles since the Mexican border. I wasn't about to give up on the last 163 miles without a fight. 

I never actively wanted to quit before the finish, but I did occasionally wonder how much grit I had left in me. On one hand, we had already accomplished a great feat. We walked really far, we learned things about ourselves and we had a great time. Technically, we could have stopped there and still gotten a great deal out of the adventure. I wasn't willing to stop until we reached the end, though. I wanted to follow through on the commitment we made to this journey. I wanted the closure of making it to the monument at the Canadian border. Willpower and camaraderie were what kept me going. 

Dan was mostly better in that last week, though he too had bouts of diarrhea from time to time. Even Ms. Frizzle was unable to fully avoid our misfortune. It was less severe than what Dan and I went through but far from optimal. Huge props to that girl for being a driving positive force. It was with this unwillingness to let our ailments and Washington's elements bring us down that we finished the trail.

On September 8, our 146th day hiking this Pacific Crest Trail, we made it. We arrived at the Canadian border with adrenaline surging through our bodies. Nothing could have brought us down in that moment of triumph, although it didn't hurt that we all felt some respite from illness. The weather, too, had cooperated with us. We hadn't seen rain in at least three days. 

Now we could rest. Glorious rest. After getting back to our respective homes and a week or so of recuperation I'm happy to report that all are once again well. Even Butters managed to make it back to trail and finished it out. 

You tested us, PCT. You threw us some curveballs, and still we stuck it out to the end. What a wild ride.

Cheers,

Jonathan

Looking Back: struck down by sickness (pt. 3)

While we had a 3000+ ft climb that stretched over four miles, I hoped it would be downhill for my sickness. The clinic doctor in North Bend and I thought I had contracted a case of giardia. Luckily by the time Jonathan and I started hiking again I had been on the antibiotics for 18 hours or so. The rumor on the trail was that 24 hours on Flagyl would leave me feeling like normal again - so we were pushing it a bit, but we didn't plan on hiking far. We could not wait around in hotels anymore.

The last post left off with Jonathan and myself at the northbound Snoqualmie Pass trail head. I was still experiencing symptoms, but we were ready to move again. We had a big climb and a challenging section ahead but were only 2 - 3 days away from the Dinsmore's Hiker Haven and Steven's Pass. And I had medication.

My main concern was that as we began this huge climb with full packs, heavy from our resupply I knew I would frequently need to go to the bathroom (normally toilet time in the woods is rather pleasant). This time either side of the trail was very steep, and there were lots of day hikers since we were close to a major highway. This meant that as we ascended the PCT, making our way to a section of trail known as the Kendall Katwalk, I had to frequently throw down my pack and scramble up cliff-sides to find a place to hide and squat. This was challenging for me... but also hilarious as Jonathan patiently sat on the side of trail by my pack and the same couple of people leapfrogged (we'd pass them, they'd pass us) with us. Each time he'd have a brief exchange, but they knew I was in need of some space. One couple hiking back to the highway gave us muffins and fruit, which was great because I was starting to get my appetite back.

Finally, we made it to the top of the climb. The trail at this section was breathtakingly stunning. We had hiked out of old growth forest, waterfalls, and gravity defying rock formations and into fully exposed cliffs and seemingly infinite vistas. There had been heavy cloud cover earlier in the day, but as the evening approached we were watching puffy clouds rise and fall up and over entire mountains like airships. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness certainly lived up to it's name - there were pristine blue, teal, azure waters hidden high up  and away from the rest of the world. As we crossed the ridge I looked out to see Mt. Rainier in the distance as well as sheer valley walls and new mountaintops. The majesty of the Cascade range took my breath away, and I forgot about being sick.

We hiked 11 miles that day. It took around 6 hours and there was one point on the 'Katwalk' where I had to clamber up 25 feet of rocks to find an appropriate perch to do my business (yes, I know, I was in the Leave No Trace grey area here). I finally felt hungry again. We were camping in the clouds. As the misty curtain cleared Jonathan and I ate dinner while we enjoyed a view of Mt. Rainier at sunset. When I say ate dinner, I mean we really, really ate. I mean I made two dinners and had some candy bars, chips and fruit snacks. I was still technically sick; I felt thin as a rail, but I knew as long as I could get calories in and if we took it easy for a day or two, I would be past the worst of it.

Hiking the PCT faced with sickness was frightening as hell. If my condition had deteriorated during a bad storm - we were in Washington, temperatures were dropping and rain can hit any time and last for days - I could have been in serious trouble. There were many other people who had gotten sick on the trail and would get sick in the remaining days of the trail. We faced difficult decisions while experiencing both emotional and physical challenges all while battling out the weather and the trail.

That next morning we woke up enveloped by clouds. I had slept through the entire night, the first full night of rest my body had allowed me to have for three days. We woke and began hiking by 9 am, late by normal standards, but considering our previous circumstances I felt pretty good as we set out. Our goal was to just get as many miles in as we could, but not push it or over-stress my racked body. Clouds rolled in as the day went on, but the scenery was consistently gorgeous and we hiked a decent pace... airship clouds, impossible rock spires, typical PCT stuff. By the afternoon we were starting to get hit by some rain and it felt like the clouds were going to start dumping serious moisture. We had hiked 26 miles. An alright day under normal circumstances, excellent if you are recovering from sickness. We made dinner as it got dark.

