The last higlight of Oregon thus far:
4. Breitenbush Hot Springs - Yesterday was August 27th. We have just a few days left in Oregon and we've been banging out the miles. But just as we were one third the way done one of our many 25 mile days, we started to ascend to a ridge at 7,000 feet on the crest of Oregon. Since we woke up yesterday norning, things had been hairy. We woke up to fog and drizzle and it showed no signs of stopping. This was a consistent Oregon rain. So we pakced everything up, folded up our wet tent, and through on our rain gear, hoping to make the best of the rain and heat up a bit from the chill by walking. our bodies got a little bit warmer, but we also got a lot wetter. The rain wasn't particularly fierce but walking against all the wet shrubs that covered the trail completely soaked our cloths in minutes. Everything was wet and the only thing we could do was just walk on! So we walked for a couple hours in the incessant rain and fog. It made for an interesting mood around us as w! e passed through the alpine bogs on the side of mighty Mt. Jefferson, which had upto today been very clearly visible as we scrmbled under its high rocky ledges. So we climbed a bit, and as we got higher the weather got worse. What had been a gentle rain before as we traversed the rivers full of milky snow melt now was a pretty cold, blustery wind as we climbed to an exposed ridge.
That's when we saw our fellow thru-hikers Spaceman Spiff and Nick. The only thing was that they were walking the other way toward us. We were a bit confused as to why they were walking the wrong direction sout back to Mexico, when they explained that they had climbed to the ridge and reached an impassable part of the trail and had thus turned around to bail off the dangerous ridge. In any other weather this ridge would probably have been just another snow field that hadn't melted yet in late summer. Though the trail might be covered for a couple hundred yards in snow, one could easily see the other side where the trail came out with the light of the sun. But this day - everything was whited out. There were no tracks or sign of trail on the snow beneath and here were no visible markers that could be seen through the fog, rain, and driving hail of the storm. So, finding themselves unable to locate the trail, a bit lost on a high, steep, snowy slope, and freezing cold, t! hey did the logical thing and turned back to descend to more cover down from the ridge. It had been a record snow year - more snow than this area had received in 50 years. And because of that there was still snow on top of the mountain where it usually wouldn't be at this time of year. Small creeks that would usually take a few hops across a few rocks to cross were still totally covered in banks of snow. And as you crossed the snow, you could hear the water rush underneath your feet from the large volume of snow that was melting and now rapidly cascading don the mountain. So we had seen the effects of the unusually large amounts of snow at lower elevations and we weren't too keen on finding out what was going to happen as we kept on going up.
This was the decision we were presented with: We could either climb the 1,000 feet to the windy, icy ridge and check it out for ourselves (probably meaning we would have had to wait out the storm so we could actually see where the trail went without getting lost) or we could take their word for it and bail with them. After a little debate, we figured they had good cause to turn around and there was probably no way we'd be any better or more well off than they were on top of the treeless mountain with visibilty of a couple of meters in front of you. So, we turned with them. Our minds wanted to go on, but our bodies said, "Get me warm! There's no way I'm gonna freeze on top of a mountain while lost today!" So we walked south a bit, cancelled our plans for the day and took a side trail about six miles off the PCT.
It turned out that Spaceman Spiff's parents were meeting her in the area, so we gave them a phone call, and explained to them that we were at a different trailhead on our satelite phone, hoping they would get the message and be able to rescue us from the middle of nowhere as we were soaking wet and ready for a change of scenery.A change of scenery, indeed! They drove us a couple of miles down the road to Breitenbush Hot Springs! This is a hippie resort that exists in the middle of the woods and is totally off the grid. It is a coop and a retreat center with several pools of natural hot springs, yoga classes, and all natural vegetarian food. It is entirely run off hydroelectric power and generators and has cabins, tent sites, and a lodge for its guests - who generally are sorta new agey people who are into Buddhist prayer flags, crystals, and dips in the clothing optional hot spring pools.
This is definitely hippies living in the woods in Oregon. Lots of tie dye and dreadlocks and people sitting around playing banjos and tin whistles. But it was also the perfect palce for a couple of wet hikers to get dry. Despite the hoaky sense of spirituality around this place, it had a charm and the people were very friendly. And the meals! Wow, the meals! They made our trek off the trail and our littld detour worthwhile. Hours earlier we were shivering in the miserable rain - now we were eating wholesome food all made whole made by the members of the coop. Picture a wedding - complete with the stainless steel serving trays placed out on perfectly white linen clothes with piping hot food in them. But all the food is organic and locally grown. In fact, there is no coffee or chocalate or alcohol allowd here. Just a giant pot of home brewed ginger tea. And thatks what everyone drinks for breakfast lunch and dinner. This is the total opposite of our usual fast-food culture. No microwaves, no greasy french fries - just natural home cooked foods with LOTS of veggies. There isn't even a phone here. They are too! far away from reception and they don't have a single pay phone.This is all part of the spontanaeity of the adventure. One minute you are in the middle of the rain, the next you are in a hippie-dippie hot spring resort. We love this trail and we love these crazy places it takes us!