"Dude, mice" said Jonathan. Oh man. We were finishing food and getting ready to call it a night when suddenly there were little grey streaks flitting all around us. Great. Mice. I hate mice. But I know better, all the food and anything that could smell like food goes into a bag and the bags hang on a low branch. I rarely hang my food to protect it from bears because bears can climb trees. I will definitely hang my food 12 inches off the ground or higher to keep mice and rodents away from it. I do not like holes in every pocket in my pack, bag or my tent. Even though the food was up I still woke up in the night. The mice had found a single plastic bag outside my tent and were chewing through it repeatedly (probably to spite me). Jonathan did not fare any better - he had left crumbs in a wrapper by his pack. We both woke up multiple times, afraid mice were chewing through tents or bags.

The next morning I was up and moving by 7 am. The damage from the mice was superficial. Jonathan was still asleep, but I figured I could get moving and he would catch me. I felt like I was at 80 or 90% and wanted to get some miles in. This did not happen. I yelled over to him while I was striking camp and all I got was a groan. No. Effing. Way. I finished packing while he ran off into the woods. I knew his pain and he had my sympathies. Getting to Steven's Pass was not going to be easy.

The second Captain was down. Washington wasn't pulling any punches.

Cheers,

Dan (aka Soapbox)

Side note - the Kendall Katwalk section of trail was featured in Backpacker Magazine's October issue. It is an awesome section of trail with a really interesting history. According to the Backpacker article the trail crew "marked the route along the cliff face by dropping beer bottles full of red paint from a helicopter" when they were building it. If you live in Seattle there's no reason to miss out on this hike.

The ridge top crossing of the Kendall Katwalk

The ridge top crossing of the Kendall Katwalk

Another view of the Kendal Katwalk

Another view of the Kendal Katwalk

One of my favorite vista of the trail.

One of my favorite vista of the trail.

Airship clouds

Airship clouds

Making camp the first night out of Snoqualimie.

Making camp the first night out of Snoqualimie.

Looking Back: struck down by sickness (pt. 2)

We left off with Jonathan and myself making our approach toward Snoqualmie Pass (see part 1 if you're curious). My condition was somewhat stable - I was experiencing stomach pains and suspiciously frequent trips to the tree toilet (going to the bathroom meant running off into the trees as quickly as possible), but my spirits were high, I could eat and I had caught my hiker friends.

After our 30 mile day we woke with a 12.5 mile hike to Snoqualmie Pass. I was still feeling good and was hiking fast. I was so hungry! We got moving early and hoped to reach the pass by lunchtime. As I went I started to get that familiar stomach ache, but didn't think I would have a problem eating.

Soapbox the morning he and Smokes hiked into Snoqualmie Pass

Soapbox the morning he and Smokes hiked into Snoqualmie Pass

View of Mt. Ranier before we hiked into Snoqualmie Pass.

View of Mt. Ranier before we hiked into Snoqualmie Pass.

The hike to the pass was gorgeous. We were high up on a ridge looking down into a valley, able to see highway 90 and hear the sounds of cars echoing off the mountains, quite amplified as they were a thousand feet or more below us. Again, I'd like to emphasize Washington's beauty. As we walked north through the state I was continually struck by the raw quality of the forests, challenges presented by the sheer mountains, and the impressive infrastructure people had built to cross the wild country.

We gained the pass and I descended with Smokes to Snoqualmie (I'm not sure if it's really a town, maybe more of a highway exit with a ski resort?). We ran down a ski run towards a gas station and hotel at the bottom. We knew there was food. We knew there was beer. We had resupply boxes at the gas station. Pedi and Frizzle were there already, having camped ahead of Butters, Smokes, Trail Dancer and me (oh, and Frizzle and Pedi tend to get up early and walk crazy fast).

We arrived at the Chevron gas station as a school bus was making a pit stop. Smokes and I dropped our packs and made a bee-line for the toilets. Oops. Huge lines. Two toilets. School field trip. Not. Good. Anxiously I walked around the store - tons of random stuff. Hiker resupply boxes apparently were delivered from a post office in North Bend (20 miles away) and stored in a walk-in cooler-turned-post office, and your usual gas station food and drink options were all over. Finally, I could take care of my business (the toilet). Next was the food. I assure you, gas station cheeseburgers never tasted so good. Eventually, Smokes and I tracked down Pedi and Frizzle at a coffee shop/DoT bathroom and shower facility (the two shared a building; I don't know how else to describe it).

Hiker trash hanging out, going through resupply boxes in Snoqualmie Pass. (Smokes, Trail Dancer and Frizzle)

Hiker trash hanging out, going through resupply boxes in Snoqualmie Pass. (Smokes, Trail Dancer and Frizzle)

Still feeling okay. It was early afternoon. My stomach may have been a little sore, but I attributed this to hunger, not sickness, and hoped all that was behind me. I'm not sure I've ever been so wrong.

Our little hiker band had reunited - Pedi, Butters, Frizzle, Smokes, Trail Dancer, myself and even Early Bee had joined up while we went through our resupply boxes (on the ground on the side of a public restroom). We were able to buy some beers, we had some coffee, we decided we would share a hotel room and rest up (thank god).

I think the trouble started at dinner when Smokes and I went to the hotel restaurant. I started eating my sandwich and french fries. Then disaster struck. The first time I just briskly walked to the restaurant bathroom. Not good. Let me just summarize that everything coming out of me was liquid, and I didn't feel safe leaving the bathroom. I threw my card at the server, quickly signed, and ran back to the room, replacing myself on the toilet therein.

Not good. My condition rapidly deteriorated from beer-drinking, burger-eating hiker to a feeble, shaky and pale toilet-hugging mess. As the rest of the hikers were enjoying beers and eating in the room I struggled to lie on the bed without running to the bathroom. I managed to drink water and eat some Triscuits (both of which still upset my stomach and triggered toilet trips). I kind of slept, but I discovered rolling onto my stomach, my back, or right side was more movement than my body could deal with. I would have to drag myself back to the bathroom. It was truly a sad state of affairs. I think somewhere between 10 pm and 1 am I was unconscious, but 2 am to sunrise was a back and forth routine from bed to toilet. I felt like hell - I was painfully hungry as my hiker body craved calories to replace the thousands it had consumes over the previous couple of days (not to mention that this was day 130, and I had virtually no body fat left) on top of the frequent ejections my body forced me to make.

Morning came and the other hikers woke, packed and hit the restaurant. I took Imodium and was scared and uncertain about what to do. I could not hike. The closest clinic was in North Bend and there were no public transit options. As sick as I felt, thumbing it was out question. Pedi and Frizzle asked around to find a ride. I called a trail angel, no luck - the angel was on vacation. Once the Imodium took effect I passed out. Thank god. Sleep never felt so good. While I was passed out Pedi and Frizzle had found a ride! Ghost Angel's husband was driving past North Bend and would help us out. I loaded up on Imodium (I wasn't sure how long I could last without a toilet nearby) and we waited for him to get back.

All the hikers who had seen me get sick waited around to make sure I got help - the trail is an incredible culture and  there is a camaraderie and sense of family among these beautiful strangers that I have not experienced in regular society. I mean, these folks don't know me but still watched to make sure I got a ride. We hugged, shook hands and said we'd see each other again before I got in the car to find a doctor.

We made it to the clinic in North Bend; our ride dropped us exactly where we needed to go. The clinic was great and helpful. New experience: I had to shit in a "hat"... they needed to test my stool for all the gross things that cause violent pooping and nausea and all that jazz. Unfortunately, I had to evacuate as soon as I got to their office so I had to bring the "hat" with me - Pedi, Frizzle and myself stayed in a North Bend hotel where I would have to collect a stool sample (yippee!). It was strange to spend so much time off the trail around people and more strange to not be able to eat. The clinic doctor, who went to med school in St. Louis, prescribed me Flagyl, a strong antibiotic used to treat Giardia, and I went to the hotel to PTFO (pass the f@#$ out).

I still had to run to the bathroom, but the severity of awfulness I was experiencing had subsided slightly. I slept off and on through the night. I was on antibiotics for 12 hours. By morning I was hurting, but hurting from hunger more than anything else. We went to a restaurant and talked over our plan. Frizzle would hitch out immediately after breakfast. Pedi and I would squat in the room as long as we could. For lack of other options Pedi and I decided we would hit the trail and just hope I would recover quickly.

At 11 am we packed our bags and walked out of the hotel room. I was shaky and honestly afraid I would have to run behind a building to go to the bathroom while we walked to the highway to hitch back to the trail. Luckily we made it and promptly were picked up by a thru-hiker from a previous year, she dropped us at the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass where I was able to use a privy. We were back on the PCT and would continue our hike while I (hopefully) recovered.

To be continued

Hope you are enjoying the saga

Dan (aka Soapbox)

Sick Soapbox and trusty friend, Pedi hitching to get back to the trail from North Bend.

Sick Soapbox and trusty friend, Pedi hitching to get back to the trail from North Bend.

View of highway 410 before we hiked into Snoqualmie Pass, near Sheep's Lake.

View of highway 410 before we hiked into Snoqualmie Pass, near Sheep's Lake.

Some nature being all natural and stuff.

Some nature being all natural and stuff.

I was low on substantial food so i make a Cheeto, mayo, parm, mustard, hummus wrap. Felt like Arrested Development. No way this is why I was feeling sick...

I was low on substantial food so i make a Cheeto, mayo, parm, mustard, hummus wrap. Felt like Arrested Development. No way this is why I was feeling sick...

Looking Back: struck down by sickness (pt. 1)

I was walking along thinking about how close we were to finishing the Pacific Crest Trail (we were at mile 2330 at the time). I reflected on my transformation into a long distance hiker, how little I needed to get by, how strong I felt, how hungry I was. Through it all my body was still doing all the crazy things I was asking of it. Then I got a little stomach ache.

Pedi, Frizzle, Smokes, Butters and myself had hiked to Urich Cabin - we had hoped for trail magic and we weren't disappointed. The cabin was occupied, but there were coolers of soda and snacks and beer! And the cabin had privies (that's right, more than one!). I knew something was wrong when the idea of a beer made me cringe. My stomach was starting to hurt and I had a Gatorade (you know, to be safe). That's right, folks. I turned down a free beer in the middle of the wilderness - a clear sign something was terribly amiss.  As we sat at the cabin clouds rolled in. It seemed like it was going to rain so we decided to hike on to a campsite for the evening - I just hoped I would make it without blowing chunks.

Side note, the Urich cabin would be an awesome place to stay, not far from road access, fireplace, privy, and plenty of room for friends to hole up from bad weather. 

Anyway, onwards we walked. As we hiked out from the cabin I was wearing rain pants, rain jacket and my regular hiking clothes and was still having trouble staying warm. It had begun raining and it was definitely getting chilly - the others were starting to put on jackets. As my gear got wet I got colder. 5 miles I told myself, no big deal. Frizzle stopped and hiked with me for a minute. Then I told her to keep going and I'd catch up at water, I was having a hard time not puking while I walked. 

Finally, we made it to a spring. I was done. I felt exhausted. I still had made it 26 miles for the day and it was only 5:30pm. I was wet and cold. I barely said anything to the group and they decided they would hike on to get closer to Snoqualmie. I stayed not far from the spring and put my tent up and jammed myself in. Somehow I got the damp clothes off and into a sleeping bag and passed out in a feverish sleep until 11 pm. I woke up and the fever had broken - but I had a crazy dream where Pedi and Frizzle and the gang brought me pizza in the night. This normally would have been a great dream except that even in the dream I had a terrible stomach ache. Before I could get to sleep again after a generous late night dinner of four single teddy Graham's I had to literally run out of my tent shedding my clothes in the process and evacuate all the things I had eaten or drank that day. Let's just say I was still not feeling well. I passed out again and kind of slept until morning.

This was just the beginning of a saga of sickness. The next day I felt off, but much better. I even ate an entire puch of Poptarts without feeling sick. Frizzle had left a bunch of Imodium with me before the gang took hiked on - she probably knew if I wanted to hike to the next town or keep up with them I would need the medicine. I just needed something to keep my body from becoming some kind of uncontrollable fountain... you get the point. I popped a few in the morning and hoofed it. 

I hiked 30 miles that day. I stopped a lot to go to the bathroom, sometimes running off-trail or diving for bushes to hide myself. I was definitely not 100%, but I hoped I would be fine if I kept taking in liquids and eating properly (and taking Imodium). By the evening I caught Butters and Smokes and all three of us caught Trail Dancer at a campsite. We shared the site and talked about life and the world and about how much I hoped I wouldn't be shitting everywhere all the next day - we would make it to Snoqualmie Pass in Washington and I was desperately craving a burger and beer and as many other forms of calories as possible. Frizzle and Pedi were just a mile or two ahead and everyone was glad to see me and that I hadn't perished the night before. I was in good spirits and was hoping everything would be okay.

Little did I know what trials both Pedi and myself had in store. Stay tuned for disaster.

Sincerely,

Dan (aka Soapbox)

As a post script I'd like to include some cool pictures from two days BEFORE I got sick. The trail is like life in society, good days and bad. Incredible views and great hiking, trials and hard times. I didn't take many pictures while I was sick nor did I write or draw (i was lucky to be able to eat a few Triscuits.

Nature takes it's toll on an old PCT sign. Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Nature takes it's toll on an old PCT sign. Mt. Rainier in the distance.

the gang hiking down from the Knife's Edge

the gang hiking down from the Knife's Edge

PCT selfie

PCT selfie

naaaaaature. It's a good thing. Rainier is impressive.

naaaaaature. It's a good thing. Rainier is impressive.

Mt. Adams in the back. Butttttttters on the way up! YOTOOOOoOooooooh

Mt. Adams in the back. Butttttttters on the way up! YOTOOOOoOooooooh

The Knife's Edge is the trail running from the foreground along the right of the photo. Rainier in the topleft.

The Knife's Edge is the trail running from the foreground along the right of the photo. Rainier in the topleft.

Good dudes. Butters on the right, Smokes on the left.

Good dudes. Butters on the right, Smokes on the left.

I walked really far with a bunch of stuff and this is what I think about that stuff: Navigation and Water

I guess you could also call this post "PCT gear review."

Note: UL means ultralight. There is a trend among backpackers to carry gear as light as possible. 

Note II: Always look for gear at a discount. Steep and Cheap is my favorite, but you get almost any piece of gear for a discount. Just because someone has a pack full of nice new gear doesn't mean they shelled out for it.

Note III: There is almost never an end all, be all for any single piece of gear. See what fits for your style and budget. These are simply my observations and opinions. 

Navigation

Yogi's Guide

As someone who had never really hiked before, it's a nice primer for the PCT and lightweight hiking. The 'book' section of the guide helps you figure out if this trail is really for you. The 'trail guide' section is a nice supplement to Halfmile while you're actually hiking. It's by no means necessary, but I don't regret buying it. Remember to hike your own hike (HYOH) and not simply follow Yogi though.

Halfmile maps

I personally didn't use Halfmile maps, but they are great if you are a visual person who likes to see topo maps. The elevation profiles at the end of each section are the best. They're free to download, but you still have to print them.

Halfmile app

Indispensable. This was the No. 1 way for me to get trail data. You get distances and up/down to pretty much anything on trail, especially towns and water. It doesn't do everything, but the features it does have work very well. Free. Available for iPhone and Android.

Guthook app

At $6 per section ($30 total), I found the Guthook apps a useful and worthwhile companion to Halfmile's app. I did most of my navigation via iPhone, and Guthook was helpful as a map and for finding campsite locations. Available for iPhone and Android.

 

Water storage

Smart Water bottle and wide mouthed Gatorade bottle.

Smart Water bottles are great because they use space well on the side pockets of your pack since they are tall and slender. They are less fussy to get in and out while you're walking too. Having one wide-mouthed bottle was handy for putting in drink mixes like Crystal Light or Nuun tablets. Each of these are lighter than your heavy duty bottles like a Nalgene. You will get laughed at if you carry a Nalgene. They're so heavy.

Platypus / SoftBottle 1L (1.4 oz)

During the desert you may need to carry five liters of water at any given time. During certain sections, you may even need to cary six (coming out of Tehachapi, Hat Creek Rim and leaving Crater Lake). It's nice to have an extra liter or two of storage that is compressible when you're not using it. This is a great choice and pretty much everybody uses them.

Water purification

AquaMira

You mix seven drops from two different bottles, wait five minutes, put it in your water and then wait another 20 minutes. I loved these for the desert where we would get three to five liters at a time, but found them a bit more tedious for the rest of the trail where you only need to get between one and three liters at a time. I didn't notice much of a taste either.

Sawyer / Squeeze (3oz)

The plus side of the Sawyer is that it fits on a SmartWater bottle. You can fill up your bottle and drink straight from the bottle with the Sawyer on it, if that's your thing. Also, it filters out debris that you might have picked up your water. Otherwise, I found the Sawyer to be slow and inconvenient. I didn't use it much and we ended up sending it home. 

Bleach

Regular, unscented bleach. Two drops per liter. Wait half an hour and you're good to go. I switched to bleach somewhere in NorCal and never regretted it. Just don't add too many drops or it'll taste terrible and can destroy your stomach lining.

 

Cheers,

Jonathan

I walked really far with a bunch of stuff and this is what I think about that stuff: Clothing

PCT gear review part 2: CLOTHING

There are always more things you could bring on trail, but this should help you find best options to limit the number of items in your pack.

Note: UL means ultralight. There is a trend among backpackers to carry gear as light as possible. 

Note II: Always look for gear at a discount. Steep and Cheap is my favorite, but you get almost any piece of gear for a discount. Just because someone has a pack full of nice new gear doesn't mean they shelled out for it.

Note III: There is almost never an end all, be all for any single piece of gear. See what fits for your style and budget. These are simply my observations and opinions. 

 

Shirt REI / SaharaTechShirt

This shirt made the hike as awesome as it was. I bought it the day before we left and it's the best purchase possible. Breast pockets, a collar to look less trashy in town, durable fabric and sleeves that roll and button up make this shirt the ideal hiking top. The brand and model don't matter. You can find those features in a shirt from any brand, but dammit get a hiking shirt. 

Bottoms

I can't begin to care. If you must know, I did the desert in 3/4 capris, the Sierra through Oregon in running shorts and eventually ditched those to only wear compression shorts on bottom. 

Compression shorts - Under Armour

Yup. 

Underwear - Ex Officio / Give-n-go boxer brief

BEST. UNDERWEAR. EVER. I wore them the whole trail and they still look brand new. Hell, I even shit my pants once on trail and I'd wear the same pair for another thru-hike.

Sleep shirt - Under Armour / Cold Gear compression shirt

Nice and warm. Long sleeve sleep clothes are also good for keeping your disgusting skin from touching your sleeping bag. This helps keep your bag cleaner for longer. Mine might have been a bit heavy.

Also consider: Icebreaker long underwear. Like SmartWool's merino wool products, they are not cheap, but they are incredibly light and super comfy.

Sleep pants - SmartWool / Microweight long underwear

Merino wool is kind of expensive, but it's great quality. Lightweight, warm and very comfortable. Most any tights will do I guess.

Socks

Injinjis, Darn Toughs, Wigwams, Stoics and Balegas all worked well for me. Darn Toughs and Stoics were the best. I like the lighter weight running socks as opposed to the thicker, taller hiking socks.

Smartwool can suck it. Instant holes. 

Shoes

They can't make your hike, but they can break it. My feet swelled a size and a half almost instantly. I like my shoes light and with a wide toe box. Don't wear boots. Trail runners are the way to go. 

La Sportiva / Wildcat

Way too narrow for my feet and those of most hikers.

Brooks / Cascadia

The most popular shoe on trails. Solid shoe. Decently wide and wears well. A great go-to. Highly recommended.

Altra / Lone Peak 2.0

Wide toe box and great fit for my foot. Another bonus: they have Velcro for gaiters built in, in case gaiters are your thing. They are for me. Note: these shoes are zero drop and can require a little getting used to. Perhaps not as well suited for the Sierra Nevada or Washington sections. They wore out way faster over rough mountain terrain.

Gaiters - Dirty Girl

I really loved having gaiters. What kind you have doesn't matter, but the variety of designs Dirty Girl offers is cool. Not everyone likes them, but I found them great for keeping large amounts of sand and rocks out of my shoe. Yes, you're feet will still get filthy, and sand will still get in your shoes, though it won't be as bad as it would be otherwise. 

Outdoor Research Gaiters

Pretty much the same as dirty girls, but plain looking.

Jacket Mountain Hardwear / Ghost Whisperer (7oz)

This is hands down my favorite piece of gear. It's so light, so comfy and so warm. Not cheap, but I love it. As always, respect down and keep it dry.

Rain Jacket - Outdor Research / Proverb (13oz)

A solid rain jacket that was neither too expensive nor heavy. Not exactly the most breathable, but what good rain jacket is? There are lighter option out there, but I can't speak for how water resistant they are.

Also consider: Outdoor Research / Helium 2. It's lighter than mine.

Rain pants - Mountain Hardwear / Alkane Pant (9oz)

Great pants. Only really needed them for the Sierra and Washington, but boy were they great in Washington. The zipper up the side makes them easy to get on and off even with shoes on, they're very water resistant and surprisingly breathable for rain pants. 

Warm hat Outdoor Research / WinterTrek Fleece Hat

It was a nice, warm hat. Plus it had a wind-stopper in it.

Gloves Seirus / Soundtouch hyperlite

Only really used them in the Sierra, but they work just fine. For the rest of the trail I used a pair of Injinji socks that I cut up into hobo gloves. Very hiker trashy, but they worked. I thought the ability to use my phone was going to be nice, which is why I got these gloves. Were I to do it again, I'd get some lightweight liner gloves that are easier to get on/off.

Sunglasses

Yup. Preferably polarized. You WILL lose or break at least one pair on the trail. 

 

Cheers,

Jonathan

I walked really far with a bunch of stuff and this is what I think about that stuff: Pt. 1

I guess you could also call this post "PCT gear review."

Note: UL means ultralight. There is a trend among backpackers to carry gear as light as possible. 

Note II: Always look for gear at a discount. Steep and Cheap is my favorite, but you get almost any piece of gear for a discount. Just because someone has a pack full of nice new gear doesn't mean they shelled out for it.

Note III: There is almost never an end all, be all for any single piece of gear. See what fits for your style and budget. These are simply my observations and opinions. 

Pack Granite Gear / VC Crown 60 (2lb 2oz)

Your pack needs to do two things. It should hold your stuff and ride comfortably. That's about it. That's exactly what the Crown 60 does, and it does it well. It does not have tons of bells and whistles, but it doesn't need to. It's comfy, light and reliable. One of my favorite pieces of gear. If it has a shortcoming, it's the lack of hip-belt pockets, but you can buy them and add them if you like. A very popular pack this year.

Also consider: ULA / Circuit (2lb 6oz), the most popular pack on trail. If you're really UL try out a Gossamer Gear or Z-packs pack.

Sleeping bag North Face / Blue Kazoo (2lb 6oz)

My sleeping bag is slightly heavier than average, but not by too much. It kept me warm almost every night but the most bitter cold and did so at a cost that was impossible to pass up. Not the fanciest piece of gear I own, but certainly one of the best values. 

Also consider: Mountain Hardwear / Phantom (2lb)or Western Mountaineering. Expensive, but incredible bags.

Sleeping pad - Thermarest / Prolite 4 (1lb 8oz)

My pad is an inflatable one, so you have to blow it up. Not a big deal, since it is one of the more comfortable options out there. It doesn't pack down as small as other pads, nor is it as light as most others, but it performs well and was cheap.

Also consider: Thermarest / Neo Air , the Cadillac of sleeping pads. Expensive, but the most comfortable and definitely UL. Requires lots of blowing up. Were I to do the trail again, I'd get this in a 3/4 length and use my pack for under my feet. (8oz for the shorty)

Also: Thermarest / Z-lite. Very popular, UL, durable and inexpensive. Doubles as a sit pad. Not exactly the cushiest pad though. (10oz for the shorty)

Groundsheet - 2' x 7' sheet of Tyvek (4oz?)

Totally necessary. I bought mine for $5, it weighs next to nothing, adds mild insulation and protects both your tent and sleeping pad from punctures and abrasions. 

Tent Easton / Kilo 1p (1lb 14oz)

I loved my tent. It's light, reliable, kept me warm and dry, has a decent size vestibule, and doesn't take too long to set up. Add the great price at which I purchased it, and it is a great buy. The big downside was that it is a monopole tent and, therefore, not freestanding, which means you have to be careful how you set it up in the wind, but that was never really a problem for me. Unfortunately nobody seems to have it in stock anymore. 

Also consider: Big Agnes / Flycreek UL 2, a very popular tent on trail and with good reason. (1lb 15oz)

Don't consider: Tarptent / Contrail. Everyone I knew who had one if these hated it. 

Headlamp - Petzl / Tikka XP 2 (3oz)

While the headlamp can be a pretty inconsequential piece of gear, I loved mine. Bright/dim, beam/diffused, white/red lights. It's got all the features and doesn't weigh much. 

Also consider: I can't be bothered to care. 

Knife/multitool Leatherman / Style CS Multitool (1.4oz)

Great little tool. Not too heavy and just the right tools, which include a knife, scissors, clip/bottle opener and a file.

Backup power

Goal Zero / Nomad 7 and Guide 10  (13oz) and (6.4oz) respectively

These worked well for the desert and Sierra, but their effectiveness dropped off rapidly by time we hit dense forest in NorCal and Oregon. Useless in Washington. Plus, they aren't exactly UL, especially not with the Guide 10 attached.

EasyAcc / 5000mAh Ultra Slim Power Bank (5oz)

At only $20 and and 5 ounces, I think this is a much better option for recharging your phone. It'll give my iPhone two charges, which should be enough for pretty much any section of the trail. It's also much smaller and less cumbersome than dealing with a solar panel.

Trekking Poles Black Diamond / Ultra Distance Z-poles (10oz)

These are among the lightest poles available on the market and worked well for me. One broke, but Black Diamond had great customer service and immediately replaced it. Poles are actually one of the few pieces of gear where weight doesn't seem to matter so much. Even having poles is up for argument. The lighter your pack, the less necessary they are. Sometimes I wouldn't use them for most of a section and find them irritating, especially over rocky terrain. Other times I found them invaluable. Mostly, I recommend looking for a pair that are affordable.

Stove JetBoil / Flash (15oz)

The JetBoil is faster than anything else out there, but it's really only effective for boiling water. If you try to cook pasta and stuff in it you're going to burn stuff to the bottom, which is a major pain in the butt to clean. It's also slightly heavier than other options. If you cook a lot of Mountain House, Ramen or instant potatoes, though, it's awesome.

Also consider: MSR / Pocket Rocket with an Evernew / Titanium pot

Nothing is going to be perfect, but this setup allows for actual cooking if you have things like Knorr sides or Mac'n'cheese. Not as fast as a JetBoil, but it's a little more versatile and lighter. Remember, variety is key when it comes to eating on the PCT.

Stuff sacks

A small one for odds and ends like toothbrush, permits and Ibuprofen. Also for sleep clothes. You could honestly just use a gallon ziplock bag though. Why didn't I think of that while I was still on trail

 

Cheers,

Jonathan

Scenes of Washington

Washington, the final state on the PCT, was a doozy. After the easy cruising we did through Oregon, Washington was not about to let us reach the finish without working for it. And work for it we did. Despite the struggles, Washington presented us with truly mind-boggling scenery. Goat Rocks was probably the most magnificent section followed very closely by the north Cascades. Really though, most of the state was quite impressive.

Unfortunately, this post will give you a slightly smaller glimpse of the state than I would have liked. About a week's worth of time spent in the Evergreen State was spent in thick clouds and rain. By Washington my camera proved less than capable of performing in the rain and was relegated to staying dry(ish) in my pack for large chunks of the trail. Also, at least 1/3 of the trail through Washington was forested. Rather than give you a gallery of tree photos, I figured I would spare you the monotony, give you one solid forest photo and then move on to the grand scenes. 

Mile 2173

Mile 2173

Mile 2272. Mt. Adams

Mile 2272. Mt. Adams

Mile 2279. The beginning of Goat Rocks.

Mile 2279. The beginning of Goat Rocks.

Mile 2281. Goat Rocks

Mile 2281. Goat Rocks

Mile 2285. Knife's Edge with Mt. Rainier in the background.

Mile 2285. Knife's Edge with Mt. Rainier in the background.

Mile 2297. Mt. Rainier

Mile 2297. Mt. Rainier

Mile 2326

Mile 2326

Mile 2606

Mile 2606

Mile 2393

Mile 2393

Mile 2409. Kendall Katwalk

Mile 2409. Kendall Katwalk

Mile 2410

Mile 2410

Mile 2413

Mile 2413

Mile 2582. We took a slightly alternate route. 

Mile 2582. We took a slightly alternate route. 

Mile 2636

Mile 2636

Mile 2605

Mile 2605

Mile 2580. Lake Chelan

Mile 2580. Lake Chelan

Mile 2650. Technically this is a scene of Washington and Canada.

Mile 2650. Technically this is a scene of Washington and Canada.

Cheers,

Jonathan

The passes - Glen

 

Just a quick reminder - the passes were from the High Sierras, which we finished hiking in mid - summer.

We had just resupplied and camped on the trail past Kearsarge Pass, as our path began to climb to the next pass. We woke, ate and got a move on before 7 am. The ascent to Glen Pass was a moderate hike by High Sierra standards - steady climb, we had kept elevation by camping at higher altitude couple thousand feet and some icy steps and we'd be at the top. 

 We made the pass by late morning and ate second breakfast - oatmeal and granola (mmm). Happy Pants - whose pants were a bright, colorful print from Senegal - joined us. We watched as he descended ahead of us - he selected a route with a long glissade. It looked fun so we followed. 

Happy Pants made the glisade look easy. It was not. I slid down a long stretch and Pedi followed, landing hard and bruising his rump. Quinoas pack spewed water bottles as he descended, not gracefully (we recovered them). Half and Half made it look easy and have us his typical shrug followed by, "No problem." It felt like he was smiling at our difficulty.

The rest of the descent was harder - I split from the group by taking a different route through the melting snow pack. We had all lost the trail as we searched for a simple route down.  I had walked on what looked like great snow pack only to fall through into running water (yippee!) - what would become known as the double posthole. 

Finally I found the trail and everyone else caught up. It was nearly lunch time and we were at the edge of a majestic mountain lake. Soaked and tired, we ate. These passes were proving to be more difficult than we thought and we learned timing really was crucial to getting down quickly and safely.

The conflict was going to be balancing time with covering miles so we didn't run out of food in the future. Such was the reality of hiking in the High Sierras. 

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Cheers,

Dan

Visual update pt. 3

2500 miles down, 163 left to go. SO CLOSE. 

With less than 200 miles left until we reach the Canadian border, I can almost taste the finish. We have wandered so far in this journey, but never wavered. It's crazy to think that in two weeks I'll be back in the Midwest. The trail has become normal life at this point. The finish doesn't simply mean the end of this trail, though. It also means parting ways with some incredible friends and a way of life I have enjoyed to the fullest. I don't think I ever could have guessed how much of an impression this experience would have on me. 

I could ramble forever about what 2500 miles means. Instead, I'll leave you with a few photos of some beautiful hiker trash and the knowledge that we'll be done within a week. 

Butters

Butters

Ms. Frizzle

Ms. Frizzle

Soap Box

Soap Box

Pedi

Pedi

Cheers,

Jonathan

New states, new crews

Dan (Soap Box) and I have not only made it to the final state of our journey, we now find ourselves in a new crew. Smokes, Schmitty and Quinoa have all ebbed and flowed in and out, but Ms. Frizzle and Butters seem to be permanent members at this point. They're fantastic people and I couldn't be happier to have them around.

Our first crew lasted for a solid 900 miles, and it wasn't until afterward that I even realized what an anomaly that was. Most hikers start the trail solo and, while they often hike with others, most don't crew up for such long stretches. Usually people's schedules or hiking speeds are too different. Or somebody gets sick or injured. Regardless, I'm thankful to have made such great friends as I have on this adventure.  

Now then, let's get back to finishing up Washington.  

Soap Box, Butters and Ms. Frizzle. Oh yeah, and Mt. Adams. 

Soap Box, Butters and Ms. Frizzle. Oh yeah, and Mt. Adams. 

Soap Box and Frizzle deftly speed down a hill as we head for town. 

Soap Box and Frizzle deftly speed down a hill as we head for town. 

Ms. Frizzle and the most giant cairn ever. 

Ms. Frizzle and the most giant cairn ever. 

Beautiful hiker trash. 

Beautiful hiker trash. 

Slightly less beardy, but equally as beautiful hiker trash. 

Slightly less beardy, but equally as beautiful hiker trash. 

NINJA RUNNING!

NINJA RUNNING!

True hiker trash. Butters brushing his teeth while hiking. 

True hiker trash. Butters brushing his teeth while hiking. 

Haha, hiker crossing. Somebody added the poles and pack with tape. Oh, and the sign has hella bullet holes in it. 

Haha, hiker crossing. Somebody added the poles and pack with tape. Oh, and the sign has hella bullet holes in it. 

Butters and Frizzle stomping and clomping through a Washington meadow in the morning. 

Butters and Frizzle stomping and clomping through a Washington meadow in the morning. 

Sexy butters in morning light. 

Sexy butters in morning light. 

A troll, er, Frizzle under a bridge.  

A troll, er, Frizzle under a bridge.  

Cheers,

Jonathan

This thing we're doing

On this particular day, Dan and I happened to be hiking alone, finding ourselves - however briefly - without a crew. We came upon a saddle with one helluva view. As will sometimes happen on the PCT, we felt morally compelled to stop and observe the scene in front of us. It was too magnificent to pass up. 

As Dan and I sat on that saddle observing the wondrous nature that lay before us, I felt a great sense of calm and contentment come over me. 

"I'm not exactly sure what this thing is that we're doing, and I'm definitely not sure what will come next in life," I said, turning to Dan. "What I am sure of, though, is that this, this thing we're doing is the right thing to be doing."

He smiled, knowing exactly what I meant. 

"Yeah man, yeah," Dan responded, giving a bit of a chuckle.

Nowadays, I feel that same sense of calm and happiness pretty often. Whenever I do I turn to Dan with a big stupid grin on my face and say, "Man, this thing we're doing."

Hiking the PCT has been and will continue to be one of the greatest adventures of which I could possibly conceive. I am constantly in awe of how fun it has been to incorporate so many things I love into my everyday life for the last four months.

-Jonathan

Scenes of and thoughts on Oregon

Wow, just wow. Oregon blew me away. Getting through California was such a feat that I felt really fresh as we got going in Oregon. I have heard it referred to as Boregon in reference to a hiker's experience as one travels the PCT. Sure, we all have our own experiences, but for me Oregon was superb, maybe even my favorite section to date. 

There were certainly a considerable number of dense forests, but I never minded these. They helped shade you from the sun. The weather was impeccable anyways, save for one day of storms, and that was actually pretty fun. Sometimes when I would think about this blog post I would laugh because there are no scenes of Oregon. Only forests. I jest, but we really did spend a lot of time walking in the woods. The times we weren't in the woods we found ourselves in quite diverse landscapes. From Crater Lake to lava rock fields to the Sisters Wilderness, Oregon truly has much to offer. 

Even beyond the actual wilderness, the Beaver State's culture sets it apart. While the whole west coast is seen as liberal, Oregon and California do not seem to be the same type of liberal. For starters, there are tons more hippies here. More than any of that though, California seems to talk a good talk, but Oregon really lives it. California likes to seem environmentally friendly, but Oregon truly is. There's no front to it. I have seen solar panels everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Environmental consciousness in Oregon feels natural and engrained into everyday life more than any other place I've experienced in the States. I understand that I have limited experiences in both states and I am no expert. Equally, I'm not trying to trash California nor make Oregon out to be the Holy Land, but Oregon was magical.

But I digress; on to the landscape photos.

Thunderstorm at sunset. 

Thunderstorm at sunset. 

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Crater Lake

Crater Lake

More Crater Lake

More Crater Lake

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South Sister

South Sister

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Jeff Creek

Jeff Creek

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

Mt. Jefferson from the North

Mt. Jefferson from the North

Oregon fog

Oregon fog

Tunnel Falls

Tunnel Falls

Burn section over a ridge. 

Burn section over a ridge. 

Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Jefferson

Cheers,

Jonathan